Cold weather came a little early to our area over the weekend and now there is a layer of snow to transform our area into a winter wonderland. The holiday season is always a great time to spend with family and friends but it is also a prime time to be outside for those hearty souls who need a little break from eating, gift giving and celebrating. I last fished on Saturday evening, the last day of November and was able to draw interest from a couple of Rainbows using an Olive Woolly Bugger. I went one for two and the brisk temperatures in the mid-upper thirties were no obstacle, it is amazing how quickly you warm up with a fish on the line. Most of the trout right now are Rainbows and they seem not to mind the colder weather.
Most anglers look for seasonal changes in trout activity in the warmer months of the year, I would argue that subtle changes occur in the colder months as well. The December menu for trout is still heavy with eggs and sucker spawn patterns. Most of the trout in our area spawn in the fall and into the early winter so this is understandable. As the water temperatures drop, the trout will still feed. Much but not all of what the fish see is small; midges are a prime food right now. Fishing an egg/ sucker spawn tandem trailed by a midge is a sure fire way to catch fish. Another is to fish two egg/ spawn flies in tandem. I like to keep these flies small, size 18-20 works best. There are other foods available to trout in winter. Cranefly Larva are abundant in winter making the Mop'n'Glo a great pattern.I'll also trail a midge or egg behind a nymph. There are some good options here for the nymph. I like Prince Nymphs, Hare's Ear Nymphs and Copper Johns. Lots of anglers are grabbing a page from competition angler's bag of tricks and are using jig flies. I will continue to feature key winter insects and their patterns in the coming weeks.
There are two primary ways to fish at this time of year and they are both productive. Nymph fishing is the more common but to me streamer fishing is more fun. I enjoy slowly retrieving a streamer along the bottom in deeper water where the trout will congregate as the weather turns to winter. A Woolly Bugger, Zonker, Conehead Muddler or a Blacknosed Dace all imitate the trout's prey effectively. The biggest mistake I see anglers make while fishing streamers is to use too light a tippet. I'll rarely use anything lighter than 4X. The fish can strike these flies with some gusto so a heavier tippet is a good plan.
Len Ruggia will continue his Saturday Morning Beginner Fly Tying this Saturday December 7th (Pearl Harbor Day). John Collins will be bringing is novel approach to an examination of Klinkhammer flies on Sunday. Both classes are free and start at 9:30 am. I spoke with Jeff Mancini at the Musky Hatchery and we are planning to release Bubba in the South Branch in the next two weeks.
Here is Tim's latest video on the Black Beauty a great little midge pattern. I've also included his take on Pat Dorsey's Mercury Midge.