As it is snowing outside on the first day of Spring, I thought I would pose a question.
For those of us who fish during the winter, do you feel you are more likely to land a big trout during an outing in the winter than at other times of the year (other than the fall)? I'm defining a big trout as least 16 inches.
Now, like most everyone, I fish a lot less in the winter than I do the other times of the year, so I would expect to catch fewer big trout in the winter than the other times of the year, but when I fish in the winter, I often have a greater expectation of catching a big trout than at other non-fall times of the year, for a few reasons:
1.) Though I have fished mountain freestone streams in the winter in the past, I generally don't do it because the water temperature will be in the mid to high 30s. In the spring and summer, given good water conditions is when I fish those streams and though I've caught some big trout on mountain freestoners, it is much less likely to happen than on other types of streams.
2.) Most of the streams I fish in the winter are limestone streams because they're warmer. They tend to be more fertile and tend to have more big trout.
3.) I use plugs more in the winter than the other months, as the trout often hold in slower water and aren't as active, but the plug may trigger more of a response. I've looked at my records and though I still catch the majority of my large winter trout on spinners, I catch a much higher percentage of big trout on plugs in the winter than the rest of the year.
4.) Because there is far less pressure during the winter and because of the cold water, I think some trout that are more prone to night feeding during the summer, will feed during the day in the winter. The largest trout I ever caught, was caught in early March on a large freestone stream. That trout was likely a night feeder during most of the rest of the year.
By far, most of the big trout I catch are browns. I fish mostly wild trout streams, but I sometimes catch some big rainbows that were stocked in tributary streams.
I looked at my catch percentages by season in terms of on what percentage of trips did I catch a big trout. Not the total number, whether I caught a big trout on a trip or not.
As I expected, my highest percentage of trips where I caught big trout was in the fall: just under 48 percent.
The summer was second, at just under 45 percent.
Winter was third, at a little over 40 percent.
As expected, Spring was last at slightly better than 33 percent.
I realize that I fish differently than a lot of people in this forum, which is why I ask the question of what your thoughts are. A fair number likely do little, if any, trout fishing in the winter. Some may specialize by fishing at night and catch some very large trout during the summer. There are some that may use large lures, flies, or baits and specialize in catching big trout. Some fish mostly for stocked trout and may be more likely to catch big trout in the spring after preseason and in-season stockings.
I'm interested to see what others thoughts are. It's a way to pass time until it's warm enough to fish.