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Outdoors

Mild weather improves trout fishing

Mild weather improves trout fishing

January 16, 2007|by BILL ANDERSON

Most anglers prefer to stay inside during the months of January and February. But the trout fishing season and trout stocking season is actually already here and the diehards are out there. The diehards usually do not see things the way that most do.

West Virginia has begun its stocking season, with the biannual and weekly waters set to receive one stocking this month. Several friends have told me that they have enjoyed some pretty good days already this month - undoubtedly helped by the mild weather so far this winter.

To be sure, trout fishing during the winter months presents some unique problems. In addition to the cold water and air temperatures, the movement of trout is much slower than normal.

The exception is in the spring creeks where the water temperatures vary only slightly from July to January. In the other streams, the key is to gear your presentations to the cold water conditions. By doing so, you can enjoy some good days, even in January and February.

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The most basic part of winter fishing is to get the bait in front of the fish. Most of the trout will be found in deeper pools and they usually will not move far to take a bait.

The choice of baits is another consideration. Many, if not most, anglers now use and have success with commercial baits like PowerBait. One of my friends uses nothing but small minnows, like those used for crappie fishing, which he finds successful in the winter.

Fly fishermen can also get into the act at this time. The streams contain plenty of aquatic insects for the trout to feed on. As a result, small nymphs and caddis flies often catch nearly as many fish as can be caught with bait. You will need to fish your flies right on the bottom, drifting them through the deep pools. The beadhead nymph patterns are a good choice for deep fishing. Even the freshest hatchery trout will respond to flies in the winter.

Fishing this very early season can be productive, but it has its own issues such as the need for appropriate clothing, and the need to be really careful when wading. An accidental dunking could be dangerous in the winter.

But the trout are being stocked and caught and the diehard fishermen will tell you that even a cold day on a trout stream beats staying at home.

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

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