GUEST BLOG: Judith O’Keefe, Winter Fishing Tips

Judith O’Keefe has fished many places and can fish with the best of them. But when she is looking for some fishing advice she turns to her local fishing outfitter Dave.

We all enjoy going into fly shops, whether it’s our local shop or a destination shop while we’re on a fishing trip.  One of my favorite fly shops is Fly and Field Outfitters in Bend, Oregon. During the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to work there.  Fly and Field has an army of approachable and friendly guides that put in their time behind the counter, but it is shop manager, Dave Merrick, that makes it happen day in and day out. Regular customers come in to share their latest fishing experiences with Dave, or ask his advice about where to go and what to use.  Even though I’d been a fly fisher for years, I learned a lot from Dave and the rest of the staff at Fly and Field Outfitters that summer.

On a recent January evening, locals packed the shop to hear Dave share his winter fishing tips and I thought they were worth passing along.

The water – Recognize the differences between summer and winter lies.  Fish are less active in the winter, thus conserving energy.  They are most likely found in back eddies and slower water.
The food – While trout may be less active, they still need to eat.  Should you encounter a hatch, have midge patterns and blue wing olives on hand.  Some midge patterns are very small and 6X and 7X tippet is necessary. Also, baetis patterns, nymphs and dries, size 18 to 22.  Bring along some generic streamers to run through those deep pools, also.  Some winter fish will take advantage of other fish that are spawning and will be positioned below riffles and gravel bars. Having a few small egg patterns can come in handy.
Be prepared – Water levels, air and water temperatures, and the changing weather will all influence the gear you choose and your choice of flies. If you have not fished tiny midge flies, it might be good to take along magnifying glasses. Be ready for temperatures that drop fast as the sun moves west in the afternoon.
Enjoy the solitude.

If you find yourself in Bend, Oregon, stop by the shop and say hello to Dave and shop dog, Lowell.  And if you were wondering what Dave’s go-to winter fly is, that would be a #18 Pheasant Tail Nymph.