Locals Fishing Report for Explore Big Sky Nov. 24-Dec. 7 December 03 2017

By Shane Stalling

Wow! Ski season is already here and there’s only one month left in 2017? I feel like wet wading and evening caddis hatches were just a few weeks ago. As usual, Summer and Fall just flew by. A huge Thank You to all the Big Sky anglers, guides and businesses for such a great summer.

But….just because it’s ski season doesn’t mean fishing season is over. The fish still have to eat. The Gallatin is one of the best winter fisheries Downstream of the stoplight is full of natural springs, which keeps the river a touch warmer and (mostly) ice free. When we have some warmer days, fishing is best during the warmest part of the day and your fly selection is pretty simple.

The Madison is without a doubt one of the finest and most consistent winter fisheries in the area due to the controlled water temps from the dam. Very little pressure means great nymphing and great opportunities for fishing dries. Both the Madison and Gallatin have relatively similar rigs this time of year.

A Pat’s Rubberleg should almost always be your lead fly, and you can experiment with midge patterns, lightning bugs and other stone fly imitations as your secondary fly. Make sure to add some additional split shot, so your flies are getting down.

Winter fish like to conserve energy while waiting out winter, so they won’t move very far to a fly. Choose your water with this in mind. Fish want the food to come right to them, so seams, dropoffs and backsides of boulders are great places to search. Make sure you cover the water completely by making numerous drifts and changing fly depth before moving spots. Once you find one fish you are likely to find others. Remember that fly depth and drift is more important than fly selection.