Bruce Ajari: Winter fishing can pose challenges, but it’s doable
December 25, 2009
Winter is upon us – which is good news for skiers and snowboarders, but a little tough for anglers.
While the Truckee and Little Truckee rivers have special-regulation sections open for fishing, and our lakes are open to fishing year-round, the recent weather makes access to these waters quite difficult.
Winter fly fishing means a little extra work in getting out to your favorite water. Many anglers use snowmobiles, cross-country skis or snowshoes to access their favorite winter waters.
Finding a place to park is also one of the many challenges in winter fishing, particularly after a fresh snowfall. Many times there is really nowhere to park.
Water levels in our local streams are going to make winter fishing very difficult. Anglers will be limited to those areas in which flows are suitable for fishing. With low water, fishing in areas that are running at less than 40 cubic feet per second should probably be avoided. As a result, anglers should be concentrating their winter fishing in the Truckee River from the area below the Boca outlet to the state line – where flows are typically the highest in the system – in order to try and maintain the Floriston rate.
Anglers will usually concentrate on areas that have slower-moving water. Many will concentrate on fishing the pools and soft water behind obstructions during the winter.
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Small flies are also key to success during the winter. While there are fewer hatches during this time of year, one insect is quite prevalent. Those insects are midges. Typically, these flies are best imitated with flies in the size No. 18- to 20-plus-range.
During fair-weather days in the winter, an angler can often find fish feeding on top sipping these tiny flies. When this occurs, it can be a tremendous amount of fun for the angler.
In days where there is no surface action, running a pair of small nymphs can provide the angler with some success. Since fish do not typically move very far in the very cold water of winter, anglers must make numerous presentations over likely holding water. It takes patience and persistence to be successful during the winter months.
If you are fishing the Truckee or Little Truckee rivers’ special-regulation waters, do not forget to check the regulations. Overall, both areas that are open to fishing are limited to a strict zero-kill policy (no fish may be kept), artificial-only with barbless hooks. Wardens do patrol our waters with some frequency during the winter due to the fact that most other areas are closed and these waters have become pretty high profile areas.
Do not forget that you will also need a new license starting with the New Year on Jan. 1. The winter season is upon us.
– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.