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"Ski Season"

By admin - Posted on 16 April 2020

 "Ski Season"

Jim Harris, Telluride Angler

With spring in the air and summertime slowly creeping upon us here in Telluride, I am beginning to reminisce on my time spent throughout this past “ski season,” realizing that my days spent on the river are rivaling my memories made on the ski resort. For me, Winter (“ski season”) is just as much about fishing as skiing. 

Many anglers across the Western United States are throwing their snowboards in the closet and breaking out their dusty rod tubes and unorganized fly boxes for “fishing season." Maybe some are sending that cherished fly rod into the manufacturer for repair, in hopes of return for “fishing season”, after it was unfortunately demolished in the car door as they left the river from their last session before “ski season.” Fortunately for me, I do not play into the “ski season”/“fishing season” foolishness. My rods are ready to go and my fly boxes dialed, because I love to fish during winter and spring.

I get my fair share of days laughing with friends as we cruise down the resort on our desired methods of transportation. However, more times than not, I return home only to dream about what that selective trout at our nearby tailwater was feeding on during my monumental powder day. Trout continue to feed throughout “ski season,” making it a great time to find solitude at your local tailwater as other anglers are drinking $10 beers from their favorite on mountain establishment. 

Although lethargic winter trout have different feeding habits compared with willing summer fish, these amazing specimens are still very opportunistic and far from similar to our local hibernating black bear population. Not only are winter anglers rewarded with elbow room from other anglers that are waiting for “fishing season” to begin, they are also rewarded with wintertime flows making it easy to spot trout. 

When testing your skills on tailwater fisheries in the winter and spring, it is important to fish with your eyes before you swing the fly rod. I find it very productive to locate trout in order to observe their habits and capitalize on my observations. In winter conditions, these fish are usually centralized in specific locations. Fishing every run, pool and tailout that you see in front of you before considering winter holding water could land you numb fingers before you catch a fish! It is productive and entertaining to take your time, throw on your favorite pair of shades and find a fish to feed.

When you find this fish, make sure that you serve the individual what he has come to eat. Lifting up a couple of river rocks to check out what lives on the bottom side is a good method to see what is on the menu. With such an abundance of food, tailwater trout are smart and selective, meaning you too must be smart and selective. Match what you find under the river rocks, size down, change weight before changing flies, make every cast count and you could in turn have a very productive day in the middle of “ski season.” 

Fly fishing is a way for a lot of us to remain sane. It creates a reason to be outside. It allows us to focus on things beyone our day to day hustle. It is a lifestyle. Just because your local freestone is frozen over or snow lingers on the riverbank does not mean that you are limited to skiing. We are fortunate to have a year-round fishing season here in Colorado, so get out and take advantage of winter. It is fishing season after all. 




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