Fishing, subfreezing temps do not mesh the best | SierraSun.com

Fishing, subfreezing temps do not mesh the best

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

There comes a time when you just cannot get out to fish due to winter weather. While you can still ice fish, fishing with fly or spinning gear when the temperature does not climb over freezing during the day is impossible.

Temperatures like we had last week really put the brakes on any fishing experience. A person can layer themselves to keep warm in these conditions. That is not the problem.

The main problem is that your gear will certainly not work as it should. Not only do the guides ice up, but your reel will stop working as well.

Guides icing up in itself would not normally cause an angler to stop fishing. This can happen when the temperature hovers at or near freezing. The ice in the guides can be cleared by dipping them into the water. They will slowly ice up again on fishable days. On days such as those we have been experiencing, the guides would immediately freeze up after being cleared by this dipping process.

A bigger problem occurs with the reel. Moisture gets on the reel just from winding line onto it. This moisture freezes and totally locks up the mechanism. Believe me, it is a real surprise when you go to crank up your line and the reel does not turn, particularly if you happen to have hooked a fish.

On days like these, other activities become a lot more convenient. I like to tie a few flies in anticipation for my next trip, or watch a ball game. If I do get out it is usually for some winter activity like skiing or snowshoeing.

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I should stress that the conditions have to be pretty extreme to keep some of my partners and I off the water. We have fished in some pretty awful conditions.

I can recall one trip where three of us went out locally on an early-winter day and withstood gusts of 100 mph and snow later in the day. The wind would actually hit us and drive us down the shore of the lake at least 30 to 40 feet. We were fly fishing so casting was pretty difficult. I would not recommend this for everyone. In fact, there were some friends who questioned our sanity.

On this particular trip, we fished until dark and we drove out in the snow. Along the road going out we had to avoid two trees that had fallen across the main road due to the high winds.

While you can fish in some pretty extreme weather, when the temperature plummets and you only experience high temperatures in the 20s, it is time to do something else. When your equipment protests by going on strike, it is time to seek some other recreational opportunity!

Enjoy the holiday season.

– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.