On the fly: More tips for winter fishing
November 30, 2010
BASALT – People are seemingly always amazed that we fish during the winter. “Isn’t it too cold to go fly fishing?” is a question we often hear at this time of year.
Our response is that it’s still warmer to be standing in a river catching fish than it is to be on top of the mountain at 12,000 feet with skis or a board strapped to your feet. There’s no denying that the biggest variable at this time of year is the weather. The best winter fishing days are obviously the warmest. Pay attention to both the daytime high temperature and, more importantly, the previous overnight low temperature. Having a previous evening of warm temperatures keeps the rivers warm and the fish more active.
This is especially important when fishing the Roaring Fork or the Colorado, where cold nights can turn those rivers into giant slush factories. The Fryingpan River, on the other hand, is controlled by Ruedi Reservoir, where the water comes out at the base of the dam and stays at a constant temperature of about 40 degrees. This warm water provides consistent fishing on a year-round basis, especially during the winter. In fact, it’s often warmer to be in the water than out of it!
In addition to dressing in layers, I make sure to always bring a thermos or two loaded with hot soup and another loaded with coffee and a spike of Kahlua or schnapps to fend off the chill. I try to fish in the sunlight as much as possible. This keeps my morale higher and the fish don’t mind feeding under the added warmth. Try to fish with a fixed amount of line, as this will keep ice build-up to a minimum on your rod and fly line. This is often more of a battle than trying to stay warm. Several companies produce pastes made of silicone that you can put on your rod guides to additionally help prevent ice from forming on your rod. Try some of these tricks and give winter fishing a try.