Trout react to cold weather temperatures much the same way people do. Both know it’s cold outside, they don’t feel like moving around much, and both become selective when it comes to what they will and will not do. In a word, we become grumpy.
That said, both have to eventually eat. So if you want to have more success fly fishing for trout during cold weather patterns, consider some of these fly fishing tips and suggestions.
1. Long & Light Tippets
Streams during the winter and pre-rain spring season are typically at a low level, and are usually extremely clear. This means you should try to use as long (and as light) of a tippet as possible. Trout during cold weather patterns spook easy and are very selective, so you want to present your fly as naturally as possible.
2. Approach By Stealth
Approach your pools with as much stealth as possible. As mentioned above, trout are easily spooked and selective, especially during cold weather, so keep as low a profile as possible – especially if the sky is blue and the sun is high.
3. High Water Stinks
If streams during the winter and pre-rain spring season are high, that usually means they are flooded and dirty. While not as much of an issue during warmer months, these conditions combined with the cold weather will really turn off the bite. You might just want to practice on technique if you do fish these conditions, or better yet, go watch a Packer game on the TV.
4. Afternoon Hatch = Afternoon Bite
Although mornings and nights may be cold, an unseasonably warm afternoon may stimulate a fly hatch, so be aware and have those flies at the ready. If you need to know what flies will best match potential hatches in your area, try stopping by a local fly shop, or contact a local guide online.
5. Fish Deeper & Slower
During colder weather, trout usually will not move around too much to feed, and when they do, they usually stay close to the bottom. This means you should try to fish deep and work them slowly. It also means to throw more casts into the same pool than you normally may during warmer months. You may need to put it right on their nose in order to get a strike.
6. Look For Calm Pools
Look for pools that have almost no ripple to them. Just a little is fine, but if you find a large pool with little or no ripple, this is an area where trout will rise to take a fly. Work these pools hard before moving on, these are highly productive spots in cold weather.
7. Streamers May Rule The Day
One thing we learned from The Orvis Company is, “Trout eat minnows and crayfish during the winter but won’t chase them far. A small streamer, fished upstream like a nymph with an occasional twitch, may interest a trout.” You definitely want to try this tip out!
So when the temperature drops, put on some long johns and wet a fly!