Had the pleasure of taking some new folks fly fishing this past week. The winter fishing here in Jackson Hole has been pretty good. As some of you know, the Snake is the go-to place for casting a fly in the winter. Days can vary from tough to great. Because of snow depth, access can be difficult. Fortunately several bridges over the Snake allows wade fishing anglers the ability to find productive water. My client today, Leslie, caught a lot of fish and was blown away by the number of heads poking through the surface gorging on midges. Definitely a fun time and since temperatures are warming and days getting longer, the fishing will just get better!
Kicked February off with a little fly fishing this past weekend. Conditions were far from ideal; wind, snow, cold temperatures, but my friends Seth, Rich and I decided to rally. We ended up doing pretty well nymph fishing, landing whitefish, rainbow and brown trout. After a few hours, we retreated to the cabin and warmed up with a fire in the wood stove, whiskey and sloppy joes.
The other day was my first proper guided winter fly fishing trip of the season. It was cold, there was snow and ice and I had some eager vacationers from Georgia hell bent on wetting a line! We found a few cutthroat sipping midges off the surface but they were challenging due to the slow, gin clear water. After working a dry fly emerged for a while with no luck, I had Brooks and Lindsey switch to small pheasant tail nymphs stripped slowly under the surface. This produced and Brooks landed his first ever Snake River Cutthroat trout! As the sun started setting we switched to nymphs and caught some nice whitefish, including a monster. Overall it was a great day on the water and I have to give credit to Brooks and Lindsey for wanting to fish regardless of the cold.
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.