Weekly Fishing Column: Fishing in the cold can be rewarding
Thank God for rain, sleet, and snow! Yes, even more snow! With the cold weather here to stay in the hinterlands, the very low rivers we had would have been very vulnerable to anchor ice if we got one of those major deep freezes. Instead, the creeks became full prior to the vicious cold snap. If you're up for spending some time out in the chill, they should fish well.
You likely won't see any dry fly action, but nymphs and streamers will take fish. Be patient and don't be afraid to fish the skinny water. You would be surprised how often trout hold in the skinny stuff as long as it has some cover, flow and a quick route to deep water protection. Faster runs that have a choppy surface and bank side water comes to mind this time of the year. Not that the pools and deeper runs are not going to hold feeding fish, it's just that this time of year I seem to have some pretty good days fishing the "other water".
I like to start downstream of where I intend to fish, and work my way up, casting a weighted nymph without split shot into likely holding water. I strip my line back to me just short of pulling the fly, and if my line or leader stops or jumps, I lift my rod. Drop your fly right along side of rocks and what's left of overhanging shrubs and leafless tree branches. Cover the water systematically and take your time. I find fishing this way to be very relaxing and easy on the mind, as well as productive.
Flies? I like Godfather Emergers, with or without a bead, Cased Norther Caddis patterns, weighted hare's ear nymphs, and of course, size No. 10 streamers preferably with spikey hackles. So I can dead drift it, but it will still look like it's alive. No need to get fancy, tie on a fly that you know works for you - don't guess or hope, go with a pattern you have confidence in. If you like a two fly rig, by all means, fish that way.
Ice Fishing at Stephen Foster Lake - This lake has some good ice. In spots I found three to four inches of solid ice. However there are a few open water spots that hold chunks of floating ice. Near the dam face I found good hard ice measuring five plus inches. I only could get out about 30 feet from the shore line. The creaks and groans of the ice had me a bit apprehensive. Here smaller JJ's MB Jig in white and black tipped with waxworms brought in the perch and bluegills.
Mountain Lake - This is your best bet! Solid icing throughout the lake. I did find a few soft spots about twenty-five feet out from the public dock. This area had been drilled open with about fifteen slush filled holes. I drilled three holes with ice measurings over six inches. Panfish were hitting pink and white JJ's MB Jigs and yellow Jig-A-Bugger in a size 1/16 ounce.
Steelheading - If your brave and can weather all the lake effect snows, the chance to land a thirty inch steelhead is excellent! Oak Orchard Creek near Rochester is fishing very well. If you can time the ebb and rise of the creek with the dam releases one can find a large pod of steelhead and not even move from that spot all day! Smaller jigs and streamer flies swung in the current have been taking most of the fish. A few anglers even report catching a numerous Northern Pike on smaller marabou jigs.
Dress warm, bring a friend, and enjoy the clean, chilly air, and the peace being on the creeks and lakes in the winter. Don't forget to purchase your 2013 fishing license.
Have a great week! Good luck on the water! Please let me know how you are doing on all of our great fisheries by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Dave Pelachik is an avid angler and master jig & fly tyer of JJ's Jigs located in Towanda, Pa. Follow his adventures on Twitter: @JJsJigs or visit his website at www.jjsjigs.com