Podcast: Winter Skills Series, #1: The System and the Plan — S6, Ep1

by | Jan 15, 2023 | 10 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast is available everywhere that you listen to your podcasts.

** Note **  The Podcast Player, along with links to your favorite players is below.

Season Six of the Troutbitten podcast begins. This is an eight-part Skill Series about fly fishing in the winter months, and episode one is an overview of the series, along with details about where to find trout and in what water type we should expect them to eat. This episode is about our approach, with advice on time of day, fly strategy, covering water to suite the river and reading what the trout want for the moment.

I’m joined this season by my co-host, Austin Dando.

This Skills Series format is designed with less conversation and more detail. Here are the Winter Skills Series episode titles:

  • The System / The Plan
  • Your Hands
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Nymphing in the Winter
  • Streamer Fishing in the Winter
  • Dry Flies, Midges, Emergers and More
  • Winter Problems, Winter Solutions
  • Roundtable Review
In This Episode, We Cover the Following
  • What does winter mean
  • Air temperatures and water temperatures
  • Enjoying the struggle
  • Cracking the winter code
  • Winter predictability
  • Where to expect trout
  • River types and water types
  • Finding feeding fish
  • Move and fish
  • Nymphing, streamers dry flies
  • Why don’t more anglers fish in the winter?
  • The experience
Resources

READ: Troutbitten | Category | Fly Fishing in the Winter
PODCAST: Troutbitten | S1 Ep 14 —  Winter Fly Fishing
READ: Troutbitten | Winter — Something Is Always Going to Hurt
READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing in the Winter — The System
READ: Troutbitten | Winter Welcome Home

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Next Time

Season Six of the Troubitten Podcast continues next week with episode 2. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.

 

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Secondary Nymphing Rig

Every winter our rivers go through changes, and the trout follow suit. Regardless of how much water flows between the banks, I encounter a predictable slowdown in trout response at some point. Call it a lack of trout enthusiasm. Or call it hunkering down and waiting for warmer water. However you look at it, the trout just don’t move as far to eat a fly.

For some, the solution is a streamer — to go bigger. Get the trout’s attention and add some motivation to peel itself from the river bed and move to a fly. It works — sometimes. (everything works sometimes.) But just as often you’re left with an empty net and more questions than answers. I do love fishing streamers in the winter though. I use it as a chance to build body heat, to warm up by walking and covering more water. But my standard approach is a highly targeted pair of nymphs, right in the trout’s window. Served up just right, you can almost force-feed a trout that didn’t even know he was hungry.

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Fly Fishing in the Winter — Ice in the Guides?

Nothing about having a winter system or using a specific nymphing rig makes any difference if the guides of your rod are frozen. And every fly fisher who has stepped into a winter river with the air temps below, let’s say, twenty-five degrees has dealt with some kind of trouble. Every angler has his own advice about eliminating guide ice too. And here I guess it’s time to give you mine . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Sucker Spawn

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On the other hand, while drab and flat patterns have their moments, it often takes a little sparkle, a little color, flash or wiggle, to turn trout on. The trick then, is finding the right elements to seal the deal — a simple combination of materials that is just enough to convince a trout, but not too much either. Enter: the Sucker Spawn . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig

I walked to the familiar counter and laid a small bag of orange material among the aged fly fishing stickers covering the coffee stained wooden slab. Seated on a stool, the shop manager looked up from his magazine and over to my bag of orange fluff. Then he slowly brought his gaze up to mine. We made eye contact and he grinned until we both slowly chuckled.

“It’s all you need out there right now,” he said . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

10 Comments

  1. Listening now on the way to fish in the cold, sleet and snow. Will see if I can implement any tips I hear on the ride out. Podcast is great guys, appreciate all the effort.

    Reply
  2. Winter rivers out west can be very dangerous. Bank ice and flow ice can be real challenges. Try to get a tuck cast through thick slush.Matt can probably speak to this.

    Reply
    • Right on. Gotta pick the ice free rivers. That’s what we said in this episode. Cheers.

      Reply
  3. Dom,

    This episode is timely. Before Troutbitten, I never conceived of fishing in the winter. Thanks to the articles on the site I have been fishing at least 1 day per week for the last year and have been out a lot this winter. I have been struggling and can’t wait to listen to all the episodes in this series. Thanks to you and the entire crew for doing this amazing service for us troutbitten folks

    Reply
  4. Looking forward to this series Dom. Your winter fishing articles have really helped me here in winter in Wisconsin. Your tip about using handwarmers on your wrists with wristbands was a game changer for me when it is really cold. I caught my first namer last week here and I probably wouldn’t even have been fishing without your tip. Thanks for all the great content.

    Reply
  5. Winter is closed season for us in Australia, sadly… We get a brief window of winter-like fishing in May and sometimes in early October.

    Something that is fascinating though is almost like a time-shift between where I live (Canberra) and the nearby mountains (Kosciuszko ranges). It’s only a couple of hours drive, but there’s about a 2 week difference in terms of the flies, techniques and preferred water types. It took me a couple of seasons to work out, but now I hone my winter technique early in the mountains (before the crowds arrive to target pre-spawn lake runners) and apply them in my home waters (where a lot less people fish) until the season closes.

    I wish we were allowed to fish through the winter. I concur with your observation that you tend to catch bigger fish (even in rivers with no lake runners). My hypothesis is that there’s just not the volume of food around and the big ones extend their bite windows.

    Reply
      • Well, we’re allowed to fish in lakes while the rivers are closed, but I agree. It’s sad, and it creates a huge rush of anglers in the last two weeks of the season and the first two weeks after reopening. The crowds make it unpleasant to fish as etiquette goes out the window. There are a lot of fish caught and released on the way to and from spawning grounds, and some rivers have additional rules around size and bag limits in the lead up to the closure that encourage catch and release.

        It’s questionable whether catch and release has much of an effect on recruitment and survivability, but it’s arguable that spreading fishing effort out over winter would be more ‘sustainable’ and enjoyable for fishers (noting trout are not native to Australia, but they are an important part of the tourism economy to a lot of regional areas).

        Reply
  6. Wednesday we are to get 5″-8″ of snow and I cannot think of a better day to go fishing. I got to say winter is my favorite time to be on the water and I find that 15 degrees with no snow on the ground is a lot colder than 15 degrees with 2 feet of snow. When there is snow in the trees or even when it is snowing big fluffy flakes, the man made sounds of the world are silenced and I can feel totally alone in nature. I love it. Really looking forward to this series. Thanks again Dom

    Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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