Winter can be a truly blissful time to be out on the winter as crowds subside and trout still have to eat!
Favorite trout streams that are busy with other anglers suddenly become peacefully silent even though trout lazily slip midges throughout the warmth of midday during the winter months. Snow gently falling and a cold breeze only accentuates the beauty to be found during this season, and many who experience this joy become addicted to spending their winter days outdoors in pursuit of fish. One of the great challenges, of course, is figuring out a way to combat the elements and stay warm.
Weather can change in a hurry during winter, and a brief warm spell shouldn’t be counted on. Even if it does get warm for a period of time during midday, don’t get used to it! Packing (and wearing) layers can help anglers be prepared for anything that comes with a day of winter fly fishing. Something like a t-shirt, fleece layer, sweatshirt, and then wind-stopping jacket is a good place to start as a layer can easily be shed and stored during warm spells, but put back on when the weather inevitably turns again.
Think of Your Hands and Feet
Layers of fleece pants and tops are necessary, but it’s really your hands and feet that should receive the most attention. Nothing ends a day faster than hands that all of a sudden won’t work or feet too numb to move. Bringing two pairs of gloves is imperative, as catching a few fish inevitably leads to some wet hands. A great idea if to use fingerless gloves that can convert to mittens. That way when your rig needs adjusting you have the finger dexterity to do so, but can easily switch over to the mittens to stay warm otherwise. For socks, multiple pairs on at one time, including one heavy wool set, is key to keeping those toes comfy.
This obviously goes without saying, but it’s important to stay dry during these cold months. Not only does a fall in result in uncomfortable fishing, but if it’s cold enough getting soaked can be downright dangerous. Packing an extra sweatshirt and hat in a dry bag can be of great importance if an accident does happen, but it’s much better to just avoid the situation in the first place. For this reason, aggressive wading should be put on the backburner during winter. Even though trout always seem to be feeding on that opposite bank, it’s not worth the risk to go in too far and end up in a dangerous spot.
Pack a Stove
Jetboil, or other camping stoves, are excellent accessories to bring along on winter fly fishing trips. Time is usually a bit more leisurely on these days, and spending a half hour on the bank boiling water for cocoa, tea, or even broth is a great way to warm up and keep the juices flowing on even the coldest of days. Doing this not only gets you out of the water and moving around, but it injects much-needed warm liquid into your system and can help sustain on even the most frigid mornings!
Winter offers up some of the finest fishing of the year, complete with solitude, beauty, and feeding trout. It’s a great time to hit stretches of water that are usually bombarded with other anglers and fish famous streams in peace. The hardest aspect of winter fly fishing is unquestionably the weather, and following these tips to stay warm will keep you on the water more and result in plenty of fish in the net!