When the winter weather sets in, fish get lazy

Posted on: Tue Feb 7

Well it’s officially winter here on the east coast. For me, winter means bundling up next to the fire tying dozens of flies at the vice and eating pizza on an almost nightly basis. My winter activity is actually very similar to how trout act in the wintertime; lazy, hungry, and cold.

The days of hungry trout sipping furry flies on the surface or chasing down fast stripped streamers are behind us. It’s time we reevaluate how we fish and adapt to the trout.

During the winter months trout will look for shelter in deeper, slower moving water. Trout use more energy moving around in the cold water than they do in the warmer water and with insect life being more dormant this means opportunity for feeding is far less in the winter. Conserving energy is their main objective.

During the winter, I prefer fishing water that is moving just slightly faster than walking speed. Keep in mind that the surface water always moves faster than the deeper water, so this pace water will have a nice slow speed down where the fish hang out. Trout can remain in slow moving water without exerting much energy so this is always the place to start scouting.

Water levels in general are much lower in the winter, so it will be harder to find fishable water but when you do, there is a chance that multiple fish will holding in a single hole. I always keep notes of holes I find in the wintertime as they’ll typically hold fish in the warmer months as well and be a good indicator of where to fish.

Fish will not chase down your fly in the wintertime, I like to imagine that you need to put your fly right on the fish’s nose in order for it to eat. Fly presentation is much more tactical in the wintertime so make sure you are making the most of each cast. Breakdown the water you are fishing into a grid, you can use this grid to ensure that you have made appropriate drifts and casts to cover the entire area and the entire water column.

Next time you’re on the water this winter remember, like you, these fish are cold, lazy, and hungry. If you are fishing correctly and being patient you will hopefully find a trout lurking in the deep.

Tight Lines!