After all the Thanksgiving turkey, the family has cast off again and things quiet down, it’s nice to escape the house and get a line wet. This fall’s conditions have been erratic and fishing has been different every day. Today I hit the water just after 7:00am and was greeted by 26 degree air temps and water near 50 degrees creating a quiet fog on the water. The scene was quite different than July and August’s foggy days on the water when the air and water temperatures were reversed!
Focusing on seams in the high stained water produced fish this week and a mix of nymphs and streamers was the ticket. Fishing a tandem rig with lots of weight will get your flies to the bottom fast and with one fly higher allow you to cover the water column. If you’re not bouncing the bottom every few casts, you may not be getting deep enough.
Winter fishing brings its own special challenges like cold hands and iced up guides on your rod. If your guides freeze up while casting, dip your rod below the surface for a few seconds and the warmer temperature water will take care of the ice. Don’t try to pop the ice chunks out with your fingers. That’s a surefire way to break your rod. Good wool gloves will keep your hands warm and wearing lots of layers will ensure your core stays warm and there’s plenty of warm blood pumping to your finger-tips. If your gloves get wet you can slap them against your waders or jacket to shake the water out. Even wet, wool will continue to keep you warmer than no gloves at all.
Not sure how to outfit yourself to make the most of winter’s short days? Give Knee Deep Fly Fishing a call, we fill you in on how to layer up and keep warm.
Every year I can be found fishing on the New Years weekend. When I was a teenager the holidays were a time when my family was home together and we’d get out of the house as a group (a group of trouble makers) and slide our way to a local trout stream. Our mother was a saint to put up with us and this holiday routine. I recall a few years where I caused us all to be late for Thanksgiving because we were chasing brookies in Jockey Hollow or Christmases where new gear was tested right after it was unwrapped out at Ken Lockwood Gorge; always a fun spot once it was coated with ice. As the years went on and my brothers and I moved further from each other there are less afternoon outings following big early meals. I will never forget being out-fished by one of my brothers who threw a giant purple leach in a honey hole of hatchery rainbows. I’m still scratching my head over that 15 years later.
Nowadays, I still get out in the winter but recall those times with my brothers and father fondly. With the “early black stoneflies” just around the corner I hope to call them on New Year’s Morning and tell them about how they were thick in the air and how they missed it. Next year I’ll be lobbying hard to get everyone together for some icy fishing for sure. Living below the Mason Dixon Line means that there’s a chance for warmer days in the winter than our snowbound friends up North. Warm days and rising water temps signal the little stoneflies to crawl out onto rocks and snow piles to hatch. Snow is a great place to spot them as their dark bodies cure nicely with the reflection from a white background. Even a few adults buzzing around can let you know the time is right for fishing some nymphs in the riffles. As one of the first real hatches of the year, I get pretty excited when I see them fluttering around.
Don’t forget to stop by your local shop and pick up a new license for 2011 and be safe while getting Knee Deep Friday night – DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.