On the Fly column: Dress properly and keep fishing
November 30, 2016
After a slow start to our ski season here in the valley, the temperatures are finally dropping, and the flakes are flying. Not too many people got to ski over Thanksgiving, but many got the opportunity to do a little fly fishing instead. The rivers have been fishing well over the last few weeks, with mild temperatures keeping those blue winged olives and small midges hatching regularly.
The streamer bite has been stellar as of late; it seems like fish sense the shorter days and colder nights and know they need to eat everything they can, pronto. Midges are going to be the only hatch soon, so these big bites are helping the fish build up their energy reserves for the long winter ahead. Stonefly nymphs live in the river for years before they hatch, but are rarely kicked loose in the slow currents of winter. Surely the fish find a few here and there, but the menu is about to be midges, midges, midges.
As the fish begin to adjust, so should we. Winter is the time to choose your battles as an angler. Stick to the warmest periods of the day, layer up appropriately, keep a thermos of something warm handy, and perhaps try rigging your rods at home versus out in the wind and cold. Rotating a few pairs of gloves as they get wet is always a good idea, and hand warmers or a winter-weight Buff can help you stay comfortable. We never want to handle trout with a gloved hand, so a small towel is key for drying off before putting your gloves back on.
We need to treat the fish more gently in winter, too. The flies are small and the tippets are fine, so take the right amount of time to properly revive the fish when the “battle” is prolonged. Many anglers prefer winter fishing conditions, which makes sense if you enjoy sight fishing and solitude. I hope you have some magical moments out there this winter; it’s not uncommon that the low river is warmer than the high mountain. May you find some peace and catch some nice fish.
This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.