Date: November 11, 2019
The beauty of Fall has now left us as well as the crowds on the streams. Old man winter is perhaps right around the corner. This should change your approach to trout fishing as they will no longer be feeding on the surface. Keep in mind that we cannot be careless about the clothing we wear. And always let someone know when you will return along with having some safety planning in place before the trip.
Wintertime fishing requires us to fish differently. Be persistent in your fishing method. Slow down while fishing and cover the water. You cheat yourself when just casting blind. Look at the stream and divide it up into lanes as you look across it. Lanes should be a foot or less apart. Trout will become more selective and will not chase food or flies in cold water. Make your cast into each lane and allow your presentation to remain in that lane for the entire drift. Use smaller flies if you are not getting any takes. Remember, the least current is on the very bottom of the stream and this is where the fish are. Use weight and long leaders if needed to get that fly down to the fish. And the larger the X size of the leader, the faster your fly will sink. Wintertime fishing is a nymphing game…become a master at nymphing!
Wintertime fishing requires us to dress properly. Most of the heat loss is through the head. Go with a solid cap instead of mesh. A toboggan or beanie cap is another good way to prevent heat from escaping and you’ll be able to keep those ears covered. Use thermals as a base layer. The mid layer or outer layer should be fleece or wool. Make sure your bottoms have stirrups or closures around the ankles. They will prevent the legs from riding up. Use a rain jacket as your outer garment. Most rain jackets are lightweight and breathable which make them very convenient. They help trap heat and create a wind barrier, which is a plus on a cold windy day. Your feet can be the hardest to keep warm. Do not use cotton socks at all. Sweaty feet get cold first and will stay cold if you use cotton. A thin pair of wicking socks helps draw the sweat away from your feet. Follow with a second pair of socks made from merino wool. Your hands can be hard to keep warm. Keep a pair of Hot Hands close so you can put your hands on them to warm. Half-fingered wool gloves should help keep your hands comfortable. Be sure to carry a small hand towel with you to dry your hands after getting them wet!
Safety is an important issue during the winter months. You can take your vehicle to most auto parts stores and have your battery tested for free. A battery being cold loses some of its amps for cranking. No one wants to walk out for help after a cold day on the water. Be sure to change the batteries in your flashlight. Keep a lighter or waterproof matches with you. And always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.
The Delayed Harvest steams in our area have been producing very well. Keep in mind that these streams get hammered sometimes and the trout get smart pretty fast! If you find yourself not getting any takes, change flies. With higher water levels, use weight to get those flies down to the bottom. Most of these fish have been well educated since the start of the DH season. Those reaction strikes to junk will slow way down. Switch over and begin using flies that mimic the naturals as these are the ones that trout live on. Stoneflies, Prince Nymph, Pheasant Tail, and Hare’s Ear are the common patterns that represent what the trout see and eat. Common sizes to have are 12 to 18 and have them with and without bead heads.
If you are a beginner wanting to learn how to fly fish, we have a great staff of instructors who have been schooled in the art of fly fishing. One of the best ways to learn about fly fishing is to spend time with those of us who are professional full-time guides. Don’t forget to ask us about our float trips. Currently, we are doing floats on the Toccoa Tailwater and will begin floating the upper as soon as water levels allow. Give us a call to book your amazing trip on the water and don’t forget that we offer Gift Certificates!
James Bradley is the only Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide in North Georgia’s Historic High-Country region. Reel Em In Guide Service has been offering their services to fly anglers since 2001. They have permits for guiding in North Georgia and North Carolina, offering over 6 miles of private trophy waters across Georgia, and operate drift boat trips on the Toccoa River in GA and the Tuckasegee River in NC.
Contributed By: James Bradley
Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide