You've heard it before, but it's important stuff, so here it is again.
As the snow piles in the mountains and hunters head for the hills, many anglers might long for warmer days, wet-wading, and sunscreen. And that’s okay, because winter fishing is for those willing to sacrifice some comfort, yet benefit from the rewards of a little solitude and silence. Here’s some help to get the most out of your late fall and winter fishing outings.
Don’t rush it. Winter fishing is great for folks who like to sleep-in. Daytime temperature changes in winter tend to occur later in the day. Trout need only a few degree rise in water temperature to cause them to feed. In winter the daytime temp doesn’t tend to increase until after 11 AM or Noon. Watch the weather, and specifically the temperature, and fish during the warmest period of the day.
A quality pair of waders and boots. Fall in icy cold water ruins your day of fishing and could end your life. It is nice to have non-felt soles for winter fishing. Felt and snow love each other, so snow sticks to felt and makes for uneven and dangerous walking to and from the river. Put spikes or studs in your non-felt boots.
Layer your clothing. If it gets warmer outside than expected or if you are walking a lot, discard layers and keep comfortable. If one layer gets wet due to a fall or sweat, you can shed to a drier layer. Quality long underwear and socks is a must for an enjoyable day on the river.
Carry a pack. A backpack allows you to bring extra clothing, gear, and food, a thermos, and easily allows you to take-off or add layers of clothing.
Bring a net and hook removal tool. A net allows you to keep your hands dry. With a hook removal tool, such as hemostats or a mitten scissor clamps, you can release a netted fish without getting your hands wet or touching the fish. Win-win!
Simplify your fly selection. Trout feed sporadically in winter. Be sure to have a few size 16 to 20 beadhead midge patterns. For those willing to sacrifice a little purity, fish a gold- or fire-bead San Juan Worm in size 10.
Be willing to fish sub-surface. Because winter hatches are minimal, trout congregate in slower, deeper pools. It’s not pure and it’s not pretty, but, use a strike indicator and some weight and you might have enough action to forget your hands are cold or to keep you from calling it early because you can’t feel your feet any more.