.......................  ......Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park

10/11/09

Catching Yellowstone Cold Water Trout - Part 19
continued from Part 18

Fly fishing Yellowstone National Park when the water is cold requires fishing
methods that are quite different from the normal. First of all, it requires knowing
exactly what the water temperature is at the particular place you are fishing.
That means a thermometer is absolutely necessary. Of course this doesn't do
you any good if you do not know where the trout position themselves in the
streams at various ranges of water temperatures; where, when and how they
feed; what they feed on; and how you should imitate and present your fly for the
various sceneries.

You will hear bits of advice such as "weight a nymph down and fish it right on the
bottom". It is also good to use a leader and oh, yea, don't forget the tippet. I'll
add that good advise but I doubt any of the advise so far is worth very much.
Depending on what is happening in the cold water, the first part of the advice
given could be exactly opposite of what you may need to be doing. You may
need to be fishing just under the surface of the water. Fish on the bottom of
what - shallow pockets, riffles, deep runs, pools, etc? What kind of nymph -
mayfly, stonefly and what size? The people giving this type of advise, first of all,
probably rarely if ever fish cold water and secondly, for sure don't catch much of
anything when they do. They probably think because it is cold that the trout get
down to the bottom to keep warm. They probably think the trout will look for the
warmest places in the stream to get trying to stay warm. I'm sure they thing the
trout go to shivering from the cold. Maybe they think they can't swim in cold
water and have to lie on the bottom.

Of course you will also hear them say to "fish the sunny water" and not in the
shade, even though the water is flowing downstream at three miles an hour and
mixing like it would in the dishwasher. I guess they also think the trout will go in
the sunny areas so they can get warm. I guess that means you should find the
deepest water in the stream, in the sunny areas. The only good that will do you
is that it will help you, a warm blooded creature, keep warmer than you would if
you fished in the shade.

I'll just about promise you that if you fish on any cold winter day and begin to fish
any type of nymph of any size, anywhere in the stream, weighted down and on
the bottom, that your odds of catching one fish for the day is about one in ten,
probably worse. Most likely you will not catch anything. Not that fishing on the
bottom or that fishing a nymph is bad advise, it is that catching fish without
relying on pure luck involves a lot more than that.

You will also hear that you may catch a fish or two but you want catch many.
That advice is not only worthless, it is misleading. If you do things the right way,
using the right methods, fishing the right type of water with the right flies you
may catch fifty. I have done that several times and half that many times in cold
water less than fifty degrees. At times, when you find them concentrated, you
can catch a lot more than you can under other presumably, good conditions. If
the water is almost frozen, say between thirty-two and thirty nine degrees, you
probably won't catch many but if it is between forty-five and fifty, it is very
possible to catch just as many as you could catch at any water temperature. I
notice that a lot of anglers leave the stream without a fish brought to the net or
hand when the water temperature is between fifty-five and sixty-five degrees.
Catching trout is not a mathematical derivative of water temperature.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh