Our recent heavy snows have reminded me of the essentials needed to successfully fish our local waters in severe winter weather. All of us have had occasions – perhaps as recent as our last storm – when we have had to cancel our fly fishing plans due to inclement weather. Instead of spending a good day on the stream we have opted to recline before a climate and resource destroying fireplace and a watch a silly game where grown men throw a ball around in tight pants on television. Or worse, spending the day shoveling the walkway and drive for the little woman.
With proper preparation there is no need for this to happen, especially since there is such a ready source of products available to make our wintertime ventures more enjoyable.
Let’s start with the basics.
Track System for Kubota RTV 900 Utility Vehicle
You will need this to get you to the stream and to haul additional essentials.
$7395 (Assuming you already have the RTV 900 Utility Vehicle)
Herman Nelson BT – 400 Mirage Desert Wind Portable Heater
To be strategically placed and fired up just upwind of your selected pool prior to entering the water.
$1,900.00 for the budget minded, on eBay, used.
Coast Guard approved Mustang Ultimate Ice Rescue Suit
Combines the robustness of the Tactical Operations Dry Suit with the high visibility and padding needed in swift water rescues. $946.00
Electric Pet Deterrent Fence Controller (for your Fly Rod)
Effectively eliminates line icing. The term “Tight Lines” is for salutations only. Do not be concerned with that pesky electricity stuff... graphite fly rods have a very low resistivity ranging from 9 to 40 uqm, which is essentially zero, insuring a relatively safe method of fly delivery.
$29.95... Or just use the one you use to keep your spouse under control.
To equip yourself with just these basics you have only spent a little over ten thousand dollars, plus whatever shipping costs would be involved. A small price to pay to insure a comfortable day on the stream. And if my math is accurate and you achieve the average wintertime catch rate, that comes to something like an expenditure of, well, about ten thousand dollars per fish.
And an additional benefit to being properly outfitted: With the noise generated by the portable heater, you will not be distracted by wildlife of any sort, and more importantly, you can rest assured that you’ll have the stream to yourself as those without proper ear protection will surely seek other venues.
Regarding tactics, I recommend fishing deep...very deep. And very noisily. As trout, during severe weather enter into a dormant state it is important to wake them from their slumber. As there is little chance that the trout will be in the mood to eat anything once woken, avoid all attempts at “hatch matching” and revert instead to the tried and true “Hellbender.” With its weight and broad deep diving bill, coupled with its awesome treble hooks, you increase your chances of not only waking, but of actually “catching” a fish. You will find that a strike indicator is unnecessary. If snagging, I mean, if this sort of fishing is not to your liking and if the fishing is particularly slow, you will also want to consider chunking rocks into the stream from time to time. Big rocks.
As a final cautionary note, please be aware that under such severe conditions one needs to keep hydrated throughout the day. Many have found that Absolut 100 is perfectly suited to the flask, I mean task. Not only is it best consumed in a near frozen state, but achieving that proper temperature will require no auxiliary refrigeration equipment.
Editors note: In normal fashion, the writer totally ignored his own advice and accepted an invitation today from son-in-law Chad to join him for a day of fishing in north Georgia on Duke's Creek. Leaving out of south Georgia at an ungodly hour and a temperature of 28 degrees, they arrived at the stream to a temperature of 22 degrees and blowing snow. Finding the temperature at the check in station to be a toasty 74 degrees, the author elected to remain inside as Chad and his buddy Brad headed for the stream. Totally unprepared, the author remained ensconsed in the warmth for approximately 3 hours until the temperature rose to a high for the day...of freezing...32 degrees.
Upon entering the stream, the author attempted to lure its inhabitant for approximately 20 minutes...all the while considering the benefits that could be derived from setting himself on fire.
At the end of the day there was only one photograph worth exhibiting...a photo of one of Chad's two fish. This one being of particular interest as the fish was heard to demand his immediate release, stating something like..."Please sir, please, please, please put me back in the warmth of that 35 degree water!!!"