Just do it!
To catch fish in inclement weather, you gotta fish in inclement weather.
Man, If I had a dime for every time my fiancé said that to me as my teeth chattered while fly fishing on an icy river during a December rain storm …. I'd have a couple of bucks!
However, it is true, fly fishing in crappy weather can be very rewarding, even if you get skunked and reward yourself with a pull from your flask. Some of my favorite memories came from those kinds of days on the water.
Let’s start with the simple stuff
Let’s start with the simple stuff- clothing. I know, you experienced fisherman are like, “I’ve got my Simms guide gear, blah blah blah”... Not to diss Simms, Orvis or any of the bigger companies but fly fishing is expensive. So, let me tell y’all my hacks until I can afford that kind of gear or make my own.
Wear breathable layers! Most important is SOCKS! I love merino wool and swear by it. I like to wear leggings with pockets, then I put hot hands in the pockets to keep my legs warm. Depending on how much of a baby I am that day I may layer on sweat pants and then my waders. Yes ladies, I know peeing sucks with all those layers but still bring the TP and a baggy to dispose of it in. This isn’t summer wet wading where you can just enjoy the go in the river.
"Now as far as how to fish in the winter, that’s a different ball game than the summer."
For my upper body I typically have a thermal, hoodie and water repellent jacket. Yes, if you can afford the better gear, by all means wear it. We are just talking about the budget friendly way so that way you can still enjoy craft beers and sushi. Win-win.
Now as far as how to fish in the winter, that’s a different ball game than the summer. In the winter fish hold in slower, deeper runs that may have debris to hide in or under like an overhanging tree. The reason they are in the slower water is because their metabolism slows in the winter so they try not to waste too much energy. If you catch one there is generally more because they school up in winter.
Let’s talk flies
Let’s talk flies. I am a double nymphing junkie when it comes down to getting to use midges and eggs. Yes, I like dropping that sweet, sweet neon egg under a blood midge and hope for the best. Can’t believe I just told y’all my go to, but I want y’all to love winter fishing as much as I do! Want a few more options than just midges and eggs? Also, let's just toss that negativity out the door on what you should or shouldn’t use because it doesn’t seem “fair”. You pinched the barb, right? You are out there freezing your arse off and running out of whiskey in your flask and just want to catch and release a fish. I got you! How about, Jujubee midges, griffith’s gnats, squirmy worms, Pheasant tail’s or a turd? Oh, you wanna throw meat... any wooly bugger, sex dungeon, sculpzilla or a bunny buster.
"Can’t believe I just told y’all my go to, but I want y’all to love winter fishing as much as I do! "
Time for my weird tip... I keep a wash cloth in the front pocket of my waders. I bare hand catch and release my trout so I need it to dry my hands to keep them from freezing. Another thing, other than the hot hands in my coat pockets that keep my hands warm, is my rod wrap. I will even palm a hot hand and hold my rod wrap, I swear it acts as an amplifier in keeping my hands thawed out! Seriously I recommend a rod wrap to every fly fisherman I come across.
So, despite the gnarly weather and more frequent days, I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to catch one during those times. I wish y’all all the luck. Comment below any advice you may like to add about winter fishing.
Tight lines and good vibes, y’all!