Flippin' Flys With Frozen Lines
A matter of perspective.
As the temperature continues to drop and the frost rolls in, poles, rafts, and oars are commonly replaced with skis, goggles, and gloves. But here at Give’r, our gear excites us to do the unordinary. Keep the fly rods handy; the “beginning” or “end” of fishing season is all a matter of perspective. And with the right gear, a little bit imagination, and some creativity, it can truly be a year round activity!
On an early Saturday morning in Jackson, Give’r founder Bubba and a crew of adventurous anglers set out to do the uncommon, floating the Snake River during a 25+ degree “warm snap” in the middle of winter. Translation: it was damn cold. Snow covered banks and iced over boat ramps were expected to yield surprises and necessitate creativity. The chances of actually catching a fish? That’s classified. But setting the expectations for NONE was just how it should be. It's all about the journey right?!
A few tips from Bubba.
Trout, like all other cold-blooded creatures on Moth’r Earth, have slower metabolisms in colder temperatures. But Cutthroat trout spend an average of 80% of each day foraging for food. And as winter temperatures reach their mid-day highs, they’re just pulling up at the drive through searching for a fish-sized Arby’s Classic Roast Beef Sando. Here's his tips:
Dress for success: Layer up and keep yourself dry. Base layers are essential to retain your body heat, especially when exposed to wind out on the open water. If you’re looking for a midweight, wind-resistant, and moisture-wicking pullover…we, unbiasedly, strongly suggest the Ol’ Faithful. Waders or muck boots ensure you can hop in and out of the water without a “game-over” scenario.
The Downright Vest is also about as good as it gets when seeking warmth and heat retention while keeping your arms and upper body free for casting, rowing, hauling in the big one, or just moving things around the boat ramp.
Keep your head up and your line down: Fly lines tend to sink faster in cold water. Sinking fly line will help reach those lurking below. With the cold temps, it is highly recommended to clear out the rod guides and the line itself of any ice build up. Depending on conditions, this could be every cast. Whatever it takes, right?!
“When we rolled up to the launch boat ramp, there was a 6 foot snow/ice bank and about 30 yards of ground to cover to reach open water…had to give’r from the start!” - Bubba
Low and slow: In the winter, fish tend to be less active. Seek out deeper pools and sip from your River Runner Neck Coozie while you let your fly/nymph sink.
Bigger isn’t always better: Heavier/weighted flies will work to your advantage in the colder and clearer winter rivers, but if that isn’t working, keep trying smaller equivalents and remain patient.
Surface vs. subsurface: As there are few things more awesome than a winter surface bite, it is worth posting up in a high probability spot and observing if there are any customers sipping from the surface. There may be short windows where this is a hot ticket, so keep your head on a swivel and follow the bugs.
Keep your hands warm: You’re in the right spot for this one. Waterproof, insulated, and tough-as-nails gloves will keep you on the river longer. For added dexterity, get your hands on the Classic Give’r Gloves. With an all-natural wax sealed exterior, your fingers will be free to set the hook at a moment's notice. But for the maximum warmth and 100% waterproofing, slip cold hands into the Frontier Mittens and you’ll be steamin’ in no time.
No matter how you define “success,” sometimes going against the grain provides a more powerful experience, or, at the very least, a good campfire story. When others are stacking up at the lifts, consider where the lines aren’t and seek the adventure. We wholeheartedly believe the best adventure is shared with friends, no matter the season. Just be sure to layer those waders.