With snowfall, wind, and cold, fishing in Montana during the winter is not for the faint of heart. If you are a fair-weather angler it’s probably not for you. However, if you enjoy solitude and don’t mind getting a little chilly, this is the perfect time for you to fly fish in Montana.
If you fish during the winter make sure you have the right gear to keep you dry and warm. It’s a good idea to watch the weather because winds can kick up anytime making a wintry day even colder. The best time of day to fish in the winter is when the temperatures are the warmest. No need to get up early this time of year.
It’s imperative during the winter that you know where to go. Many rivers and lakes have large ice formations, especially if they are slow-moving. You need waters that are faster or have more consistent temperatures for good fishing.
The three rivers we recommend fishing in Montana during the winter are...
The Gallatin River has geothermal hot springs that feed into it near Bozeman. These springs keep the water from freezing, even warm enough to wade in with the right gear.
Stretches of the Madison River near Bozeman and Ennis are fast-moving, which means less ice and more opportunity for fishing on wintry days.
The Missouri River near Craig is big enough, and the current is fast enough to keep these waters open. Best fishing is off the shore and if the weather is cooperating, you can even float this stretch during the winter.
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As weather conditions across the United States are beginning to turn cold and most people are hanging up their gear I believe this is the best time of year to fish in California. Since one half of the Angler’s Ace team lives in the mountains of the Sierra I have to take every opportunity I can get to fish here.
The colder months in California are not that cold in a lot of places, plus there is the added benefit that not as many people are out crowding the shores. So don’t hang up that gear quite yet and head on out to these 6 places to get more fishing in.
The trinity river is 110 miles long. It’s known to be one of the best steelhead streams on the west coast.
The entire river is almost all wild. It runs through BLM land, Six Rivers National Forest and Shasta Trinity National Forest.
The Steelhead in the river now are mainly from restoration efforts, since dams that were built in the 1960’s led to the steep decline of the species. Now scientists estimate the population into the thousands.
Daytime highs are usually in the 60’s from now until March, but temperatures can often be below freezing. Fall and winter are not for the faint of heart when fishing on the Trinity River, but there is more than just Steelhead to catch. There are also Chinook and Coho salmon as well as brown trout.
The upper 40 miles of the river is where most of the best fishing occurs. You can float or wade in most spots.
Stocked by California’s Fish and Wildlife department with trout, bass and catfish. In Mono and Inyo counties waters are open year around. The crowds are low especially before or after storms.
Best places for fly fishing in designated waters in Mono County are Hot Creek and Upper Owens River. You may even want to explore Bishop County’s Pleasant Valley Reservoir that feeds into Owns River for brown and rainbow trout.
Lower Sacramento River
The Lower Sacramento River has an interesting history that you can find out more about here, but what can really be said about this river is that there are more than 50 miles of good fishing. It’s been known to have average catches of 16 inches, but is commonly known to have several rainbow trout over 20 inches. Since there is a lot of space on this river to fish you’ll often feel alone as fisherman can spread out along this river.
The California Delta offers a variety of fishing opportunities during the winter months and with recreational boaters packed up for the winter you’ll have a peaceful expedition. The Delta hosts a number of different species from bass, catfish, Bluegill, salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon. With temperatures ranging from 55 to 65 degrees fahrenheit from November to March the Delta is perfect to keep fishing all through winter.
The Delta also offers many fishing tournaments with big prizes. If you don’t like fish don’t worry the Delta is full of crawfish if that’s more your speed.
Southern California Lakes
With average temperatures in the high 60s you can’t go wrong fishing in any Southern California Lake. There are easily over 100 lakes to visit and you can find out which ones are the best by visiting this website.
Beach and Pier Fishing
One of the greatest fishing experiences in California is beach and pier fishing. The coast is always a great place to visit at any time of the year. Some places in Northern California might be a little cold, but what you can catch in the ocean is worth the chill. The most common fish caught from the beach or pier is surperch, halibut, bass, and smelt. To find out more about beach and pier fishing visit California Fish and Wildlife.
Don’t forget that you might be struggling to tie blood knots during the colder months, so this is the best time to use the Angler’s Ace blood knot tool! Get yours in the store today!
September is a great month to be outdoors, especially Saturday September 5th, as it’s free fishing day! This means the state of California doesn’t require a fishing license to fish today. Check out California's Fish and Wildlife website here for more information.
So if you know someone who wants to try fishing, this is a great opportunity to do so. Take someone who is interested and doesn’t normally go. It’s a great time to teach newbies fishing ethics, fish habits, methods for catching fish and fishing tackle. Also, this is a great time to teach your friends how to gut, clean and prepare fish for dinner.
Another reason September is a great month is that it’s National Public Lands Month and National Public Lands Day is on September 26th.
On this day you can visit a National Park for free! There are volunteer projects you can take part in that help restore habitats, remove invasive plants, fly-fishing clinics and more! This year, for obvious reasons, volunteer events are going to look a little different. Some NPLD managers will host virtual events designed to educate about public lands, while others are hosting in person events that comply with local COVID regulations. You can register for an event here.
Spending time outdoors is beneficial to our physical and emotional health, especially during this time in our history. Don’t miss this opportunity to reap these benefits for free!
Plus, this would be a great opportunity to fish in public lands that you might not have before. But before you do, make sure you check out the National Park site for their fishing regulations.