You can’t outrun the cold air now. It’s here and it’s here for a while, unless you live in Florida or other warm climate areas of our globe. But if you live in the Midwest, on the East or out West in America; the cold is here. But there’s still time for fishing until the waters freeze over and then you’ve got ice fishing if you live in Minnesota or other Northern destinations.
The challenge with cold weather fishing is not only how to keep your hands warm but also how to catch fish. While many give up on fishing, there’s still plenty of fish to be caught, you just got to go deep and slow down. While many fisherman will get out their small jigs in order to catch those chunky bluegills and crappie feeding down deep; I go a different route. I get out my fly rod for some exciting and fun fishing on the surface.
With the cold weather, the weed beds at the lake near my home have started to retreat and die. During the summer, it was impossible not to get tangled up in the weeds on the surface unless you used a weedless top water or a spinning bait. But now that the weeds are below the water, I get out my fly rod and tie a #12 dry fly onto my tippet and drag it across the top of the weed beds to get some rise out of the fish hiding out down there.
Because there’s still a chance of hooking into the weeds, tie your flies onto a tippet of at least 4x or 5lb test. Because the weeds are weaker, you can usually pull your flies loose with a stronger tippet rather than loosing them. For panfish like bluegill and crappie, I usually go with a #12 size dry fly like a Elk Hair Caddis or a Royal Coachman. Just toss it out over the weed beds, twitch it every few seconds and let it sit. In no time at all, you’ll either be hooking into a bunch of fish or you’ll get cold. If you aren’t getting any action move on to different parts of the weed bed. Sooner or later, you’ll find the sweet spots.
If you’re after some bigger fish like small mouth, large mouth or white bass; try a larger dry fly or a streamer like a Wooly Bugger or a Clouser Minnow. If you’re seeking fish down deeper and don’t want to resort to a jig; try a sinking tip fly line with a streamer or wet fly. Again, the fish are slower and don’t want to chase the bait during the cold months, so slowly retrieve your fly. Nothing beats battling chunky pan fish on a 4 or 5wt fly rod. Happy fishing, warm thoughts and tight lines.