Written by: Chuck Coolidge
February in Park City, Utah, is well known for fantastic skiing, snowboarding, and all things winter. But for me, the best part is that none of those people are on the blue-ribbon trout waters nearby. It also helps to have awesome friends send you reminder texts like, “The water is fishing really well right now. You guys should get up here!” When adventure advice like that comes your way, pack the bags and get after it.
The amazing Wasatch Range landscape is the western slope of the Rocky Mountains and offers unbelievable vistas to look at while you fish. Great fishing opportunities are always fun but with views like these–deer making their way through the brush and bald eagles overhead–it doesn’t get much better. Wait, maybe it does. The opportunity to slide down to the river opening:
Fishing these waters during winter can be tricky. We found that midges fished on a bounce rig seemed to work well in the morning. Today’s colors were red and black, the smaller the better, size 22 or 24. However, as soon as the clouds would eclipse the sun, it was time to swap to streamers.
This feeder stream heading into the Deer Creek Reservoir was only running at around 44 cfs, but the fish were not coming up to eat. We had to make sure our fly presentation was bouncing off the bottom, so they didn’t have to work too hard for a meal.
If you’re not familiar with deep drop-shot nymph rig, check out this video. In the cold water, the key is to run your drop shot or “Provo Bounce” rig just off the edge of the faster moving water, as the fish are sitting on that shelf. The warmer it gets, the faster you want your rig to run in the water.
Waking up the following day to snowfall and 22-degree temperatures called for waterproof bags, Koffee Kölsch, and more layers. Everyone decided to rally and fight the elements, excited for a full day of throwing streamers on the Weber river. Pro tip: Stick a hand warmer under your glove on the bottom of your wrist. It will warm the blood as it moves through your veins to help keep your hands a bit warmer, allowing you to cast longer.
The trick to fishing streamers in winter is to cast upstream toward the far bank and to give the fly action as it swings through the fast current to the slower water. Using a small twitch as the streamer sinks and swings can mean all the difference for finding the pool boss, like our friend Remick did. His monster brown made the frozen fingers and toes all worth it.