fly fishing montana in November & December

Fly Fishing Montana in November & December

On most years there are opportunities to catch fish in multiple venues across Southwest Montana in November and December. However, our freestone season is largely over and we concentrate on dam or ground sourced water. Water temperatures on these fisheries hovers in the low 40’s concentrating fish into the easiest holding water that provides enough food.

While we do see some midge fishing, this time of year is dominated by subsurface techniques. Comfort is always a priority fishing in November and December in Montana. Because of this all trips include a jet boil for hot drinks, hot soup at lunch, a flask of fine whiskey, and a propane heater. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean we have to be cold!

November and December both provide unique opportunities on a range of fisheries across Southwest Montana. Just make sure you bring a jacket (or two).

November & December Fishing Options

The Paradise Valley Spring Creeks see the warmest water of our November and December fishing options. The fish have pulled into slower water and feed at various times of day depending on insect activity and barometric pressure. Somedays we see calm mornings and fishing that tapers as the day progresses, other days we see the reverse. If an angler is in-tune with the creeks the catch rates are surprisingly high and we see some of the nicer fish caught as the browns recover from their spawn and feed. Warmer low pressure systems usher in hatches of midges that bring a few fish to the surface.

The Madison River can provide solid fishing along its length depending on that years weather pattern. Through November we concentrate on either end of the Upper Madison where subsurface tactics dominate the day. We will employ multiple styles of nymphing depending on the water type we’re fishing. The upper river provides less variance in structure and sees more pressure but has a spring-fed influence that yields warmer water temperatures. The lower river braids, and provided the ice stays at bay, the fishing can be outstanding.

The Missouri River sees a push of fish as they migrate toward the dam in search of warmer water. These fish pack into the big slow runs the Missouri is famous for and can be taken multiple ways. The primary means of fishing is indicator nymphing from the boat. Find the right weight and length and anglers are sure to be bent in these stretches. For those looking to add a little variety to their day, a spey rod, sink tip, and leech will bring fish to hand. Spey casting for trout is a soulful experience and the vicious grabs keep anglers warm throughout the day.

November & December Weather in Montana

November sees an average high temperature of 41 and an average low of 18. While December sees an average high of 30 and an average low of 8. Combined we see about 1.5 inches of precipitation between the two months. It is important to note, early December is more inline with November weather, while later in the month we see weather constant with January and February. 

Montana By The Month

Get a breakdown of what it’s like to fly fish in Montana each month of the year.

Either way you’re in luck – there’s no bad time to go fly fishing in Montana!