What a start to the angling year in New Jersey. With the generosity of the community, staff from the shop and Ridge and Valley Trout Unlimited the rivers received fish in December and as of this writing, Bubba remains at large! But the flood conditions and massive amounts of rain made it all but impossible for many people to fish. It’s a good time to take inventory of what we have and clean and revitalize what we need.
Now, a cold snap has arrived and I have about twenty minutes to decide if I’ll sneak out on this Martin Luther King, Jr. day morning. I am grateful for the holiday and I like to read one of his speeches or his Letters from Birmingham Jail to mark the day. Legendary Bonefish guide Ansil Saunders spent time with Dr. King and wrote a psalm with him in mind. I was able to find this line in an article on the subject from Flyfisher magazine, from 2022:
"Who else could stretch rivers like silver ribbons across the continents, or fill the darkest recesses of the oceans with life." - Guiding Dr. King
Fishing in the winter used to provide a certain solitude, but the word is out and more anglers are facing the cold. Popular knowledge (Google) suggests trout get “sluggish” when temps get below 39 degrees. Slow presentations, right on their noses, may be the only way to get them to bite. Tiny flies - zebra, WD40, RS2 - behind a small, bead head nymph trailing enough split shot to sink to near river bed is how I like to fish in the winter; all of this under an indicator.
I fished a tributary on Sunday and found this gem in a spot I've seen fish before. I removed the indicator and all but one split shot. The increased flow certainly helped.
Euro Nymph rigs, admittedly, tend to be more precise and productive. Choose your own adventure!
If 20 degrees and windy is not your cup of tea, maybe now is a good time for some inventory!
Clean out the fly boxes and make a list of what needs to be replaced.
Inspect your waders and boots - how are those laces?
Take a look at your ferrules and other points on your rods while giving it all a firm rub with a soft, clean cloth.
Clean and oil that reel and maybe run the fly line through a warm, wet cloth and inspect it.
If you take care of your stuff, it will be there for you!
Keep a list of what needs attention or replacement and then come see us in the shop. We have line soap, reel oil, and everything to replace worn gear for a great Spring.
I am also happy to announce the shop’s Fly Tying 101 on Saturday mornings at 10am. Space will be limited! We will have a rotating host who can take beginners through the tools and techniques that everyone needs to know. This class is free, but requires an RSVP and a deposit (returned in the form of store credit) to hold the seat. The class will be available every Saturday until the weather warms up.
Lindsey and Abraham are also excited to tease the shop’s Signature Tyer class. These classes will be for those looking to tie specific patterns and build up their fly box and learn advanced techniques from some really exciting teachers. Stay tuned for dates and times.
Tuesday night open tying in the shop continues and we have a growing group of folks learning and sharing patterns together.
I do not get many days off, so I think I regret not going out this morning, even if just for a few casts. The SBR should fish and get better each day this week. The Musky is sluggish coming down. I usually wait until things are below 400 cfs.
Lastly, for safety's sake, I read a great article about preparing for your trip, including why you should put on warm wader and boots - conduction! Check it out from Patrick Blackdale, Willowfly Anglers at 3 Rivers Resort:
1. Avoid Touching Cold Objects (Conduction)
2. Shield Yourself from Wind and Current (Convection)
3. Cover Your Head (Radiation).
4. Don’t Overheat (Evaporation)
5. Breathe Through Your Nose (Respiration)
See you out there,