Photo By: Jamie Keown
Mention the word winter to most folks and thoughts of cold depressing days, often filled with rain, snow, or a combination of the two instantly send cold chills down their body's. It's during these cold months that most spend their free time huddled around a warm fire silently counting the days until the first sign of spring arrives. For fly fishers, it's no different. Winter is often when the rods are pushed aside to make room for the tying bench. Boxes are filled, lines are cleaned, and other loose ends are tied up in preparation for the coming warmer months. It's no secret that winter fishing can be tough. Cold hands, icy guides, and lackadaisical fish, not willing to leave their holding spots all make the prospect of winter fishing even more disheartening. Never fear though. With proper planning and the right techniques, winter fishing can be some of the most productive fishing you'll encounter.
When you decide to leave the warmth of your cozy fire and head to the stream, one of the most obvious but often overlooked components of cold weather fishing is dressing for the weather you'll encounter. Layering properly will ensure that you stay nice and toasty during those cold days on the stream. Since your hands are vital in tying knots, casting, and landing and releasing fish a good pair of gloves will go a long way in keeping your paws warm. Technology has come along since your grandpa's old fishing gloves and company's like Glacier Glove, Kast, Patagonia, and Simms all make gloves that do a great job shedding water while keeping your hands warm on the water. Remember to always bring a change of clothes as a swim during the winter months can end your day in a hurry and always avoid cotton at all costs. Cotton retains moisture and loses all of its insulating value when it becomes wet.
Catching fish during the winter months can also become second nature once you understand a few simple principals. During the winter months a trout’s metabolism slows down and the fish are more reluctant to move for a meal like they would in the warmer months. Most of the fish caught during the winter will be on nymphs and success depends on getting your flies on the bottom literally in front of the fish’s nose. If you’re not getting bites more often than not an addition of another split shot will be the ticket in getting your rod bent. Don't write the notion of taking fish on dries off entirely. It's not uncommon to run into sporadic hatches during the winter months. Here in GA. the Chattahoochee tail water is a perfect example of this. Midge hatches are often common place during the winter months and you can often have solid days taking fish on midge dries.
Armed with these few simple tips, fishing during the winter months will become more enjoyable and the feeling of bitter cold seems to disappear when you’re into a big fish. So fill that flask up with your drink of choice and get out there and enjoy the solitude that winter provides.
Above Photo By: Matt Bornhorst