This month we asked our friend David Knapp with Troutzone Anglers a few thoughts on winter fishing. Winter fishing is something most people don’t want to deal with. That’s fine by me because I’m glad to enjoy the empty streams and rivers by myself. As with the other few anglers who enjoy winter fishing, one of my favorite things about fishing in winter is solitude. But solitude, in and of itself is not enough. You must also be able to embrace and, dare I say, even enjoy the misery of being cold.
I enjoy the slower pace of winter fishing. You don’t want to get too cold, so you spend as much time walking from spot to spot as you do actually fishing. If you are in the boat, you argue over whose turn it is to row. Rowing warms you up while fishing is cold. In warm weather, anglers and boats race for the best spots.
Everyone knows that the bite is on and even approximately what to throw at the fish. In the cold, the game is about experimentation. Finding a new color combination on an old pattern or a new retrieve for your streamer can be the difference between catching a few or going home skunked. I enjoy experimenting at the vise as much as I enjoy fishing. In the winter, in between tying sections, I go out to complete the experiment. Maybe it is never completed, but I do know one thing. If a fish will eat a fly in winter, it is probably a good pattern or a good presentation. Fish don’t eat mistakes in winter.
That probably gets to the root of why I like fishing in winter. I like a challenge, and every fish fooled in winter is a much greater accomplishment than during a blizzard hatch in the spring. Ultimately, winter fishing keeps me humble as an angler and reminds me that it is not just about catching.