Winter Fishing in Missoula
Steady warmer temps have unlocked the river ice and made this a great week to get out and scratch the fishing itch around Missoula. Traditionally, some large fish are taken during the first big thaw, but that hardly matters — the point is that the closest most of us have been to a trout in the past few months is a TBT Instagram post, and it’s time to put on a new leader, take the shotgun shells out of our wader pockets, and bend the rod.
Our area rivers will present a couple of angling options, depending on your fancy.
As soon as the rivers chill out a bit from the recent rain, both the ‘Root and the Clark Fork will offer occasional rising fish in the slow eddies on calm, preferably cloudy, days. Think back to your best late day BWO spots from last fall — that’s where the midges will collect and become viable to the trout. You can fish a Griffith’s Gnat or a Buzzball in the film, or cheat and go with the Adams/zebra midge dropper combo.
The Blackfoot and Rock Creek are better nymphing options right now — and just about any combo of Pat’s/Pheasant Tail/San Juan/Egg/Czech will get the bobber dropping. Again, concentrate on the slower water, keeping in mind that the fish are calculating calories vs. effort by the second. If you’re a streamer junkie, think dark olive or black or white, and crawl that thing on a sink-tip. Low and slow, that is the tempo.
Snowpack for 2017 Fishing Season
Lastly, the snow-pack pundits are out in full force these days so we wanted to chime in, but refrain from predicting anything about the 2017 summer flows. It’s just too early to tell. What we can say for certain is that the past few rainy days have added new powder to the mountains, and we’re safely near the 100% range for most of our drainages. Anyone who’s been around for more than a Griz football season here will tell you that what matters most is spring accumulation/melt, but we’re positively optimistic for now.
PLEASE NOTE: Your 2016 Montana Fishing License is only good through the end of February. Time to re-up!