The dry fly action is gone and past but the trout spey game is still on. I would consider using skagit heads as the fish are moving into deeper water. Smaller sibgle hook streamers will be working much better than soft hackles at this point. Nymphing should be pretty good as well with midges, sowbugs, scuds, caddis pupa, and spanish bullets(fire bead is good one for the mo).
The Clarkfork west of town is dirty with the Blackfoot blowing out last week. It’s starting to shape up and should be good to go in the next couple days. Although winter has shown up and the fishing will be tough. Nymphing will be the most consistent way to get into fish with Rubberlegs, Double Bead Stones, Jig Princes, Hot Spot Perdigons, San Juans and Eggs. Look for slower water and drop offs to hold the bulk of the fish. Streamer fishing with heavy streamers that get down quick and a sink tip or sinking leader since the river came up earlier this week is a good bet. You want to get down to the fish as quick as possible. Streamers like Silvey’s Sculpins, Flash Minnows, Sparkle Minnows, Swim Coaches, Frankenstein Sculpin, Cousin It Sculpins and Skiddish Smolts.
No fishing report this week.
All good here on the Mo this fall, late fall, and into the winter months. We are super stoked with the fishing conditions absolutely terrific. If you are gonna head on out this December feel free to give us a call first for the up to the minute report here at the shop 406-235-3447.
Average high daily temperatures come in at 35F. The lows in the cellar at 15F. So pretty cold overall. But not this month or this fall into winter. Nope. Moderate temperatures as well as that damn wind. Pretty windy on and off. Seems like1 of 2 are windy. The good news is that you can certainly find some lee shores to shield yourself against the wind. Reasonable conditions are possible in this month fo December as well. And, we at the shop open daily @ 8am for all you last minute and fly pattern needs. Demo rods on sale too!
Not much precipitation on the books this fall and not much in the forecast either. Some possible spit of snow as we move into the back end of next week.
Flows are still low, 2900cfs, and will continue at this level throughout the coming winter. So wade fisherman and boat anglers alike at taking advantage of the river travel opps. Yes you can certainly learn about the subsurface structures as most are exposed. I love to get out and just walk. Walk in the water and check things out. Boots on the ground. Buckets, dips, declines, riffles, runs, tailouts, and the like. Put it all in your memory banks for when the conditions are not as friendly.
Nymphers like the Sow and Scud combo. You could use the Zebra too. Soon we will be in the Pink Fly Game that will run through March into April as well. No reason for split shot at the current time, but when the trout get into that deep and slow winter holding water you will find a split shot adding weight to your rig quite helpful.
Most will focus on the upper river for the nymph bite. The dam is once again popular for the wade and boat gang. Fishing to Craig is the other option. Although last winter many were fishing below the Craig section and enjoying success in the canyon.
Streamer anglers love it too. Getting out and wading around islands or stripping your bugger through a run on foot. Boat anglers will find fewer shores to cast at as the water levels are not conducive to bank tossers. No heavy sink tips required now, but I have found a couple streamer rods rigged for different depths can get you closer to the prize. Headhunters jammed full of streamer lines if you are Streamer-Curious this winter.
Swingers Unite. Lots of trout spey anglers in and out of the shop learning, buying, filling in tip kits, finding accessories for the spey game and getting the best local intel daily. Also Headhunters is your Trout Spey Education Center. Whether you want to get a casting lesson, a guide trip, or lodging for your weekend trip give us a shout first and we will guide you toward spey success.
Lots of Trout Spey Action out there this month as the bugs have been knocked down a couple notches for the trout food diet scale. Yessir. Leeches, Carey’s and Sparrows, buggers, and some flash will get it done. HH carries the Best Flies Under the Big Sky with the only Trout Spey fly section on the Mighty Mo.
Dry Flies? Maybe? You will have to out there when it happens. Still seeing some BWO’s float by in the afternoon. Occasional opportunities for the dry fly guy. Localized for sure. I’d toss a cripple at them. Or an Adams.
Lodging is discounted locally too. Call 406-235-3447 to chat with Julie or Sara for lodging options in your price range. Lodging for a couple guests available in downtown Craig.
Shop open daily @ 8am. The only daily shuttle biz all winter long here in Craig, rental boats, lodging, flies, hot coffee, local river info, maps, and so much more all December long…
And, don’t forget about Headhunters for your fly fishing gifts. We deliver to your doorstep!
Happy T-Day hangover, Cyber Monday, and we will rejoice today because the wind is temporarily gone away!
Look for schools tucked in deeper pools. Use an indicator or a dry dropper set up. With rain and snow in the forecast, visibility and water levels may change.
Fins and Feathers scores the Upper Madison a 3/5.
