Winter is one of my favorite times of the year to be on the water(along with spring, summer and fall.) It is a time when there are not "Big Hatches" or lot's of people fishing those big hatches. To put it simply...Fishing in the winter offers unique challenges that are found at no other time of the year.
Fishing subsurface is the way to go (most of the time.) And your presentation at times needs to be
precise. And when you add in high water to the equation it becomes very difficult to even find fish. This is why I love it!
Yesterday I ventured out to Oatka creek with my Dad in tow. We walked a trail that led to one of my favorite spots. The 4 inches of snow on the ground had no foot prints in it, accept for a few deer tracks. When we walked over the cow bridge, we looked upstream and down and found the water level to be very high, but not muddy. I knew I would have a tough time finding fish. And after fishing both nymphs and streamers for a half hour at one of my favorite spots with no fish, I knew I may go fishless for the day.
We then moved to some better looking water just below the cow bridge. Here the water was in better shape do to the trees and timber that collected themselves just in front of the bridge. The "make shift" dam proved to stop much of the high water and acted as a filter making visability a little better. I worked my way down from the bridge throwing a #8 conehead white rabbit strip streamer with my 6 weight. I cast to either side, taking a step after each cast. No fish took the streamer, and after I got back upstream I changed rods and flies. This time, I carefully placed a #12 beadhead black woolly bugger(under an indicator) at every seem and riffle that looked good. It wasn't until the end of our last half hour that my indicator dipped and I had my first fish on. A few head shakes and it was gone. My next drift produced another take, and this time I bent the 4 weight almost to the handle on the hook set. This fish came to hand, and after a photo(taken by my Dad) it was off to find a better holding spot.
I had to work hard for that fish. Winter does that sometimes to your fishing. But, you know what? I wouldn't change it for the world. I was able to show my Dad one of the fly fishing places I enjoy most, and even though it was cold and snowy, I would do it all again tomorrow.