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Winter is Coming… Are You Ready to Fish? By: Ascent Fly Guru Charlie Lukasiewicz

Winter is one of my favorite times of year to fish. While many anglers hang up their gear and call it quits when the snow starts to fly, I don't, and neither should you. Here are 3 ways to help you prepare for wintertime success on the water.

  • Get your gear ready for the colder temperature.
First things first. Patch the pinholes in your waders or winter fishing will turn miserable fast! I do this by turning my waders inside out, then spraying isopropyl alcohol over the spot of suspected pinholes. The pinholes will turn a darker color than the rest of the material allowing you to patch the hole. Layering is key!

My outfit goes as follows and has proven to withstand below freezing temperatures:
2 Pairs of long John's with a pair of thick sweatpants or down pants
2 pairs of good socks with some toe warmers in between
2-3 warm long sleeves shirts with a windproof jacket over them (tuck everything in underneath your jacket to hold in the heat)
1 heavy Carhartt or jacket over the top
1 warm hat
1 pair of waterproof gloves (which I remove when handling fish)

  • Get Organized & Go Small
As winter approaches, get one (yes one!) good box organized with all of your TINY flies. Put your summer flies in storage and get a stock up instead on small midges and Baetis nymphs. The hatches are simple in winter. You won't need five fly boxes or a hundred different patterns. You need a few key patterns to rely on till spring comes back around. With colder water temperatures the bite will by 98% on sub-surface patterns and will be dominated by small midge larva and pupa, and tiny mayfly nymphs. There is no need to get fancy or rack your brain trying to decide what the fish are biting on; when in doubt break the small midges and mayflies out! My go-to set up in the winter is a small glo-egg, size 20 or 22, trailed by a small red or black midge larva. If you fish three flies, the midge is usually trailed by a small midge emerger or Baetis (blue-winged olive mayfly) emergers such as disco baetis, disco midge, juju baetis, or a heathen in black or grey, size 20 or 22. I don't change this much during the winter. When you get to the water, you know what you're going to fish with so you can focus on your drifts and the type of water you are targeting.

  • Pick the Right Spots & Fish Them Well
Colorado is the king of tailwaters and one of the best states for winter fly fishing. The Arkansas River Tailwater in Pueblo, CO, and the South Platte at Deckers and Cheesman are two of my favorites, but there are many, many more. The Pueblo tailwater, located south below Pueblo Reservoir, is a wintertime fly fishing paradise. The weather is usually 10-15 degrees warmer than other parts of the state and flows are sufficient to allow for some deep holding troughs for the fish. Look for and target these areas when surveying the water. It's an easy drive from Denver and a great place to spend a winter day while catching some good fish. Cheesman Canyon, known as the famed tailwater of the Eastern slope, is another great place to spend a winter day. It's also an easy drive and with flows sufficient year-round, it allows for plenty of winter holding areas for the fish to lie. You’ll see fewer anglers than in the summertime and you're guaranteed to find a good hole or two where you can focus your efforts.

So...get ready! Winter is on its way. The streams are waiting for the well-prepared and will reward the determined anglers!  
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