Icy Rivers And Sluggish Fish

Winter fly fishing is synonymous with empty rivers. All the spots you like at your favorite place are open. That hole that guarantees a few big rainbows just before the rock? It’s all yours. That run with the long, deep stretch that holds fish all day? Have at it, champ. That slow pool that looks tasty and you can see the hogs rolling on the bottom but you’ve never caught anything there? It’s yours, but good luck.

My last trip to the Whitewater River was anything but solitude. An older dude was so close to me that his casts were overlapping my drifts. My journey to Whitewater this time was the polar opposite. The place was empty. Okay, there was one guy, but still. We were able to hit all the spots we like at the pace we like without having to wait for people to finish up somewhere. We spent our time moving at the pace of the river.

This is the time of the year when all of the migratory birds have already left the state for warmer weather. The only exceptions are birds that use the open river and the Mississippi flyway for food–kingfishers, eagles, osprey, and all the waterfowl you can think of. It made me miss summer hatches when slow pools were boiling and songbirds cruised just above the water filling themselves to the wings with baetis and caddis. The sunset comes especially early now, at 4:30pm. Color leaves the sky at 5:00 and it’s dark as midnight by 5:15. Even with all the changes in season and the stark differences from warmer days, I wouldn’t have December on the Whitewater River any other way.

(photos by me and TC Worley)