Go look at the calendar if you must, its winter. The weather not only makes it tough on the angler, numbing the fingertips and making casting and stripping line nearly impossible, but it’s rough on the fish as well.
Like many species this time of year, the trout’s metabolism comes to a halt, and they are more interested in the mating game then in feeding. In summer months fishing at first light produce the best chance of catching fish, whereas in winter trout will feed throughout the day, especially in overcast conditions. So even the diehard angler could take advantage of this opportunity and rise a little later.
Aside from shaky hands and frozen finger tips, winter fishing also means fishing shallower. And with the water temp varying between 7 and 8 degrees and gin clear quality, delicate and accurate presentations would be the order of the day. We’ve had some good reports coming in with fish in the 50-60cm range falling to different fly patterns and techniques, and the new Wildfly minnow in particular claiming some quality fish. The third leg of the Corporate Trophy Challenge saw another 210 feisty rainbows come to the net in four sessions, pushing the total up to 783 fish. 256 in the first leg and 317 in the second.
Strike indicator fishing is an extremely effective way of fishing when targeting picky winter trout. By using a floating line, a nine foot tapered leader, and adding 6-8 foot of fluorocarbon tippet in the 4x, 5x range would be ideal for most situations. Depending on the dam, time of day and insect activity, fish could be patrolling anywhere from 2-15ft of water and even deeper. Nymphs, such as a GRHE, Copper John, Scuds, and Pheasant Tail nymphs in sizes 14-18 work well. Fish a two-fly New-Zeeland rig, suspend your nymphs under a small strike indicator or replace the indicator by using a dry fly which acts as an indicator. Fish these flies near drop-offs or along weed beds and if possible cast across wind and allow your flies to swing. Fly rods in the 4-5wt range will be the preferred rods.
Dry fly fishing at this time of the year could also prove deadly, so don’t rush of to your favourite piece of water without a few winter dries. The Adams, Griffans Knat and CDC caddis is a must in every fly box with the latter being first choice, and proved to be very productive. Often size more than actual fly pattern plays the bigger role, so be prepared to fish size 16 and 18. Fly rods in the 3-5wt range will be the preferred rods. A floating line, a 4x 12 foot tapered leader and a 5 foot tippet in the 4x, 5x range will do. In wind, you’ll want a shorter leader, and on calm water you might need to go longer and finer. If the water surface is calm and the insect you’re matching small, you might lengthen your leader to 15-18 feet. When dead drifting dries are refused, try giving a little movement to your fly by short little strips to see if it won’t trigger any takes.
The Winter Stillwater season is in full swing so stop longing for that rise, that bow-wave in a trophy piece of water or just waiting for that take. No excuses make the time to enjoy the still waters this season and if you are planning a trip to the Midlands to fish with us book your water as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
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Take care of your fish and they will take care of you!