Not something you would usually think of fishing right? If you asked me to name 10 places in Montana that I routinely fish during the winter the Yellowstone would be like number 25...
That's because typically this river is icey, large sections remain completely iced over until sometimes even April and so I avoid this river during the winter and concentrate on more productive spots.
Then we had a week or two of 40 degree weather and as I drove over it one afternoon on my way to fish Nelson's Spring Creek I noticed that at both Carters and Pine Creek bridge the river was plenty open for fishing. If there's one thing I'm not, it's afraid to fish anywhere at any time, that's just my nature - I love to fish.
So I ventured over to the river last Thursday for a little winter exploration and what I found was well worth my time. I mean there was the standard fish here or there eating midges, a few rainbows eating eggs and the occasional fish taking a stonefly deep in the tailout of a riffle, nothing surprising. So I managed 5 or 6 for the first 5 hours of the day and then I noticed a really interesting surface disturbance in a long tailout of a run. I kept seeing fish crashing the surface, but not breaking the surface, just swirling underneath it. So naturally I tried a few emergers and soft hackles figuring that would surely get a fish. Nothing... My next natural reaction would be to reach for the biggest ugliest thing I had that I could throw on my 5 weight (hey it's winter and 9 weights aren't very versatile).
It happened to be a big ugly black leech, and on the first cast stripped right along the bottom a 17" brown walloped the thing. I was stoked, thinking it was probably an anomaly I half heartedly pitched it back out, and three strips later another big brown slammed it. Now I could hardly stand it - January, 40 degrees outside, sun setting, going to get dark soon, thinking I had a long walk back to my truck I should probably go. But against my reason I stayed and proceeded to hammer 6 more fish with the biggest topping 20". Not a bad afternoon.
I repeated this over the next week twice more and one day was pretty good, however Thursday was a lot slower as a front is moving in and the barometer was dropping along with the temps and we decided to float instead of wade and it was pretty slow on streamers. So that's probably it for January streamer fishing on the Stone, but I'll take it. Here's the lone culprit from this Thursday's outing, a nice 18"+ brown that had spots on it like a Char - made the day all worth it.
Oh yeah, and I'll have a couple of patterns up for you ASAP, been struggling to find spare time to video tape myself, and struggling to figure out how to hold the camera in one hand and tie with the other one...