Montana winters can be...brutal.
The silver lining for us fly anglers is two-fold. For starters, the summer crowds we've grown accustom to have dwindled down to virtually no one. Secondly, we experience many days around 32 degrees during the winter months. And doubly so in our area specifically. Philipsburg, Montana, sees a lot more sun than most valleys in our slice of the Rocky Mountains. We can think the Bitterroot and Pintler mountains for this, as they tend to scoop up and redirect cloud and weather systems around our valley.
In fact, nearby Rock Creek is possibly the best dry fly river in Montana. Maybe even the entire western United States, and that goes for the winter as well. If the sun hits the water you will see rising fish, and they will eat. See below for what is working right now on Rock Creek and Flint Creek.
As an alternative, Philipsburg is a quick 2 hour drive to the Missouri River, where we frequent because we like swinging flies on trout spey rods. Ask us about this fun way to target trout!
This all said, Philipsburg, Montana is an excellent winter fly fishing destination.
Here is what is working right now:
Rock Creek: TJ Hooker in sizes 8-10; Hot Bead San Juan Worm in size 10; Griffith's Gnat in sizes 18-20; Purple Haze in sizes 16-20.
Flint Creek: Flint Creek is currently pretty frozen, however, if you find open water we're using the following: TJ Hooker in sizes 8-10; Hot Bead San Juan Worm in size 10; Zebra Midge in sizes 16-20; Perdigon in sizes 14-18; Kreelex Minnow in size 6.
Missouri River: Kreelex Minnow in size 6; black leech patterns with a 2-21/2" profile and a little flash.
If you're not a "fair weather" angler we encourage you to stop by our shop in Philipsburg and chat with us about winter fly fishing in our area.