Over the past week winter moved into to area with authority. Usually when the tempertures go sub-zero it's not worth heading to the river. Your gear freezing up on you can get very frustrating for one thing and the fish take a while to get used to the change in conditions.
Even those of us that will fish through most conditions will think twice when slush is running down the river. Usually these are the days, if I'm not working in the shop, that I will tie flies until I can't see straight. Winter is the time of year when I replace the flies I deposited into the bottom of the river. For instance, I usually will tie at least 100 Pat's Rubber Legs before moving on to the next pattern. Over the winter I start with nymphs, then move on to dry flies, and wrap things up with stimulators and terrestrials. You may have noticed I didn't mention streamers. I never have enough streamers so I tie these all year long. On a frigid, bone chilling day in February I would rather be at my tying table with a bottle of Johnny Walker than on the river getting frostbite. On some days, eight hours may go by in the blink of an eye.
If I don't get the erge to sit down at the tying table, I sometimes will use the downtime to go through all my gear. If you have as much gear as I do, this can be a multi day project. Sometimes I will find things in my boat bag that I hadn't seen since the previous season. This is also a good time to check the condition of your fly lines. I find out which ones are cracked and need to be replaced, and which ones that just need a good cleaning. Depending on the number of different weight rods your fishing, this is a job that might take a couple days.
With the average winter in Montana lasting at least a solid six months, take advantage of your time off the river. When spring does roll back around, you will be ready to get back out in search of the fish of your lifetime
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