We’re plugging through winter here in Jackson Hole and I’ve been fortunate to have had some great folks wanting to get in on some winter fly fishing while visiting on ski vacations. In typical winter fashion, the Snake River has made us work for our fish, but anglers walked away happy. Much winter fly fishing success relies on finding good holding water. Fish in the winter like to hold in deep, slower water where they don’t have to expend lots of energy. If you find the right kind of water, you can usually fool a couple fish.
Most of our fishing has been dead-drifting nymphs, but as days get longer and a bit warmer, fish are also being caught on the surface. These midge hatches can last 10 minutes or an hour or two depending on the weather. The other day I was out with three great guys visiting from Canada. Trevor, Rich and John decided to take a day off from skiing and joined me on the river. All being novices, I taught them about reading water, bugs and winter fishing. In the end we managed a few fish to net and lost some others. The highlight for me came when we found a pod of cutthroat trout aggressively feeding on the surface on the edge of some fast water. After a few casts, John got his presentation just right and was rewarded when a beautiful cutthroat came up under his fly and inhaled it. Then it promptly ran down river, eventually breaking off. Despite not landing the fish, it was an awesome experience and one John likely won’t forget.