The Upper Madison has reopened to fishing but we advise anglers to stay off the waters to let the fish rebound from the Hebgen Dam malfunction. There are better are options in the area to check out.
Fins & Feathers is a full-service Bozeman fly shop and Montana fly fishing outfitter. Upper Madison River fly fishing trips are available year-round with our Bozeman fly fishing guides.
Happy December everyone. If you’re like us, you’re wondering where 2021 has gone! It’s about time to enjoy the holidays with friends and family and start looking ahead to what next year can bring.
The big news in our region this past week has been the equipment malfunction of Hebgen Dam which led to a dewatering of the Upper Madison River. This effected Between the Lakes most of all, but led to dry side channels and stranded fish from Quake Lake to Ennis. A massive volunteer effort led to many fish being placed back in the main channel where their chances of survival went way up, and Northwestern Energy was able to fix the dam and restore flows after a couple of days.
It’s unknown what kind of long term effect this might have on the river, but we are trying to stay optimistic right now. Damaged redds are the most concerning thing – but warmer temps at least kept the eggs from freezing while they were exposed. Only time will tell. FWP had issued a fishing closure for the Upper Madison, which was lifted yesterday.
Even though it’s legal, we are recommending anglers fish elsewhere. Those fish have had an incredibly tough year and taking any kind of pressure of them is a good thing. Fortunately, there are a lot of other places to fish this time of year.
The Yellowstone River remains primarily a nymphing game. Be ready to deal with the wind, and if you can find a sheltered spot you’ll have a good day. There is hardly any pressure on the Yellowstone these days, so go enjoy it. If you want a higher percentage day, look into booking a rod at the local spring creeks.
The Lower Madison has been fishing well, and is a great day trip option from the Livingston/Bozeman area. Look for midges as we ease into winter, or go fish streamers. Crawfish are a great option to anchor a double nymph rig. It’s a popular spot, but if you’re up for a walk take a hike up Bear Trap Canyon until you find open water. Again, be ready to deal with the wind over here!
If you feel like a drive, head for the Missouri. It’s a great option this time of year and all winter long. Fish deep, fish slow, and enjoy the Mo without the summer crowds. The Gallatin is also a good bet, and fishing the canyon this time of year can be a beautiful experience. It’s primarily a nymphing game (as is just about everything this time of year), but go have fun.
With Christmas coming up fast we’ve got everything you need for the angler in your life. Have them come in and fill out a gift registry slip so you know exactly what they want – you might as well too! Stop by the shop or give us a call at 406-222-1673 for the latest info.
BRO scores the Blackfoot River a 3/5TIPS OF THE WEEK –
1. Winter is finally here. Fish slow. The fish will not move quickly to flies.
2. If a double nymph rig doesn’t work, try a single nymph or size down your nymphs drastically
3. The early morning and late afternoon streamer bite can be good, but fish them slow. Slow or no stripping is critical.
7 DAY OUTLOOK –
It will be cold but fishing will continue to be good. Rock Creek may very well be one of the only rivers in Montana running a little above average flows.
BEST TECHNIQUES – Double and single rig nymphing, relatively long leash. Look out for midges on the water for dry fly activity
Good luck and don’t forget to stop in our Philipsburg shop Flint Creek Outdoors and our NEW JACKALOPE JOE’S espresso bar! We’re open 7:30-5 seven days a week. Be sure to stop in to talk to Josh, grab a coffee, some Orvis gear, and flies from the the best fly selection in the region.
CHECK OUT OUR NEW ONLINE STORE
NYMPHS – Pat’s Rubber Legs in black, brown, #6-#10; Pheasant Tail Nymph, #12-18; Pink San Juan Worm #8-10; Hot Bead San Juan Worm Red; Montana Prince tan #12-16, double bead stone black #4, yellow sally nymph #14-16, yellow frenchie #14-16; lightning bug #14-18; Perdigon red/black or olive #14-18 DRIES – Purple haze #18-20; Griffiths Gnat #18-20; Adams #18-20 STREAMERS – Sparkle Minnow #6 in Olive; Zonkers #6, 8 in Natural, Olive, or Yellow; Kreelex Minnow #6 in Copper/Gold, Gold/Silver, or Purple/Silver.
Water temperature at mid-day
Best time of day to fish
Late morning through afternoon
The entire creek is fishing well.
Best access point
Upper: Gilles Bridge Lower: Valley of the Moon
Cutthroat, rainbow, cutt-bow, brown, bull, some brook trout, and whitefish.
Open year round, but catch and release for trout during winter.
Recommended fly fishing leader
Recommended fly fishing tippet
3x and 4x top to bottom bug respectively unless you are swinging streamers then bump up to 2x
Best fly fishing rod
Crisp 9′ 5wt for nymphing but super fun spot to swing streamers with switch rods.