I keep the heat in the truck at full bore as I scramble to gear up on this frigid November morning. Long gone are the crowds of summer, the only sense of life is from the distant Magpies chirping a lovely morning melody. I struggle to pull my G4's up over my winter garb, thank goodness for the zipper feature. I rigged my rod up in town so I can quickly approach the stream without freezing my hands assembling the graphite pieces.
The agony of summer fly selection doesn't find a place in the depths of winter. Midges, Stone Fly's, Eggs.....the list really doesn't go much deeper then that. As I walk toward the stream I feel confident those flies will generate some action much quicker then it's taking me to walk through the snowdrifts to get to the stream. There is no rush during winter fishing. Most people don't want to brave the hazardous conditions to catch a few trout. Through the years, I've grown fond of battling the elements to land fish in this kind of solitude.
As I start to peel my line off the reel I'm cautious to avoid getting any type of liquid on my gear. That can end your day quickly this time of year. I scan ahead and immediately find what I'm looking for, soft water. The key to winter fishing is to find the subtle currents where lethargic trout await an easy meal. I tuck a 15 foot cast close to the bank and almost immediately the sighter hesitates, a quick hook set assures my first feisty rainbow trout of the day. I often find that trout tend to hang out in groups during the winter months. Maybe they are lonely, maybe they are somehow generating heat together....or maybe there is limited quality water to live in when the temperatures plummet. No matter what the reasoning is if you catch one fish in a particular spot during the winter rest assured more should follow. Another cast in the same spot produces another rainbow. I look around to see if anyone else is in sight but I already know the answer. I cautiously wade to the next soft spot and the catching continues. I'm sure the cars passing by are wondering who the idiot is putting his hands in cold water when the air temperature barely registers 20 degrees outside. I embrace the cold feeling and continue upriver, plucking fish out of each bucket one by one.
I quickly forget about my cold hands and focus on the solitude and damn good fishing that winter gives up. I often find myself wondering why it's so good during these miserable months. I believe that pressure plays a roll and also the food selection isn't quite there. Whatever it is I'm glad it's arrived. I walk back to the truck as the sun dips behind the Madison's and the cold sets in deeper, with a smile on my face because I know winter has just begun and the fishing will continue to get better....you just have to brave the elements to experience it.