Maintaining Confidence

Seek and ye shall find. Keeping on the move kept me warm and focused enough to bring this colorful winter buck to the net.


We all know how important it is in the mental game of life and fishing. A few recent outings reminded me of the importance of fishing with confidence and got me thinking of ways to find it when it eludes me.

I’m relatively new to winter fishing, but, I’ve really enjoyed the process of figuring it out in the serenity that blankets the winter landscape.

Like anything new that I figure out on my own, I question whether I’m doing it right. Fortunately, there are tons of resources available online and in print, not to mention a wealth of knowledge from experienced anglers who might be willing to share a few pointers.

At some point, though, regardless of how much experience and knowledge I have, there comes a time when doubt creeps in, and I start to think that no matter what I do, it’s not going to work.

In the salt, you can convince yourself that the fish just aren’t there. It’s a vast ocean; they can’t be everywhere.  However on the trout stream, you know that’s simply not the case. It should be easy, then, if you know there’s fish in front of you, right?

An egg fly fooled this near-perfect holdover rainbow and defeated the curse of the new rod.

Still, I find myself fishing water that I know holds fish but am unable to get a hit. I change flies. I try adding weight, I try down-sizing, I switch back and forth from suspenders to tightlining, but to no avail.

The problem is that, at times, I sense the lack of confidence, and I know it’s working against me in subtle ways.  I’m just not fishing as well as when I’m dialed-in.

I can dream up all kinds of reasons to lose confidence. The curse of the new rod, the new hat, the curse of the banana. Anyone else not eat bananas when they fish?

Fortunately, through perseverance, stubbornness, and good advice, I’ve figured out a strategy that’s worked well for me this winter when I’ve felt my confidence slipping away. I’ve used it to bring some nice fish to the net and keep the skunk at bay during my last few outings, even with a new rod and once without wearing a hat at all!

  • Find a pattern you have confidence in and fish it consistently. Preferably this is something that has worked well for me or someone I know. For me, its eggs and stoneflies. For you, it might be something completely different. It isn’t necessarily the best thing to fish, but, it’s the thing that I fish best.
  • Go heavy and make sure I’m getting down and staying in contact.
  • Fish the most likely water and move. I know fish won’t move far to eat in the winter, but, the longer I try to thread the needle, the colder I get and the more doubtful I get. A short ride or hike to a new spot is also a chance to warm myself up, grab a bite or a few sips of hot coffee, and recharge.

There’s no great revelation here; this has all been said before.

Nevertheless, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from putting it all together and making it work for you. Winter’s almost over and the stocking trucks will soon be making their rounds. Get out and be humbled while you still can.

Work for it. This big winter brown was my only fish this day, but, sometimes, one is more than enough.

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4 thoughts on “Maintaining Confidence

  1. Winter fishing is tough no matter what. On cold days, it is agony and on warm days, it’s even tougher because of snow melt. You don’t want bananas to stack the odds against you haha

    1. But rewarding nonetheless. It’s great just to have something to do outdoors during the winter. Investment in the right clothing is a must.

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