This week I hooked up with my buddy Fred (Stepp Outdoors, https://www.facebook.com/Stepp-Outdoors-1624514371160753/) and we got after some trout in the local NC DH water. Conditions were less than ideal, windy at times, with high water conditions. We started mid-morning with double nymph rigs, plenty of split shot and Corqs Indicators. Wasn’t long and we were into fish, and one of my first of the day was actually my biggest brown trout of the day, a rather feisty football of a brown trout that took several minutes to land.
The fish seemed to be spread out, not bunched up like you would typically expect. We had to continue to work the water, move around and make plenty of drifts. Our bites were mostly coming on stonefly nymphs and worm patterns. Fred landed a good brown shortly after mine. He was getting some good work in on his newly acquired St. Croix Imperial 3wt rod with Redington Zero reel, an awesome combination.
We worked the same stretch of water for most of the day, covering the area well with lots of casts. You had to do a good job of mending and presenting the flies with a good drift or the fish would not fall for them. Keeping the flies deep with split shot also seemed to help. I was putting my Allen 10′ 4wt Volant and Allen Tout II reel to good use. I did some high sticking as well as using the indicator. We eventually both completed the east coast grand slam of brown, rainbow and brook trout and did so with some pretty decent size to boot. Here was another good brown I landed.
Our best brookies of the day:
And finally, here are our best rainbow trout of the outing:
After we worked our way upstream a ways with the nymph rigs, we did switch out to streamers to fish our way back down. Both of us were able to pick up a few more fish on the way out. Of particular note was one area I had nymphed and caught two fish from, after I switched to the streamer I was able to pull about 6 more fish from the same run. The fish in that particular spot just wanted to chase a bigger meal I guess. It was the only area that seemed to be the case though. Just shows you that making a change sometimes can make a difference. Most importantly though, we worked the area well, fished for numerous hours and made lots of drifts and our persistence paid off with a fabulous day on the water.
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.