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Winter Midge Fishing

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Midges hatch year round, but are especially effective in the cold winter months. Why? Pretty simple really. The lack of hatches going on at this time. Trout will hone in and cue on midges. They love them. Bottom release tailwaters are famous for their midge fishing. The cool water from the bottom of the lake around the dam make for cool, consistent water temperatures. Perfect conditions for a fishery that can generate huge trout.

We’ve all had those days when we’ve seen risers and have cast every fly in the box and can’t even catch a cold. Chances are, those are midges the trout are after. These flies are tiny, but they are plentiful and easy pickins. Ever been to a crawfish feed in New Orleans? (If you haven’t, you’re really missing something!) Just bite after bit of tasty goodness.

Midges are born at the bottom of the river. The egg will turn into a larva, then a pupa, and then the adult stages. They will rise up through the water column. The best midge fishing is subsurface…. enter the zebra midge. Probably one of the most prolific midge patterns there is. While you’ll see plenty of risers, the real action is below the surface. Trout will just lazily cruise picking up tasty morsel after tasty morsel.

While the Zebra midge is probably my favorite, there’s a number of other great midge patterns too. Brassies and Disco Midges immediately come to mind. I’ve even picked up fish on small Czech nymph patterns believe it or not. Size is important for these bugs. You’ll want to experiment around. I think the size, 18-22, is probably more important than the pattern.

You’re going to be bobber fishing, so make sure you have the basics down pretty good here. Actually, yarn is best in these conditions, there’s not a lot of current. You’ll be using between 6X and 8X tippet. It really depends on the size of the naturals, clarity of the water, and how daring you’re willing to get. I prefer fluorocarbon tippet due to its strength and ability to get down.

I was fishing this past spring with RiverBum pro Jim Mitchell and he had a great tip for me. We weren’t fishing midges, but I think the principle may apply here. We would put our split shot above the leader/tippet know to keep the shot from sliding. We were post run off in some swift water and wanted our bugs to really get down in some challenging conditions. The next time I’m midge fishing, which should be shortly, I’m going to give this technique a go.

These are tiny bugs, that need to get down. You want have much luck if the water is swift. Slow moving water, seams and back eddies are the key to success here. Takes can be very subtle, so concentration is critical. Leave the bass hook set at home unless you want to be rigging all day long. You’re on light tackle, hook set accordingly.

If you’re got a bit of the cabin fever, and you’re not going to be fishing the Florida Keys any time soon, give winter midge fishing a try. The rivers are quiet, tranquil and void of the usual fishing pressure. Keep yourself safe and don’t take any chances wading, and always bring a spare set of dry clothes. Until next time my fishy friends…….

Tight Lines and Screaming Drags

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