The leaves are dropping and the sun is setting earlier. But don’t let the colder weather and water keep you from taking your fly rod out on a date during the late fall and early winter months. It’s one of my favorite seasons for hitting the streams. I spend my summer fishing the wild waters, which is usually an all day ordeal, but in the winter time I can sneak to a delayed harvest stream and get a quick fix for an hour or two without having to walk more than 50 yards from the truck. The trick is proper preparation. So here are just a few tips to stay warm and stay fishing all winter long.
1. Hot hands/Zippo hand warmers – Obviously you want to dress as warm as the weather requires, but sometimes your extremities need a little extra help. I stick a pair of hot hands inside the bottom of my waders and carry a zippo handwarmer with me to stay warm.
2. Fish the slower/sunny water – Trout like cold water, but when it gets really cold they need to conserve energy, so try throwing your flies into water that is typically slower moving than you would normally fish. Also drift your bugs through sunny pockets of water. Just like us, when the mercury dips trout prefer to hang out in the sunshine rather than the shadows.
3. Nymphing – It’s rare I do anything but Nymph fishing all winter long. I prefer using the yarn indicators because they don’t make a splash and the white ones resemble foam on the river. Below that I like to run a heavier/big bug like a stonefly or a girdle bug to get the flies down low followed by a trailer 12-16 inches behind with a flashy tiny nymph or some sort of egg pattern. If you aren’t catching anything try alternating your bugs and your depths.
4. Delayed Harvest – The wild streams are always more scenic and less crowded, but all winter long delayed harvest streams are available with stocked fish that are not allowed to be harvested until spring. I love going to the same holes and trying to catch the same fish. If you have never taken a drift boat out give one of your local guides a call. You can usually land a discounted rate in the winter months, and it’s guaranteed to be an absolute blast.
5. Beverages – Insulated canteens are the greatest. Fill with some hot chocolate or coffee and it will stay hot ALL day long, and a flask of bourbon is always a good way to stay warm.