Gallatin River- The Gallatin has been picking up lately with the warmer weather we have been having as of late. The rainbows are starting to get active and you can find fish feeding in most of the river. The browns have slowly started to respond more and more to streamers. When nymphing try focusing on the tailout of the runs where current is less dramatic. Stoneflies mayflies and midges have been the fly of choice in this river. Try a pats rubber leg with a shiny dropper below. If using a streamer try swinging it through buckets slow, and get it as low in the column as possible. During calm sunny days some fuish can be seen rising for emergers. Try a Griffiths gnat in this scenario.
Lower Madison river- The lower has been fishing fairly well all winter, mainly with the use of nymphs. Streamers have not started picking up but we should be expecting that any time now. For nymphing try some craw fish and eggs. These have been the go to pattern as of late especially as the rainbows start to spawn.. Stoneflies and midges also have been working effectively. You can still float this section but there are no shuttles running as of yet.
Upper Madison river- This section is still somewhat iced in places, but still fishable while wading. If you are trying to float this section of the river I would recommend waiting a month or so until the put in’s are not as frozen. Nymphing has been effective in bring lots of fish to hand. Try a stonefly with a midge or lightning bug dropper. On less windy days you might try a midge dry or giffiths nat. Valley garden and areas around Ennis have been fishing the most productively.
Yellowstone River- Getting more and more clear by the day. Wade fishing is going to be the way to approach this river for now because most of the put in’s are still frozen. The rainbows are getting ready for their spawn and the males are beginning to feed heavily. Nymphing is going to be the method of choice when wade fishing. Try a stonefly with a midge or mayfly dropper. This has been the most effective set up. For best results fish the tailout of a riffle where the current slows.
Hyalite reservoir- ice is about 10-12 inches thick. Fishing has been best early in the morning and when the sun goes down. Try jigging a maggot or worm about 10 feet deep or very shallow on the weeds. Grayling may be caught in shallow water in the far back and cutthroat have been fishing well in front on the deeper sections.
Ennis- Ice is about 10-12 inches thick. fishing has been good in the mornings close to the dam but be careful because ice strength can vary closer to a dam. Jigs tipped with maggots and worms seem to do well as well as tip ups with small minnows. Trout generally stick close to the ice so start shallow and work down the water column.
Ponds in town- Bozeman beach has been popular for trout and seems to fish well in the morning. The Bozeman pond fishes well mostly during night hours. A jig with a grub attached will usually pull some fish up. Try a spoon or Swedish pimple for some larger fish.
Holter lake- ice is about 12 inches thick. Fishing has been good for perch on the back end of the lake jigging wax worms on the bottom.
Georgetown is frozen solid and ice fishermen are plying the water through little round holes, with good success. Flies will work under the ice! Use hot bead scuds and sow bugs, prince nymphs and other small beadheads or leaches.
The Clark is probably your best bet to find fish rising consistently in the winter below Missoula. On warmer afternoons, look to the slicks and inside eddy line for fish up feeding on them. But the best bet will be to nymph, and perhaps streamer fish. As for what nymphs to use, try a San Juan Worm with a prince to start (or any of your favorite nymphs).
Look for soft seams and back eddies and don’t count out dead water. We’ve noticed some days they want pink bling, other days it’s a brown, black, or tan rubber legs… in the winter experiment a bit – both in the type of water to fish and the pattern selections.
Above all exercise caution on the ice.