A lesson one learns fairly quickly when living in the mountains is that you really wonít know how the coming water year will turn out until March or even April, when the overall character of the winter snowpack is finally known. Weíve already received a surprising amount of rain, which has topped off or nearly topped off many reservoirs, and some are even spilling water now to ensure thereíll be room for the spring runoff. One can probably say with confidence that tailwaters and still waters will fish well this coming trout season.
Fingers are crossed that undammed streams and spring creeks will have plenty of water, as well. Iím tempted to suggest that the way to understand whether this will happen is to keep track of snowfall totals for the Sierra and the northern mountains and compare these totals with previous water years. But again, until March or April, this can be a mugís game ó all you need is one Pineapple Express bringing in a warm storm to send a lot of the snowpack down the rivers, preventing adequate recharge of the meadows and aquifers streams rely on.
Itís a mistake, though, to put off all thoughts of angling until spring. Even though the days are currently short and cold, you can still fish. A number of our stateís wild-trout waters are open to angling during the winter, as are lakes and Central Valley rivers. Although the fishing is often challenging, the skills that prove successful will surely serve you well once the weather warms up, and as a bonus, during the winter, youíre unlikely to see other anglers on the water.
And this is a good time to clean your lines, lubricate your reels, and organize your tackle. If you tie, then plan on restocking your fly boxes and getting creative at the vise. In a way, our flies are little more than a bit of hope wrapped around a hook, and nothing enhances hope like trying out new ideas. As anglers, we are by nature optimists, and we will strive for hookups irrespective of how the year turns out. Letís go fishing.
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