Winter Fly Fishing Tips

Ice Jam Flooding on The Roaring Fork River

I’ve been fly fishing here in Colorado for years and I’ve got to be honest– I’ve never given ice jam flooding a second thought. That’s on me. After watching the speed and intensity of the ice flooding on the Roaring Fork over the weekend, it’s something that should be on all of our radar’s moving forward.

Ice Flow on Roaring Fork River on January 4, 2019. Video by Ben de Sugny

2:01pm MST – As we predicted, the ice flow roared through Basalt this afternoon. While we unfortunately arrived 12 minutes after the flow, our friend Ben de Sugny captured this exceptional video from the 7-11 Bridge in Basalt, Colorado.

Posted by Roaring Fork Conservancy on Friday, January 4, 2019
courtesy of Roaring Fork Conservancy

Ice jams happen when warm temperatures cause a frozen river’s snow and ice to melt too rapidly, which then results in flash flooding down river.

If you’re going out fly fishing on any of Colorado’s rivers this winter, know your settings and be mindful of the environmental conditions around you. And I’m not saying that to be a fear-monger– admittedly, I’ve never put any thought into any type of winter flash flooding. But as we see here, fluctuating temperatures can cause weird things to happen.

West Coast Steelhead and Salmon

I was lucky enough to go spend the Thanksgiving holiday out in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. When you think of the Pacific North West you think of salmon and steelhead.  Weeks priors to my trip I spent hours online researching where I could go catch some salmon and steelhead.  What I discovered is that almost every river in the the Puget Sounds area is either closed to salmon and steelhead or has a short limited season. It is horrible to think that this fishery has taken a horrible decline because of over fishing.  I think every fishery around the country to should consider what has happened to the PNW fisheries. We need to take care of our fisheries and practice safe catch and release so our future generations can enjoy what we have. Here is a little video about what has happened on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

Winter Fly Fishing Tips: Chapter 2

Over the next couple of months we will be publishing a series of quick helpful tips to help you get the most out of your winter fly fishing experience. Please feel free to reply to any of these posts with your own advice and best practices. Stay warm and tight lines!

Mike Sherer, of The Flyfisher Guide Service, don’t let no stinking snow to get in between him and his trout!

Trout do not feed as much in the cold winter months as they do in the dead of summer, and when they do feed, their takes can be extremely subtle. Trout’s metabolisms slow down which allows them to selectively feed on a passing meal rather than opportunistically munching down on everything flowing down river. In other words, trout do not feed as aggressively during the cold winter months as they will during the other seasons. Even to the most seasoned angler, a consequence of subtle feeding can end with a foul hook-up, otherwise known as accidentally snagging a trout. The subtler the feeding is the more difficult it is to read the take on the strike indicator.

Nobody wants a foul hook-up. Not only does it add extra stress to the fish, which is our primary concern, but it also gives you that wah-wah-wah feeling when you thought you hooked a 22 incher only to find out it’s a fouled 11 incher!

From time to time every one of us will foul hook a trout, but here are a couple of recommendations to cut down on the foul hook-ups.

  1. Sight fishing is an art all onto its own. This includes getting the right polarized shades, getting on the correct side of the river so the glare is at your back, and understanding fish habitat so you know where to look before you even wet your line. Once you have spotted your trout, you are looking for a white open mouth or a gradual side-to-side movement as your patterns go by. Either the open mouth or side-to-side movements are the trout feeding and that is when you set the hook. As you become more proficient in your sight fishing game you’ll realize how many fish you never detected from a strike indicator alone!
  2. Whether the water is too dirty or you’re on a freestone river that offers little visibility, sight fishing is not always an option. In this case, we suggest that you move your strike indicator closer to your patterns. The farther away your strike indicator is away from your flies the less sensitive it is. So, by lowering your indicator to 24-36 inches above your lead fly this will help you detect the ultra-sensitive takes which will in turn cut down on the foul hookups.
  3. Another great method for reading the subtlest of takes is to place a bright colored egg pattern (traditional yarn and trout beads both work) or brightly colored red worm pattern as your lead fly on your nymph rig. Both eggs and worm patterns work fantastic on any river in Colorado but it’s real intended use is that of an underwater strike indicator. We like to use an 8 mm chartreuse trout bead as our lead fly trailed by about 20 inches of tippet and then your two smaller, more natural patterns. The key is to focus on and track the egg pattern as it drifts down the river. As soon as the egg, or worm for that matter, pauses or twitches or does anything other than drift down stream we set the hook. So, in essence, it is treated exactly like a normal strike indicator. You will notice that that this method is exceptionally effective but it will also greatly reduce your foul hookups.

Choosing Your Next Fly Fishing Guide Service

If you’re looking to hire a fly fishing guide service in Colorado for your next day out on the water, look no further! Our website, coloradoflyfishingreports.com, is run and managed by guides that work at Colorado Trout Fisher, Angling University, and The Flyfisher Guide Service. We recognize that there is a lot of competition here in Colorado when a person is looking to hire a fly fishing guide service, and that is why we have three different fly fishing guide services. We cater to all anglers and levels of ability while providing world-class instruction and the chance at landing a trout of a lifetime!

Colorado Trout Fisher is our public water guide service and we take pride in, and specialize, in our ability to instruct all levels of anglers. Whether you are picking up a fly rod for the first time or you want to spend the day with the family, our guides make fly fishing fun for everyone! We guide on the Denver South Platte, Deckers, South Boulder Creek, Boulder Creek, Clear Creek and Bear Creek.

Angling University is Denver, Colorado’s only fly fishing school. AU offers a curriculum for all levels of anglers both in the classroom and out on the river. There is a wide variety of classes as well. Our instructors give casting lessons if you’re looking to perfect your double haul cast for your next trip to the Bahamas. But we also give entomology, fly tying, rod building, and streamer technique classes as well. There are quite a few more courses offered than the ones listed above. Please check our website for a full viewing.

The Flyfisher Guide Service is the exclusive fly fishing guide service at Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club. On any given day our clients can catch snake river cutthroats, cutbows, brookies, rainbows, and brown trout– and sometimes all five in one day! Our fly fishing guides work hard to meet the client’s needs– so if the client is there to catch nothing but big trout, it’s not unlikely to land a 28 inch piggie on the pristine waters of South Boulder Creek! Whether it’s the lunch that our distinguished chef preps up, the top notch facilities on property, or the strong fighting trout, our clients leave with a world-class experience.

Please reach out with any booking or fishing questions you may have!

 

Winter Fly Fishing Tips: Chapter 1

Over the next couple of months we will be publishing a series of quick helpful tips to help you get the most out of your winter fly fishing experience. Please feel free to reply to any of these posts with your own advice and best practices. Stay warm and tight lines!

Whether you prefer a fly fishing glove that gives you a great deal of dexterity or one that offers maximum warmth, it is a smart idea to have a pair on hand. From the Gunnison Valley, down south to the Conejos, and up north to the Yampa– it can get pretty damn cold on the river!

With that said, please take off your gloves when handling trout. It doesn’t matter if its a Gore-tex, wool, or leather glove– it will strip the trout of its slime. If a trout’s slime is wiped away, which can happen anytime an angler touches it without wetting their hands first, it will become susceptible to any diseases that are in the river.

If you’re on the fence about whether a glove can cause damage or not please watch this quick 30 second video. I will continue to wear my elk skin gloves while fishing, as should you, but please take them off for your photos.

A big thanks to Denver Outfitter for sharing this video!