Sunday, December 27, 2015

December Trout

It's been a mild winter so far, though the season officially began only about a week ago. Still, in these parts winter tends to unofficially start around Thanksgiving. Call it what you will, but there is little debate that it has been very warm. It got into the 70s quite a few times during hunting season in November (thankfully I got my deer on one of the cooler days). The ground has been void of snow, the rivers free of ice and ticks have been reported well into December.

This weather may not go well for those of us who are looking forward to other winter sports and activities, but the fly fishing has been nothing short of spectacular. One year ago, I tallied three trout earlier in December just before it started to get really cold. This time around, I've caught more trout than I can count. 

The hot fly has been this well known favorite: The Zebra Midge, in size 20. I've been dropping it 18" behind other nymphs such as the Rainbow Warrior or a Mercury Blood Midge in size 16, often using split shot to get them down deeper and quicker. But three out of four times it's these Zebras, not the lead fly, that the trout can't seem to get enough of. Easy to tie as well, despite the small size:

I checked off December on the first after noticing the trout were tuning to the midges just fine.

A little over a week later, I got out of work and raced to the local river ten minutes down the road to take advantage of what was left of the daylight and was glad I did.

The next day, same river, a few miles upstream and the trout gave my arm quite a workout.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve... traveled farther north to be with family, but the whole state has been warm so as far as the trout were concerned, it didn't matter. My father-in-law, Gary, and I traveled over to a year round river where my expectations were low. It had rained a lot the night before, but the water levels were better than expected and the endless trout on the line were unexpected. None were very big, but the non-stop action made it a lot of fun. 

What was great was getting Gary a trout. He doesn't get out as much and had never nymphed before. I created a double fly rig (rainbow warrior and midge) and let him get to used to that. Then I attached a strike indicator to the line, instructing him to cast gently and not too far. He could see the strikes and not too much later, he had a trout.

That was very rewarding seeing him land that fish. And perhaps it was a fitting final hoorah of what has been a glorious end to 2015. The weather is now finally turning and the weather people expect it to be seasonal for a while. As I type this, a freezing rain is falling in Brewer and a legit snowstorm is expected in a few days. The long range outlook calls for temps not really getting above freezing for much of January, so the ice will creep in and trout activity will slow. It'll now get challenging and only the bravest of the brave will be out on the water, praying that our waders don't leak while we try to keep the blood going in our fingers. Checking off January will be tough, but I look forward to it all the same.