Trout have to eat to survive. While we all stopped fishing because the weather got cold, the fish still have to eat; therefore fishing can be even better in the cold. I enjoy winter fishing probably more than any other time of the year. There are fewer people on the river and the fish I catch are generally larger.
- This is the clearest water of the year. You will need to approach holes cautiously. Fish will spook easier this time of year than any other time. Watch so that your shadow does not fall over the fish you are fishing for.
- S L O W down. While most anglers fish just as fast as they do in warm weather, the fish are lethargic and will not run the length of the pool to attack a fly. You may literally have to drift the fly over the fish three times to make him eat it.
- Know what the fish are feeding on. There are not a lot of insects available to the trout in the cooler water, mainly midges, stoneflies, and a few baitfish or crayfish. There are also some worms available after it rains.
- Larger flies are the key. Fish either large flies that imitate stoneflies, or fish midge larva and pupa, generally sizes 20 and smaller. I typically fish a size 8 Kevin’s Stonefly, with a #20 chocolate WD 40 trailing the larger stonefly.
- While it is tempting to fish very small tippet, don’t. There is usually increased water flow, so I typically fish 4x fluorocarbon to my lead fly and 5x to my dropper. This results in fewer lost fish, and fewer lost flies on the bottom.