Sometimes you have the luxury of planning an outing based on the best weather conditions. Other times, you just go when you have the chance, and deal with what comes. This week I was dealt a balmy 22 degrees and plenty of ice, but I decided to give it a go on some blue line wild trout water.
I started out with a double rig of a small black stonefly nymph trailed by a micro egg pattern in size 20. I have always have good success with a micro egg in wild trout water during cold winter months. I typically use the micro size because these fish tend to run in the 5 to 10 inch range, and larger egg patterns are difficult for the smaller fish to get hooked up on. The micro egg paid off again on this outing, as it was responsible for many of the fish I caught. I should take the time to mention that I used the largest sized split shot I had on me, as the fish were all holding in the deeper runs and pools.
Most of these fish required multiple drifts through the deepest runs and holes, and the takes were very soft and subtle. I was high stick nymphing without an indicator with my 8’6″ 3wt St. Croix Imperial rod. The rod has just the right amount of length to high stick fish with in the tighter wild trout streams. The Imperial also has a nice soft tip to it, making a good choice for protecting light tippet, as I was using a 6X fluoro tippet in what was very clear water. A few notes about fishing in these cold conditions: First, it is a good idea to take an extra set of clothes and leave them in the vehicle, just in case you take an unwanted fall and end up all wet. I did have an extra set of gloves in my pack as well, and needed them after my first set of gloves had gotten wet. Wet gloves do you no good in sub-freezing temps. A day in these conditions can be ruined quickly with an untimely slip. And speaking of slip, my next note is that you need to pay close attention to where you are stepping and walking. Most every surface that is wet, but not in the water itself, is covered with ice. So, when walking, you need to keep you feet in the water itself, or be stepping on dry rocks. Pay attention to what you are doing, fish thoroughly in the best areas and you can still have a very productive day.