Water Clarity: Clear
Water Temperatures: 35-40
Suggested Patterns: Girdle Bugs, Eggs, Kaufman Stone Flies, Copper Johns, Squirmy Worms, San Juans, Wooly Buggers in White or Olive, Hot Head Bugger in Black, Zonkers
We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years!! If you haven’t gotten your 2023 License don’t forget to do that sooner than later! We’ve been out on the water a little bit over the past week, the high water made it quite tricky but it was good to get out! A few fish were hooked and landed but there was a lot of effort put in for a few bites. (Not a big surprise for winter VT fishing) As things cool off a little water levels will recede pretty quick, this week will be a good week to get out on the water if you can. It looks like we may see some more significant rainfall on Friday so get out while you can. With water temps still on the cold side be sure to fish the slow, deep pools. Nymphing and dead drifting streamers will likely be the most productive methods. Bobbers and tight line set ups both have their upsides and downsides in the winter. Equipping yourself with a 10ft 3wt or 4wt that can do a combination of both is the best approach. Certain pools will not allow you to effectively cover the entire pool by tight line nymphing. The fish may be too far off the bank, or in too deep of water for you to drift your fly past them without and indicator. On the other end of things certain pools, and deeper pockets will need a tighline presentation to effectively get your flies in the zone. Weighted worm patterns and stoneflies have seemed to be the most productive winter flies for us since the new regs went into effect but there’s plenty of other flies that’ll catch em. When fly fishing in Vermont, you are allowed to run 3 flies at a time, when we’re nymphing in the winter we like to run 3 flies to help us see what works. In the spring, summer and fall we rarely run 3 because rigging can become tedious and choosing flies in the spring summer and fall seems to be much easier. In the winter we’ll run some sort of worm pattern 99% of the time. The second fly will often be a black stonefly and the 3rd will be some smaller, more classic winter pattern such as a zebra midge, brassie or small copper john. Having 3 very different flies will help us figure out what’s working best.
Last winter, the pink worm seemed to get the most interest but we did get fish on other flies as well. As far as the distance between the flies go in the winter we tend to run them fairly close together. The reasoning behind that is in the dead of winter-in theory, the fish should all be relatively concentrated towards the bottom of the pool in the slower water. We have yet to find any trout feeding mid column in the winter in VT so running all of the flies close together on the bottom of your set up should allow the flies to drift within the strike zone a lot more. You want to make sure they’re far enough away they don’t get tangled up but it likely won’t be necessary to have your flies to be spread out over 3ft of tippet material.
As far as water to fish, your best bet will to be focus on water below dams, you’ll find the least amount of ice and hopefully a higher concentration of fish due to the water being a degree or 2 warmer (hopefully) With all the rain we’ve been getting there’s been a few good reports of Steelhead coming up out of Champlain, these fish should stick around as long as the water levels don’t drop too much, there’s also a few rivers up north that could be worth exploring with the new regs that may be holding some steelhead. Don’t forget that there are still a few rivers closed such as the Clyde, Dog and Battenkill. For the full regs go to Fish and Wildlifes website or swing by the shop and pick up a regulation book!! Good luck out there!
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