Yesterday I awoke early to stormy skies and a brisk wind, not the best of conditions for a planned day of fly fishing. But by the time I loaded my gear in the truck and had filled the Thermos with coffee, the wind had abated.
Our crew met up at a buddy's house, which is conveniently located within ten minutes of what would be our fishing destination on this day. Breakfast was sizzling on the stove top when I arrived, and talk of trout filled the room.
With bellies full of pancakes, eggs and coffee, we headed downstream from the county bridge spanning the river. A couple of us were hell bent on throwing streamers, while the more practical among us employed a tandem nymph rig. Despite the recent warm-up, the streamer bite was non-existent. After working several great looking areas of winter holding water without a single chase or flash, I clipped off the streamer and affixed an indicator, hare's ear nymph, San Juan worm and two BB's to my leader... I never had to change from that set-up the remainder of the day.
We were into fish consistently with nymphs, in hole after hole. Ninety percent of the catch consisted of rainbows in prime, pre-spawn condition. The average trout stretched the tape to 15 inches or so, and the largest went 19 inches - pretty impressive for a freestone stream in late winter.
We couldn't have asked for nicer weather, after a few brief bouts of rain and sleet in the morning, the clouds parted. Wildlife was abundant throughout the day. Large flocks of ducks and geese filled the sky, roosters flushed across the river, bald eagles soared overhead and whitetail deer fed in riverside fields. All in all it was a memorable day of winter fishing in Montana.