Some people think that us anglers that fish during the cold winter months are crazy, and we probably are crazy. BUT, we are fly fisherman, so what else would be do with our time? I mean you can only tie so many flies before cabin fever takes hold, which forces us to get back on the water. Picking the prime hours will help make winter fly fishing much more enjoyable.
You know how during hatch season the last few hours before dark can be magical? And, you know how in the summer it’s best to beat the heat by waking up early? Well, there are also prime hours to fish on the cold, short days of the winter season.
In the winter season, I usually fish around three or four hours per day. However, knowing which of those three or four hours of the day to fish can make or break a trip to the water. For those anglers that fish true spring creeks, picking the prime hours is not as critical due to water temperatures remaining very close to constant. In contrast, anglers that fish water systems where water temperatures fluctuate will want to be more selective of which hours of the day they spend on the water.
I’ve found that in the winter it is always best to fish as the water temperature rises. The change in temperature does not have to be drastic, several degrees is all it takes to influence fish behavior. Although I’m no biologist, I believe that a rise in the water temperature correlates to an increase in the metabolism of the fish. An increase in metabolism causes the fish to become more active, which increasing the odds of them eating.
I’ve found that the hours of the day from mid-morning to early-afternoon to provide the most consistent results for winter fishing. I often try to be on the water around 10:30am, and most days I will be packing up 3pm. These are the hours of the day that are most comfortable to fish, and lucky for us these usually produce the most fish. The next time this winter season you venture towards the water, make sure to pick the prime hours.