Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tip of the Week: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Location, location, location. This is one the most important thing to consider when fishing in the winter or really, at any time of the year. A trout will eat a lot of different things when they're happy and not get pounding on. The winter-time is perfect because there aren't that many people on the water and because there are really only midges hatching, they will eat bigger stuff like scuds, sow bugs, and egg patterns or even buggers if it's put in front of them. The problem is they don't eat as much and when they do, they don't want to work for it.

The water in the winter is obviously very cold, which makes trout a little sluggish as their metabolism slows down. They don't want to work any harder than they have to, to sustain themselves. The good thing though, is the cold water also holds oxygen so they don't need to be in moving water where they are working harder and losing calories. However, they do still need to eat and if you get a few days in a row that are warm and low pressure dominates, it can be lights out. You just have to remember that they don't want to spend more calories in order to consume calories.

I can't tell you how many people I've seen out there in late winter and spring that focus their entire day on the hard banks either stripping streamers or fishing the seems with short nymph rigs and when they don't catch anything they just chalk it up to the water being too cold and the fish not eating. I used to be one of those guys so don't feel bad. It's the sexy water that we see and conventional wisdom tells us that fish are going to be hiding along the rocks or on the seems waiting for something to ambush. The problem is, 1) there aren't bugs to ambush and 2) it takes too much energy to grab something that would either be drifting by in the current or swimming by.

I went skiing with a couple buddies last year and because I really sucked at skiing and didn't know the mountain, they took me around and helped me out--basically baby-sat me the entire day. At some point we started talking about fly-fishing. They told me the had been out the week before and maybe landed a couple fish.

"Really?" I asked. "I've been out a few time and it's been pretty good. If you guys can get out this week sometime, let's go and we'll see what's up."

They did call that week and we did go fishing and literally put 50+ fish in the net. They couldn't believe it. We fished pretty much the same stretch and the same bugs and we were crushing it. The biggest difference is that we weren't fishing the "sexy" water. In fact, throughout the day they kept saying that if it were up to them, they would be fishing the opposite side of the river. That's the problem. If sexy water means attractive in that it's water that holds fish, then our perception of what's sexy has to change with the temperature of the water and what bugs are hatching.

Fish do eat less in the winter but they do still eat. We just have to change our perspective to finding them.

Keep 'em where they live...

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