First, it started out with a text message from a friend who I hadn’t hung out with in ages, asking if I could fish today. Fantastic.
Then, the weather report was COMPLETELY wrong. Way colder and cloudier than expected at the river. Below freezing for most of the day. That was annoying, but tolerable. It was made especially tolerable by the massive midge hatch we discovered, rather unexpectedly, when we stopped at one of the boat access points (not the one we were planning to use) to make a quick phone call. Dozens of fish up rising to emerging midges despite temperatures nearly 10 degrees F below freezing. We rigged up in record time and wade fished for a couple of hours of great dry fly action, save the repeated need to chisel the ice from the rod guides.
While all this was happening, we were fortunate to observe a family of bald eagles hunting. A mature adult took repeated dives at a flock of goldeneye ducks. One of the juveniles swooped to catch one of the rising trout.
Eventually we launched the boat, and found a few more fish taken subsurface on nymphs and streamers, but we never had action as fast as the unexpected midge hatch at the boat launch. The wildlife extravaganza continued the rest of the day, however. We saw half a dozen species of waterfowl, along with a couple more eagles, and a kingfisher. There were deer browsing in the willows, and enough muskrats swimming around that we lost count. It’s not uncommon to see wildlife on the river, but today it seemed like there was more out than usual. For a person like me who enjoys seeing these critters as much as catching fish, it was just fantastic.
Winter fishing always comes with plenty of question marks, but today was, if nothing else, a wonderful surprise.
Wishing you luck your next time on the water.
Take Care and Fish On,