This isn’t a blog about the typical guidance for winter fly fishing: effective layering, winter safety, wading and walking tips when on icy banks, hypothermia, patterns to try, tricks and techniques to make the experience a productive one.
This is a blog about the experience, the fly fishing adventure. Isn’t that what motivates us to fly fishing in the first place? Doesn’t our motivation for any outdoor adventure come, first, from the desire for a new experience, face a different challenge, get a glimpse into something beautiful that we otherwise wouldn’t get?
We might have “failures” in our early attempts. But what even defines “failure”? Then we apply new techniques, try new approaches, hone our game.
But the driving force isn’t to learn technique. We don’t say, “Let me learn this drift and then go fish the Taylor at 9 degrees.” It’s more, “I want to go fish the Taylor in winter. I want to try that. What do I need to know?” The adventure is the driver.
So I wanted to fish the Taylor in winter. The opportunity presented itself perfectly like a Top Secret midge presented at the right depth.
In the twenty-mile drive between Almont and the catch-and-release area, I watched my car thermometer drop from 14 degrees to 12 degrees. I ignored my older brother’s admonition that “fly fishing is best enjoyed when you can stop for lunch, sit in the sun, have a beer or coke and a sandwich.” The thermometer read 9 degrees when I got out of the truck, the only person in the parking lot.
A little shout-out here for the Simms OutDry Gloves. This Christmas gift from my wife provided great protection from the low temps. They were comfortable and flexible for every movement except tying on flies or re-rigging. And I loved being able to slip in a hand-warmer packet for that extra comfort.
What I wanted was the adventure and challenge of catching fish in January. Single-digit temperatures. Overcast skies. Breath visible in the air. Winter conditions.
I didn’t catch one of the hawgs that draw many anglers to the Taylor. But before lunchtime, I had a couple to the net. Fine fish. Beautiful colors. But more than that.
By the end of the day, the skies had cleared, the river had delivered, and the winter fly fishing experience beckoned for a return trip.