At some point every conversation when speaking with new anglers to the Missouri River turns to this very topic. Whether spring, summer, fall, or winter the biggest part of the fish catching game is fishing in the right water. Finding the Right Water can be the most difficult part of cracking the code.
So often we blame the fly for poor performance. And maybe sometimes you are right. That fly might suck. Commonly it is the waster type you are fishing. Finding the right water is imperative for all seasons success.
So what does winter water look like? In a word…
Get the drift? Commonly found at the bottom end on an island. On inside bends may be the primary location for this kind of water here on the Mo. Wherever you are fishing the winter season you must find the slower, or slowest water.
Fish just get cold. They do not like the cold temps either. We as humans aren’t big fans either. Not everybody can be snowbirds, or we would. Am I right?
The comfort temperature zone is in the 50’s for trout. Not in the mid 30’s. The metabolism of the trout slows as well. They are not in that “all fired up mode” that we so enjoy in the midst of trout gobbling PMD emergers. So keep this most important fact near the top of your list when searching for right winter water.
The best nymphing winter water is 3-5 foot deep with very little pace. Inside bends and tail-outs are both very good places to start. The thing about winter nymphing buckets is that there are very few really great ones. Maybe only one a mile.
If the water you are fishing feels too slow it probably is not. If the water you are fishing is moving that is good. If the water you are fishing is stopped. That is bad. It the kind of nearly pond like water that you would never fish in the summer. Unless you like tossing fry flies to those difficult scumlining scum suckers.
Fish the soft inside bend type water and figure it out. I commonly, when boat fishing, do a few laps working from the bank side toward the center of the river to find the fish. They are in there. They really are. The trout live there.
Finding the right winter water is imperative for winter angling success. That is the initial battle any time out fishing. Enjoy winter nymphing here on the Missouri or your local river.
Remember: It is the slow stuff.