Fly fishing in February in Montana? Winter logic would tell you that hitting the rivers with your favorite fly might be a little out of the question. But, believe it or not, the fish are biting.
The warmer days we have had recently in Western Montanan have allowed folks to enjoy some February time on the waters.
“The Bitterroot has midge action from 2-4 in the afternoon,” according to local guide Scott Anderson. “You can take some fish on standard nymph tactics, working the lower end of the riffles in the deep pools.”
At this time of the year, the whitefish are very active too.
“The Clark Fork River has a lot of open space. Hit the upper section above Clinton but not too high or you will need a sledge hammer to break the ice,” reports Anderson. The midge activity on the lower section is good and it is also fishing well.
“I would use San Juan worms, midge pupa, prince nymphs,” said Anderson.
Rock Creek, east of town has been has not had a lot of activity, which is normal for the time of year. “I have not seen a lot of people fishing the creek recently except for a few diehards on the lower end”, said Doug Persico from Rock Fisherman’s Mercantile.
The folks who have been out have had average success at best, dead drifting big dark stonefly nymphs.
“I did get a report from one of my customers having a decent afternoon way upstream by Gillies Bridge,” added Persico. “The amazing thing was that he caught fish on small dry Blue Winged Olive patterns.”
Persico recommends that for your best luck, fish the upper end of Rock Creek.
The Blackfoot River still has some ice on it so the key is to locate some open water. “Folks may do well on the Blackfoot but you have hunt for patches of river that are not covered with ice,” said Anderson. When you do find a spot to fish, use the same late winter, early spring flies and nymphs that are working on the Clark Fork.
A few more days on the calendar and we will be in March and headed to some more consistent spring fishing on the rivers.
In the meantime it is still winter and lakes still do have ice on them and ice fishing in some places has been good.
On Canyon Ferry Reservoir, rainbow fishing has become more consistent over the past week according to Adam Strainer from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.
The walleye fishing and trout fishing is fair on Hauser Reservoir in the Causeway and on Holter, the rainbow trout fishing continues to be good while fishing through the ice according to Troy Humphrey of FWP.
Kokanee fishing is slow on the Helena Valley Regulating reservoir.
Ice conditions vary on the three reservoirs from 6 inches to 18 inches. As always use extreme caution as ice conditions will vary from day to day.