|Winter '12: Sunshine, solitude, and good fishing.|
My home office is located just a stone’s throw from the lower Gallatin River and lately it has been a rare day when I haven’t managed to get in an hour of fishing during the warmest part of the day, mid-afternoon. Midges are hatching, and on overcast days a few fish can be found rising to them. The nymph fishing has been very productive with caddis larva, midge larva and pupa, grey and pink sow bugs, red worms, eggs, and increasingly, stonefly nymphs… the usual winter line-up.
Streamers have even been producing recently, both with an active retrieve and dead drifted. Reports have been surfacing of quality streamer fishing on the Yellowstone River near Livingston, with conditions even allowing anglers to float the river - an extreme rarity in February.
The trick to good fishing at this time of year is finding the winter holding water. Trout are not evenly distributed throughout a river at this time of year, rather they are congregated in the deepest, slowest holes. Where there is one fish, there are likely to be many more holding in the same location. I was reminded of this fact this past weekend while fishing the lower Madison River, where I caught all of my fish from just two holes along a half mile stretch of river. Repeatedly drifting through these holes produced fish after fish, and when the action died, changing flies (particularly the fly size) produced more fish.
As enjoyable as the winter fly fishing has been this year, I think most of us are ready for a solid dose of winter weather to close the season out - quality summer fishing depends upon it. The Gallatin and Madison watersheds are currently sitting at 70% and 74% of average snowpack, respectively. Old Man Winter has some catching up to do.