Winter Bows and Browns

Winter time can be tough on outdoorsmen and women who reside in Montana. From the final weekend of deer and elk season, to the opener for spring bear and turkey season, what do you do? For most people, the answer is not much. There are people who brave the cold temps and hunt for mountain lion or try to fill their shoulder season elk tag, but this isn’t a reasonable option for everyone. So this brings me back to my opening question, what do you do?


The answer is simple, FISH! Although this can be tough, depending on ice and frozen rivers, nealy all locations of Montana are close to some fishable waters. It isn’t going to be like summer fishing conditions, but you can still get into decent amounts of fish. Frozen guides, numb toes and frigid temps are a name of the game, but when you’re hooking into 18 inch bows, who really cares, right?

February on the Bitterroot

A lot of people are under the belief that because there aren’t many prolific hatches during the winter months, the fish aren’t eating much. I personally think it is the exact opposite. Regardless of the time of year, the fish still need to eat in order to stay alive. So because there is a lack of major hatches during these winter months, the fish are constantly looking for an easy meal. This is where the fly selection comes into play.


My preference is to always run a rubber legs as my top fly. I will always carry a few different colors just incase the fish are targeting one specific color, but black is usually a deadly pattern for the winter months. Next, I like to have a variety of dropper flies in my vest as well. Generally speaking, I stick to attractor patterns to maximize my success on the water. Prince nymphs, pheasant tails, San Juan worms, hare’s ears and lightning bugs usually provide the most success, and if you have these options in your fly box, you are bound to hook into some fish. For more of a selection on flies and tying material, I would suggest visiting the Grizzly Hackle Fly shop. Their shop is located in Downtown Missoula, or you can click here to visit their website. They have a giant assortment of flies and fishing gear and you can shop online as well.

Winter flies

One other major key to catching winter fish is fishing DEEP. If your flies aren’t on the bottom, it’s as if you aren’t fishing at all. A couple split shot matched with a heavy top fly will usually get your flies at the right depth, but adding more split shot is always an option. Lastly, you might want to target slightly different types of water until you find the fish. With water temps in the upper thirties to low forties, the fish are definitely going to be lethargic. So fishing slower and deeper water will likely lead you to finding more fish than your typical trout water.

Winter Bow

Winter can be tough on all of us, but it is almost time to start chasing gobblers and bears. In the meantime, I hope that you have will use these tips to make the winter pass by a little faster. If you use these tips, you should be able to round up a few fish. Make sure to buy your updated licence before you hit the river and be aware of the melting ice chunks. I hope to see you on the river.


Tight Lines

Big Bulls of the Backcountry

Montana Wilderness

For as long as I can remember, elk hunting in the Rockies has always been a necessity in the fall. It’s not something that my dad and I “might” put on the calendar but rather something that is permanently there, year after year from the 15th of September through the 25th: the peak of the elk rut.

This is a special time to spend in the woods, and if you haven’t experienced bull elk bugling in the wild, it is something that you should put at the top of your bucket list. For us, harvesting an animal is a priority, but it doesn’t make or break the trip. It’s about the overall experience that trumps over everything else.

Above 10K

Last fall my hunting partner and I decided to break away from the areas we usually elk hunt and get away from all forms of civilization. 9 miles from the truck, we were approximately 5 miles from any form of man made trail, and most importantly we were away from people. It was just us, the elk, deer and grizzly bears, in the middle of some of the most rugged country I had ever laid eyes on. Most nights were tough to sleep, with the whipping wind, a choir of elk bugling non stop and the overlying fear of a grizzly scrounging through our camp. Luckily we were only there for one night, as we were fortunate enough to get a mature bull on the ground after the first morning of the hunt. We were stoked beyond belief, but after the adrenaline settled down, we quickly realized that we had to pack an entire elk out with three guys, over nine miles. Not only is it the entire elk, but we had over 100 pounds of camping gear as well. After using a SPOT device, we were able to contact some friends back in Missoula that were willing to help us on the pack out. 6 hours later, the help crew had arrived at our arranged meeting spot and we were ready to start the trek back to the truck. Little did we know that the packout wouldn’t be over for another 72 hours and it would be the packout from hell. There was yelling, several tears, and many occurrences where we thought our feet were going to fall off. It was awful, but in hindsight, it was a memory that all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. It was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced, but I wouldn’t trade that experience with some of my best friends for anything.

Big Bull Down

Some of the most memorable memories I have, have been made in the elk woods. Perhaps that is the reason behind this blog, because I want to share with you all of the memories, stories and lessons that I have experienced through my 21 years of life, specifically in the outdoors. I want to make it so that you will have the curiosity and desire to go chase after some of these experiences as well. There are so many opportunities available throughout the state of Montana, regardless of where you live. Whether it be fishing, hunting, or just getting out to the mountains for a hike. I can guarantee that you won’t regret it.