Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fishing Cold Water - Part 19
Please be advised that these articles will be worth far more and make more sense if you read the previously
It just so happens that today is a great day to write or read about fishing cold water, It is cold.
As usual, I'm writing this early in the morning, even earlier this morning than I usually do. It's
now 4:30. I got up earlier than usual to peep out the window to see if what I was hearing on
the weather report yesterday afternoon was going to be true. The ground is solid white and so
is the road. I cannot tell the depth but it's enough to make it pretty and solid white in the light
of our street porch lights. The current temperature is only 23 degrees but according to the
forecast, will go even lower this early morning.
The first thing to remember about a day like this, and more importantly, remember about a
sudden change from warm weather to very cold weather like this, is the "change" itself. I wrote
about this in one of the earlier articles. All fish, trout included, go though a brief period of
adjustment. I think it's probably due to the time it take for the blood of the cold blooded fish to
get to the same temperature of the water. I'm guessing at that but it's at least logical. Their
body has to provide some insulation factor. It may also be just the time that's required for the
fish to adjust to the change otherwise. The time always varies depending on the extent of the
water temperature change but in the case of this morning, you can rest assured it's pretty
drastic. Today is going to be one of those rare days in the Smokies that your better off at
home than you will be fishing.
In the lower elevations, the water will probably be dropping from the high forties yesterday to
the mid thirties by mid morning today. I usually give it about 3 to 5 hours for the trout to adjust
but in the case of a severe drop such as we are currently undergoing, my guess is it will take
a little longer than that. The high today is going to be only 30 degrees. That means there will
be ice around the edges of the streams. This also means the water temperature, even in the
lower elevations, will be in the mid to high thirties later this afternoon at best. That means your
odds of catching trout will be very low today. It is extremely difficult, if not next to impossible, to
catch a trout from water in the mid thirties; however, when it's in the high thirties, it's possible.
The difference in those few degrees is due to the drastic exponential difference in that water
The difference in water that's 39 degrees and water that's 35 degrees, is only 4 degrees but
in the case of a largemouth bass, that's the difference in eating and dieing. It's a much
greater change than the 15 degree difference from 40 degree water to 55 degree water
brings about. For example, given time to adjust, bass and trout will take a artificial lure or fly
presented in close proximity in 39 degree water, but not in 36 degree water. I know this for a
fact because I have tested it many times fishing for bass and in my aquarium experiments
years ago. I have also caught both bass and trout from 39 degree water - not just one or two,
but at least dozens of trout and far more bass than dozens. The numbers of trout caught get
much higher in the low forties water temperature range but that's also because I have fished
more often in that range than the high thirties range.
I'm not pointing this out to try to get anyone to fish water in these particular ranges.
I'm pointing it out to try to explain how fish react under these conditions to give everyone a
better idea of how the temperature plays a role in fishing success. Contrary to what many
anglers think, when the water temperature is in the mid forties it's very possible to catch, just
for example, from twenty to forty trout in a full day of fishing. We have done just that. We have
done just that in the Smokies on a few occasions. One reason we haven't done it more often
is we usually never fish very long in water that cold.
I'm pointing this out not to try to imply that we are better anglers than any one else. I'm
pointing it out only to convey that when anglers think they can't catch trout from
water in the mid forties, they are wrong - they can. As I have said many times, it isn't the
total amount of food that the trout need to survive in cold water (low metabolism) that's a
factor. They only need to eat one fly for you to catch them and presented right, they will eat it.
They won't just occasionally eat it. They will usually eat it.
There are some other very important factors other than finding the trout, which is the most
important one I've already written about a few times. I will be going into them as the series
One is the physiological factor of fishing cold water. You can't catch fish thinking you can't. As
my Dad would say, can't never did anything.
The other is another physiological factor. You can't catch trout from cold water if you are cold.
Being cold hinders your ability not only from a physical standpoint, but also from a mental
standpoint. You need to make certain you dress adequately to stay warm and comfortable.
Another huge factor is that when you are presenting flies to trout in cold water, you will be
doing so in slow moving or still water or you won't be catching any. Under those conditions,
the trout will be able to get a very good look at your fly. The more the fly resembles the
nymphs and larvae they are accustom to seeing and eating, the higher your odds of success.
One reason for our success in fishing cold water is our Perfect Flies. They are not only far
superior to the generic trout flies in matching the naturals from an appearance standpoint,
they are far more imitative of the behavior of the naturals. Anglers that fish clear, slow moving
spring creeks are discovering this faster than other types of anglers, but anglers from coast to
coast are rapidly discovering the flies offer a distinct advantage in any type of water.
There's much more to come on all the above factors in catching trout from cold water.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Thumbnails-Click on Images
No, these were not taken today but I'm
betting Mount LeConte looks very
close to this today. The only difference
is Gatlinburg, shown at the bottom of
the image, will also be white. I will try to
get a few pictures today.