Sometimes in order to be a successful fisherman you must diversify, especially in the winter! Those of us living in Montana who like to catch fish year-around know how to get it done, even when the temperatures drop well below zero.
I recently had a client contact me about doing a winter fishing trip. Scott was in Montana enjoying winter activities with his good friend Rick and both their wives. I was happy to have the opportunity to take Scott and Rick on a “Reel” winter fishing adventure.
Over the years I have guided many winter fishing trips and they have always turned out successful. Most of them have involved a fly rod, but occasionally I bust out the hard water equipment. The date was set for February 19 and the first thing I began to focus on was the temperature for that particular day. As it got closer to the trip, I realized it was going to be a very cold day and I came up with a game plan. Originally, we were going to fly fish the Madison for the day, but with the temperatures starting off at -20 °F in the morning, that wasn’t going to work! We decided to ice fish on Hebgen Lake for the first half of the day and then throw some flies later in the day after things warmed up a bit.
Neither of the guys have ever ice fished before but trusted my decision and gave it a try. They quickly realized we had made the right decision when we started pulling nice trout one after the other through the holes I had drilled in the ice. After catching many rainbows and one brown the ice action started to slow down around lunch time. This was a perfect time for us to pack up, wader up, and grab lunch before heading to the river.
It was still single digits and the wind was blowing but we were determined to get some river time in. Despite the hard work of wading through the deep snow to get down to the river and the constant ice building on our rods, we still had smiles on our faces from all the fish we caught that morning. We managed to hook a couple more and then landed a beautiful dark-colored rainbow on a fly. At that point we decided to call it a day. In the end, we had a very successful day due to our diversified fishing tactics.