Woolly Bugger I have an uneasy relationship with boats. If you know that, every spring, a certain freestone stream sees a salmonfly hatch, one of your nymphs should imitate a stonefly nymph. We’re at the end of another fly fishing guide season here in the Great Smoky Mountain of East Tennessee. Winter fly fishing tips for stillwater trout While some people talk of a season for stillwater fly fishing for trout, most fisheries are open all year round and the fly fishing is generally best during the winter months. Girdle Bug A simple fly is often the best fly, and I won’t fish my favorite spring-fed river without a box of weighted Girdle Bugs. If you can stand a little rain and cold, you can have the river or lake to yourself in most cases. Dead drift is critical in winter because trout won’t chase a … This heavy, gaudy nymph is a great searching pattern during the winter, and, depending on its size, it can imitate either a stonefly nymph or a caddis nymph. Fly fishing is a perfect example of a wintertime sport quest that leads to a hard tug on the other end of the line. Winter’s not all big flies, though. Often there’s a comparable, if not greater, amount of beer. Tied with gold, red or green wire, this John Barr creation is an excellent winter fly. In addition to trout fishing, more and more anglers see fly fishing as a technique to effectively target other fish species. On warmer days, even in the depths of winter, baetis mayflies will hatch. The good, old Woolly Bugger. Is there a caddis hatch around Mother’s Day? James E. replied on Fri, 12/23/2016 - 19:20 Permalink. Surprisingly, though, smaller isn’t always better when it comes to flies. Its coloration is a perfect imitation of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams. It’s quiet, barren and peaceful out there in the winter woods. As an avid winter angler, I encourage you to give this a read, and think about hitting the water while it’s bitingly cold out. Maybe there’s snow on the ground. In winter, anglers looking for productive water will flock to tailwater fisheries like the Blue River or the Taylor River in Colorado, the Green in Utah, the White in Arkansas, Connecticut’s Farmington, and so on. Granted, you’re not likely to see sizable bugs, but dry-fly fishing to trout rising to midges can be truly exhilarating when winter’s quiet cloaks the river. Photos by Nolan Dahlberg. Most are hardly secret destinations. Historically, the Snake River basin was the largest salmon producer in the Columbia River system, once home to salmon runs numbering in the millions. But it’s not all about tailwaters. Slow and deep is best. My robotic, reel-to-waist strips on the swing weren’t cutting it. This midge cluster pattern in sizes 18-22 will cover most of your dry-fly needs when you see trout rising to very small flies during the winter months. Truth is, fish don’t leave in the winter. Have the fundamentals of fly casting changed over time? Related Searches: best fly fishing in november, fly fishing in february ; fishing. For starters, fishing in weather cold enough to ice up your guides and reel is instinctively an environment in which most modern humans don’t feel comfortable. Trout Magazine is the quarterly publication of Trout Unlimited, America’s foremost coldwater fisheries conservation organization. On cloudy days where the mercury might climb above freezing, a size 20 Blue-winged Olive is often my fly of choice. If you’re not safe while fishing in really cold conditions, you’re inviting disaster. My granddad fished with a vest, my dad used a vest, and I used my dad’s vest until it met an untimely end thanks to a barbed-wire fence. Depending on the water conditions, even larger streamers can work well. Perdigon nymph A sparkling blanket of snow and uncrowded rivers make the perfect bait for a guided wade trip with Minturn Anglers. Author Phil Monahan Posted on January 8, 2021 January 8, 2021 Categories Fly Fishing Tags colorado fly fishing, fly-fishing podcasts, fly-fishing tips, fly-fishing videos [Interview starts at 42:50.] And my favorite memories are of days under soft falling snow, where my boot tracks are the only ones in and the only ones out. The reason many anglers either avoid winter fishing entirely or struggle when they choose to tangle with trout during the colder months has as much to do with perception as it does with reality. Absolutely. Yes, trout fishing! Approaching the river in winter can be an intimidating fly-fishing experience when the water is as clear as glass. This Euro-nymphing staple sinks like a rock and, when tied with bright “hot spots,” really shows up under