Angling Column: Secrets of fishing in winter are finally revealed!

David Johnson, of Peaks Fly Fishing
David Johnson, of Peaks Fly Fishing

David Johnson brings us his latest angling column, with a festive theme at the heart of it.

As the thrust of the winter imposes itself on the mellow autumn scene outside, the natural larder of insects and flies that our trout and grayling have been banqueting on will start to decrease.

Look at any hatch chart and you will notice a sharp decline in the availability of winter food, so it is worth having a look in a little more detail at the food that is available.

If you walk down the garden on a cold winter’s day, even with a biting frost or snow on the ground you may see a column of midges hovering in a shaft of sunlight.

The midge becomes an important food for fish over the winter as it is one of the few flies that will be present in its larvae, pupa and adult stages all year round.

On still waters the rainbow trout will slowly work the bottom layers of water feeding on the larvae (blood worm) and the pupa (buzzers) as they slowly try to ascend through the water.

Anglers associate buzzers with summer fishing when midge numbers peak, however I have found they are effective as a winter fly fished slow and deep. This is especially true in cold water when the metabolism of the fish has slowed.

Over the years I have found the secret to winter fishing is to pick your days, watch the weather, have plenty of warm clothing and hope for a still, crisp winter day.

David Johnson teaches fly fishing in and around the Peak District.

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