Midges, Black Ice & Vitamin D

From: TroutHunter Field Desk Mid-Jan, 2012

Location: Beautiful downtown Last Chance, Idaho

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese Proverb

In our case, here in Last Chance, we may need a few more kind words to warm us up through one of our historically long winters. You see, up here we do have 4 seasons, but they read more like this; Early Winter, then Winter, then Late Winter & finally next Winter…..so say a few kind words for us friends & help us along to the time when the water thaws & the rivers run rich with bugs & fish.

But hey, on the bright side, we’re currently a little over 2 weeks deep into an early January thaw. It’s currently 42 degrees outside, sunny as all get out & what little snow we have is beginning to slowly melt away. The Midges are out in score & the fish are taking note. Earlier today, I strolled out back to take a look at the river and was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of single midges and even a few clusters. A more detailed observation of the rivers surface revealed dimpled rings from rising trout. A kind sight on a warm winter day for sure.

It’s curiously difficult to say anything negative about our current weather, but someone upstairs really needs to turn on the faucet of frozen love & dump copious amounts of snow on this cozy little fishing village, ensuring a healthy dose of H2O for our little finned friends come summer time. But, until then, we’ll cheerfully bask in these sunny 1st days of 2012……..because they won’t last & we’ll soon be back to sub zero temps and 3 day blizzards…. you can bet on that.

The midge fishing ‘round these parts has been pretty good as of late. Last week, a few of us ventured the frozen highway over to the Madison to test the frigid waters. We fished two consecutive days & were met with an array of conditions & results. The 1st day was sunny with a forecasted 39 degree high temp, but a strong & steady East wind kept the chill factor feeling like the single digits and it only took a few casts to get that dreaded ice started in the guides. On a high note, the midges were out in full force – clustering in large groups behind every ice capped boulder and cut in the bank. We found good numbers of fish feeding in every slack water slick and made relatively easy sport of them. A properly placed G-gnat turned the trick every time and the fish we hooked were healthy in their winter colors. It was a fine day indeed, with fast enough fishing to make the outside temps seem just a tad bit warmer.

We woke the morrow with high hopes of repeating what we’d had the day before. The sun was burning down again, but the wind had laid down to almost non-existent – making for some super ideal winter fishing conditions. But……..the Midges had decided to take a hiatus it seemed, and we had to actually look about with diligence to scope even a single midge. We had plenty of deserving opportunities and in true form, TroutHunter Guide & Scott Pro-Staffer “Zach Wheeler” saved the day by landing a healthy Brown in a glassy back-water slick. The remainder of our post-holing traipse was spent trying to put the sneak on circumspect trout feeding selectively on solitary midges. A few smallish type fish were landed in a skinny side channel, but the better fish we tried to annoy were put down within a few casts, making for a good old fashioned lesson in angling futility. Not to complain though, because our jaunt was filled with plenty of opportunity – on one of the warmest early January days we’d ever experienced in SW Montana.

So, as our long winter continues, we’ll look forward to these warm sunny days, which bring with them the opportunity at a few rising fish. During the cold spells, we’ll toss a few more logs in the fire-box, kick back and dream about the season to come, which will undoubtedly bring with it bigger bugs & ample pods of hungry Trout.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *