Friday Classic: Two Handers For Winter Trout
The sun peeks over the canyon rim, providing light for a few short hours. In the cold and dark hardly anyone visits. But the trout are still there. For those willing to endure ice in the guides, fingers numb from tying knots, and snow covered descents to the river, some of the year’s most rewarding fishing awaits.
I’ve kept pretty quiet about my favorite winter pursuit. But as the mercury rises, rainbows start to move, and larger groups of anglers begin to awake from winter slumber, I’m ready to fess up. For the last couple of months I’ve spent my spare time swinging a two handed rod in relative solitude.
Taking what I’ve learned from those adept at chasing anadromous fish and combining it with a bit of Wyoming pragmatism, I’ve found as much success and satisfaction fishing with a spey rod in winter as anything. Catching trout on the swing is not only possible but has an allure I find undeniable. However, I readily admit I’m not good enough to catch fish on the swing at all times. In these cases, I’m not afraid to nymph.
Sacrilege in circles of steelhead purists and dry fly fanatics, I’m not ashamed to nymph for trout. A two handed rod is deadly in this application. Throwing wide open loops with a payload of double split shot, a san juan worm, and a hot head Ray Charles might be dirty, but a short spey rod does it with ease. No back cast, and the ability to mend like crazy, round out the equation. Trout seem to approve. Mostly though, I like the steady rhythm of casting a two hander and the quiet setting winter provides.
The suns rays momentarily cause me to unzip two layers of puffy jackets and pull down the balaclava. Stuffing my gloves into my waders I breath the warm air, lifting my face to the sky. Short lived, the sun dips below the other side of the canyon. With a shiver I zip up my jackets and pull my hat down over my ears. A few more casts and the light quickly fades.