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MikeW

Winter Fishing Tips..Please!

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Yesterday was such a nice day I decided to take a trip out the the Georges River and wet a line..It was my first attempt at fly fishing in colder weather and although there is nothing to report as far as catching anything, it was great just getting out again..How about a few suggestions on what pattern works for you in colder conditions..any tips on icing up of the fly rod guides..etc..Any tips would be helpful and greatly appreciated..

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I'm with you, my line and ferrules keep freezing up, I hope there's a magic old timer home remedy.

I've had good luck with smaller flies. In the ponds I've been fishing, wood specials, mickey finns, San Juan Worms, and white crayfish patterns as well as midges.

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I haven't done a ton of cold weather fly fishing, but when I have gone, the key has always been going small. Size 18 or so nymphs in natural colors. Eggs are also great in the late fall. Don't have any secrets for guides icing up, although I think some guys who fish a lot in subfreezing weather for steelhead get special rods with larger guides to mitigate the problem somewhat.

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I love winter fishing in rivers, not sure why, but I have a blast out there. I pretty much nymph exclusively in the winter. I sometimes throw on a woolly bugger and have luck, but do better on nymphs. Eggs, PT's, hare's ears, San Juan worms, thread midges, CJ's, and an occasional prince variation. Tie plenty and bounce them off the bottom when you fish. Expect to lose flies. Going small is fine, but if you can tie on a size 20 or smaller in sub freezing weather you have better circulation than me :huh: Which brings up an important point - Learn a knot that is simple enough to tie that you can do it when your fingers are numb, for me that knot is the Orvis Knot.

Ice on the guides is all about management and prevention. Let it get away from you and things can get bad. If it is in the low 30 or higher, simply dipping your rod in the river for a few seconds will clear the ice off it (rod only, try to keep the reel as dry as possible). When it gets to the low 20's, I try to work the river with a limited amount of line without stripping any in until I have a fish on. I will have roughly 20 feet of line including leader and tippet, flipping the line upstream more than casting it works best for me. Watch the guides and deal with the ice before it becomes a problem, you can break your tip if the line gets caught in it. When it gets bad, take a break and warm up in the truck :)

Winter fishing can be slow, it is more about getting out there and enjoying the outdoors. Nothing like fly fishing in a snowstorm B)

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everything WR said. Fish the banks and slow water, fish do not need to get down deep to find cold water and will avoid using up their energy fighting current. Also the hits will be very subtle so if your indicator moves...set the hook.

Jake

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black and gold stone flies work well for me on the st george tight lines :D:D:D

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size 22 or smaller dry flies in grey (or possibly tan depending)....I like the old school and simple "midge" style tie...

I preload and use a C and F threader....

yesterday was ideally perfect...looking out my window I suppose today is similar....

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Never fished Maine streams in the winter, but in other states (PA, NY, CT) I use a zebra midge nypmh almost all the time. It is a simple tie and I have had great results with it. Now I don't use this one exclusively but its usually one of the flies in my rig if fishing more then 1 fly is legal on said river. You will have better success over sandy or muddy bottom areas. These are usually the slower water areas that you should be fishing anyways.

As for frozen guides, line management is key, don't strip line all the time. I usually roll cast with my other hand in my pocket.

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I love winter fishing in rivers, not sure why, but I have a blast out there. I pretty much nymph exclusively in the winter. I sometimes throw on a woolly bugger and have luck, but do better on nymphs. Eggs, PT's, hare's ears, San Juan worms, thread midges, CJ's, and an occasional prince variation. Tie plenty and bounce them off the bottom when you fish. Expect to lose flies. Going small is fine, but if you can tie on a size 20 or smaller in sub freezing weather you have better circulation than me :huh: Which brings up an important point - Learn a knot that is simple enough to tie that you can do it when your fingers are numb, for me that knot is the Orvis Knot.

Ice on the guides is all about management and prevention. Let it get away from you and things can get bad. If it is in the low 30 or higher, simply dipping your rod in the river for a few seconds will clear the ice off it (rod only, try to keep the reel as dry as possible). When it gets to the low 20's, I try to work the river with a limited amount of line without stripping any in until I have a fish on. I will have roughly 20 feet of line including leader and tippet, flipping the line upstream more than casting it works best for me. Watch the guides and deal with the ice before it becomes a problem, you can break your tip if the line gets caught in it. When it gets bad, take a break and warm up in the truck :)

Winter fishing can be slow, it is more about getting out there and enjoying the outdoors. Nothing like fly fishing in a snowstorm B)

Great stuff WR..thanks!

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I haven't done a ton of cold weather fly fishing, but when I have gone, the key has always been going small. Size 18 or so nymphs in natural colors. Eggs are also great in the late fall. Don't have any secrets for guides icing up, although I think some guys who fish a lot in subfreezing weather for steelhead get special rods with larger guides to mitigate the problem somewhat.

Good tips..I'm cataloging them!

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black and gold stone flies work well for me on the st george tight lines :D :D :D

Excellent..thanks!

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My favorite winter flies are midges, particularly thread midge nymphs in various colors, brassies, and disco midges. I have nothing new to add about freezing guides. Good luck. ;)B)

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One thing I'm looking forward to seeing is if my new boots help in the really cold stuff. My old Simms felt-soled boots were great - except when they'd developed an inch and a half of ice on the bottoms when the temps were really low. Switched this year to Simms Freestones with the rubber soles (studded, natch) and am waiting to see if they are better at not developing a thick coat of ice on the soles.

In any case, be aware of ice when wading in freezing temps.

Dave

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I don't know about Simms, that's expensive stuff...lol. But I have LL Bean Neoprene waders and wading boots and I've had 0 problems. I've had most of my problem with frozen ferrules, which with reduced stripping, I'm hoping to fix. One thing that can be a little frustrating in the early AM is my fly line getting really stiff, I'm going to start sticking it my coat pocket to warm from now on.

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My winter flies are what I tie sitting warm and comfortable with a cold beverage or ten. You guys who flyfish in winter rock ! As in thats what's in your heads ! :lol::P :P

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In any case, be aware of ice when wading in freezing temps.

Dave

Good point on the ice Dave. Not only ice you slip on and shelf ice, but also be on the lookout for large ice chunks floating down the river, especially if there is a dam upstream of where you are fishing. If they catch you from behind while you are facing downstream you may be going for a swim :blink:

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Water Rat gives the best advice. I fish all winter and generally use smaller 18-24 thread midge-nymphs with crystal flash wings, pt, hares ears and copper johns. I will also use an occasional bugger. He is also right about once the ice does get in your guides it is time to take a break in the car. I also use neoprene gloves in very cold weather. One more thing, very good base layer of longjohns with fleece pants under boot foot waders. The heat stays in and the bootfeet keep the cold from the water out and away from your feet. I save my stockingfoot waders for warmer temps. If you want solitude go winter fly fishing.

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I have stocking foot neoprene waivers and to work around it I use 2 sets of wool socks, its still cold, but at least manageable.

I haven't tried neoprene gloves, I have wool fingerless, and that may be something to try; because, the wool gloves are bulky.

One thing I'll never do again is wear anything not wool or synthetic, if you have cotton and it gets wet (i.e. sweatshirt) then you're living the suck for the rest of the day.

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I have stocking foot neoprene waivers and to work around it I use 2 sets of wool socks, its still cold, but at least manageable.

I haven't tried neoprene gloves, I have wool fingerless, and that may be something to try; because, the wool gloves are bulky.

One thing I'll never do again is wear anything not wool or synthetic, if you have cotton and it gets wet (i.e. sweatshirt) then you're living the suck for the rest of the day.

I find that my knees start to ache after about an hour in the water..of course I'm probably much older than you which is a major factor..but I'm thinking about wrapping some heat wraps around them..you know the kind they advertise for bad backs..and i have wool fingerless gloves as well..they seem to be ok but I might check out the neoprenes as well..

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I fished all last winter in breathable stocking foot waders and was fine for anything under 3 hours on the water.... the key is dressing correctly under the waders.... I usually wear a base layer of thin poly pro and then a 200 weight layer (about the thickness of light sweat pants and sweat shirt) hell poly underwear and socks too.... Cotton kills... then wool fingerless (I find the Neo gloves to be to restrictive), nice hat and a wind proof breathable coat to top it off and you can stand there for as long as you dare.

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I also take a balaklava along with a warm hat. That seem to keep the cold off my face and keep my temps up.

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....One thing I'll never do again is wear anything not wool or synthetic, if you have cotton and it gets wet (i.e. sweatshirt) then you're living the suck for the rest of the day.

the old Navy blue winter uniforms - wool, even the watch cap. Somebody in the old days knew a thing or two.

I was in the Seabees, so they didn't do me any good. Most of the places I went, wool was that last thing you would ever wear.

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