Out In To The Cold ?
Here's Your Cure For Cabin Fever !!!
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout
This morning I am looking at some photo's from a couple of fishing trips me and a friend took about two weeks ago here in Northern Utah. As you can see from the photo's the weather was a little cooler than the January day we were last here. But not so cold as to discourage a pair of hardened fly fishermen.
Successful fishing means you have to keep the flies in front of the fish, no matter what time of year or the weather. However, I do prefer the sunny days over rain and snow. But cabin fever does have a strange affect on fly fishermen and I have been known to be standing in the middle of a river with my fly rod flailing and rain pouring down from the heavens by the bucketful (did I mention the thunder and lightning in the background ???) !
Photo Utah Rainbow Trout
Oh Yeah !!!!
Now That's What I'm Talking About
No... that is not a football.
It is the shape of a mighty fine trout...
It is a mighty fine trout that is eating so much food he looks like a football ! This is truly the picture of health when you bring in a lunker like this.
So what were we using to make such a successful trip?
Dark green muddler minnows with a gold cone head, size 8 was the ticket for the day. We use 9 foot two piece 3-5 weight fly rods, reels with adjustable drag, floating line, 9 foot tippets, with an additional 2-3 feet of leader and an adjustable strike indicator. If the fish are in cruising mode to feed the indicator shows the line movement long before you feel the tension or "tug" in your fingers, the indicator makes certain you won't miss setting the hook. However, your own response time may allow you to miss one or two...
Secure That Fly
The knot of the day is the polymer. It is not only really strong (I like the double loop going through the eye of the hook for a solid connection) but quick to tie when your fingers are numb from the cold.
The Weight Of The Matter
The gold cone head adds enough weight that you won't need any additional lead on the line to get to the bottom where the muddlers hang out. The muddler of course resembles any number of small fish so even if your trout don't have access to this specific variety, they do know small fish and how to quickly dispose of them.
Presentation Is Everything
Our presentation is to allow the minnow to sink to the bottom, hesitate and then "jig" by moving or raising the rod tip and at the same time stripping about 6 inches of line to create an up and forward motion. This allows the minnow to leave the bottom in an upward angle toward the fisherman and then to fall back to the bottom imitating an injured fish. At least that's what I tell myself. The results speak for themselves. The fish usually grab the fly as it is falling back towards the bottom.
Dress For Success
Be sure to dress in layers since the weather can change quickly and no one wants to be too cold or too hot. Fleece is great for a hoodie, and you will notice this is always my choice. It will repel snow and rain and continue to keep you insulated. Fleece also breathes to help keep you comfortable.
Fleece sweat pants are warm and provide lots of room to move around in when worn under your waders.
These Boots Are Made For Walking...On Ice
Shoes or boots designed for wading work best in snow and water with a metal cleat over the sole. Ice builds up fast and makes a slippery surface on your felt soles so cleats are a must for safety and are inexpensive to purchase. There are several manufactures to choose from. I like the clip on ones, they are fast and easy to attach or detach and don't allow ice to build up and of course they don't slip.
Speaking of your feet, don't forget a good pair of socks. Not cotton either ! Wool or synthetic are the best. Wool will continue to insulate your feet even if they become damp. Synthetic material will wick the moisture away from the skin to help keep you insulated and dry.
If a fleece isn't enough on really cold days I add a parka over it with a stocking cap or a pull over hat, similar to a ski mask that will come down around my neck and "tuck" into my shirt. This arrangement keeps my head dry and warm while protecting my neck, front and back, at the same time. The cuffs on my parka are water proof and have an adjustable velcro "grip" around the wrist so I can keep my arms dry while releasing fish in the cold water.
I also keep a pair of gloves to put on if I need them. They are the open finger style so I can easily strip line. They also have a "rubber pad palm" to make holding the slippery fish easier while keeping the water off my skin.
Make Sure You See The Light
Remember to take along the sun glasses, preferably polarized combined with U.V. coating, to block ultraviolet light. This will protect your eyes and allow you to see the fish in clear water. Speaking of U.V. keep the sunblock handy and apply it liberally. You will still get sunburned in the winter on sunny days so be prepared.
What You See Is What Everyone Will See
My camera is my cell phone. I never leave home without it. Even though many of the area's I go to don't have cell service the camera always works ! I keep it in a zip lock baggie in my front pocket so it is kept dry and readily available. Be sure to preserve some photo's with your memories and no one will ever doubt just how big the fish are that you are catching !
Last but not least, pack a spare change of clothes and shoes. Over the years I have pulled a number of my fishing party from the water and even fallen in once or twice myself. There is nothing better than having an extra set of dry clothing to put on, especially in the winter to make a bad situation feel a whole lot better. Besides, it beats driving home cold and soaking wet. I keep the spare clothes tucked away in a gym bag located next to my fishing gear in my Jeep.
What Are You Doing For Winter Fishing ???
Have you got a winter fly fishing memory and photo's to share...let me hear from you and if your story with photo's beats mine, I'll post it (go to the comments section) !!!
Until next time...may you have Tight Lines and quality memories !