Winter came early.  Today we got a couple inches of unseasonably dry powder: January-type snow.  It’s a bit early for this stuff.  My “winters coming” chores are mostly undone.  Oh well.  I hadn’t been fishing in a while and, heck, winter is already here.  Chores later.  Fishing now.

Philosophical discussions over take-out

Matt and I joined our friend Jim for a streamer float on Monday.  The fishing was pretty slow but we fished hard and managed a few good ones.  Yellow worked, as did white and chartreuse, for some reason.  No real trick that I could see, other than to keep the fly in the water.

Matt with a nice trout 

This afternoon I headed out into a persistent snow to search the pools for some drop-back trout.  Last year on this same day I caught some nice fish swinging streamers low and slow through the deep water.  Today I tightlined nymphs and I had a great hour of fishing, hooking a number of good fish through the length of a pool.  The fish will sit in such water just after spawning, so their presence made me think we’re on the tailend of the spawning season.  It felt good to catch fish on the light rod.  They don’t run and jump this time of year.  But they pull hard and the light tippet means you have to play them with care.

A nice male brown

The cold forecast will do more to inconvenience the angler than it will to inconvenience the trout.  The trout will feed for the next month before real winter sets in.  I like to fish big streamers on slow retrieves, or at least retrieves with longer than average pauses; swing smaller streamers, especially in the upper river, and especially on the overcast days (of which there’ll now be many); and to nymph fish the deeper water.  There will be some sight-fishing on the right days, but the river is a bit high and stained to see a lot of the bottom.  In fact, all three branches have extra water in them, and the South is downright difficult to wade, especially on a cold winter day.  Be safe.

All in all, it has been tough fishing the last two weeks, and today’s success, I know, was just stumbling into the right place at the right time.  But if you do head north for some post-spawn fishing, the rivers will be empty, the scenery equal parts beautiful and desolate, and the chance is always there for a big trout…increasingly so as the water continues to drop and clear.

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