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Outdoors -- It's not too early to start trout fishing

February 10, 2008|By Bill Anderson

According to the long-range weather forecast, the Tri-State area could continue the recent trend of above-average temperatures for the rest of February and March. Obviously there will be some cold periods, and even some snow and ice, but the fact is, the beginning of the trout fishing season is actually here.

For non-anglers, it seems strange to be thinking of fishing when the ground is covered with snow and the streams are rimmed with ice. But the 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. There also are many spring creeks that are open throughout the year and offer great winter fishing opportunities.

Trout fishing during the late winter months presents its own special challenges. The cold water and air temperatures are the obvious problems. But the good news is that the trout do feed throughout the winter. The key to catching a few is to adjust your fishing approach to the conditions.

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Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is to get the bait, lure or fly down to the fish. With few exceptions, the trout will be holding in the deepest pools found in any stream. Slow and deep are key words to keep in mind when the water temperatures are this low.

During the past week of unusually nice weather, I

e-mailed two friends who said the recently stocked trout really responded to various colors of PowerBait. Many good trout anglers now use nothing but PowerBait in the early part of the season.

But this is another case where fly fishermen can also do well in the late winter or early spring. All of the better trout streams have good populations of aquatic insects that the trout eat all winter long. As a result, small nymph patterns can often catch nearly as many fish as bait. Fish your flies right on the bottom, drifting them through the deepest pools. My experience has been that a good nymph fishermen can almost always take a few fish -- even in the toughest winter-time conditions.

Other early season fishing issues include fly casting when the guides are caked with ice. But the trout are there, and the diehards will tell you that even a cold day on the stream beats sitting in front of the tube, wishing for warm weather.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached by email at bill@weekend-sportsman.com.

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