Winter Fly Fishing in Paradise Valley

I have long been enchanted by fly fishing. There’s something about the graceful arc of a line cutting through the air that speaks of peace and contentment. Despite my interest, I have never had the opportunity to give it a try until this year.


On a recent trip with Visit Montana*, my friend Nick Lake and I found ourselves at the Montana Anglers office early one morning, steaming cups of coffee from Treeline in hand. That’s where we met Bill, our delightful teacher and guide for the day. He set the tone for the day by introducing himself as short in stature but tall in experience, an we immediately knew we were in for a blast!

After sorting out gear and licenses, we loaded up the truck with waders, boots, poles, tackle, and lunch and began our drive. Eventually we pulled into the gate to De Puy Spring Creek, a privately owned piece of heaven in the Paradise Valley. After checking in, Bill picked our first spot based on some sort of magical fish knowledge and we jumped in! Bill taught us the basics of casting, mending, presenting, and setting our lines so they floated naturally downstream in the hope of enticing a fish. We quickly fell into the rhythm, finding it peaceful and quite cozy in the bright sunshine.

Shortly thereafter, I CAUGHT MY FIRST FISH AND HOLY HECK I WAS SO EXCITED! I landed a beautiful rainbow trout, which Bill netted so we could gently disentangle it from the line. We snapped a few pics, making sure to keep the beautiful fish partially submerged, then set it free back into the crystalline waters of the creek. After a few hours of fishing, we nestled into one of the many warming huts on the property for a delicious lunch and chats with a local named Steve who regaled us with stories about his ducks and life growing up in Montana. When we were full and toasty, we picked a new location and got back to it. The rest of the day passed in a golden haze and when the sun finally began to sink below the mountains, we packed up and called it a day. Nick ultimately caught the most fish, with 5 to his name, while I caught the most salad. I left feeling pretty proud of my catches and I am happy to report that I’m currently planning 2 different fly fishing trips because I caught the fever, pun intended.

A few things to consider if you’re thinking of giving it a try:

  1. You’ll need to purchase a fishing permit. You can do it in person at Montana Anglers or online. We found it much easier to do in person truth be told!

  2. Bring layers! In the winter, it can get pretty chilly so you’ll want a solid base layer to wear under your waders to stay warm. I wore full body wool base layers, wool socks, down pants, and a down puffy underneath my waders with a baseball cap and thin beanie and I was set!

  3. Bring your camera! The fish are as beautiful as the surroundings and you may want to take a few photos before you release the fish back into the creek!

  4. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Make sure you get the backs of your hands and the underside of your sun to protect against bounceback from the water!

  5. Don’t forget your sunglasses, polarized if possible. You’ll want to protect your eyes and this will help you see the fish under the water!

That’s the long and the short of it! I hope you all have the chance to get out there and get after it. And, if you have other must-see fly fishing destinations, I am all ears!

*The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I had such an amazing time and the experience was phenomenal so I want to share about it and I can’t recommend Bill from Montana Anglers strongly enough.