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Why I Love to Fish in the Winter

by Les Albjerg
(Caldwell, Idaho)

South Fork Rainbow

South Fork Rainbow

It is 14 degrees as I type. I was going to take my son to Wilson Creek Springs today and fish even though it was 3 degrees when I woke up, but he is sick. Chris said in his last trip report that he doesn't like winter fishing much anymore. I LOVE WINTER FISHING It has become my favorite.

The picture of my fishing buddy Kyle's fish is what we go after in the winter on the South Fork of the Boise River. These large rainbows are following suckers up the river from Arrowrock Reservoir feeding on eggs. Egg patterns are the fly that trout take 65% of the time. Stonefly nymphs are their second choice. The second picture is a Bull Trout (endangered so you have to let them go quickly and you can't target them) and the third is an average rainbow that I caught last year.

The water levels are low, the other fishermen levels are low, and the amount of fish are high. We also catch a lot of mountain whitefish and they can put up a great fight too. I am so looking forward to fishing with no ice in my guides because my Keiryu rods don't have them! As long as the wind isn't blowing it is awesome fishing. I am looking forward to my first winter with my Keiryu rods.

Comments for Why I Love to Fish in the Winter

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Dec 18, 2016
Good Luck!!!!
by: Dave

Good Luck on your Keiryu adventures. Keep us posted on your progress!!

Dec 19, 2016
Cold-weather fishing
by: Hoppy Dave (SD)

If you like fishing in cold weather, Les, then come to SD. -21º/-20º..... But Chris let me in on the secret of fishing in that kind of weather with long keiryu and seiryu rods. Seeing is believing, so come on over! :-)

Nice catches!

Dec 19, 2016
Go west, young man!
by: Chris Stewart

Hoppy Dave,
NO, No, no. You have it all wrong. People don't go to SD (or ND for that matter) in the winter to fish, unless they want to use the long rods to ice fish from shore (so they can build a fire). People from SD go to Idaho to fish for steelhead! Take the boss' carp rod (preferably when she's not looking). Better yet, take her along. Tell her you're going to MT but just keep driving. Piece of cake!

Dec 19, 2016
South Dakota in the Winter?
by: Les Albjerg

Hoppy Dave,

I grew up in Minnesota and went to graduate school in North Dakota. We have just the right amount of winter in Idaho, so I will pass on the invitation. I already have the last week in March off from work to fish for steelhead on the upper Salmon river with my Kyogi. January and February are when the big trout go up the South Fork. That said, I enjoy catching many small trout as much as the big boys and girls. My most enjoyable day fishing with fixed line equipment was a "many fish day" a couple of months ago catching smallmouth bass with my Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63 using red wigglers. The biggest one was about 2.5 pounds, most of the others were around 2. These fish were just below the riffles on the main Boise river where I have never seen anyone else fishing on my half mile stretch of river 15 minutes from my house.

Dec 19, 2016
by: Phillip

I tried winter fishing last year without much success. I plan on working on it more this season.

The biggest issue I need to overcome is just how darn dormant the fish get when they're cold. I can bonk them in the nose with a nymph with no reaction. How do you guys get the fish to open their mouths?

Not having frozen guides is nice, but tenkara isn't immune to freezing. After a couple casts the line would get a pencil-thick coating of ice, making it impossible to cast (good for sword fighting, though). I spent much more time de-icing than fishing. I'm using fluorocarbon line. Do you grease the line or something to keep the ice off?

Maybe I should just wait for warmer weather, but if it's that nice out, I'm going ice climbing.

Dec 19, 2016
Out of the bag
by: Hoppy Dave (SD)

You let your secret out of the bag, Chris; now, Les won't come over to SD to learn how to ice-fish with the long keiryu/seiryu rods. (Doesn't sound like he was all that interested, anyways. Ha!)

Les, your fish are safe. There are blizzard conditions between you and us in MT. Staying home, drilling a hole in the ice, and ice-fishing Chris' way.

Merry fishing!

Dec 19, 2016
Anti-freeze paste
by: Hoppy Dave (SD)


Try Loon's "Stanley's Ice-Off Paste" on your lines.

I can't post a link but you can Google it.

For $7.50, there isn't much to lose. Other than hanging your rods up until springtime, which is what happens here in Sunny South Dakota.

Ice-climbing..... The only ice-climbing that I do now is crossing icy parking lots on studded knee pads! ;-)

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