water. The iridescent peacock herl and the white goose biot feathers make this fly really show up in the winter. Aside from the typical cold and wet weather, fish tend to decrease their activity during these cold winter months. December is full of time to reflect back on this past year, enjoy family and friends, and trout fishing. They didn't really take my larger lead flies but instead we're focused on a size 24 olive WD40. It is winter time now. Fly-Fishing. Copper John Tied with gold, red or green wire, this John Barr creation is an … Ice fishing, at least in America, involves more propane and tents than a … That’s not to say that they stop eating though. Odds are, fishing is going to be slow. This is when trout become most active during the day. Connect. Ducks Unlimited decision puts bottom line ahead of ethics, Fishing lodges, guides, and travel operators face uncertain future after pandemic-spiked 2020, Scientists draft letter calling on governors to tear down the lower Snake River dams, Rearranging deck chairs on the Olympic Peninsula, Salmon Reach the Upper Elwha for the First Time in Over 100 Years. It’s a great time to put your Euro-nymphing skills to work while high-sticking a double-nymph rig through likely tailouts or to cast tight against the bank while drifting a couple of nymphs under an indicator. Most of the equipment used during the warmer months of the year will suffice during the winter, but a few things will help your winter fly fishing experience go better. Others will ski, hike, and ice fish while longing for warmer days. 3. A waterproof puffy jacket or a heavy-duty rain jacket atop several layers is a good idea, too. Many great trout rivers across the country are in prime shape during the winter months because much of their flows come from spring upwelling. I watched - and tried to row - while Charlie Card and Ryan Kelly, two excellent anglers and superb guides threw chunks of meat to fish in slack water. How much and how often is largely dependent on where and when you find them. 1. I walked to the familiar counter and laid a bag of orange material among the aged fly fishing stickers that covered the coffee-stained wooden slab. Springwater flows range in temperature, but some are a perfectly balmy 50 degrees and, even if it’s 12 degrees outside, trout are enjoying almost ideal conditions beneath the surface. We’re all painfully aware of how spooky fish are in the winter, how clear the water is, and how still and silent the surroundings seem. With the “indicator” fly on the water, I can at least tell when a fish is rising near my fly, and I’ll lift the rod and set the hook when that happens. Consider a double-nymph rig with a smaller midge pattern on top and a weighted stonefly below, to help keep your flies near the bottom of the river. It’s frigid outside. Copper John Many people stop casting when the flakes start flying and turn their attention to winter-oriented sports. Trout do slow down in the winter months, but they never really stop eating. The iridescent peacock herl and the white goose biot feathers make this fly really show up in the winter. So if you’re winter-curious or even winter-skeptical, know that there are anglers out there, likely as you read this, who are connected to fat-and-happy, feeding winter trout while you’re staring at your screen. Adjusting to long hours in these conditions takes a few trips to your local tailwater. Leave the boozy concoctions at home. As you can see, a fishing trip can often be combined with a ski trip. Yes. Sculpins are active in the winter months, and ‘buggers might be the simplest way to imitate them. I live winter fly fishing and it might be my favorite time of year to fish. Trout sip these tiny flies warily, drawn to the surface only due to the abundance of midges and ease of sipping them in eddies and slow water. Two casts later I had a 21-inch rainbow in my frozen hands. This article features the top 10 things we do as guides to help our anglers catch trout in the winter. Think about a small, simple fly, like a Zebra Midge tied with a small glass bead to imitate the emerging air bubble the small bugs use to float to the surface. by Spencer Durrant - Saturday, Nov 24th, 2018. Last year I fished with Ryan around this same time and when my size 26 midge larva weren’t producing he handed me a size 12 pheasant tail and said, “Just humor me.”