Fri. December 15, 2017….Its been a while since I last posted. But catching up this week, we had a great fall of fishing and winter fishing is here, even if its not officially winter yet. Or at least that is what the calendar will tell you. December 21 is first day of winter, and also the shortest day of the year in our hemisphere…hence the name “Winter Solstice.” But I look at that as something created by man….its just a date, just a suggestion…not fact. Just like so many things. Truth is, we’ve had winter for some time.
We had deep winter this week….and I have been out in it everyday. I had a trip scheduled for last Saturday, and ended up postponing it….due to heavy snow in the area where we were headed. 14 inches of it, high winds, temps in the 20sF. We elected to do another day. I’d have done it , but not everyone’s cup of tea to spend hours driving in it, hours fishing in it, then driving back in it. I do it all the time, have done it all the time. It makes memories for sure and caught lots of fish doing it. Big fish.
Great week of fishing though. Started Monday 12-11-2017 guiding a friend and longtime client Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, and our plan was to fish the TN tailwaters and find some dry fly fishing and then also do some floating and throwing some streamers. Flows were reduced to the point (465) that we had decidedly more of one than the other and we opted to do all wading instead.
We also had more cold and snow, lots of snow in the high country, it started out really cold, and was chilly all day but bearable. We had hoped to get in some dry fly fishing, and expected to get in some in the afternoon with some olives, but we had rising fish right from the start. We caught fish on bwos, my cdc sparkle emerger, then caught a few on dry dropper rigs with midge droppers.
Then we switched back to dries and nailed a ton of fish , it was game on all afternoon….the dry fly fishing was so good we never stopped for lunch. It was incredible, as good as it can be in the summer. Ted probably landed 50 or more on dries, a lot of them quality browns. When the sun started sinking low at 445pm, we switched over to a double nymph rig, a tunghead caddis larva with a spawn fly fished below it.
Netted another twenty or so, many quality browns on the rig too. We fished til dusk and called it a day….it was a phenomenal day. There was more snow forecast for Tuesday, a quick shot clipper system, and I thought things could be interesting. Calling for cold and wind too, definitely ran most folks off the river. Not us.
On Tuesday 12-12 definitely more cold and snow in the forecast…and that is exactly what we got. Bitter cold, wind, driving snow and sleet, a bitter raw day and only one other person one entire section of river we were on and he only stayed 15 minutes. We fished to rising fish from the time we got in the water at 845am til the time we quit around 415pm. So good we never stopped for lunch. Either day.
It was outstanding dry fly fishing ….bwo spinners and then a blanket bwo hatch. At least 50 fish in the net and all on a couple of my tiny dry fly patterns….a CDC blue wing skinny and a CDC Sparkle tail. A great day to be sure. After fishing I headed back through moderate to heavy snow most of the way back. Quite a nail biter in traffic towing a boat… Another big shot of snow and cold for the mtns (East TN, SW Va, and NW NC).
On Wednedsay 12-13-2017 I guided a trip with longtime friend Brad Ball, Greensboro, NC, and we fished the NC Mtns, another bitter cold night and cold day today, overnight snow and temps were really chilly. Areas that didn’t get more snow last night (much of our mtns did) already had up to a foot/14 inches in spots. Couple all that snow lying around, temps in the teens and 20sF, and a stiff wind and it was really cold, ice in the guides, and on the rod tip such that you had totally quit fishing and deal with the ice.
Fortunately where we were a lot of the snow nearest the river had melted…which put water that was barely above freezing in the river. We still caught plenty of fish. We fished double nymph rigs, and where we fished is stonefly water and among our favorites as far as nymphs is a 20 Incher Stone nymph….plus other stonefly nymphs…simply put they work. We used a variety of caddis larvae, midge droppers, and eggs and spawn flies.
Put probably 35 or so in the net, we fished til 330pm and called it a day as it was getting really chilly again. Caught rainbows and browns, and some of the rainbows were fantastic. A couple were really nice fish. Good day in some not so great temps but hey, its winter right? A lot of the best fishing people miss because they don’t want to try it in the cold. Those who do try it are
surprised shocked to learn how good it can be. The standard response …”I had no idea….”.
On Thursday 12-14-2017 I guided Trip, Steve Krasicky, Greensboro, NC, and his client Tiaan Kruger, and for Tiaan, who is from South Africa originally but who lives in Raleigh now, it was his first time fly fishing. After stopping at two different spots and finding perfect winter conditions totally frozen conditions —we moved on to plan C. I mean where I’d planned on fishing was frozen bank to bank with the only free flowing water in the fastest riffles.
So we went on to plan C and it paid off. We found some clear water, enough ice free to fish and did very well. We nymph fished all day, as you’d expect on a day like today for the most part , at least on a small stream. We had cold temps, snow on the ground, a stiff breeze at times, but we put in the effort and were rewarded with over 60 fish in the net.
Landed several large rainbows over 20″….. Tiaan’s first day was a success I’d say, as he landed 36 fish and hooked or played many others that got off. That’s a great day anywhere. Fishing has been good the past week and today was no exception…..and as most of the week we had the water totally COMPLETELY to ourselves. Want to learn how to successfully fish in cold weather? I can show you how….We have a good many openings coming up…let’s go fly fishing!
Have another icebox trip guiding longtime client Jim Kramer for tomorrow ( 12-16) and we’ll hopefully still have clear water to fish. Looks like a brief mild up, if you can call it that, so a lot of that snow will be melting hopefully. That provides our water flows during dry or really cold spells and for that reason I’ll never complain about snow. We need it, it does a great job recharging groundwater.
Have a great weekend…..Merry Christmas!
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