"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer”
~ Albert Camus
Late winter in the caldera, call it what you will; arctic anxiety, the shack nasties, doldrums, cold winter chill, frigid & frozen....whatever. The winters here in Henry’s Fork country don’t have a "bad on” date, they will start promptly & run late, by months in either direction giving great cause for merriment any day the mercury rises above the freezing mark. Although harsh, the short cold days of winter still provide the hearty angler with enough angling prospect to constitute a pilgrimage to the riverside, often times with favorable results.
The Trout are here, and their appetite tenacious as ever. This time of year the fish seem to descend toward a peculiar comfort zone, having lost that suspect dubious edge that grows callous during a seasons peak fishing pressure. Fishing technique and location options are many. Alpha Rainbows begin their migration toward comfortable spawning grounds, Whitefish gather in abundant pods and the Browns are on the prowl after expending substantial energy reserves during their late fall ritual. In addition, the fish can often times be found in congenial slow moving stretches of water, making for an easygoing jaunt all together. No need to charge all over the river, just find that good appealing comfort water and get to fishin’.
Pattern selection for winter fishing is modest in comparison to the crowded boxes of summer, no need to over-think things. For subsurface fishing, a small collection of attractor nymphs, mixed with beadhead midge and mayfly patterns will bring success. For surface presentations, a solid line up of midge and mayfly dry/emerger offerings is enough to get the job done. Often times a larger Griffith Gnat pattern is all one needs to fool the sipping Trout of late winter. If you’re lucky, and conditions dictate, you may even find yourself in the midst of a strong Baetis hatch, which is real cause for delight. These first Baetis hatches of the year bring with them eager Trout feeding without regard for consequence, but best to make that first cast count nonetheless.
Yes indeed friends, winter does not warrant a lapse in fishing, it just takes a little more work and ambition to enjoy. If you do find yourself in Island Park with that fishin’ jones, stop by the shop. More times than not, one or more of us has been fishing recently and can certainly point you in the right direction regarding location, access and fly selection. Dress in layers and consider fishing in a group this time of year, just for safety’s sake. After the fishing, stop by the TroutHunter Bar & Grill for a tasty meal, cold beer or just to say hi. Until then, here’s a tip of the glass to those bountiful days of summer. Cheers!