With all the warm weather over the past several days, I just couldn’t help it. After a few chores around the house, I finally made it to the river around 2pm…..late, but not too late. Stella ran ahead, burning off the edges of her energy. Deep snow drifts help slow her down, but we are lacking those in the Madison Valley. Once to the river, I watched for a head or two, but saw none and rigged for nymphing. This is when I realized that I had forgotten my spool of 8lb Maxima. My leader was as thick as cable, so a rubber legs was tied on and then a midge dropper below it. A few nice trout bent my Freestone 906 quite well. One brown, about 14 inches, found it’s way into Stella mouth. Upon hooking the fish, it jumped twice, right in front of us. On the third jump she launched off the bank and caught the fish mid-air. The 906 bent all the way over with Stella pulling hard as she swam back toward the bank. I grabbed her collar and went for the trout. She didn’t want to let go, but quickly realized that I was right. The brown seemed a bit stunned by all this, but swam away unharmed.
This is not our typical late December/ January in southwest Montana. Most of December was cold and dry, then finally it warmed and the snow began to fall….but only for a few days….enough to allow tracked rigs in Yellowstone. Actually, our snowpack doubled in about 48 hours last week. We are light in snow compared to the past three winters and could use some moisture. The Madison, Gallatin and Jefferson are all hovering around 70% of snowpack – remember, I always report the snow/water equilvalent and not the actual snow fall. There is still plenty of time left for moisture to build up, as the snow falls for another 5 months around here. The next few days are going to prime for winter angling, get out there while you can. If you can’t, well, keep reading as I will try to get down to the river ateast once a week for the next three months.