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Bitterroot River Winter Fly Fishing Photo Essay - December 2018
Rainbow Trout Bitterroot River Montana

Wild Rainbow Trout Bitterroot River

Bitterroot River Montana December 2018 Fishing – Sort Of

The pace of a Missoula fishing guide’s life slows down quite a bit in the winter.  Most of us take on odd jobs while our rivers sleep. We do watch the Missoula weather and the magic number we like is a winter day over 40 degrees with the slush fully cleared. If a few flexible schedules open up we go fishing – sort of.

Bitterroot River Boat Launch December 2018

Launching on the Bitterroot River

Bridge on Bitterroot River 2018 December

Bitterroot river near Victor Montana

The great winter hatch that can show up on the Bitterroot River is the capnia stonefly. They are unreliable at best and it takes an equally intermittent midge hatch overlap to create pods of sippers.  Those are the great days when easy pods of risers feast in the glass water for a few hours in the low winter afternoon light.

Bitterroot River Montana December 2018

Glassy Pool Bitterroot River

We lucked into some warm weather on Friday, but the bugs didn’t show.  Fishing then devolves into nymphs under the dreaded “bite indicator.” Enthusiasm twists and wanes quickly when you are dragging san juan worms through the slow winter pools and riffles.

Missoula Fishing Guide Brooks Jessen

Do I really have to nymph?

Winter days can quickly turn into a strong doses of anti shack nasty medicine. The warm low south hanging sun on the back purges the monotony of grey of inversions. The bite indicator going down or not doesn’t effect the potency of the medicine.

Missoula Fishing Guide Nate Mcdonough

Winter Sun on the Face

Conversations divert to catching up with friends rather than which fly to use.

Missoula Fishing Guide Brooks Jessen

Laughing over coffee

Its not like we don’t fish at all.  Catching a few always makes for a nice re-connect with our friends who spend their winter wet.

Rainbow Trout that looks like a Vampire

Vampire Trout Bitterroot River

Getting a rod back in your hand doesn’t hurt either.  That it is more a casting tool, than an instrument of catching doesn’t seem to matter when fishing is taken as only a small part of the day.

Guide Brooks Jessen casts into the Bitterroot River

Letting a cast sail in the Montana winter sun

And you do get a few if you want to fish enough.  The right build of the water where you can pick up a fish are just as unreliable as the stoneflies that would make for exceptional bobber less fishing.

Brown Trout Bitterroot River Montana 2018

Youngster Brown Trout

The topic of boat talk can get a little weird.  We have too much time to think this time of year. Nate and I were informed that Brooks is developing a fish kissing program. He believes this will soon become his signature move destined to take over social media #fishlicker . Up until Friday it was only a theory.

From what I have seen in practice he still has some kinks to work through.

Missoula fishing guide holds a rainbow in Montana

#thefishlicker

Good to be outside floating a river in Montana with friends again.

Blog post created by Joe Cummings. For bio please visit Missoula Fishing Guides.