Maybe I'm the eternal optimist regarding fishing, but December is going to be another great month to be on the water, particularly if you have the weather on your side.
Depending on where you are in the state, Winter has surely arrived to some degree. Some days more so, some days less….but it’s definitely closing in. As of this writing we’re 20 days from the first ‘official’ day of Winter, which I always personally look forward to. The reason for this, even though it means many cold weeks still lie ahead, is that the days start getting longer! I know I’m not the only one who considers daylight savings time in the Spring a bigger holiday than their own birthday. Just remember, as soon as we hit December 21st, we all get to enjoy a few more minutes of daylight each day. (I think that first sentence really might be true)
But anyway, back to the fishing. The bitter cold spells that always seem to make a few appearances in January and February are just around the corner, along with many days of (hopefully) fresh powder up on the mountains. The fish know this as well and are definitely still on the feed. Now, that being said, don’t expect the sun-up to sun-down action you can often depend on during summer and into fall. The fish are transitioning into Winter mode and as such, they’re metabolisms are slowing in response to the cooler water temps. Expect your best fishing to be on the warmer, sunnier days- and particularly from around 10am-3pm.
I was out the other day fishing with a buddy in Cheesman Canyon. You may have read about the trip last week on our Blog- however if you didn’t, click HERE. We found fish from the start but got very few to even look at our flies. Coincidentally, we didn’t see many fish feeding in general. Optimistic that this would change as soon as the sun got into the canyon, we kept on with our efforts. Almost like clockwork, once the first rays of sunlight began to touch the water we started catching fish. Then by mid afternoon, once the sun started to leave the canyon and air temp dropped a few degrees, the bite shut down. Canyons can be a tricky place to fish during the winter because they often get very cold and receive short windows of sunlight. If your plans have you fishing more open stretches of river, it’s not unlikely to see a longer mid-day window of fish actively feeding.
From a fly perspective this month- as well as the next several- eggs, worms, midges and baetis will be your best bets. If you’re fishing a river with stoneflies, particularly goldens and salmonflies, a rubberlegs isn’t a bad option either. Keep in mind as we move into these colder months that your goal should be to find feeding fish. This means two things in particular- 1) focus on the softer, shallower zones next to deep water in an attempt to find fish looking for an easy meal and slightly warmer water. 2) Don’t overthink your flies. Fishing some combo of the above mentioned flies will always catch fish throughout the winter. Focus on getting a good drift, using plenty of weight and thoroughly working a zone before either moving to another spot or changing flies a bunch of times.
While the slopes are starting to call the name of a few of us around here at the shop, so far it’s just been a whisper. You can bet that we’ll all still be out on a regular basis throughout the month of December and will be in tune with what’s fishing best and what’s working where. Our top goal around here is pretty simple- we want to help you catch more fish. Give us a shout or swing by the shop and we’ll get you pointed in the right direction!