Lower Madison in Winter

Mid Winter Fly Fishing Report for January 25, 2023

Mid Winter Fly Fishing

Mid winter fly fishing can be a fickle thing.  Weather is everything.  Find a nice day above freezing with a little sun and little wind and you are golden.  Finding these days are rare in the Madison Valley but they do exist.

Find the Warm Days

On those warm winter days fishing can be pretty good.  You need to keep in mind this is not summer fishing. The fish are not scattered in all the heavy riffles and under every wave.   This time of the year fish seek solitude and slow just like most in the cold.  Look for the deepest slowest spots on the river.  Inside turns, holes behind boulders, deep green buckets or anywhere over knee deep.   The fish will be on the bottom and not willing to move much for one bite of food.  Keep your stuff deep.  If you are not hitting bottom every third cast you need more weight.  Split shot is your friend.  You might loose some flies but you will be in the zone.

What to Fish

The safe bet is the tiny and shiny stuff this time of year.  Think what might be floating in the soup.  Midges are the only thing active this time of year. Zebra’s in black, red and white are a winter fisherman’s best friend.  Lightning bugs and any of the other shiny stuff will do in a pinch but it is surprising how they key on the zebra.


We are almost to turd and worm season.  I would fish the pats rubber leg and san juan hoping the fish are ahead of schedule.  This will be the golden ticket soon so keep it handy and keep it wet.  Fish always like stone flies and worms.  Remember pink is the color of spring on the san juan’s.


When fishing the little midge stuff you will need to fish 3X tippet.  Mostly to get into the eye of the hook.  This time of year if you can get the hook threaded fish it.  We like the 2X for most things.  Fishing rope makes removing rock fish easier and saves some flies.  It also helps you land fish quicker and get them back swimming free.


We have had some good fishing weather this winter and a few storms on the way.  We need the snow so do not knock the storms.  The banks are all gourged out from the Lake up to about

Fishing Reports and Trips

  • Fishing Reports

  • Want to know the most up-to-date information to find where the fish are biting? The Tackle Shop Fishing Reports provide you with a comprehensive look at current water conditions, recent hatches and flow data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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  • Float Trips

  • The Tackle Shop offers a range of full-day and half-day float trips in the Madison River Valley area. The trips are all-inclusive and cover files, rods, reels, waders and boots. Leave your worries behind and let us give you the fly fishing trip of a lifetime.

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  • Walk/Wade Trips

  • Enjoy one of our full-day or half-day walk and wade trips for a more immersive, slower-paced fly fishing experience. The Tackle Shop will cater to your individual needs so you are able to take in the sights and sounds of the best waters in Montana.

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