Fly Fishing Through the Winter with Justin Salem Meyer


Justin Meyer is a photographer based in Des Moines, Iowa.

He explores trout fishing his home waters of Northeast Iowa year round.

There is a solitude found on the winter waters.

The hustle and bustle of the summer has died, the farmers have tucked their combines away for the cold season. A silence is over the farmlands of Iowa. The leaves have all fallen. A light layer of snow covers the yellow grass that has folded down for the year.

Aside from a few cows in the distance, the valley is still. But the stream flows on and the trout are still hungry. The fair-weather fans are nowhere to be found, only the determined angler fishes these months.

There is a misconception that winter fishing is limited to Ice Fishing.

I have never been ice fishing and I am not sure I ever will as long as my favorite Northeast Iowa streams are fishable.

The majority of trout waters in Iowa are spring fed and remain above freezing all winter long. I have fished when the wind chill is -10 degrees Fahrenheit, tucked in warmly to the 40 degree flowing water. Outside of knocking the ice off my line every few minutes, there are few downsides I have found. The key is preparation. If I have a wool base layer, a warm coat, and fingerless gloves, I can fish most of the daylight. In Iowa, state sponsored trout stocking ceases for the winter so any fish in the stream are wild or hold-overs. These fish may be a little trickier to catch but the fight is more rewarding.