About this time of year everybody is beginning to wonder when and if spring will ever arrive. I really do love winter and everything you can do on frozen water or snow, but as a fly fisherman I really like moving water. A good thing about living where we do is that many of the spring fed streams and rivers are actually open in the winter for fishing.
Every year I try to get out at least once sometime in from January to March and fish with ice freezing to the guides and frozen fingers. For me it is a passage into spring knowing that things will get better. Although, that is not to say that fishing is bad in the winter it is really just a lot colder and more work.
I remember back to one trip on the opening weekend in March of the Wisconsin catch and release season a number of years ago. According to my fishing journal it was a very cold day the temp was close to zero with a wind chill well below zero. I headed to my favorite spot on the Rush and was surprised to see two other cars of fisherman in the area. I suited up in layers and headed out walking down the stream.
When I got to the spot I wanted to fish I had to figure out how I was actually going to fish the pool as there was quite a bit of shelf ice. After a few minutes I was able position myself where I could cast and make and drift through the pool. On about my fifth drift through I hooked a nice big brown. Now I had to land it. That meant I had to slide downstream across the ice to open water where I got it in the net, a good hookup, successful landing and release.
During this process I did break off some of the shelf ice, so I figured I would now have to move farther upstream. I also noticed my net was a big block of ice, so I laid it in the water near the bank. I proceeded to cast a few more times and got another good hook up. This one I again played down stream to where I left my net and I was able to land it.
After releasing the second fish I discovered that I had set my reel in the water and it was now frozen solid. At this point I decided that I should probably call it a successful day. I had hooked, landed and released two fish, the first ended up being the biggest brown I caught that year.
For fly fisherman the winter months are often a time of reflection, time of hope for the new season and time for fly tying to restock the empty fly boxes. This weekend is the Chicago Greatwaters Fly Fishing Expo. Events like this fall into all three. I have been joined by three other members of the St. Paul Fly Tier's and Fisherman's Club at the expo to help promote the sport and our club. This is my second year attending the Chicago Expo with Club. The Chicago Expo runs from Friday January 29th through Sunday January 31st. The weekend of March 26th to March 28th is the Minneapolis Greatwaters Fly Fishing Expo.