1.) Stay Comfortable – Water temperatures are cold often in the low 30’s on the Bighorn. Keep your extremeties warm. Keeping your feet and hands warm will keep you fishing. Where liner socks and another pair of thick wicking socks to keep your feet warm. If your fingertips get cold stop fishing and put your hands in your pockets. The one item I find indespensible is the Buff by buff headwear. It is great to wear around your neck to keep your heat in and slide it up on your face in windy, cold conditions.
2.) Water Temperature – Water temperature is one of the most important factors to an anglers success during the winter. Water temperature affects where a trout will lie in the river, how eager they will be to move to a fly and what bugs will be available to them to consume. A slight rise in water temperature can trigger an emergence and get fish active. Another weather factor that I find important to trout fishing is barometric pressure. I feel that low pressure can put fish down especially on the Bighorn. Once the pressure subsides I find they bounce back quickly.
3.) Winter Nymphing – Think slowwwww. As the water temp. drops and a trout’s metabolism slows they tend to seek slower currents for refuge and to find easy meals. I have had a lot of succes winter nymphing the Bighorn when I felt my indicator was moving at a crawl, where I felt like I was waiting forever for it to drift down past me. Sure enough bobber down….. I work a run as hard as I can taking a more methodical approach to my fishing.
4.) Think Dry Flies – Most people think about nymphing during the winter but terrific dry fly opportunities can be found during the winter as well. Midge hatches during the winter bring trout to the surface and they eat alot of em. Fish during the warmest part of the day, a slight increase in water temperature can create a great midge emergence. On freestone rivers I look for banks with a lot of boulders. Boulders reflect heat and sunlight into the water raising water temperatures providing trout and you a place to find bugs on the surface.
5.) Plan Ahead – While you may be eager to get out, check the forecast sometimes it may be better to stay home and tie a few flies, read a fishing book or watch a dvd. Keep safety in mind, just because you have cabin fever don’t rush out there to have your guides freeze up to the point where your line won’t move and it’s painful to put on your waders. Pick a good window, maintain a reasonable expectation and enjoy the solitde, spring will come soon enough!
This post was written by Bighornangler