Low wind, high of 20degrees and sun. Had a few hours, got out later than I normally would. In a hurry I put my mind to the spot and didn’t think much about it. Everything was set to be spectacular until I drove across the bridge and got out to check the trout out. I couldn’t see any, couldn’t see any water let alone fish. Why? Because the entire creek bank to bank as far as I could see up and down stream was froze over solid. I stopped and thought a moment, what was I thinking? What did I expect? It’s not like it has been sub-zero for days on end or anything… I got back in the car and drove off. I passed open water on the way and figured I could salavage the afternoon if I was quick about it. About a mile down the road I looked over to see the sun shining off broken water. A riffle flowing freely as clear as day. I stopped the car and got out. I was quite a ways from the creek but I was pretty sure the open water continued. My mind put things together something like…”I’m already here, I’ve got my snowshoes and its beautiful out. The worst thing that could happen is a long beautiful hike and no fishing…” I turned the car around and drove right back to the bridge over the frozen creek.
Gear in hand, snowshoes strapped to my boots and I was hiking through the thick of it. I had a good half mile to go or more before I got to the broken water I had seen from the roadside. I turned a couple bends and I saw the first open water up close. Hard to fish about all I could do was drop a streamer in down and strip it back out, not much was happening with this approach. I quickly moved on. I got upstream a ways and the open sections began to be more frequent and wider. I got a few looks from a couple trout that came out from under an ice shelf momentarily only to snub my fly and dart back to the darkness. I found myself wondering about the creek temperature and if the ice shelves or the entire creek being froze over contributed to colder water temps? Or did the ice insulate the creek? I forgot my thermometer so I could say either way. What I can say is that around 1:30pm I saw something crawl up the banks which put a huge grin on my face. Midge what a spectacular sight. I would imagine most people don’t get too excited seeing a handful of midge show up but I did. As I hiked more and more were peppering the snow and it wasn’t long before the creek was opening up. The first rising trout was noted at 2:11pm.
My gamble paid off. I sat in the sun with almost no detectable wind watching brown trout sip #18-20 midge. This couldn’t have come together more perfectly. I gave it a while just watching the fish and the bugs before I put on my #20 Jujubee midge adult. This is a must have pattern for me when the water is clear and the fish are spooky. The CDC wings make it less than ideal once it’s wet or slimed but the way it imitates the real thing can’t be beat. When you really really want to fool a brown in the winter trust only the Jujubee midge. My first attempt failed. I made four casts before it was wet and I had to switch flies. I was in no hurry, sitting in the sun I was as comfortable as I could have been. The time to change my fly allowed me to spy one trout that was holding tight to the far edge of the main seam rising in rhythm every few minutes. This was my target. The day was complete when that fish rose on my fly. Nothing super big or anything but just the satisfaction of picking the fish, putting a small fly on it under tough fishing conditions and sticking the hookset to land it made the day for me.
After that I managed a few others and moved upstream. I swapped back to an Olive Leech pattern which took two more browns from a deep hole but a late hookset afforded the nicest fish of the day an early escape. Maybe 16inches but like I said I had gotten everything I came for an in the sun no less so I couldn’t do much other than smile and hit the snow to hike out. Thirty seven minutes of straight hiking in sometimes knee deep snow and I was back to the car fully satisfied with my few short hours on the creek where I belong.