Upon checking the weekend forecast for weather, I sat back in my tying chair and let out a big deep breath and thought to myself , “I hope these guys brought their layers and a hearty appitite for winter fishing.”. The wizards who try to tell us what weather is going to do had forecasted the biggest storm of the year, up to 2 feet above 6000 feet, right smack dab in the middle of my first spring trip on the rivers of south west Montana. Since this has been the deepest year dating back to 1996-97 I wondered how much fishing we would really get in.
Arriving at the hotel to pick up Ned Kalin and Jeff Charlson, I noticed they looked like seasoned anglers. Greasy hats, scruffy faces, fleece layers, gore-tex and even a pair of neoprenes for winter fishing. They came prepared. As we drove down to Ennis towards the Madison River we discussed everything from religious cults to Penn State football to how I arrived in MT 13 years ago. Not once did they whence at the driving snow and 30 degree temps. There were only comments about how beautiful it was with all that snow in the mountains.
We drove into Ennis, boat in tow, and dropped by the Fishing Company. Mike and Matt were arming the shop and discussing the weather, glad to be inside for the day. We got licenses a few bugs and headed for Varney Bridge. The snow let up, dropped off and the sun even poked out on and off throughout the day. Hooking more brown trout than rainbows, the fish were activly eating SJ Worms, midge pupa and beatis nymphs while sitting in their winter holding spots.
When I woke up the next morning the big storm have moved in, but only dropped about 4 inches of snow. I picked up Ned and Jeff from the Sportsman and since the morning temp was 25 degrees we headed for breakfast at Yesterdays. The river of the day was the Ruby, but it needed to warm up a bit. The road over the pass to VC was iced by the wind, but once we got over to the Ruby Valley things warmed up a bit and it began to snow again. Not a soul was on the river with all the bad weather and we had a blast casting to risers and nymphing the runs with midges and beatis nymphs. Thank the heavens for hand warmers because they saved our ass. Ned even landed a 19 and 1/2 inch brown on a dry dropper rig. Big fish, small water…..
The last day found us waking up to 10 degrees and a stiff breeze. Breakfast at Yesterdays and late start was on order. After fishing the Madison below Bear Trap Canyon and only hooking a few fish, we quit for lunch and head for the Gallatin. The trout were hungry and chewed up our rubber legs and prince nymphs all afternoon. What a great trip.
Spring just won’t show up this year. Looking out the window right now I see snow falling and very little melting. Oh well, it is what it is. The fishing is great this Spring and if your thinking that cabin fever has got you down, give us a call and we’ll go fishing. it may be cold, but the trout are hungry.