I’m trying — and struggling — to think of today as a singular event. That is, a day disconnected from the past two coldish weeks, and also a day that doesn’t promise spring. A warm winter day is a tease only if you allow it to be one. So I’m focused on ignoring the awesomely warm forecast and enjoying the day as if it were the first and last day on earth. It was a pure beauty that left a sunburn on my face and a gentle sting in my bones.
The water was low and clear, much as it was last winter. Our best streamer was sparse and black, fished slow, on a sink-tip line. The trout were all over the river, though the vast majority were spooking from our shadow. Those that chased our streamers did so aggressively and were in excellent condition. It seemed to us that the river looked to be in great health. An easy winter is an easy winter — be it for the trout or for the angler. We have some more warm days arriving soon, toward the tail-end of the weekend, and on and off through next week. There’s some fishing to be had. There were reports of good nymph fishing today, and, though we were streamer fishing, we had midges and what I’m almost positive were the first little black stones hatching. Nothing is going to rise anytime soon, but the fish are going to turn onto the nymphs now that the bugs are moving in the warmer water. Low, wadeable rivers and easy access to the water (we only have a few inches of snowpack) can make for some nice, adventure-free winter angling during this little mid-February warm spell.
Late winter/early spring is a great time to fish the river, particularly if you like the cold weather — yes, some of us do — and know that though we rarely catch a lot of fish in February and March, the ones we do catch tend to be pretty nice ones. We have guides available from here through late April, which is when it starts to get pretty busy. If you haven’t tried the pre-season season, as we call it, you should. This is a time of year that favors the more experienced angler, or at least the adventurous angler, that is looking for something different, wild, and quiet. The pre-season season is all three!
So a little tinge of optimism in this report. Wild, healthy trout were caught from a beautiful river, and my rod guides didn’t freeze once! I’m not going to let one nice warm day make me think spring’ll be here tomorrow. But if February wants to kick us a few more like today, I won’t complain.
Free Fly Tying Saturday, February 11, 9 am – 12 pm
We had a great time cranking bugs this past Saturday. Let’s do it again this Saturday! 9 am – 12 pm, at the restaurant at Gates Lodge. Bring what you have, and we’ll supply the rest. Whether this’ll be your first fly or your ten-thousandth, you’ll learn something.
Winter at Gates Lodge
This January and February, come spend a weekend on the winter river.
–Free Fly Tying Saturdays: Morning sessions to make you a better fly-tyer.
-Dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings.
-Light continental breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
-Winter guides available, or DIY fly fishing right out the back door.
-Excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in every direction like here and here.
To book a stay, contact me at [email protected]