Winter Fishing in Montana Impresses

winter fishing

My good buddy Dan visited Bozeman this weekend for a short late winter vacation get-a-way. Dan and I grew up in grade school together, later became college roommates, and more recently served in each other’s weddings. We awoke Friday morning to the delightful surprise of 11" of cold smoke powder skiing at Bridger Bowl, located just a few minutes outside of town. The new snow was in addition to the five feet of snow that fell within the last three weeks at Bridger. Skiing conditions were more than amazing to say the least. On Saturday morning we enjoyed another welcome surprise, 7" of new snow at Big Sky ski area. Dan and I hooted and hollered as we descended nearly 3,000 vertical feet on a tram run in knee deep fresh powder. I dragged Dan out fishing on the third day, although I sensed a reluctant attitude as he hinted how we should go skiing again given the perfect conditions on the mountain. It didn't take long for the warm sunny weather and excellent fishing to change his opinion. We sampled a few of the local rivers, wade fishing here or there for an hour or two at a time. We enjoyed great fishing at every stop.  Rainbow and brown trout were enthusiastically greeting us by moving aggressively for olive midge larvae and the occasional egg pattern. The Ruby River had at least one aggressive brown trout waiting in every hole, while the Madison provided pockets of schooled rainbows in each of the deeper runs. Dan commented frequently about the great fishing fun and expressed surprise because he is used to marginal winter trout fishing around his local trout rivers in Oregon. I think he must have been pretty impressed by the size of the Ruby River brown trout he was catching because on the fourth day he elected to decline a free ski pass in order to get one more day of fishing in before his evening flight home. I chuckled as I thought to myself, "Another Montana angling convert".   -Miles  

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