If you are like me, I get a little itchy during the winter season – itchy to go fishing. It doesn’t take too much convincing to get out for a fish. As soon as I see a mild day on the charts my tying takes a back seat and out the door I go.
Cold water, short daylight, and lack of food put trout into slow mode, but don’t be lulled in to those facts too much. Trout will still eat your fly. As with all fishing activities, you must understand the current situation in which you are pursing the fish. This means knowing what the weather and water conditions have been for the at least the last 24 hours. Has the water been rising or dropping? More importantly how about the temperature? Do you know the piece of water you are fishing or is it a new to you? And what flies to use? These questions and answers will help you crack the code.
If it has rained that may be in your favor because often in winter the stream water will be colder than rain therefore giving it a warmer shot of temperature. The opposite is true if the water levels are increasing due to snowmelt. A misnomer is the idea that fishing is better on a sunny winter day. You have to take in account the snowmelt, because many times the water temperature will actually drop due to icy cold melting snow. You stand better chances if the temperature is on the up tick without melting snow. Generally, in the winter you will find the warmest part of the day during early afternoon. Fishing slower pools is your best bet in the winter. Go deep and slow. Trout will not be willing to move too far for food so will have to give them as much opportunity as possible. This also means covering the pool very meticulously inch by inch. Turn the pool in to a grid and fish each block carefully. As usual, cloudy overcast conditions are preferred. A mild overcast day with recent days of normal water flow is optimal.
Depending on the water you are fishing you may have great success with larger flies. A larger meal stands a better chance of producing a bite. Color also plays a role; this is a great time to try more colorful flies. Of course you may be very lucky and find yourself fishing through a midge hatch. Often on spring creeks you will find midges and rising trout through the winter. Dry fly fishing in the winter; how about that for a fishing goal?
I hope the following pointers help you get out and have some fun during the winter season. If things don’t setup exactly as planned do something about it. Explore the area to find that creek you heard about. Practice some casting techniques. Try a new nymphing rig. Most of all have fun!