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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

Winter Fishing
by Mark Littleton
12/28/2000

When I tell people I'm going flyfishing this time of year, they look at me with disbelief. It often draws comments like "you don't really go fishing when its this cold" or, "are you insane?". I never tell them that I am not insane. Its been my experience that the more emphatically you deny being crazy, the crazier you seem. It is just the opposite however. I don't go fishing in the winter because I am crazy, I do it to maintain what little sanity I have left.

My wife Katie, knows that my attitude can take a serious turn for the worse when I am stuck inside for more than a few days. She has seen "The Shining" and knows how dangerous cabin fever can be. She will start to make comments like "are you going fishing tomorrow?" or "why don't you go fishing?" Katie knows me, and my moods better than anyone. Maybe that's why she hides the axe in December.

Winter is not the most productive time to flyfish. The fishing is rarely fast and furious, but we almost always catch some fish when we go. There is more to fishing than catching big fish. It is a chance to get outside. For some reason, as much as I love to be outside, I don't go outside in the winter unless I have an excuse. Fishing is as good an excuse as any. I almost always see unexpected and interesting things while I am out on the Yakima River. Last week I saw a male bighorn sheep running full speed across the road and up into the hills. The sight of that powerfully built animal charging up the hill is burned into my memory. I think it is interesting that the most memorable thing about a fishing trip often has nothing to do with fishing, except that you only saw it because you were there to fish.

If you decide to go winter fishing, take another trout bum. The cold weather and cold water make for a dangerous combination. A friend of ours fell in twice in 30 seconds recently. His waders filled up with water and he was struggling to get back on his feet the second time. His fishing partner waded over and helped him to shore. He probably would have been okay without any help, but then again, maybe not. Wear warm clothes, and avoid cotton. Cotton is for summer. It retains moisture and keeps you cold when wet. Wool, polypro, and polyester will wick away the moisture and you will warm up much faster if you get wet.

The trout tend to feed in groups in the winter. Look for pods of rising fish in shallow slow moving water in the afternoon. We have had success lately with black midge emergers and chronomid nymphs in size 16 to 22. The takes are often imperceptible, but satisfying.

Go try winter fishing for yourself. If anyone says you are crazy for doing it, just give them your best Jack Nicholson smile.



More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner