It always brings a smile to my face when I come to my favorite winter fly fishing location on the Eagle River or the Dream Stream segment on the South Platte River and find that I am the first and only one there. There are no other tracks in the snow! I know it’s going to be a perfect day.
Of course, I come well prepared. Dressing to keep comfortably warm is always a first consideration. Every year I scour the new lines of winter clothing at the popular Minturn Anglers fly shop in Denver. With the help of friendly shop staff, I am well outfitted with a good set of rubber soled wading boots, a wind resistant river wading jacket, a wool lined top and pans designed for cold weather. I use half finger gloves which keep me warm but still give me freedom to tie on the fly. This year I picked up a new pair of eyeglasses which are more fog-resistant. And, as my wife expects, I always wear my lucky beanie.
I check out my winter fishing gear as well. My particular favorites include:
- An 8’8” medium action rod; I find this rod to be best for short casts and light tippets; a shorter length also seems to result in less ice buildup in the guides
- A reel that includes a fully sealed drag to prevent freezing and damage to the reel
- Using a heavier line to counter the brittleness of lighter lines caused by the cold
- Making sure I have WD-40, PAM or olive oil on hand to spray the rod and guides to reduce ice buildup
- Smashing the barbs on my flies so that the fly can be removed from the fish faster; this means my hands are out of the water faster; more importantly, fish are exposed to the cold for a shorter period reducing the risk of slime freezing
Try a Colorado winter fly fishing trip in the Vail Valley or Denver area, and you will be “hooked” as well. The experience offers a satisfying sense of accomplishment and enjoyment, measured in more ways than simply the number of fish that are caught.