On the fly: Winter fishing
Ryan Summerlin January 3, 2013
BASALT – With the advent of snow throughout the valley now, we are blessed with a variety of activities to choose from. It’s always amazing to most visitors who spend much of their time planning the day around mountain activities that there is winter fly fishing.
Many locals know they can sneak in a few great runs in the morning and spend a couple hours catching trout in the afternoon. Even at this time of year, local anglers and guides relish the opportunity to catch a midvalley day approaching 40 degrees or better and then float/fish local rivers. Floating on a balmy winter day is an experience not soon forgotten. Most float guides bring propane heaters, hot soup and tea along with layers of clothing to keep you warm on a wintery day.
Snow in the forecast is often a sign of great floating and also just good all around fishing conditions to come. Snow and overcast evenings act as an insulator and maintain warmer nightly temperatures much more so than clear, cold nights. These warmer nights keep our local river temperatures stable and ideal for a day of angling opportunities. Fishing opportunities abound throughout the valley equally for wading or floating.
Anglers headed out these days should be focused on fishing the slower, deeper pools where ever they decide to wet a line. Fly selection should be comprised mainly of midges, some baetis imitations and attractors patterns – eggs, prince nymphs, 20-inchers or pheasant tails are good lead patterns that can trigger strikes. Generally speaking, look for the trout to key in on midges early and late in the day, while baetis and attractor patterns will fish best during midday. As much as possible, we prefer to fish in the sunlight during the morning hours to help stay warm. By late afternoon, though, once the day warms up, it seems as if the fish are feeding better in shade or overcast conditions. Stop by your local shop to hook up with a good guide or get the latest info on where to be with exactly the right flies. ‘Tis the season, so make sure you do not overlook finding that something special for the angler in your life.