Weather outside is frightful, but fishing season still here

February 11, 2003|by BILL ANDERSON / Staff Correspondent

Forget the ice you see rimming the edge of your favorite trout stream, the fishing season is actually here. For most folks, it seems strange to be thinking of fishing when the ground is covered with snow. But diehard anglers don't always think like most folks.

West Virginia began its stocking season in January, and the bi-annual and weekly waters were to receive one stocking. Several angler friends report they enjoyed some pretty good days in January - even with the very cold weather we've had so far this winter.

Trout fishing during the winter months presents special challenges. The cold waters and air temperatures are obvious, and you can also expect the fish to be in slow motion. But the veteran trout anglers will tell you that the trout do feed, and if you adjust your approach to the conditions, you can enjoy some good days.

A key element in the late winter and early spring is to get the bait down to the fish. In most cases, the trout will be holding in the deeper pools. It's also true that the fish will not move far to take bait. Slow and deep are key words to keep in mind when the water temperatures are at wintertime lows.


The choice of baits is another consideration. In recent years the commercial baits such as the PowerBait have become big favorites. In fact, some anglers use nothing but PowerBait in the early part of the season.

Fly fishermen can also get into the act at this time. Just a few minutes north of Hagerstown you can find some of the most famous spring creek trout streams in the country. The special regulations section of Falling Springs Branch near Chambersburg is a good example. No matter the temperature outside, the water temperature in the spring creek remains pretty constant, and the fertile waters contain plenty of trout food throughout the winter.

The typical spring creek trout stream will contain plenty of aquatic insects for the trout to feed on. As a result, a small nymph and sow bug pattern can often catch nearly as many fish as can be caught on bait. When fishing the dead of winter, you will need to fish your flies right on the bottom, drifting them through the deer pools.

Fishing during the coldest months of the winter can be productive, but it has obvious challenges. Warm clothing is an obvious consideration that must be addressed. But the trout are in many streams and feeding, and many fishermen will tell you that even a cold day on the stream beats sitting around the house.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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