Why is winter a great time to try your hand at trout fishing? To start, trout like it cold. Mountain trout actually prefer it when the water temperature is only just above freezing. So while the cold weather and biting wind have driven the saltwater fish out of North Carolina’s sounds and into the Atlantic Ocean, the trout are still there in the mountains waiting, if you are ready to brave the elements yourself.
Cold weather lovers
Certainly, the trout won’t be as plentiful as they will be in April, but you may be surprised at the number of bites you will get. In fact, mountain fishing guides recommend trying your hand at a little winter time trout fishing, even into February. Often, there will be a few fairly mild days, where the sun is out and the temperatures get into the 40s.
If anything, the cold weather is more likely to bother you than the fish. You will need to dress accordingly and be prepared for some quality time outdoors in the cold. This means multiple layers and gloves. Consider bringing along a change of clothes and extra layers, too, because you will get wet and the winds could pick up. Winter trout fishing is not for the impatient, either. However, if you like the idea of skipping the warm-weather crowds, you may find the trade-off worth it.
Reading the water
If you decide to try your hand at winter trout fishing, you will need to adjust your normal fishing style. Trout during this time of year will be in a semi-hibernated state. They aren’t going to want to expend a lot of energy fighting the current for food, but they will be lingering near the current in the hopes that something tasty will sweep by them. You can capitalize on that by looking for the right current lines and making multiple casts to get your lure in these smaller strike zones.
Your rod length will depend on the size of the stream you are fishing. Shorter rods will keep backcasts from getting tangled in anything growing on the shore. Fishing in a larger body of water calls for a longer rod. Consider using weight-forward fly lines in WF4F and WF6F weights with fishing flies in No. 16 to even No. 26 for the best success. To make it to the bottom, utilize double-drop rigs with two nymphs in front of a strike-indicator. Choosing a stonefly or prince nymph with a small pheasant’s tail dropper tied behind is another option.