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Looking for new, unexplored winter trout water I found myself streamside at the usual hour for this time of year ~11:30am. I rigged a #16 Orange Scud to start the day with the hopes that by the time I was getting ready to make my first cast I would have to re-rig with a #20 Midge but despite the excellent conditions for the day only a scant few midge were seen and very minimal rising fish, I counted only three all day. With a projected high of 20degrees with literally NO wind we picked a spot that would otherwise be a windy nightmare. Setting boot to snow pack I was confident the snowshoes could sit in the car but after a few minutes of hiking I did a 180, turned around and grabbed the shoes, this made the day more comfortable and helped us cover alot more ground without sweating to death. If you have them, use them.
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I fished with a friend again today each bringing our own perspectives to each potential spot to fish. Winter fishing is difficult enough but then to combine it with unseen water can make for a fish free day. When I can I like to get a second perspective on the situation. Fishing with a friend, sticking close and discussing the options can really work well. The #16 Orange Scud got a #20 Miracle Nymph trailer after a few strike free passes but on the third cast got lodged on a snag and I was forced to break my line. Note: Pinch your barbs at the vise, better than in the cold. I re-rigged the same flies and continued but with minimal success. The first stretch we fished was an [singlepic id=2174 w=380 h=300 float=right]obstacle course requiring slow movements and roll casts. Unfortunately 90% of the fishy lies were clogged with sticks, logs, debris, habitat, nature’s defense against anglers like myself, you get the picture.
We continued hiking passing thousands of trout knowing that an attempt could be made but neither of us felt like spending our entire day losing flies every third cast. A few snaggy spots were fished, some so fishy looking I would have thrown an entire box of flies down there if I would have thought a fish was going to come up intime for me to get my flies out without something fouling up the works. Enjoyed the winter sun again, very few January days (especially weekends) will produce 20 degree air temps with no wind. The combination of the two made the day.
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The stream eventually opened up a bit and we found a few good deep runs to spend a bit of time tempting trout. With the #16 Orange Scud and #20 Miracle Nymph trailer I got no strikes, not a single one. I put on a second splitshot to ensure I was getting deep enough when I snagged something and lost the entire rig down to the 4x tippet on the end of my leader. I made [singlepic id=2180 w=420 h=340 float=right]a choice, rather than spend the time to tie on a stretch of 5x tippet and top it off with a few smaller nymphs I opted to go straight to the #8 Olive Sprinkle Me Baby I had used the last time I was out. No additional weight, just the conehead and wraps of weighted wire to help sink the fat fly. A few passes later and I knew I was on to something as I had several noticeable strikes. I was expecting slower strikes but my fly line was jumping as if summer nymphing. Eventually I managed to get a good hookset and began the afternoon of back to back Brown trout.
Once we figured out where the trout were and what they were willing to take we each hooked up with several trout over 12inches. We each landed a few 14inch browns unfortunately I rolled and lost two approaching 18inches. That can be a bit disappointing but not when compared with the excellent weather conditions and otherwise cooperating trout. It seemed the larger the trout the slower and less pronounced the strike. I got to the point where any slow in my line resulted in a hookset no matter how insignificant it [singlepic id=2186 w=420 h=340 float=left]seemed. One of the larger trout lost was hooked in this manner but I was too late by the time by the time my line slowed. In a few instances the smaller 10inch trout would be willing to almost surface in pursuit of the streamer as it rose on the swing. A note worthy event considering the amount of calories burned by those trout chasing down my streamer.
This scene played out under the mid-day sun until close to 3pm when the sun eventually hit a bank of clouds, the air temp took a nose dive and the trout activity followed suit shortly after. We each landed a dozen easy and lost probably three times that many more, for a while it seemed every third drift resulted in a noticeable strike, on the #8 SMB of all flies, one reason to bring your streamer box with you everytime. There are some hungry trout out there just waiting for you to toss a meal in front of its nose, even in the dead of winter trout still have to eat.
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