Enjoy the peace, solitude, and often fantastic fishing during the cold winter months.
There is no better time than now to fish. This is especially true when you think about heading out during the cold winter months. There are many factors that play into winter fly fishing, and many of these factors will make your time out on the water much more enjoyable.
DRESS WARM AND BE PREPARED
Remember that you are in control of what your comfort zone is. Head out when the temperatures and wind are at levels you are comfortable fishing. Also there is no need to travel to far from your truck. Remember to bring a thermos of your favorite hot beverage and some snacking food to keep your energy up. This is a no brainer but wear stuff that makes you more comfortable. Base layers, synthetic warm socks, technical coats, fishing gloves, and outerwear will make a winter day much more fun.
There are some safety concerns to be aware of once you are out fishing during the winter. The shelf ice can be the side walk of the river but remember that it can pose a very dangerous situation. Ice shelves can break loose, you can break through, and they can be very slick. Having studs in your boots will help with the slickness but be aware of the thickness of the ice if you must walk on the shelf. Also, do not push the limits of your gear and particularly your fly rod. Fly rods do become more brittle in the cold, but if you are careful there should be no problem. Using ice off paste or similar products in your rod’s guides can help prevent ice buildup, but never force ice off you rod.
TECHNIQUE AND LOCATING TROUT
Now for the good news. Winter fishing can be very productive with the only one you will see is the majestic eagle looking for a similar reward. There are very few that take advantage of the solitude of the winter. Nymphing rigs will be key set ups for this time of year, but you would be surprised that streamers are very productive with slow stripping or dead drifting too. Dry flies are far and few between, but on the right winter day midges and baetis mayflies can hatch with some significance to where trout become very interested.
Tippets and leaders should be considers the same way during the summer. Choose appropriate sizes for the flies you are using. Nymphing is best with fluorocarbon and 4x-5x. If you do see pods of fish up eating midges, size 5x or small will be best. Fishing streamers should be productive with a short leader no longer than 7.5 feet in length and a size of 2x works well.
Trout will move into slower deeper water when the water temperatures start to plummet. Fishing water that is three feet deep or more will be where you find most of the fish hanging out. There is no need to head out early in the day during the winter. Giving the water a chance to warm just a touch will give you more success. Heading out around 10am or 11am will be plenty early during this time of year.
Nymphs: Prince Nymph #12-#18, Zebra midges #16-#18 (black, red, purple), Crossfit Jig #18 (pink, red, black, olive), Beadhead Hare’s ear #14-#16, Perdigon #14-#18 (black, olive, tan, pearl), Stonefly nymphs #8-#16 (black, golden, olive, tan, brown), Pheasant Tails #16-#20, San Juan Worms #10-#16 (red, purple, wine)
Streamers: Sculpzilla #8, Zonkers #6-#10 (black, olive, natural), Wounded Sculpin #6, Sparkle minnows #6- #10 (all colors), Mini Dungeons (black, natural, olive)
Dries: Cluster midge #14-#20, Midge #18-#24, BWO #16-#20, Baetis #18-#20, Parachute Adams #18-#22, Purple Haze #18
Hope you take advantage of such a beautiful time of year to fish. You will not be disappointed if you go out with a plan.