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The All Season Angler

Paula Shearer

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The all season angler is the fisherman who will push through it all. They are the ones that can be seen braving the coldest of temperatures, the rainiest of days, and sporting the best and worst of tan lines. It is these men and women who have put in countless hours and tested the toughest of gear all in the name of wetting a line.

The warmer months and water temperatures during the summer brings out anglers of all levels that find comfort in the familiarity of their past fishing experiences. It is also these months that bring out the bigger hatches of adult Stoneflies, Mayflies, and Caddis, that leave each individual excited about the possibility of fooling a fish to come up to the surface and feed on their fly.

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Photo by: Justin Swan

During the hotter days when the water temperatures rises, it can be tricky to find fish in areas they once held in. It is during these times that fish move into faster water where they can find higher oxygen levels. The warmer waters give the fish a higher metabolism, allowing them to be more active and feed harder than any other time of the year. Anglers of all levels can take advantage of their hungry appetite and extra energy, by fishing with both streamers and nymphs when fish are not actively feeding on the surface. At times when fish have stopped feeding, the experienced anglers change their tactics and toss large streamers towards banks, in hopes that a larger fish will become territorial and want to protect their local niche, by aggressively attacking this possible intruder. This season gives you the ability to try many different methods.

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As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to cool, it is at this time that the leaves take on their autumn colors. Fall fishing can be productive as the fish selectively gorge themselves during certain times, in preparation for a long winter. As the river hatches slow down, the fish ca in on terrestrials that have strayed from the safety of the banks and find themselves amongst the current. Unlike the summer, months where getting up before the sunrise can be the best option, in the fall your most productive fishing is during the afternoon until the early evening hours. On the cloudy warmer days, the streamer fishing can be quite good, with some fish becoming more aggressive as they near their spawning migration. Take advantage of the last of the warm weather as winter is just around the corner.

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Winter is the time when the all season angler takes advantage of the deserted rivers. Although the temperatures may dip below freezing, the all season angler continues to fish despite the discomfort of frozen fingers and toes. It is at these times where the proper clothing and gear are essential to continuing to enjoy the outdoors. While the weather and water temperatures may be cold, the fish must continue to feed throughout the winter.

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Photo by: Naoto Aoki

Fishing during this bitter season can be quite successful if you understand how the fish are behaving. With the lower water temperatures, the fish’s metabolism slows down and they become more lethargic. It is important to hone into deep slow pockets of water as this is where fish school to conserve energy. Fish at this point don’t need a lot of food so it is important to key in on nymphs and make sure that they get down close to the bottom. Unlike warmer seasons, the fish will not actively move to eat, but rather wait for food to come down their feeding lane. It is important to focus on drifting your flies in different lanes in the zone you are fishing. These lethargic fish may become active for a few hours during the warmest part of the day.Once you have become proficient at this technique, you will find why winter fishing can be so appealing.

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Spring fishing can be one of the most difficult seasons. Between fluctuations in weather, water temperatures and water levels, the fishing can change on a daily basis. During the beginning of the season the climate can still be cool with ice and snow still blanketing the banks. Fishing around this time is very similar to winter fishing, with midges hatching on the warmer days. As the weather begins to slowly warm up, so does the water, allowing fish to gradually become more active and feed on mayflies and caddis. This transition period can be difficult for most anglers as the fish are looking for their comfort zone, and can turn off when the river quickly fluctuates in levels. Just as the fisherman start to get comfortable with the river, then suddenly runoff hits, which tends to intimidate most fishermen, leaving the river once again to the hardcore angler. The river has now risen high up on banks with water looking similar to that of chocolate milk. This can be a very exciting time to be on the river with all fish, including the large ones being concentrated along the banks and out of the current. Targeting these fish is quite easy, with large flies and nymphs being dead drifted inches off the bank, or swinging streamers right into shore. Don’t let the height or the color of the water intimidate you as spring fishing can be some of the most rewarding during the year.

Change has always been a scary thing for most people, but it’s these very changes that can teach us the most and allow us to adapt and develop new skills. As the seasons pass, both the fish and the fisherman will learn to adapt to the ever changing conditions.

~Paula