Weekend Warrior: Right Around Cold.

We’ve seen a lot of snow and rain this past week, and that’s great news for the rivers this season. What does that mean for fishing this weekend? More of the same. February. Might be the last month you think of when it comes to fishing in Missoula, and with the weekend weather looking like a bit of snow on Saturday and a whole lot of football on Sunday, chances are if you head out to the river you’ll find plenty of space to dunk the winter stuff. If you fish at all in the winter, you already know your hot-beaded flies of choice – but be on the lookout for midgy type water and give it a shot if you’re out there. Hell, at least it will be a change from the bobber-dogging. If you’re new to winter fishing, check out my five tips for winter fishing, and also focused on winter fishing with midges here, and recently the guys down at the one and only Grizzly Hackle wrote a great post summing up what it’s all about out there. Check those posts out for some great advice on the winter mode. This weekend if you’re not a big football fan, Sunday can be your day of solitude on the water without question.

Ugh, another dozen heavy stoneflies. When does winter end again?

Is there a special fly this weekend to toss out there? Yep. Oh yes! And I’m the only dude in town who has it. Actually, nope. I’m just messing with you. The winter flies don’t change all that much: san juan worm variations, stoneflies, flashy hot-beaded stuff, and the likes. The real trick is to fish every inch of the good water, because fish aren’t moving far to eat. Stick with the winter staples- nymphs you know and love, and nice big stoneflies and worms, and keep the midge box handy in case you see some actual action. I also like a small (size 14-16) black stonefly pattern in winter as a top fly if I see some of the bugs around on the edges of the water. If nothing is happening on the water, looking for bugs along the snowbanks can be an entertaining diversion. You might find a lot more than you realized was present as well. These February weekends are slow, but the fish are out there. Dead drift a streamer, dunk a worm, or get busy tying while you await the onslaught of the Super Bowl. Coldplay is playing at halftime. There’s your first reason right there to hit the water instead of watching a game.

Little stoneflies are out there in winter, like this lonely dude cruising the snowbank.
Fish eat them. Go ahead and tie one on. 

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