Ahh January; synonymous with short days, long nights and cold water. But by the end of January the days are getting noticeably longer and we’re over the hump. It’s a wonderful time to get on THE RIVER and treat your “cabin fever,” walk off some holiday calories, enjoy the solitude of the backcountry, study critter tracks in fresh snow and celebrate the New Year by landing and releasing a few trout.
You do need to be prepared. I will wear a pair of wool socks with a pair of fleece socks over them and fleece pants under my waders. I like a heavy flannel shirt and a fleece or wool sweater with either a hood or a stocking cap. Mitts or gloves that allow my fingertips to be free are very handy. Sometimes I will stick a hand warmer in the small of the back under my belt, which really helps.
Always wear a tight wader belt. You never know when you’re going to take that next dunking. If you’re going a mile or more into the backcountry, take some waterproof matches or a lighter with a candle in a zip-lock bag. Hypothermia can be life threatening. Several times over the last 50+ years I’ve stripped down to warm by a fire I’ve built on a sandbar while I emptied my waders and rung out my clothes.
I like to take a thermometer to read water temperature. When the water is 40 degrees and below, the trout are usually going to be hunkered down. I will try going deep and slow in dark water while dredging nymphs. When there is a bluebird sky with bright sunshine over a stretch of water running north to south, the solar warming may bring off the BWOs or a midge hatch even when the water temp is in the 40s. Oh what fun that can be! Fishin’ is always good, but I’ve found the best catchin’ to be between noon and about 3:30 this time of year.
On Saturday, January 20, you can cap off another great day on THE RIVER with an evening at the Dillard House Conference Center enjoying the 20th Annual Rabun Rendezvous where the Rabunites proudly present a celebration of rivers, streams, trout, and trout fishing. Everyone interested in protecting our cold-water resources is invited.
For details visit www.rabuntu.com, or call Rabun TU Prez Terry Rivers at (706) 782-7419.
–The Ole Rabunite
Have fun and take a kid fishing.
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” -Zane Grey