- Jay Walden
Warning: Violence, Adult Language, and Nudity. These past couple of weeks have been hard to take. First of all, it's been cold here. I mean days where the highs barely get out of the single digits and morning lows of sub-zero, kinda cold. Yes, that kind of damn cold. And for days on end. It seems every day someone comes into the shop with news of some new record low, "Oh it was 12 below at my house this morning—It was 13 below—It was 16 below." I suppose that in some twisted way they want to impress me. Little do they know, it only makes me want to strangle them right there on the spot. To top it all off, there's been about eight inches of snow on the ground and the lake has turned over, and the water is murky. I'm not so sure if these supposedly, well- intentioned weather experts would be a little more reticent to disseminate their climatic observations, if they only knew how closely they are flirting with their imminent demise. Perhaps, if they knew how close they are driving me to the Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" edge, where I repeatedly type page after page of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, " for the rest of the winter, it would serve as a deterrent. One could only hope. Like I said, it's been hard to take. I've been trying to go to my happy place, I really have. Why, just the other day I was remembering a splendid Spring morning where I had an entire stretch of the main river all to myself—the day that I slipped and went in over my head. A day where the fishing was so good, I didn't want to leave to get more dry clothes, so I stripped down to the bare skin and hung all my clothes on the willows to dry. Exhilarating, is the best way I can describe it. Had I been forced to repeat that scenario last week— I; no doubt, would have died. My happy place—thank God for my happy place. If you brought someone here last week for the first time and told them that it's occasionally over a hundred degrees here and the water is crystal clear, and there are big fish everywhere that eat big dry flies, they'd probably have you locked up in a padded cell by now— but, then, you would still have your happy place to go to, now wouldn't you?
So, what are we looking at here friends and neighbors? Well, we've got flows of 372 cfs and water visibility of—I'm gonna say about a foot—mmmm... maybe a little less. The weather for the upcoming week will be slightly improved, where the highs will at least be over freezing, and the lows will no longer be in the single digits. Not great, but doable if you really want to fish. And how is the fishing? About what you would expect for January, with murky water. You're gonna catch some fish, but it ain't gonna be like June or July here, either. The dry fly fishing? Fuggedaboutit! So, that said—winter here, if the water is off color like it is now—is a nymphing and streamer game. As far as flies go, I like using the bigger, brighter stuff, something with a little color, a little sparkle—disco midges, princess nymphs, desert storms, red larva, egg patterns, o.j.s, that sort of thing. And don't be afraid to go bigger, like size 18 bigger—at least for your lead fly, or trail one of them behind a dead-drifted streamer—I like small white bunny leeches. And then, there's the streamer thing, which I actually prefer to nymphing here in the wintertime. This, you gotta play around with a little. Be prepared to switch up colors, weight, depth, retrieves, all that stuff. With the water clarity you can fish 5x for your nymphs, with the streamers I go with at least 4x, 3x if I'm swinging bigger, meaty stuff in the current—anything less and you're just gonna lose your stuff to fish and these fish aren't leader shy on streamers when the water is off color. In my experience of streamer fishing on this river, you're going to have a mixture of red hot days where you're just on fire and other days—well, not so much. I wish I could tell you how to figure out which day is going to be which, but honestly, I haven't quite been able to figure that one out. My best advice, which actually may sound kinda lame, is you gotta be diligent about it—you gotta commit to do it. You can't go out and throw a streamer for five minutes and if you don't catch anything, you quit. It's work, I'll admit it, but you have to be tenacious in your approach—Steve McQueen chasing the bad guys through the streets of San Francisco in his Mustang, tenacious. You gotta stay after it, until you figure it out. That take—that take when some big fish finally slams your streamer on the swing will be all worth it—that I do know, for a fact. Hope you can make it out. If you would like to book a guided trip or need more information, give us a call at 505-632-2194.