This has been the coldest early winter I can remember. Temperatures have reached -20 F three times in just the first few weeks of winter. The lake effect snows can be expected, but they to have been extreme. The fauna is suffering. Animals I usually see appearing in the first warm days of March are foraging already. Many of them will perish. All said, what can a fly
fishing angler do.
Not much research has been done on trout in the winter months, but we do know that they hold tight and deep. They move slow and feed only when the food source is an easy take. Food sources consist of minnows and larva. The larva or nymphs are in the rivers year around. Granted leech, Sculpin, and minnow patterns will work, however I find that the stone and Hex nymphs in a black assortment seem to work best. Getting them down is paramount. Split shot or bead head is the ticket.
Now what about you? Staying warm and dry is a science. I spoke with a medical professional, a doctor specializing in trauma, and he pointed out to me that frost bite can be experienced without your extremities going below 32 F. An extended cold exposure can create the same results. To the Inuit wet and cold is death. Cold also gives your nervous system a deadening effect that kills pain. This can give you a false feeling that your hands and feet are OK. Numbness is a danger warning. If extremities don't feel cold, when it is cold, something is wrong. Pushing through pain brought on by low temperatures needs to be monitored by common sense. Warm dry clothing in your car and hot chocolate in a thermos can be life saving. The body's core temperature can cut of blood to arms and legs, it is the bodies survival technique. This happens automatically with a message from the human primitive brain. Article travelers and mountain climbers know it is a science. When fishing above the 45 parallel, you must be abreast of cold weather survival. Be smart, be safe, and enjoy our winter wonderland.
Richard and Jim
Letting you know current conditions and best approaches.