With the pleasant change in weather, fishing on the Bow is finally becoming a consistent possibility again. Plenty of water has been completely frozen or inaccessible due to ice buildup during the cold snap. That said, the recent above zero temperatures are remedying some of the ice and gradually opening up the river. This means that your favorite winter holes could be fishable shortly.
Midge hatches can be a common occurrence in the winter. Lazy fish will often take advantage of this to put on a feed bag. While we haven’t heard any reports of midge dry fly action, it is certainly a possibility. Keep a couple of midge dries in your box just in case.
Streamer fishing this time of year can be a welcome change from the drudgery of nymphing. Although less productive than nymphing, great fish can still come to hand. Focus on getting your streamer down in those deep slow holes. Remember that fish are very lethargic this time of year and are often unwilling to chase flies that are out of reach or moving too fast. So, keep things slow and cover water methodically. Utilizing mends to reduce the speed of your fly is essential. Finally, putting a smaller leech or soft hackle as a trailer fly can be a fantastic way to pick up those fish that won’t commit to a larger streamer.
When all hope is lost, there is always nymphing. Classic nymphs like Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymph’s and worms if you’re feeling dirty, will get ‘er done. Further, those winter dry fly midges come from somewhere. Zebra Midges are often overlooked for winter nymph rigs and can often entice those fish that have already seen plenty of worms. Keep in mind that bugs are smaller in the winter as there are less nutrients kicking around due to a shortage of sunlight. Therefore, keep your nymphs small. Eighteen’s and twenty’s may be a necessary evil. As usual for winter nymphing, focus on water with decent depth and slow current. Water that is faster than a slow walking pace tends to hold less fish and is less productive.
Winter fishing can be a ton of fun and a welcome break from zoom meetings. However, being safe around ice on the river is critical, especially when it’s breaking up. Venturing out onto ice shelves to run a nymph rig through a deep greasy hole can be extremely tempting. We cannot stress enough how dangerous this can be, particularly when ice is thawing and breaking up during warmer weather stretches. Further, it is important to exercise caution while in the water. Floating icebergs regularly surprise unsuspecting anglers. Keep a watchful eye upstream for floating or partially submerged ice.
Dries: Theos Melting Pot Midge (18-20), High Vis Parachute Midge (18-20)
Nymphs: Zebra Midge (18-20), Lightning Bug (16-18) Pheasant Tail (16-18), Tung Dart Tan (16-18) Copper John (16-18), Prince Nymph (16-18), Batman Nymph (18)
Streamers: Jelly Leech (8), Bow River Clouser (6), Thin Mint Bugger (8-12), Mini Leech Olive (8-12), Boot’s Booty Call (6), Coffey’s Sparkle Jig (4)
Troutspey: Streamers: Grandmaster Flash (4), Make It Rainbow (4), Sculpin the One (4)