Winter fly fishing is hit-or-miss in terms of numbers, but offers tremendous and unique rewards.
Most rivers are largely devoid of anglers, the landscape is stark, and the elements can be challenging. Whether it be precipitation, wind or cold, there’s always something tempting you to stay at home or reel up for a warm car ride back.
But, I love winter fly fishing. It’s tough, but therein lies the rub.
@fieldbiojoe and I fished the Farmington, which looked completely different from just a few weeks ago. Honestly, it was hauntingly beautiful. Armed with flies fresh from the vise, I was eager to see how they’d do (I’ll write about them shortly).
It ended up being one of the most fulfilling outings of the year for me. Three reasons.
First, though the 13-hour door-to-door journey resulted in only three fish, I felt I earned each one of them. There were no cheap takes. Finding spots required effort, and all three fish took flies that were size 20 or smaller.
Second, I nearly joined the 20-20 Club, comprised of people who have landed a 20″+ trout on a fly that is at most a size 20.
The post-spawn Survivor Strain hen taped at 19.5″. It fought like a beast, and I felt lucky to tame it. On a low-volume day comprised of 38 °F water, little bug activity and high flows, it was a privilege to see such a majestic fish.
I’m still in awe.
And, the third reason: camaraderie. We went to UpCountry and chatted with Torrey and Wade. Later, Wade joined us for lunch at the Better Half Bistro.
And, fishing with Joe was just plain fun. I learned a lot from him, and he was great company. He did well, landing a stunning 17.5″ brown with his “divergent streamer rig.” Totally boss.
Some celebratory wine seemed appropriate when I got home. A splurge to commemorate a great outing.
Winter fly fishing is the best. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a spiritual element to it for me. I’ll blog about that one day….