Madison in Winter


Written by: Eric Rickstad

Winter fishing around southwest Montana is as much about shaking some cabin fever as anything else. Seems like the weather is either warm and windy or bitter cold and windy. So, when we get a day without the wind—be it bitter or warm—a few hours on the water always sounds good to me.

The lower Madison is typically a great winter fishing choice as it offers lots of easy access, so you never have to be too far from the warmth of the truck. It’s also got a lot of fish that like to hold in any water that’s deeper than two feet and offers a break from the main currents. Little winter angling pressure and a few clouds makes for some comfortable, feeding fish all winter long.

So, we headed out there last weekend for a few hours of easy fishing on one of the most storied rivers in the West. The fish were where they were supposed to be, they ate what they should’ve eaten, and we considered it a good day.

I think the high was around 15. We fished about half an hour. It took longer than that for our bootlaces to thaw on the drive home. We once again were able to validate that water does, in fact, freeze when the air temperature is below 32, and it happens even quicker when it’s closer to 10 than 20. And we think trout have small brains.

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