Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Moving into the “Cold Three”

(Above: This is one of my favorite winter fishing shots. Cold weather can do a number on camera equipment. Keep as much gear in an insulated case as possible. If you can wear this inside your gear-not against your bare skin due to sweat is ideal. Batteries lose energy when cold. Warm them up and they should return too normal…sometimes that is.)

The hardest months for me as an angler in Colorado are what I call “The Cold Three”. The reasons are mostly obvious. The roads get piled with snow, the lakes freeze up and fish just so happen to be cold-blooded meaning that cold temperatures slow their metabolism. The colder the water temp the less active most fish become. Some warmwater species virtually shut down completely. An angler has to not only put the lure in the face of the largemouth bass but also practically open the jaws and put the lure in. Ice fishing enthusiasts aside, December, January and even early February can be the toughest for me and other anglers to catch fish consistently. But we do catch fish.

Being a year round angler means that an angler will fish at least once a month and try to catch fish with some level of quality. Let’s be honest here. If you only fish a few times June through September…you can’t truly wear the badge “Year Round Angler”.

Here are some things that get me through the winter season.

1. Moving water is open water. Tailwater river fishing spots are prime in the worst weather conditions. Low traffic at premiere trout fishing spots is simply a dream to most summer fly fisherfolks. The same location in winter will be far less crowded. If that river or stream has large rollover dams, spillways and natural elements that keep the ice free even below freezing you can fish that spot year round. The fish may actually congregate their in search of surface bugs or other food. Oxygen levels are also higher in these areas and vital to fish in winter.

2. Ice fishing is more fun than you think. This hard water fishing is whole new world. Even if it is my least favorite there are still a ton of opportunities here. Look for the lakes that allow ice fishing but not boating, like Evergreen for example. Pulling up the DOW website and searching for popular ice fishing destinations is a good step if you haven’t already.

3. Curb the fishing jones with research, gear tweaks and those fishing things you have meant to do for some time. Maybe knock off a few honeydo’s and use them for bargaining chips to get more fishing time later in the year. If things get real bad, go buy some new fishing stuff and keep focused on next season. It will be here before you know it.

4. Fish slowly. Fish are going to be far less active in winter than in warmer conditions especially for warm water species. Lakes may suffer from oxygen loss, which can be another factor on the action. During the winter months I try to fish spinnerbaits, plastics, jigs and anything else as slow as possible. Fish do not move very far to reach a lure so search casting and getting close to deep structure increases your chances of winter hook-ups. The more successful you are the more you will enjoy fishing the cold season.

5. Set a goal to fish at least once a month in the cold three if you don’t already have a similar goal. Some people really enjoy fishing in winter once they actually do so.

A few other things to mention are: check the conditions constantly, use caution and be prepared. Safety is always the first priority as winter weather can be pretty harsh in Colorado. Good luck and be cautious this season fishing the “Cold Three”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am one who looks forward to the ice fishing season here in Idaho. Your right it is a whole new world in and of itself. Every year I set a personal goal to fish at least once every month of the year. Sadly, I am not always able to accomplish that goal. That is why it is a "goal" in the first place. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your blog.