On The Fly: Winter fishing is a time to move slowly, be sneaky | PostIndependent.com
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On The Fly: Winter fishing is a time to move slowly, be sneaky

Fishing guide Kyle Holt and client Ashley, staying warm and catching fish on the Fryingpan River.
Kyle Holt |

This time of year is special as well as challenging to the fly fisher. As we prepare for the winter season in the fly shop by putting gloves, capilene and hand warmers back on the shelf, it brings back fond memories of last winter. Winter fishing is pretty special around here, as most of you are well aware. Crowds are thin to nonexistent, the fish pile up together in the deeper runs and pools, and those warm and cloudy days can often feel just as “buggy” as summer days do. The added distractions of saltwater trips, deer, elk and duck hunting make this season one of our favorites.

The challenges that face us on the water during winter aren’t that tough, if you know how to prepare and know what to expect. Fishing during these lean water times teaches you to “hunt” your fish, much like you would a turkey or deer. When flows are as low as they are, sneaking around and walking softly along the banks pays dividends. During the summer, big water disguises our footfalls and false casts. Now is the time to move slowly and be sneaky. You should stay out of the water completely if possible, downsize your indicators, flies and weight. Also you should use the low water levels to your advantage and seek out the biggest fish in the run.

Staying warm and dry is another obvious challenge through the winter, but easy to deal with when you plan ahead. If you live here in the valley, get dressed and rigged at home. Putting on waders and rigging a rod in the wind and cold isn’t so fun. Also keep those waders and rods in your garage or mud room. Utilizing the many rod vaults available for your vehicle saves time and frustration, too. Get dressed and rigged at home, grab that rod out of the vault when you get to your spot, and go fish.



Two sets of dry gloves, a small hand towel and perhaps a few hand and toe warmers can make or break your day when it’s cold. Experiment with wool sun buffs, wind stopper hats and clothing, and layers of capilene until you find the best way to stay warm and dry. Remember timing does change in the winter. Focus on the warmest parts of the day, as there is no reason to hit the water at dawn. Finally, choose your battles out there. Go fishing when the weather works for you. Those trout will wait!

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.


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