10 Reasons Why Fly Fishing in the Off-Season is Better

First and Foremost, I apologize for not writing in so long. The month of October was a bit crazy for me. I went on vacation then came back to 5 midterm papers and two exams. Also I started planning my wedding and booked all of my main vendors! It was such a relief. I hate planning anything, at least anything but fishing trips.

One of my favorite things about this beautiful place I live in, is the transition the from the hot green New Mexico summer to the beautiful golds and oranges of the fall. The greatest craving I get during this transition is a great bowl of green chile stew as well as a full day of fishing. So if you are a winter lover like me, get out there and catch some fish! Here are 10 of my reasons why I love to fish in Fall and Winter:

1. Cold Water and Fat Fish Trout prefer colder water. Towards the end of summer the fish are lethargic and existing in minimal numbers due to the dangerously warm waters that we see in late July and throughout August. By the time the weather cools off and the water cools with it, the fish are ready to start biting again. The fish have been eating all summer due to the mass amounts of hatches that summer monsoons bring. Catching a fat, 12+” brown trout in a tiny mountain stream is a blast!

Cebolla River--October
Cebolla River–October

2. Adios Warm Weather Only Fishers The weather is getting colder, and most of the tourists who fish are gone, and the warm weather only fishermen and women are headed back to their safe warm home while awaiting the warmer weather of the next summer. There is nothing wrong with being a warm weather only fisher-human. Fishing in the cold is hard. I never used to fish except in the summer. Now that I have the right gear, a stronger will, and the desperation to get out and fish, fishing in the cold weather is much easier. It’s not that I don’t love people, I do! I just prefer not to see people on the river while I am fishing.

My siblings and I in the Cebolla
My siblings and I in the Cebolla “River” Valley in the Fall

3. Beautiful Fall The Weather is colder, the leaves are changing, and the summer rains are long gone. There is nothing more beautiful that the gold and bronze colors of the Fall here in New Mexico. The golden leaves against deep green of the pines as the leaves begin to change. The contrast of the golden dried out long grass against the earthy browns and greens of the stream.  The Cebolla stream valley is one of the most beautiful places I have fished in the early fall. You can see from the picture here that the aspens are turning orange and that the grass is a dried sandy brown. This valley is located in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico behind the Seven Springs Hatchery. It is the perfect place to begin your fishing adventures in the summer and end them in the late fall before the snow closes the road.

First time Fishing the San Juan was in January!
First time Fishing the San Juan was in January! “Burrr- Cold”

4. Snowy Scenery I’m not sure if it is only because I am a desert rat from New Mexico, but when I see snow, it makes me extremely happy. The cold is a monster for fly fishing. Keeping your hands and fingers warm is impossible, you dread every snag, and pray that you won’t have to reach your arm in and pry your fly off of a branch or rock in the river. My first time fly fishing in winter was in January at the San Juan and it was icy cold. There were so few fishermen in the braids I couldn’t believe it! Usually you see a person on your right and left, no matter where you are on the river. Fishing in January was a whole new experience. It was quiet, cold, and it felt like it was just my Dad and I on the river alone. Although it was cold for us, the weather was perfect for the fish. It was this January fishing venture where I caught my first fish over 12 inches!

5. Clear and Gentle Water Now that the mountains are cold, the summer run off is over, and the sediment has all settled, the water is clear as can be and the current is not too daunting. The clear and gentle water means you can say goodbye to the bulky strike indicator and use a dry dropper combo on its own. By taking off that extra weight on your cast, you can plan sneaky, beautiful, well-placed casts into the perfect eddy to catch that fat fish.

6. Fall Hoppers The weather has cooled off and the grasshoppers are slowing down, but the fish are still hungry. There is nothing greater than seeing a fish literally gulp at a big grasshopper dry-fly. I have seen tiny 5 inch fish grab at a big hopper. I have seen a big 20+ inch fish gulp at a hopper. Fall fishing with a grasshopper dry-fly is a blast if the fish are biting at the top of the water.

7. Post Fishing Reward There is nothing better than getting packed up after a long cold day of fishing and heading to the nearest place to get a beer or even a nice warm hot chocolate.

Broncos, I Love you, but Sundays are for fishing. Sorry, Kylie
I Love you, but Sundays are for fishing.

8. Football Keeps the NFL Fans Away Everyone who knows me knows that I would rather be out on the river than stuck at home. I am a Broncos fan, my grandparents live in Denver, they’ve had season tickets for centuries, my Dad watches every game,…. blah blah blah….. Take me fishing instead! I’ll put it on the DVR if I really want to watch it. A lot of other people are not like me. For example my fiancé hates having to watch games after they happen because he already found out the scores. People who are die-hard NFL fans will most likely spend Sundays at home. If you do not mind the cold of fall and winter fishing, go on a Sunday.

9. Sales Sales Sales In the winter most fly fishing shops and companies do big sales, whether it is just an off-season sale or the full on Black Friday blow out, fall and winter is the best time to find great deals on fly fishing gear. Also be sure to check Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon local for guided trips that are on sale during the off-season.

10. Fall and Winter are Just Better than Summer I may just be an anti-summer, cold weather loving, type of girl, but to me it is much better to be cold than hot, and I think the fish agree. I always catch more fish in cooler weather than warm weather.

Lastly, I just wanted to let you all know that I have convinced Diego to let us do a super outdoorsy and adventurous honeymoon. We will be driving to Yellowstone for a few days and camping either in a car or in a tent and the from their drive up to Glacier National Park and stay in a cozy cabin. I am curious if any of you have camped Yellowstone and fished, and if so where is the best place to tent/car camp near great fishing in August?

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