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5 tips to improve your fishing success in the winter

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter time fly fishing in Montana is great way to spend some quality time in the outdoors. The serene and peaceful setting of standing in a river casting your flies waiting for a hungry trout to come tight on the end of your line can be inviting. I have compiled a list of five tips to help you make the most of your time on the river during the winter.

  1. Choose your time frame wisely. The trout have slowed their metabolism way down compared to summer time and you need to concentrate on fishing when the trout are most active. Here in Montana that time frame is usually between 11am-3pm or during the warmest part of the day. If any midge hatches are going to come off it is usually after 1pm when the water temperature has peaked for the day.
  2. Fish the appropriate water. The trout live in different areas during the winter then in the summer.  Concentrate on the deeper, slower moving runs.   Trout do not want to work and fight the current during the winter. They are looking for slower currents where they won't have to work and pick off a meal easily without expending lots of energy.
  3. Make sure to fish the water thoroughly. Because the trout will not expend much energy during this time of year take your time and fish the water completely. The trout may not take your fly on the first pass or your flies may just be out of range. Make many more than just a few drifts over fishy water before moving on. Many times I will keep adding weight to my nymph rig until I either get strikes or hook the bottom of the river too often.
  4. Most of the fishing we do in Montana during the winter months is nymphing under an indicator. Occasionally we'll get some midge hatches on warmer days but for the most part we are fishing under the water's surface. The strikes can be very subtle and soft. You won't see many hard charging strikes when your indicator shoots upstream. Any faint movements by your indicator should be followed by a hook set.  This will ensure that any soft or light strikes will result in a hooked fish.
  5. If fishing during temperatures less than 32 degrees ice forming in your rod guides is common. While dipping your rod in the water works alright, treating your rod works better. Many anglers use a cooking spray such as Pam to help battle the ice buildup. The Loon company also sells a compound called "Stanley's Ice off paste" which won't harm your fly line or leader which I have found to be the best. 

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