By Allison Taylor
We are fortunate in the Southern Appalachians to have four full seasons for fly fishing. Even winter can produce some great fishing opportunities. January and February in Western North Carolina generally bring the coldest temperatures of the winter season, but those willing to brave the cold can enjoy the solitude of having entire stretches of streams to themselves. Just like any other season, being prepared for a day on the water is key to enjoying outdoor time during winter.
A favorite saying from an outdoor instructor in my youth was, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” While there are certainly weather conditions that are more challenging for outdoor enjoyment, this saying highlights the importance of dressing appropriately. Proper layering from head to toe can extend time on the river and increase the comfort level significantly.
Ryan Waldrep is the outfitter manager and guide with DB bar D Outfitters based in Mills River. Waldrep was raised hunting and fly fishing, and spends times hosting fishing trips locally as well as in destinations such as Alaska. “Warm, wool socks paired with toe warmers inside of your waders can keep your feet functioning in cold water,” says Waldrep. Most fly fishing clothing companies offer insulated wading pants. Adding insulated pants under waders can also make a big difference. Upper-body layering should include a thin base layer, one or two additional layers, and then be topped off by a windproof and waterproof wading jacket to help trap heat and increase the body’s core temperature. A pair of fingerless wool gloves can help with keeping hands warm while still offering dexterity. Just be sure to remove them before handling fish to prevent damaging their protective slime layer. “Last but not least,” Waldrep adds, “remember to include a warm beanie or toboggan for your head.”
Staying hydrated is still important in cold weather, and a thermos of hot beverages will provide hydration while adding to core warmth. Keeping extra layers and a change of clothes in the car is also recommended for any “just-in-case” circumstances. Since colder weather conditions can be more dangerous in an emergency, it’s also recommended, when fishing alone, to have someone who knows where you’ll be and when you expect to return.
With proper planning and preparedness, winter fly fishing is an excellent opportunity for enjoying the solitude of less crowded water. For those interested in learning more about fly fishing through expert instruction, DB bar D Outfitters offers guided trips on private waters. There are full- and half-day options, with packages available.
For more information or to contact DB bar D Outfitters, visit DBbarD.com.