Low & Slow: winter game tactics

   That’s it. Really. That is all there is to say.

   It’s no secret that the action slows down in the winter but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside and suffer the suffocating agony that is cabin fever in the modern age: useless online fishing forum rants. (kinda like this one!)

Brian Judge dropping the hammer on an epic roll cast.
Brian Judge dropping the hammer on an epic roll cast.

   No. On decent temperature days (above freezing) it’s great to GET OUT and keep a little of that winter rust off while also realizing there are some different opportunities.

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   One thing to remember is that some types of fish, like wild brown trout, like to move. They are notorious for moving, especially into areas where they can find a more stable forage base. So if you have a nice little trout stream that runs into a larger body of water,  don’t be surprised to find some trout hanging out in the larger body of water which may have a more stable and available forage base over the winter.

wink wink, nudge nudge

you never know who you're gonna meet out on the water in winter
you never know who you’re gonna meet out on the water in winter

   Now finding those fish can be tricky and it involves putting in time. Survey a likely area over a couple days and get to know your stream structure, flows, and identify target areas (aka; holding spots or lies). Remember that the fish are just like us this time of the year so you are looking for easy water (slowish) with protection (cover) and a decent supply of food nearby.

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   The fish are gonna be hunkered down on the bottom so your presentation has to be on the money and on the nose. They are not going to swim far for that stonefly. Low and slow, right in the nose.

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   Now the same is not true of streamers. A wounded or escaping bait fish is just the kind of meal that can keep a hungry trout fed for a few days and they will travel a distance to hammer one.

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   Again, realize you need to adjust your tactics. Best timing for this is overcast days, first light, or twilight into night. KNOW YOUR WATER before fishing low light conditions in the winter. This time of year more than any other you can get into serious trouble if you fall in. NEVER go out alone, it’s flat out not worth it…plus if you hook that lunker who’s gonna net it and get the grip and grin?

there are a ton of drop ledges and boulders in this water...wade slowly
there are a ton of drop ledges and boulders in this water…wade slowly

   Ok, that’s most of it and really that is the key to success on these short and cold winter days. But there is another facet of winter fishing you need to consider before you decide whether to go out. You need to realize a successful day means learning something new and that is not dependent upon putting a fin in hand. Stay safe and GET OUT!

I can't feel my feet...and I love it!
I can’t feel my feet…and I love it!
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