Friday, January 2, 2009

Winter Fly Fishing in The Rockies

Winter Fly Fishing...For Those Eager to Get Out and Escape The Ski Slopes!

It is winter time now. One step on the frozen porch steps first thing in the morning removes any doubt of that fact. Winter time brings on many thoughts, holidays, dark afternoons, football on TV and for me some of the best trout fly fishing there is. That's right trout fishing, winter steelhead fly fishing has been around a long time, and gets more popular every season. But the truth of the matter is trout fly fishing can be excellent, the crowds are down to non-existent, the scenery and wildlife are plentiful, and it makes those long days of early spring with non-stop rain and overflowing rivers more tolerable.

Winter fly fishing demands a little timing and planning on your part. One nice thing is, the weekends aren't crowded, so you really don't need to ask the boss for time off, to really get some peace and solitude. But other planning does need to be done. The first thing is checking your local regulations. Many, many places now offer year around trout fly fishing. A good portion of this is probably catch and release, but that only helps in further reducing the crowds. Some areas allow only lakes to be fished year round, some only allow rivers, but most places will allow something to be fished year round.

After you have your areas selected, you must really get an idea on the weather. Mild winter days, specifically afternoons, can provide some shirtsleeve fishing opportunities. Coastal regions that rarely get snow or ice, need to be checked more for river levels. Three or four days of steady rain can really put a river at unfishable levels. It is also rarely enjoyable to fish in well below freezing temperatures. Even if you can dress warmly enough, the ice on the guides make casting nearly impossible, and the slickness of entering the river is extremely dangerous. Extreme care should be taken when wading in general, one slight misstep, can send you into the river, dangerous all year, this is multiplied by the cold air temperatures in the winter. Also light is much less, making it difficult to see the river bottom while wading. So step very cautiously. And always fish with a partner.

OK, enough of the warnings, when to go is what we are after. I prefer a nice period of dry weather, with mild afternoons. I rarely fish in the early morning, in the winter, but if you can get a fogged over morning with nicely rising afternoon temperatures that reach in to the 40's, you have a day to hit the water!

More on Winter Fly Fishing, where to go, what to wear, flies to use Here

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Ken Morrow said...

i have a few general rules for winter fly fishing:

1. below freezing = forget about it!
2. think about midges and scuds...yearround food sources almost everywhere.
3. cast accurately upstream of lies, fish slower runs, and use lighter tippet.
4. even when i see midge or bwo hatches coming off in the afternoon sunlight, i get better results fishing emergers or nymph imitations of those bugs.
5. layer warmly under breathable waders...comfort is key to enjoyment.

Troutdawg said...

Thanks Ken for those tips! Yeah for those eager to get out you definitely need to follow a few guidelines and hopefully pray you don't get dunked a time or two...that will surely wake you up!

David Knapp said...

I've been thinking for a few days about a possible winter trip to Colorado...the goal being of course to fish some of the great tailwaters without the terrible crowds of summer. Now you've inspired me so I might have to get more serious about making it happen...

Troutdawg said...

Sounds good and let me know I will definitely be trying to get out myself. Headed out tomm than the Frying Pan 1st of Feb on a trip~