December Trout?

Thread starter #1
The family+ maw in law are going to be spending Christmas in west NC. Coming from south GA and FL. The house is on a small river that should have browns and rainbows right out the door but not terribly far upstream it's all natives. I've never fished for trout in the winter, but am hard headed and will wet a line no matter what.

Assuming the weather isn't terrible, what is the fishing usually like around Christmas? Any chance they'd hit dries. If not what about streamers? Nymphs not really my thing. What flies should I stock up on? Guess I can sling a nymph if that's what it takes.

Also there are a couple small streams up high, around 5000', I'd love to get to. Do fish usually shut down in these small streams this time of year?

Thanks for any info or advice. Matt.
 
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The mtn man

Senior Member
Depends on weather, if it's cold and rainy, streamers or nymphs, if it's warm and dry, they might hit a dry fly. Y2k would be my choice if all else fails.
 

NCHillbilly

Administrator
Sometimes, you can catch lots of trout in December. Nymphs are where it's at, though. And those 5,000' elevation streams are usually shut down if the weather is normal for December. Often, you won't even be able to get to those 5,000' streams for the roads being so slick and even shut down.

The delayed harvest streams usually fish good through the winter. And on a warm day, you can sometimes catch doughbellies on little #18-#20 blue winged olive or slate caddis dry flies.
 

NCHillbilly

Administrator
Anything yellow like a Tellico or golden stone in sizes #10-14, anything tan and fuzzy in the same sizes, pheasant tail in #14-#16, Prince in #12-#14. The yellow or tan are usually the ticket. Sometimes a golden stone in #4-#6 will get some nice fish.
 
December is a great time to fish! I love the winter months as there is less pressure. Do expect to catch more 'Bows if they are there as the colder the temperature the more the Rainbows seem to turn on. I guess that is the Rocky Mountain in them.

As for the flies, nymphs, nymphs and more nymphs. Did I mention nymphs? In terms of patterns, don't complicate it. Keep it basic. A confidence box of Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Zebra midges, Girdle Bug and such should do wonders. Stick to smaller sizes 16 and under, 6x or 7x tippet, and no split shot. Drop one fly off another about 16". This will pay huge dividends with low clear nature of the streams this time of year.
 
Y2k, don't be afraid to let it drift to the bottom of a run, and slowly strip it back up stream, trust me, it will catch wintertime wild trout consistently.
 
December is a great time to fish! I love the winter months as there is less pressure. Do expect to catch more 'Bows if they are there as the colder the temperature the more the Rainbows seem to turn on. I guess that is the Rocky Mountain in them.

As for the flies, nymphs, nymphs and more nymphs. Did I mention nymphs? In terms of patterns, don't complicate it. Keep it basic. A confidence box of Hares Ears, Pheasant Tails, Zebra midges, Girdle Bug and such should do wonders. Stick to smaller sizes 16 and under, 6x or 7x tippet, and no split shot. Drop one fly off another about 16". This will pay huge dividends with low clear nature of the streams this time of year.
Over about forty years of fishing, I've always had a lot better luck with bigger nymphs in the wintertime than those little dandruff-flake-sized flies, personally. 10-12 is my go-to.
 
Thread starter #13
I rarely use anything smaller than size 14 because it’s not worth the frustration. Fishing is about fun. I’ve gotten flustered(down right mad)trying to tie a size ittybitty hook onto 7x tippet, in low light conditions with cold fingers.

Thanks for the replies. Think I’ll bring some nymphs in late December.

Now if I can only get that new 8’6” 3wt before Christmas...
 
Over about forty years of fishing, I've always had a lot better luck with bigger nymphs in the wintertime than those little dandruff-flake-sized flies, personally. 10-12 is my go-to.
Mine and your experiences vary then. I generally midge the heck out of the winter waters around here. Bugs are smaller, fish are lazier. I give them something that's easy to sip and is plentiful, and its always paid off, and that's over many years on the water myself.

To each his own. That's what makes it fun.
 
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I’ve gotten flustered(down right mad)trying to tie a size ittybitty hook onto 7x tippet
That's the nature of fly fishing for trout with any regularity on the heavily pressured waters around here. Lol

This was one of the only videos I've made of my fishing trips but it epitomizes my winter fishing approach year in year out here in the WNC mountains. Tiny flies and small tippet, mostly size 20 or smaller tandem midges, for large sipping rainbows. That may simply be my opinion however but it works for me.

I know there's a lot of cheesy theatrics, but at the time it was a new camera and I wanted to play. Anyway......

https://youtu.be/nkvLcrZsViE
 
Cool video, pun intended, Ivy Thicket. Nice fish but I will leave the ice fishing to you younger fellows.
 
I rarely use anything smaller than size 14 because it’s not worth the frustration. Fishing is about fun. I’ve gotten flustered(down right mad)trying to tie a size ittybitty hook onto 7x tippet, in low light conditions with cold fingers.

Thanks for the replies. Think I’ll bring some nymphs in late December.

Now if I can only get that new 8’6” 3wt before Christmas...
Then I guess I won't be sending you any of the #24 EHC I tie! I want to try and tie smaller, but I'm afraid to. I end up bending two hook shanks for ever y one I successfully tie!
 
Midge, midge, midge, and midge some more with nymphing in for good measure. I like to run a heavy larger nymph (size 12-16) as an anchor and then a smaller midge as a dropper. Zebras off of a rainbow warrior is a favorite combination of mine. Or run a midge or nymph off the back of a bugger.
 
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