Davidson River offers good winter trout fishing
Many trout anglers hang up their waders when winter comes, opting to spend time tying flies until spring weather returns.
But that’s a big mistake, according to anglers like Kevin Howell of Davidson River Outfitters (888-861-0111).
“I enjoy winter fishing probably more than any other time of the year. Fewer people are on the river, and the fish I catch are generally larger,” said Howell.
With the Davidson River running right behind his shop, which is located in Pisgah Forest, NC, that’s the river he enjoys fishing the most. And while he loves fishing in winter, he said anglers need to keep a few things in mind to be successful.
“This is the clearest water of the year. You’ll need to approach holes cautiously. Fish will spook easier than any other time of year. Watch so that your shadow does not fall over the fish you are fishing for,” he said.
Howell said one mistake many anglers make this month is they fish too fast.
“Slow down. While most anglers fish just as fast as they do in warm weather, the fish are lethargic and will not run the length of the pool to attack a fly. You may literally have to drift the fly over the fish three times to make him eat it,” he said.
And as always, it’s important to know what the fish are feeding on. Not many insects are available to trout right now, but some midges, stoneflies and a few baitfish and crayfish are around. And after it rains, worms will move onto the menu.
When it comes to flies this month, Howell prefers bigger ones.
“Larger flies are the key. Fish either large flies that imitate stoneflies, or fish midge larva and pupa, generally sizes 20 and smaller. I typically fish a size 8 Kevin’s Stonefly, with a No. 20 chocolate WD 40 trailing the larger stonefly,” he said.
Howell pointed out that stoneflies have 3-year lifespans, so trout encounter them every day of the year. That’s why he said anglers should never underestimate the stonefly.
“When nothing else works, a stonefly will usually catch a few fish. Remember that stoneflies live in clear, fast water on the bottom of the stream under rocks. So your fly should be fished near (or on) the bottom,” he said.
He also said it’s important to use flies that match the weather. And in January, that could mean bluebird sky one day, followed by a gloomy, cloudy day the next.
“As a general rule, you should fish bright-colored flies on bright days, and dark colors on gray, overcast days,” he said.
His next piece of advice involves tippets, and his words of wisdom may surprise some anglers.
“While it is tempting to fish very small tippet, don’t. There is usually increased water flow. So I typically fish 4x fluorocarbon to my lead fly, and 5x to my dropper. This results in fewer lost fish and fewer lost flies on the bottom. The only time I rely on smaller tippet is when the water is low and clear,” he said.
Aside from a full array of flyfishing gear, Davidson River Outfitters also offers access to 3 miles of private water on the Davidson River. Contact them at 888-861-0111 for more information.