11:00am, Arrival Air Temp: 3°F. Minimal to no wind, the saving grace for a 3°F start. High topped out at 7°F but began to fall quickly. Overcast the entire time. All in all it was a good start to the year. Pulling up we found a ton of trout just waiting to see a fly. First few casts (I had to screw a couple up before muscle memory kicked in) didn’t look the greatest and resulted in a few spooked fish but in short order things sorted themselves out. Just like riding a bike. Sershen and I meet every Jan. 1st and start the day in the same way, same place (most of the cold Jan. 1sts) and progress from there. This year was much the same. I started with a #18 Pheasant Tail and just a small amount of splitshot. The creek was down a bit and I was bouncing off the bottom. The rainbows took the fly any which way. Dead drifting worked when you could detect the take but high sticking seemed to be the trick for me. Just kind of keeping it up long enough to see a white mouth open and as soon as it closed it was all over. Note: My hands got very, very cold this year but they were covered in trout stink right away so it’s hard to complain. In weather like this the brief photos of the trout lasted for seconds, the personal shots holding the fish were prepared in advance of the trout leaving the creek and much care was taken to see they didn’t hit the snow and were put back in the water with all due speed.
After catching a handful of rainbows on the #18 PT proved that the larger trout weren’t interested (I could literally see the larger trout ignore and refuse the small fly) and I wasn’t interested in sitting in the same place waiting for the feeling in my toes to dissipate I slapped on a #8 SMB and did what I do best, fish a streamer. It worked, well… I remember reading somewhere that streamers don’t have much place in a winter fly selection, if that’s the case I must be doing something special. I don’t think I am, I just think the trout want dinner and when presented with that meal in an appealing fashion they are going to eat. Eat they did. I bet every cast for a good 20min either resulted in a strike, a landed trout or one that hit alittle too lightly and due to my late hookset was able to spit my barbless fly. Browns were coming out in fine style hitting more aggressively than the rainbows, I was surprised a bit by that. A dead drift to get the fly deep and then a slight raising of the rod was all it took and one would dart up after it. A handful of nicer 12-14inch trout were landed quickly and my frozen hand problem got to a point where I had to stop and actually warm them back up before beginning to cast again. We decided after a bit to go hike a new stretch of creek, the result? Basically nothing. I can write that one off the list for this season, I try not to ever write water off forever but this might be one of those special situations. We hiked and hiked a bit more, crawled through some thick underbrush to avoid getting wet. All in all maybe a 1/4-1/2 mile of creek later and a handful of casts proved one thing…there wasn’t much around. Back to the drawing board. This left us thinking about a short drive to another winter creek (can’t wait until all our creeks are open to winter trout fishing). The drive was nice and I wasn’t complaining about the heater in the car with warm coffee. 30min later and the destination was…frozen. Maybe low flows, maybe the biting cold we’ve had for the last few days but either way I wasn’t out to go ice fishing. We checked out two other spots and with that called it a day after three hours fishing. My hands smelled like trout, my rod had been bent and I had a smile on my face. It was a good Jan. 1st and with that another one goes into the record books.