Winter Streamer Fishing
Here we are in December again. The daylight doesn’t last very long these days and more often than not there is some fresh slush to contend with in the mornings. Trout are cold and glued to the bottom. Most anglers are hibernating snuggled up next to the tying vise, dreaming of warmer days and feisty trout that will seek and destroy an articulated-screaming-double-bunny-zirggler. For those in the know however, the wait in non-existent, because trout do eat streamers in the cold.
The main difference between fishing streamers in the winter versus any other time of year is that the trout are cold and lethargic. Hence the trout are unwilling to move very far to chase a fly. You practically need to deliver it right in front of their face. Also their metabolism isn’t very strong so, smaller patterns will be more productive. Buggers, zonkers, and small sculpin patterns are great choices. Also try to avoid big articulated patterns. As far as color selection goes the more natural colors like black, brown, and olive and usually more productive than the flashy ones.
When fishing a streamer in the winter you want a slow presentation, so either a slow exaggerated strip or a slow swing are ideal. For stripping in the winter a longer/heavier sink tip works well. A 24-30ft head is a good choice and helps keep the fly down near the fish while stripping or mending. For swinging try a lighter full sink line. The swing works really well because it really easy to work the entire run quickly and systematically.
Keeping and eye on the weather and water temps is key to any winter fishing, and winter streamer fishing is no exception. If the temps start creeping up then the fish are going to be more willing the chase and the slow strip may trigger more strikes. Conversely, if conditions are on the cold side them expect the fish to be hugging the bottom and reluctant to eat anything that doesn’t swim into their mouth. Either way trout can be taken on streamers even when it feels like Antarctica out there.