Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fishing Cold Water - Part 20
In the last "Cold Water" article, I noted that when the water temperature is very low, say under
forty-five degrees, that you should be fishing slow moving water. If you don't, you probably won't
be catching any trout. I also mentioned that under those conditions the trout will be able to get a
very good look at your fly. Nymphs or larvae on the bottom or drifting just off the bottom in slow
moving water don't fly by the trout's nose like mayflies drifting on the surface of a fast riffle or run.
In slow moving water, trout that are holding down in holes on the bottom, behind rocks and
boulders on the bottom, and in slow moving pools of water are going to get a good look at your fly.
The more your fly resembles the real nymphs and larvae the trout are use to seeing
and eating, the higher your odds of success. If this wasn't true, it wouldn't make any
difference what you tied on the end of your line, as long as it had a hook in it, the trout would eat
it. If you think it isn't necessary for the fly to resemble the real insects in the stream, I suggest you
just stick a hook through some pre-chewed bubble gum and use it for your fly from now on. It's
waterproof, will last a long time and you will save some money.
The trout are not going to remain in fast water that's below forty-five degrees. There isn't any
magic about that particular temperature, but it's very close to the point the fish will expend more
energy trying to obtain food than they can replenish with food. If they did, and they won't due to
their lower metabolism, they would soon die. As the water gets colder, the trout's blood and body
becomes colder. When this happens their metabolism becomes lower. They don't have to take in
as much food as they do in warmer water in order to survive. This is nature's way of protecting
cold blooded animals. As I've mentioned before in this series, the falling water temperature and
resulting lower metabolism isn't linear - It's exponential. The change is a noticeable factor
between 50 and 45, substantial between 45 and 40, and drastic between 40 and 35 degrees. If
you put this relationship in the form of a graph, it would be in the shape of a sharp curve.
As the water gets colder and colder, the exact temperature becomes more and a more important
factor in exactly where the trout will hold in the stream and the total amount of food they need to
eat to survive. Generally, depending on the species and the exact temperature, fish can go a
long time in cold water without eating. This is all great from a scientific standpoint but the
relationship of required food intake per water temperature is very misleading to many anglers.
Some anglers tend to try to associate how many fish they can catch with the trout's
metabolism. It doesn't have any direct relationship in that regard.
There's two reasons it isn't a direct factor in catching fish. One reason is the fact it only relates
to how much food is necessary for the trout to survive. It doesn't necessarily relate to how much
they will eat if the food is readily available. If you don't believe this, try keeping fish in forty degree
water in a smaller enclosed area of water and feeding them heavily each day. They are no
different than lazy people that live on a couch next door to a Pizza Parlor in that regard. They will
eat and they will grow. They will probably get fat. In fact, they will usually eat until they throw up
and begin to just kill some of the live bait that's in close proximity.
The second reason, as I have previously stated, it that you don't need for trout to eat twenty
flies to catch one, or at least I hope you don't. Surely, no one is that lousy of an angler. You only
need for a trout to eat one fly to catch it. If you put the fly in the trout trout's face, if won't take the
temperature of the water and then decide if it wants to eat it. As long as it takes the fly to be
something to eat, it will grab it. Now, just to make sure I don't mislead anyone that hasn't followed
this series, let me write again, in cold water they won't swim five feet to grab it in fast current like
they will in sixty degree water, but if the fly is placed in close proximity in the slow moving water
the trout are holding in, they will usually eat it.
Those guys who try to tell you how many trout you can and cannot catch based purely
on the water temperature, need to read another book obviously written by an outdoor
writer with a big imagination siting in front of a warm fireplace.
I started this article intending to write about the added importance of your fly matching the natural
aquatic insects and other food that trout eat when they hold in deeper, slow moving water. It
occurred to me that I first may need to do a better job of explaining how cold water temperatures
relates to catching trout. I don't want this to read like a fly advertisement, because it isn't. I'll just
cut this part short and say that you cannot purchase flies that look and behave more like the
natural aquatic insects than Perfect Flies. They cost a little more because they have more
components and are far more difficult and time consuming to tie, but they are far superior to any
commercially available flies.
If flies as good as Perfect Flies were sold through the normal mom and pop and big box store fly
shops, where three different companies get a cut of the cost, Perfect Flies would have to sell for
over $5.00 each. That's why no one has attempted to sell flies of their quality through fly shop or
even on eBay, for that matter. When and wherever trout get more than a split second to examine
your fly, you will find they work far better than any other flies you can purchase. Also keep in mind
that often trout get a good look at your fly in fast pocket water streams.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh