Winter has arrived in the Wood River Valley, yet with very little snow so far this year. If you canâ€™t get a full day skiing in, it is a perfect time of year to get out on the water and catch some trout! Fishing is generally very good this time of the year, using nymphs and streamers. If you are in the right place at the right time, you may find some dry fly activity as well with the afternoon midge hatches. These hatches will pick up in intensity as we near and then go past the holiday season.
The Creek is mostly closed to angling this time of the year, with the exception of the lower river, downstream from the Hwy 20 Bridge. Remember, this area turns to 100% catch and release in the winter. There is not a lot of insect activity on the Creek right now, anglers do have a nice opportunity to hunt for post spawn Brown Trout though, as they will be looking to add some calories before the coldest part of winter sets in.
Big Wood River
The Wood is well worth a day of fishing right now. With the lack of snow, all the access points are open right now, giving anglers easier access to the river than on most winters when we are restricted to the few spots that get plowed for parking along the bike path and a few of the bridge access points. Nymphing with Brassies, Zug Bugs, Zebra Midges, Hares Ears and Prince Nymphs can be very productive. With the very low water right now, it is easy to zero in on the â€œholdingâ€ water in order to locate good numbers of fish. The low water and glare on the surface does mean you need to use a bit more stealth than in normal nymphing situations. Light lines, rods and tippets will aid in this stealth.
A Quick Word on Rods and Reels in the Winter
Winter fishing means cold weather, which also translates to brittle graphite. Todayâ€™s faster, lighter rods are often designed with casting in mind, and are not really made to lob nymphs in cold weather conditions. The cold can cause a rod to snap, and this normally happens when an angler is clearing ice from the rods guides. The simple solution to prevent this from happening, is to leave your faster, lighter rods at home, and invest in a sturdy, slower action rod. The slower action means the rod will be less brittle and will resist the cold better. The limberness of a slow action rod means it is less likely to break. It need not be the most expensive rod, although investing in a rod like a Winston will make you smile all summer on Silver Creek, where slow rods are worth their weight in gold. If you are not fishing the Creek in the summer, just invest in a moderately priced rod that will act as your winter stick.
Reels in the winter are really just there to hold your line. Stay away from reels with Cork or Synthetic braking mechanisms, as these can freeze up. A standard old school â€œClick Pawlâ€ drag system is all one needs and when things start to freeze. You may experience a little freeze up if the reel gets wet, but you can either break the spool free, or just stick the whole setup inside your jacket for a minute or two until it unfreezes. The key to any reel in the winter is just trying to keep it dry. Donâ€™t set you equipment in the snow and be attentive to where your reel is when you are landing and releasing fish.