Our Rivers

Lower Madison River Fly Fishing in Winter

Lower Madison River Fishing in the Winter

Midge hatches and slow-rising trout along the banks and seam lines from January through mid-March help ease the long Montana winter for anglers fishing the lower Madison. Mild, overcast days bring prolific insect activity and surface-feeding, wild trout to the shallow waters during the mid-day hours.

Consistent streamflow and water temperatures create a stable environment in which deep trout feed subsurface on a variety of invertebrates throughout the winter. They move into shallower waters during hatch periods on mild days and in the pre-spawn weeks of early March.

Winter Lower Madison River Fly Fishing Hatches

Midge hatches dominate throughout winter with blue-winged olive beginning to appear on mild days in mid-March. As winter gives way to spring in late March or early April, BWO hatches become increasingly more important to both anglers and trout.

Lower Madison River Fly Fishing Techniques for Winter

Cold water temperatures keep the wild trout of the lower Madison River relatively lethargic throughout the winter months.

However, nymph-fishing with heavily weighted tandem fly rigs can reach the deep trout feeding in the buckets and holes. Anglers fishing with indicator rigs in the 5-7’ length range have success with crayfish or stonefly nymph lead flies followed by midge larvae or egg pattern droppers.

Mild, overcast days from late January – March are typically accompanied by heavy hatches of midges followed by a couple of hours of dry fly fishing for the experienced angler. Steady rising trout can be found throughout the river when conditions are ideal.

Bozeman Fly Fishing Guide Pro Tip:

Experienced dry fly anglers fishing the lower Madison should focus their efforts on the river stretches between Canaday and Black’s Ford. Weed beds along this section provide structure and cover for shallow-feeding trout, easily accessed from the dirt road opposite HWY 84. A simple assortment of midge cluster patterns such as a Griffith’s Gnat and low-riding stalwarts like the CDC Transitional Midge are essential for dry fly angling success.

Our Lower Madison River Fly Box for Winter

Winter Lower Madison River Fishing Trips

Fins and Feathers Guide Service has been outfitting Montana fly fishing trips on the lower Madison for over two decades. Winter fly fishing trips in Montana are weather-dependent and best secured within a few days of the ideal date when conditions are appropriate.

Experienced anglers fishing with our Bozeman fly fishing guides do well while fly fishing the lower Madison during the wintertime.

Novice anglers can expect challenging conditions as the wading can be difficult and we are often dealing with windy conditions during periods of unstable weather which is common during this time of the year.

Wade fishing is the standard method and the typical trip is 4-6 hours in length. We offer off-season rates between November 1 and March 30.

Montana fly fishing trips to the lower Madison River during the winter can be booked online, via e-mail, or by calling us at 1-406-468-5019. Contact Us with questions or for help planning your fly fishing trip near Bozeman.