Making Winter Fishing Enjoyable

Sean Visintainer - 01/05/18

Winter Fishing Spokane River

Four Rules of Winter Fishing I live by

Let me start by saying this: I hate winter. I could leave from November 1st - March 1st to a tropical destination and not blink an eye. But alas, fly shop business does not allow for that kind of absence! I am stuck finding some water around here and try to make the best of it.

Luckily for us the Spokane River does not freeze over in the winter like other rivers can such as the NF Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe, and even the Grande Ronde. Aquifer and top release dams keep the Spokane at a balmy 36/37 or warmer all winter.

Like many of you cabin fever sets in quick and the need to get outside is high to keep the sanity. Since winter fishing can be a test the mind and body I keep my winter fishing trips simple and quick.

Here are 4 things / rules I do to make winter fishing more enjoyable:

  1. I rig my my rods inside the comfort of my house. - The last thing I wanna do when I get to the water is fumble around with cold fingers and put together my rod. I have my rod rigged, ready, and broken in half with all the flies/split shot/bobbers/whatever tied on and ready. When I get out of the vehicle, I simple put the two sections together and get to fishing. Obviously I have to have some idea of what I want to use beforehand but in the winter my rigs don't change much.
  2. I wader up at my house. - Now this only applies to folks fishing nearby fisheries where you don't have to drive for hours. Since I am mainly fishing places like the Spokane or lower Coeur d'Alene River in the winter I'm perfectly fine wadering up at the house and driving the short drive to either of those two destinations. When I get to the destination no need to stand outside in the freezing temps and hop around trying to wader up and not step in the snow.
  3. I move around a lot. - Standing stationary in one spot in the winter does two things: 1 - your body temp drops and cools. 2 - Boredom sets in. I keep on the move in the winter by hiking into spots and only fishing an eddy or pocket briefly before trudging along to another to keep the blood flowing and the body temp up.
  4. I only fish for a couple hours. - No need to go balls out this time of the year in my opinion. I only fish the warmest time of the day, and I only fish for a couple hours to make it tolerable. If I catch fish that's great but I'm not gunna bust my ass all day to do so, the idea is to just get outside, have a little fun, and cure cabin fever.

Now obviously there are many other things you can do to make winter fishing more enjoyable like warm layers, whiskey, etc but these are the 4 rules I live by to make my winter fishing more enjoyable. Hopefully you will find winter fishing somewhat enjoyable as well on your next outing by being prepared and keeping it simple!