First day of the season and we knew it was going to be cold. When it’s this cold you become acutely aware of a few things. 1. Which creeks and the locations on those creeks that are heavily spring fed. Areas froze solid that would normally be wide open and flowing fine if the temperatures the week prior had been above zero. 2. You learn how to operate without the feeling of your fingers. Tying tippet to your leader and tying flies to your tippet becomes increasingly difficult and uncomfortable. Which leads to 3. You choose to only cast when the chances of catching a fish are high and the likelihood of getting snagged up is low. If you were to get hung up remember #2. 4. Trout, albeit more difficult to catch when you can’t feel your fingers are still totally catch-able in temps below zero. I think we topped out at or just below 0 degrees F. on the day.
The day follows a progression dictated by the overall high airtemp. If it is predicted to barely get above zero degrees such as was the case on the 1st there is no rush to get to the creek. Coffee, eggs, bacon and flies are all prepared between 7am and 8am. The gear is loaded and on the road by 8:30am. Not because we need to get to the creek early but rather we leave this early just to have an enjoyable drive to multiple creeks sipping coffee along the way. The wind and ice shelving will contribute to both how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are as well as your ability to be more successful catching trout and scouting multiple creeks along the way is something I’ve always enjoyed on days like this.
We drove from creek to creek observing the water, wind and temperature narrowing the choices. When it’s this cold I’ve found it best to keep moving so a longer hike was in order, this also helps narrow the possible locations down. Once the decision was made we pulled up to water that was 90% frozen over but I was confident that the hike would reveal open water the closer we got to the upper reaches of the creek. ~11am the airtemp according to the thermometer on the truck was -4 degrees F. The hike was beautiful and as predicted the water opened up. I chose to fish a small streamer and managed brown trout along the way, nothing huge but the point of today in these temperatures is less about catching fish and more about enjoying the outdoors.
A brief stop at a massive pool which despite it’s size was totally ice free (this should tell you that there are springs feeding from below) lead to an exercise in fire making. Gathering tinder in the woods for use with a ferrocinum rod to create fire in this cold is a good exercise of what I consider to be a critical skill. I’m still learning and working on this. Small fire built and safely disposed of and the hiking and fishing begins again. During these shortest of days my ideal time to fish is 10-2 and with that the hike out was enjoyable. Another successful 1st day of the winter trout season.