Frozen Finger Season: Fly Fishing in Freezing TemperaturesJean-Marie Bousquet
For some angler’s summer might steal the show, but there is a great reward in combating frozen finger season and I’m going to go ahead and let you in on a little secret, Fall and Winter are my favorite seasons for fly-fishing. Summer is long gone, along with late evenings of dry fly hatches and wet wading till the sun goes down.
On the western slopes of Colorado, labor-day marks the end of summer and beginning of frozen finger season. We start to feel a chill in the air during our morning cup of coffee and the days get shorter. Which means we have to be all the more strategic in our fly-fishing tactics. Standing in a river all day might sound outright ridiculous to most, but if you’ve read this far into the article, I trust you are interested in learning how to avoid freezing your tuchus off! Follow the five tips below to ensure a successful and comfortable day of winter fly fishing.
1. Wear wool socks – Nothing ruins a day on the water faster than cold toes! This is why I wear medium cushion wool socks, keywords “medium cushion.” The neoprene booties do the insulating on their own, wearing too thick of sock or worse- multiple pairs of socks will actually make your feet colder.
2. Gloves are a must – You don’t have to buy an expensive Gortex pair, although I recommend the investment. Simply carrying two pairs of fleece gloves will offer you warmth in the event that one pair gets wet. In addition to gloves bring along hand warmers to carry in all your pockets.
3. Layer for warmth and comfort – I can’t stress enough the importance of appropriate clothing and layering tactics. After all, if you’re going to be outside all day when you want to be comfortable, and avoid an unnecessary drive back home. Start with a great base layer, followed by a fleece, then a down jacket and finally a waterproof shell. Seem excessive? Perhaps, but it is better to be hot than cold, you can shed layers if the sun comes out and feel good if bad weather rolls in.
4. Snacks, Snacks, and more Snacks plus a thermos – Take a few extra minutes in the morning to pack some of your favorite snacks and a warm drink into a thermos. Stoke the furnace by taking breaks to eat while your riverside, eating generates heat and will keep you on the river long enough to land the big one.
5. Rig up before hitting the water, at home – Now normally I would advise against rigging up before you hit the water. Matching the hatch should obviously take place on the water, however, in the winter we already have a pretty good idea of what trout will be feeding on. Rig up your rods, one with nymphs and one with dries before leaving the house.