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Swinging for Montana trout this winter?

2029 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  jetboat69
Early cold front screwed up my Steelhead season for the Salmon River and had to cancel a planned trip to the Bighorn to strip streamers for browns. I don't do too well when it's below 25* so frustration is building.
I do hope to get back to the Clearwater and fish above Orofino if the weather permits.
My question is, do any of you swing flies on the Missouri around Craig in the winter? If the air temps get above freezing I'd dig out the 12'6'' 3/4/5 and 4/5/6 Miez's and head over there.
Any help/information or advise would be appreciated.
Anyone else interested in taking part in this adventure please let me know. I would welcome the company
I'm retired so any time is good for me.
Unfortunately all my best friends ether don't fly fish are in too poor of health or still working.

No! I'm Not going to quit fishin just cause it's winter:mad:
Thanks and have a Happy Turkey Holiday:)
Keep them cards and letters comin.
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Man, if I lived anywhere close, I'd be all over that, but the commute from VA is a bit of an obstacle to spontaneity, in this case. Good luck, and let us know how it works out.

Montana Winter Trout


The Missouri, Madison & Yellowstone are fantastic places to swing flies in the winter! Do you plan on coming over for several days? As long as the temps in the mid 30's you should be good to go.

- Lawrence

The Missouri, Madison & Yellowstone are fantastic places to swing flies in the winter! Do you plan on coming over for several days? As long as the temps in the mid 30's you should be good to go.

- Lawrence
Hi Lawrence.
It so happens I am also a Lawrence S. Who'da thought?:chuckle:
Yes I plan to spend an few days and maybe do it several times during the winter. I have a drift boat and also have a jet boat if I can use it for getting
to and from places to fish. Won't need a shuttle if I can use it, Not sure what is acceptable on the river from Holter Dam to Hardy. I'v drifted the river in the summer but never in winter. Days will be short so jet boat would make it easy and shuttles not needed.
I plan to bring my PU and camper to stay in so I'll be mobile.
Madison and Yellowstone would be good options also. Driving conditions will also be a issue as it can get nasty at times. Been there done that:(
Jetboat - I'm gone in the winter but if you get cabin fever from April - Oct give me a shout. Just over the hill in SW MT.
RV hook-ups, spring creek a stone's throw and some good swing water a short drive.
I don't think a jet boat would be of much benefit.
You do see the rare motorized craft on the Mo. but there isn't really much of a need for one.
Shuttles from Wolf to Craig are $22. The river can be chopped up into very short floats and honestly if you are going to swing you really don't even need a boat. There is endless water you can fish on foot.
That being said I usually drag my raft up there.

It fishes well all winter, even when water temps get down to 33-34 degrees.
Keep an eye on the weather, the NOAA site does a better job of being more accurate and site specific.

The area around Craig often gets up into the high 30's to high 40's all winter long.
Sometimes it even gets up into the 50's.
Keep an eye on the wind forecast. Anything sustained much over 20mph is going to be unpleasant. Sustained over 30mph is going to be miserable.
Strong winds out of the north will be awful but usually the wind blows from the south moving you down stream pretty easily in a drift boat.

I usually run the dam to Wolf, Wolf to Craig (the longest) or Craig to Stickney/Spite.
More often than not I float Wolf to Craig. It's only a little over 5 miles and I usually fish 5 or 6 runs for the day. There's plenty of time for that run, you could probably down row it in an hour and a half/two hours.

I usually fish a skagit with 10 feet of T-17.
I don't really swing, I make long casts and slowly strip back in. The fish, even in winter can be in surprisingly fast water but are typically concentrated in the deeper slower runs. It's fairly obvious where the better water is.
Lot's of people throw scandis and just swing. I actually think that's not as productive but whatever, there are plenty of fish around.

They don't fight all that hard in the cold water even though they are in great shape. You could easily find two good areas to fish and spend all day on them given that there a gazillion fish per mile.
It actually gets kind of boring. I typically expect to catch between 20-30 in a day. 10-15 would be a slow day. They are nice fish though and you can expect to get into a few rainbows in the 20-22" class. Most are fat 16-18".

Smallish streamers in size 4-6 seem to work best. They love the Kreelex, it's like rainbow candy.

Any other questions contact these guys;
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Many thanks for all the suggestions and info.
I will be getting a hold of Steelheeler after April for sure! Thanks bud!
I am tying up some Kreelex streamers along with assorted others to expand my streamer collection. Easy tie, thanks Blackbugger.
I will get a hold of Headhunters fly shop for river updates and any other information I can glean out of them.
Plan on starting this venture after the 1st of the year depending on weather conditions and continue through the year hitting the Bighorn, Yellowstone, Madison, Big Hole, Henry s fork, North fork of the Clearwater, Clarkfork, Clearwater, Snake, and Salmon.
I'm running out of time so need to empty the Bucket list! Got to stay busy:chuckle:
Tight lines to all and have a great Thanksgiving.
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