Winter trout angling successes come in numerous forms. Today I found those successes during a three mile hike with my good friend Justin Carroll, winonaflyfactory.com. I have spent countless days on the water with Justin and have watched his fly angling addiction grow into a wholesome goodness that is unique to him.
The drive took nearly an hour and a half to get to the creek deep in a valley in the southeastern most county in the state. Steam was rising from the crystal clear flows and the trees lining the banks were covered in hoard frost. To me, the landscape was inviting, I understand that many would consider it daunting. The temperature on the dash thermometer read -4 degrees. I was dressed in my typical arctic weather layers however was motivated by the temperature to put hand warmers in between my two pairs of merino wool socks and inside my 2000g thinsulate hiking boots. I suffered serious frost bite in 1994 of which has plagued me ever since with a nearly annual occurrence of a “black toe” by winter’s end.
As we hiked downstream through the valley we were teased by rising trout in runs however the temptation of finding out what was around the next river bend or below the next bluff was greater than that of rising 20-inch Brown Trout. It was nearly noon and we found ourselves snow shoeing across the creek and through the entirety of the fishable winter section of creek.
We fished back upstream. Justin could not resist fishing in the shade on the north side of bluffs. I resisted and stuck with angling holes that were casted in sun. The temperature disparity between angling in the shade versus the sun was nearly 20 degrees. We both fished with olive #8 streamers and we both caught fish.
The fish were rising before noon, after noon not so much. We did not see any midge or stoneflies crawling on the snowy bank edges today. This is a creek that I hope to return to as I passed up casting to many fish that I would like to get photos of due to the brutality of their overall length and size. Something compelled me to pass on them and to simply watch as they held deep and tight near the bottom.
We noted that active fish were nearer to the tails of pools and in shallow water. Further, the fish that were holding in the riffles of runs were held deep.