“The charm of fly fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable. It is a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
The calendar flips to a new year and we take time reflect on the past and look to the future. For many it’s a time to resolve to make positive changes in our lives during the coming year. We commit to pursue what is "elusive, yet attainable."
I love fly fishing on New Year’s Day. It pairs an inherently optimistic activity, with all the hope and promise of a new year. And as of January 1, 2020 I have now been doing that for 21 consecutive years!
Fishing the Madison on January 1st is a very special personal and family tradition that began way back in late 1999, when Eric Shores, Mike Lum and myself decided we should catch the first fish of the new millennium on January 1st, 2000. We did it, and somehow I have kept the streak alive for 21 years since.
It's always a great opportunity to get out for a good winter walk with family, friends and the dogs. But the NYD trip is about more than just that. It is also about 1 fish. The objective is absolutely to catch that first fish of the new year. This adds a bit of pressure, but also makes it fun.
I was joined this year by a Gung-Ho enthusiastic crew that helped make it a great day: Rikki, Casey LeBrun, Rico Aquino, Charlie Cooper and his 9 year old son Reid.
It was a pretty typical cold and windy winter day with ice and slush flowing near Ennis so we headed for $3 Bridge. Skies were overcast, the wind died and there was 4 inches of fresh snow on the ground as we made first tracks in to the river which was flowing low, clear and free of ice. Reid was fired up and we waded in right below the bridge and commenced to fishing and catching!
I was throwing my Euro-Nymph rod/rig with a #12 Jig Copper John and a #18 Black Zebra Midge (check out our recent Euro video here). In typical deep winter fashion, the fish were biting good! Collectively we managed to hook, lose and land lots of fish. Some pretty big ones too. Although we don’t have photographic evidence of our biggest fish, we did manage to catch a few good images and some video of the day.
I don’t know when this tradition will come to an end, but it’s been a great run and I will forever cherish the many great memories of these days spent with good friends and family!
MADISON SPRING SPECIAL
Fly fishing on New Year's Day may be slightly crazy, but it won’t be long until we are floating and fishing regularly. Late winter and early spring is always a good time to fish the Upper Madison. We have some of our most productive days at this time of year. Historically, we start up fishing and guiding sometime in February or March with the “Un-official”..... “official” opening of our guide season being April 1st.... Winter rocks though, so if you’re up for an adventure we are ready for you!
We have a great Spring Special Deal for you early birds that want to take advantage of this awesome time of year. From now until May 1st, Half-Day Madison River guide trips are $295, and Full-Day trips are $450. We also have great deals on fishing/Lodging packages in conjunction with McAllister Inn:
- 2 Nights Lodging - 2 Half Days Fishing - $785
- 2 Nights Lodging - 2 Full Days Fishing - $1,090
- 3 Nights Lodging - 2 Half Days Fishing - $875
- 3 Nights Lodging - 2 Full Days Fishing - $1,185
- 4 Nights Lodging - 3 Full Days Fishing - $1,730
**All rates for 1 or 2 anglers with double occupancy room rates
Drop us a line today to make plans, or call us last minute when you see a window of opportunity.
It’s still very early, but so far it has certainly been a warmer and drier winter than the last several years. Last January was pretty warm too before the arctic cold swallowed up Montana for the whole month of February. This could all bode well for the late winter/early spring fishing. Stay tuned, but know that anytime temps reach into the 40s, it's game on!
MADISON REC. PLAN UPDATE
The window has now closed for the Madison Scoping Survey. FWP reportedly received over 7,000 entries. Way more than most expected. The FWP Commission is scheduled to meet again in Helena February 6th where they will presumably move a draft plan forward for public comment and eventual adoption into rule. In addition to whatever internal plan may be in the works, both FOAM and MOGA (Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana and Montana Outfitters & Guides Association) have submitted draft Commercial Use Management Plans to the commission for consideration.
You can review FOAM’s most recent draft management plan here.
TROUT STALKERS IS HIRING
Know someone with the defective gene and a burning desire to live in Ennis and work in the fly fishing industry? Trout Stalkers is hiring for the 2020 season. The ideal candidate will be extremely energetic, outgoing, knowledgeable, fishy, tech savvy and excited about working in a fast paced retail environment. We work hard, and play hard!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org (406) 581-5150
VINTAGE FLY TACKLE
Want to turn those old rods and reels into cash? We buy high quality vintage fly tackle. Email us photos and we will appraise your gear and help you convert it to cash. email@example.com
- 2019 Weather stats courtesy of Tom DiMeola:
- 56.5 inches of snow. Heaviest snowfall in 17 years of records. Mainly due to the 33.5 inches in February
- 25 days below zero was twice the 17 year average of 12.35 below zero. 15 days below zero in February
- Growing Season was 122 days vs. the 17 year average of 110.65 days
- The new Varney Bridge is getting close to completion. Check out the live web cam here
- Bozeman now has more direct flights for Atlanta and Seattle anglers
- Burnt Tree Brewing is planning a fly tying night, beginning Sunday, January 19th
- Trout Stalkers new website is under construction...