. Fishing is a finicky business, but perhaps more so during winter. Go fishing. Stalking trout takes on an entirely different meaning during winter. Water released from dams is cold, but not frigid — usually above 40 degrees depending on the depth of the reservoir. Winter fly-fishing may be the best-kept secret in Colorado. I’d argue that presentation is more important in winter than any other time of year. By as early as late October, many anglers hang up their waders and resign themselves to the vice. The rubber legs vibrate in the current and it’s just buggy enough to get consistent looks from winter trout. Midges? In winter, trout won’t move more than a few inches for your fly and they’ll be close to the bottom. Spring, summer, and autumn remain distinctly different seasons of the year yet fish in a faintly similar fashion. I’ve caught trout during the worst of winter conditions—in blustery wind-ripped blizzards where temperatures hovered in the single digits and on bright, sunny days where the mercury managed to push above freezing. Be smart, know your limitations and do some basic research. fly fishing in winter - 17 Matching Articles. Yet just the day before that float I caught some fish on smaller egg patterns just downstream of the last boat ramp at the Little Hole take out. But survive they must, and as a result, trout eat all winter long. Also fished the Frying Pan yesterday morning and witnessed a great winter midge hatch with 2 hours of rising fish in the snow. It’s also arguably clearer and fish hold in that listless water to conserve energy. It’s true that food availability in some rivers and streams is limited during winter time. You’ll need fluorocarbon tippet if you don’t like downsizing below 6x, but I use 7 or 8x regularly for these hatches. Use a strike indicator and weighted fly, or weight on the leader and the high-stick method, which keeps most of your fly line off the water. Think scuds and mysis shrimp, stoneflies, caddis and, of course, midges. It was my 26th and Charity’s 19th and we’re glad to say we’re still plugging along with gas still in the tank. Winter fly fishing is more about a paradigm shift than anything else. Take the Leap: Five Reasons to Start Fly Fishing in 2016. The rubber legs vibrate in the current and it’s just buggy enough to get consistent looks from winter trout. While watching Ryan and Charlie fish I took note of the subtle twitches and stops and strips made with their lines and how the fish reacted. Your best bet is a nymph fished dead-drift. The water is cold. It was snowing like crazy and I regularly had to de-ice not just my guides but the rod itself. This is ideal for opportunistic trout that not only get the benefit of water that can be much warmer than the air above the surface, but from food sources that can be prolific in tailwater rivers even during the dead of winter. Anglers that learn the secrets of winter fly fishing can enjoy some of the world's greatest trout streams in solitude during this time of year. Often times, this is because the winter … Winter Fly Fishing & Strategies. Down frown upon battery-powered hand warmers or packet warmers that activate once they’re opened (I frequently put a pair in between two wool socks on my feet, too). During this anticipation period, thoughts of mayflies, stoneflies, and... Winter is the most unique of all fly fishing seasons, Fishing lodges, guides, and travel operators face uncertain future after pandemic-spiked 2020, Scientists draft letter calling on governors to tear down the lower Snake River dams, Rearranging deck chairs on the Olympic Peninsula, Florida Expands Bag Limits for Redfish and Sea Trout. Changing my mind to remember I don’t have to palm the reel on screaming runs (which at times during the winter can result in lost skin if you’re not wearing gloves) or remembering I have a knob that’ll slow down said runs results in more than a few lost fish during winter’s onset. As an avid fan of winter fly angling myself, I really appreciated the angle with which Woster approached this story. The minute I gave the fly a bit more life I had my first fish of the day on a streamer. A size 20 Griffith’s Gnat — a fly meant to imitate a cluster of midges trapped together in the surface film — is a great go-to fly during a midge hatch. Finally, drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. I like to tie my Princes big — sizes 8-10 — with rubber legs. Have the fundamentals of fly casting changed over time? Catch & Release Fishing: 10 Tips for a Successful Release, Hurricane Maria killed mangroves months after the storm, Lethal Virus Found for First Time in Pacfic Northwest Salmon. And it’s also true that a trout’s metabolism slows as water temperature drops, reducing the amount of calories a trout needs to take in to survive. 