November sunlight sparkles upon bright water

It was cloudy, though pleasant when I took my walk along the river late this morning. Rain and dreary skies were expected, but there is brilliant sunshine flooding the landscape as I write this. Had I known I would have planned for some fishing.

I like the sunny days during winter weather, always hopeful that a small rise in water temperature might activate a couple of trout. Yes, I know early December is still autumn, but when I try to don my wading boots and find them frozen solid, winter can’t help but come to mind. It was sunny when I geared up yesterday afternoon, so I didn’t expect to find my boots iced, assuming they had air dried enough to ignore the heavy frost overnight. So yes, I think of December fishing as winter.

Still trying to find the answer to winter fishing in my favorite rivers it seems. Logic and reason dictates that the slower, deeper runs at the head of pools should harbor any active trout, but if any are active, I haven’t found them! Our last rainfall event seemed to blow in from warmer climes, and the rise in river flow was accompanied by a rise in water temperature, despite the heavy cloud cover. Fishing one river that shot up from the thirties to the mid-forties produced two bumps on a streamer, and yesterday afternoon’s sunny odyssey produced a single strike.

Perhaps the problem is that my heart simply isn’t in it, not like it is when there are trout rising to hatching mayflies. Early in my fly fishing career I was a year round angler, fishing midges on top when there were rises, and nymphs or streamers when there were none. I put a lot of effort into fishing subsurface, and caught a lot of trout that way, though I never enjoyed chucking lead in the same way I lived for the dry fly.

As I have grown older, how I fish has become more important than how much I catch. I have cultivated my love for dry flies, bamboo rods and classic reels over time. I have not been a numbers fisherman for a very long time. Perhaps that is why the winter game is eluding me. I have developed my thinking, my approach, to hunting large, wild trout, and thus fish different places than I did when I simply tried to catch a bunch of fish. I generally don’t cover a lot of water. I fish select places slowly and carefully.

When most of the trout in a given river are inactive due to cold water and their lowered metabolisms, the chances for a strike, much less a hookup, are fewer and less frequent. If you are fishing the right spot at the right time, you may get a strike or two. Fish the wrong spot and you’ll get nothing but exercise. Perhaps I should look at those days when I do get a bump as small successes. I guess I’m just not that philosophical yet, though I am content to continue to fish my way.

I really don’t care to spend hours systematically high sticking little nymphs through the riffles and runs to try and pick up a few small trout. Been there, done that as they say; back when I was younger. I’d rather fish at my own pace, thoroughly working a fly tied to display a bit of flash and a whole lot of movement, in the quest to slip that fly in front of a big winter brownie and entice him to eat it.

A little flash beneath a lot of hen pheasant soft hackle feathers makes for a fly that breathes with life as it swings through the current.

I enjoy that winter sunshine whenever I can find it, and I think my approach is sound when it comes to targeting rising water temperatures. There is always an element of luck in fishing, and I figure that my turn ought to come around again.

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