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Montana Fly Fishing in December

Fly fishing during the winter month of December in Montana is highly weather dependent. Winter weather is the real deal in Montana and the harshness of the cold and wind should not be understated. That being said there is something magical about winter fly fishing: the snow is falling, the air is crisp, and every trout is well earned.

Anglers fly fishing in December will be rewarded with an experience unlike any other. December is often the mildest of the winter weather we see. Destinations are limited to wade fishing on the Gallatin River and Madison River and float fishing on the Missouri River. Most of our Montana fly fishing guides have put up their boots for the season, but there are still a few around available to share a day on the water with anglers.




What to Expect in December

Anglers fly fishing in Montana in December should be expect cold. Montana cold. Temperatures vary significantly from -40F to +40F. Generally colder weather means calmer wind, which is ideal for fly fishing. Anglers properly prepared with comfortable waders, boots, and outerwear will be comfortable in all conditions and reap the rewards of spending a day on the water in December. Snow capped peaks, wide open water, and solid fly fishing await willing anglers.


Where to Fly Fish in December

The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks offer the best fly fishing for anglers in Montana in December. DePuy’s, Armstrong’s, and Nelson’s Spring Creek run near-constant temperature and offer open water year run, even on the coldest of days. These creeks offer refuge for trout from the freezing waters of the Yellowstone River and hold their highest fish counts through winter and early spring. Midges are king during the winter months and make for excellent nymphing on a daily basis as well as sporadic dry fly fishing opportunities. Warming huts on DePuy’s Spring Creek offer a welcome respite from the cold for anglers to seek shelter in and warm frozen hands and rods.

Wade fishing on the Gallatin River and Madison River can also be productive. Sub-zero temperatures often result in floating ice and ice shelves that makes fly fishing dangerous if not impossible. Daytime temperatures above 20F will make for the best conditions.

Float fishing is generally limited to the Missouri River in December. Boat ramp accessibility is always the primary consideration as early season storms often make for limited access. Always check the boat ramp before backing down. Do not back down if there is significant ice build up. You likely will not make it back up.


December Fly Fishing Tactics

Nymphing will be the most effective fly fishing technique throughout the winter months on all of our Montana rivers. Midges, worms, stonefly nymphs, and pink attractor flies will be the top producers on our freestone rivers. Midges, sowbugs, scuds, and pink attractors will be the top producers on the Missouri River tailwater. Midges, midges, and midges will be the go to flies for the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks.


December Fly Fishing Trips

Anglers interested in Montana fly fishing trips in December will find our Winter Special Trips to be a great value and the best way to enjoy a day of winter fly fishing with our Montana fly fishing guides. Safe weather is a minimum requirement for a December fly fishing trip, but anglers will enjoy a fun day on the water as part of every trip. We do not recommend planning a trip to Montana for the sole purpose of fly fishing in December, but if you find yourself in Bozeman, MT and want to get in a day or two of fly fishing, we would encourage  anglers to book a winter fly fishing trip with the Montana Angling Company.

Contact us to learn more about fly fishing in December in Montana.