What would you find if you hit your favorite remote fishing spots in the winter? Not a soul in sight, and fish willing to grab onto your flies. What does it take? Patience and a tactical approach, easy drifts, and a whole lot of layers. Early winter fishing is one of those shots at fish that most don’t take- busy hunting, recovering from a long guide season, or stuck holiday shopping with the family, thinking about pulling on the waders and stepping into a river this time of year takes a little extra effort. But for some, this is the time of year when fishing takes on a new appeal. Solitude, quiet woods, easy pickings on the spots, and fish that will agree to some easy protein as they put on those last big calories before winter forces them into midge mode. A well stocked winter fly box is easy to put together. A lot of heavy stonefly nymphs, some bottom-rolling caddis and scuds, eggs, worms and the smaller stuff to cover those midges and you’re in business. Nymphing these rivers in winter will give you a new perspective on how these fish act and where they hide when feeding times get slim, and the tugs you get feel like an extra reward that helps you ignore those beet-red fingers and cold toes. While the tying benches are warming up, the rivers are cooling down but the fishing is still there. It will be months before most of the Missoula anglers get stir-crazy enough to hit the rivers again during those warm periods of late February and early March. And that’s just fine for those anglers who relish the winter season for what it offers, hot fishing or not.