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.