The weather in central PA has eroded quickly. The warm fall gave way to frosty
nights and coolish days. On the date of this update, 3 December, there is an
inch or two of remnant snow on the ground, and the heat pump is working hard to
keep the chill out of the back of the store while I type. The next few days will
be warm enough to hit the water, but another and far nastier cold snap is on the
way from the upper Midwest. It's that time of year when a check of the weather
forecast is an essential prerequisite to a good visit to the stream. If it's
over 32F, at least the line will not freeze in the guides.
have been spawning on Spring Creek for the last month. My most recent visit to
the stream found good fish still on redds with plenty of spawning beds already
used. Avoiding both was the first order of business. The spawn will probably
run into the middle of the month, and it will still be important to stay away
from fish so engaged.
Insect activity will be limited to dark midges
until at least late February. Winter midges are typically black-bodied with
gray wings, and tiny #26-28 hooks match them well. Rising fish during the
winter are always a bonus, but it not unusual to find a half dozen or more fish
porpoising to little flies during cold afternoons. It is certainly one of the
features of cold weather angling I appreciate most.
When fish are not
active on top, a steady dose of nymphing is warranted. Patience and persistence
is more often rewarded by fish reluctant to open their mouths due to chilly
water. So too is it necessary to put the fly right at their level; they will
not move far to a side or up to take a fly. 24-7-365 flies like sowbugs, olive
scuds, and zebra midges are the most consistently effective patterns. If
nymphing is unproductive, a deeply drfited and slowly worked streamer can nudge
a trout or two out of their doldrums. Actively fishing a streamer can also take
the chill out of the angler as well.
Zebra Midge, #18-22