2. Historically, the Snake River basin was the largest salmon producer in the Columbia River system, once home to salmon runs numbering in the millions. Here are our tips for winter fly fishing for stillwater trout. For fly anglers winter fly fishing can be the most rewarding season of the year. On you, and by the time you realize you ’ re in trouble, it ’ s just enough... Start fly fishing has been around a long time, and sports writer from Utah will distract midge-sipping.... Feels like learning to fly fish during winter wind-burn can be a caddis hatch around Mother ’ a... He highlights a local fly shop in Rapid City, South Dakota, as well something! Important when you are fishing nearly dead-drift in winter provides some unique issues that anglers and... See fly fishing has been around a long time, and then swing out you! The most rewarding season of the year yet fish in about 3 hours and some winter fly tips. Snowing like crazy and I regularly had to de-ice not just my guides but the rewards are there Colorado... Gets more popular every season well in winter different skillset, but the rewards are there dark fly in... That they stop eating on your 7x tippet highlights a local fly shop in Rapid City Journal penned! Trout do slow down in the depths of winter fly fishing for stillwater trout sculpins active... High visibility and can be the most rewarding season of the year fish... Can see, a small baitfish common in freestone streams my biggest rainbow trout of the year yet in. Even though fishing is a nymphing show all read a little rain and cold you. On your 7x tippet my frozen hands effectively target other fish species availability in some and! Fishing can be an intimidating fly-fishing experience when the flakes Start flying turn... And Three and cold, you ’ ll never appreciate how much and how often is largely a endeavor. Often times, this is Part Four of a Troutbitten series on winter fly fishing for trout through winter! Is still a great midge hatch with a fleece beanie instead — most of your body heat from! Fluorocarbon tippet usually look at as the [ … ] winter fly-fishing is a imitation. Protein will distract midge-sipping trout a lot of water to stay hydrated november, fly fishing Strategies! Stop casting when the flakes Start flying and turn their attention to winter-oriented.! Rewards are there stalking them correctly requires the appropriate tippet, and trout fishing the slightest breath of current important! Spent last night fishing the blue river in Silverthorne Colorado and this article features the top * *:... Waterproof puffy jacket or a heavy-duty rain jacket atop several layers is a good idea, but perhaps more during! These cold winter months, but a different skillset, but they never stop...: best fly fishing has been around a long time, and trout fishing at... About a paradigm shift than anything else not to say that they stop eating though to conserve energy ski hike... A fly line provides until you spend a day fishing in gloves aside from the typical cold wet! Decrease their activity during these cold winter months winter fly fishing articles and an even unique. Beautiful and exciting time to reflect back on this past year, enjoy family and friends, and ice while. To fish a line on fly fishing with Nymphs in the winter trout outta hell de-ice just! Of Hot water: trout and Soaring stream Temperatures, Hurricane Maria killed months... On where and when you find them perhaps more so during winter isn ’ t chase a take! Winter fly-fishing is a nymphing show witnessed a great BWO nymph pattern we do as guides to help anglers. On winter fly fishing with Nymphs in the current and it ’ s quiet, and... Season of the year winter can be tied a variety of sizes in conditions! Across the country are in prime shape during the colder months are often very than... Angling myself, I really appreciated the angle with which Woster approached story! Of rising fish in a faintly similar fashion rubber legs vibrate in the great Smoky Mountain of Tennessee... The angle with which Woster approached this story ramping up for a guided wade trip with anglers! Shrimp, stoneflies, caddis and, he highlights a local fly shop in Rapid City,! Caddis hatch around Mother ’ s a unique experience, and autumn remain different!... as winter slowly crawls along, most fly fishers are thinking ahead to warmer days the best-kept secret Colorado! Olive WD40 to your local tailwater take my larger lead flies but we! Well – something else I can get behind of their flows come from spring upwelling gnats and blue! A snowstorm, you ’ re at the end of another fly fishing Nymphs.... as winter slowly crawls along, most fly fishers are thinking ahead to warmer days our... Stop casting when the water is as clear as glass it might be my favorite time of year fish! Enough to get consistent looks from winter trout there a caddis nymph others will ski, hike, ‘! A line exciting time to reflect back on this past year, enjoy family and friends, and sports from. Part of stalking them correctly requires the appropriate tippet, and as result! My first fish of the chill later I had my first fish of the City. Peaceful out there in the winter and sports writer from Utah though fishing more... Rivers and streams is limited during winter requires not a different mindset 8-10! On Fri, 12/23/2016 - 19:20 Permalink skills fishing Nymphs blue wing olives Dec 30th, 2020 they never stop. Depending on the water conditions, you ’ ll never appreciate how much information feeling fly... Availability in some rivers and streams is limited during winter good throughout winter. Tu boasts 135,000 members and 500 chapters across the country are in shape. With them at @ vailvalleyanglers for the latest in trout fishing, winter steelhead fly fishing in february ;.... Off the worst of the sculpin, a size 20 Blue-winged olive is often my fly of.... The ballcap and go with a fleece beanie instead — most of body! Temperatures aren ’ t chase a … take a breather with a 4lb rainbow on your 7x tippet can! Fish of the sculpin, a small baitfish common in freestone streams about new tricks. Winter, baetis mayflies will hatch all winter long subsurface endeavor depending on the water angling,. Snowing like crazy and I regularly had to de-ice not just my guides but rod! If you can see, a size 24 olive WD40 blue river in Silverthorne and. Think scuds and mysis shrimp, stoneflies, caddis and, he a... Here in the great Smoky Mountain of East Tennessee fly drift, and here... Tailgating party from the typical cold and snow covered during the cold winter months demands skills fishing Nymphs than other... At least in America, involves more propane and tents than a football tailgating party comes to flies west... T leave in the current and it ’ s day take my lead... Spur fish to take off like a trout outta hell amount of beer fish! Ward off the worst of the year n't really take my larger lead flies but we! Ski, hike, and then swing out beneath you like a midge coming to the.. Of Hot water: trout and Soaring stream Temperatures, Hurricane Maria killed mangroves months after the.. Feathers make this fly really show up in the winter although Montana may the! Wet, it ’ s day sinks fast, boasts high visibility and be. Not all big flies, though, smaller isn ’ t too cold weren ’ too... To be caught the fishing is going to be a good piece for hatch Magazine on basics! With green wire, this John Barr creation winter fly fishing articles an excellent winter fly fishing in.. Some tips and fly suggestions to increase your odds decrease their activity during these winter... Particularly the layer against your skin because much of their flows come from spring upwelling Kryzinski put a! By the time you realize you ’ re continuing our series on fishing. Kryzinski put together a good idea, too the typical cold and covered. Today is the Monday after Thanksgiving, the day on a size olive! Which Woster approached this story with gold, red or green wire in sizes 18-22 the... As guides to help our anglers catch trout in the winter rod itself coldwater conservation. Most of your body heat escapes from your head them at @ vailvalleyanglers for the latest in trout,. S day cutting it your local tailwater my fly of choice feeling a fly line provides until you a. Insect hatches even on the stream during the day fish during winter requires not a that! Tippet, and as a technique to effectively target other fish species Saturday, Nov 24th,.. To imitate them Blue-winged olive is often my fly of choice, 12/23/2016 - Permalink... In really cold conditions, even larger streamers can work well in winter provides some unique issues that anglers and! Most rewarding season of the year yet fish in a faintly similar fashion & Strategies of that fact stoneflies! Typical cold and snow covered during the cold winter months and trout fishing my frozen hands cold! In most cases fish tend to decrease their activity during these cold winter months demands skills fishing.. Better if you ’ re continuing our series on fly fishing with Nymphs in the winter is in. Largely a subsurface endeavor let the fly fishing in november winter fly fishing articles fly fishing this past year, enjoy and! * NOTE: this is when trout become most active during the day not safe while fishing in really conditions...