Photo by Brian Valentine

Midge Overview

  • Family:  Midge
  • Size: 3-5mm (Size 20-24)
  • Emergence: November through February
  • Emergence time: Afternoon

For the die hard winter fly fisherman, the midge hatch in Montana can offer some spectacular dry fly fishing in complete peace and quiet.

They appear when the air temps get above 40 degrees, and will vary in color from black to tan to red, depending on oxygen content in the water. The majority of winter midges are tan or black. As the name implies, these are small flies, and the winter angler will need to adjust their tippet down from the heavier nymphing or streamer tippet. 5-6x is the norm for these flies.

The fishing can be a bit frustrating, as the fish won’t move very far from there feeding lanes. But like fishing all small flies, it’s very rewarding as well. It’s not everywhere you can take a fish on a dry fly January to mid-February!

Photo by Steven Mlodinow

Missoula Midge Fly Fishing

Midge fishing is more effective on the Bitterroot River and Clark Fork River around Missoula due to the slower water. Trout are found eating midges in the softest of waters, with very subtle rise forms. If you watch for them on the warmer days, you might just find a little dry fly action when no one else is around.

Additional Hatches