A Mid-Winter Break
The forecast looked good for Sunday, February 8th, 2015. The low overnight temperature was expected to be about 32-degrees, followed by a cloudy day with a high in the low 40's. There was a chance of light rain late in the day. Perfect for winter angling, I thought as I loaded my gear into my SUV on Saturday evening.
I arrived at my streamside parking spot at 6:20 a.m. Snow had been plowed there and was as high as the hood of my vehicle. As I walked down the path in the dark to the stream the snow depth varied from very little on the south-facing slopes to a good snowpack of up to 8" in the protected areas. It took me a little over one-half hour to reach my starting point.
Much to my dismay, the stream was quite low and the rocks were covered with dead algae.
I was glad though that it looked like winter. My previous outing in early January seemed more like a late autumn outing than a winter adventure.
Not many trout were out feeding. The air temperature was 28-degrees and the water temperature was a degree colder than I had hoped at 41-degrees. Occasionally a wild brown trout would nail my homemade White Bead Gold spinner, but interested trout were few and far between. I had to remove the algae from my #10 treble hook after nearly every retrieve.
Muskrats have been working over this felled treetop.
It was nice to see some green aquatic weeds surviving the winter. I fished this first destination for 4.00 hours and landed just 21 wild browns, the longest being 12.5". I felt this was sub-par, but still not terrible for winter angling.
I had convinced myself that another stream would be warmer and much better, but an hour there in 47-degree water produced just one 12" wild brown, though I had two others get off at my feet. With a total of 22 trout in 5.00 hours, the journey back to my SUV in the slippery snow seemed kind of lonely.
But my spirits usually rise when I get to another stream or stream section, and I quickly forget about the slow action of the past. Besides, my experience with winter angling is that the afternoon is often the best time of the day assuming no other anglers have braved the cold and disturbed the trout before I arrive. At this stop the water temperature was 44-degrees and the air temperature was 40-degrees. No rain had fallen which can make winter angling miserable.
As hoped, the trout were out and didn't disappoint me. Soon after starting this 14.5"er attacked my spinner.
It was quite muscular and clearly has been eating well this winter.
For 2.75 hours I cast to each trouty-looking spot. One pool yielded browns of 11.5", 11.5", 12", and 12.5" without me moving my feet. This plump 13"er put up quite a tussle. Thirty-two trout were landed, twenty-three of which were 10" or longer, giving me 54 in 7.75 hours for the day. I thought this was pretty good for a mid-winter break in the weather.
- Frank Nale -