Part of me likes catching the same old fish in the same old spots. I think it is because I have a baseline for comparison that comes from years of catching the same old fish in the same old spots. Patterns develop over time and its fun to see if the fish respond differently or if they are predictable. Since I’ve invested a lot of time over the years I easily recognize changes that come from the harsh winter. Some areas are washed out while other areas are filled up. When I see that big old brown in the middle of the run near the Fireplace Pool I breathe a sign of relief. Catching the same old fish in the same old spots is as familiar as wearing a pair of jeans or broken in boots. It’s comfortable.
But, curiosity can kill the cat. While I take comfort in my old haunts there is a part of me that wants to know what’s on the other side. I want to know about other types of fish to catch and new places in which to catch them. During these times I think back on a trip to the Housatonic River in Connecticut some 30-years ago.
It was in the summer time, right when the White Fly hatch was predicted to be thick. Typically in warm water and air temperatures, the hatch will come off after the sun sets, and the trout will put on the proverbial feedbag. I went out in the late afternoon to get into position and do some pre-hatch nymphing. The sun was setting, it was bright and hot, and on my third cast my line went tight.
A lot of line whizzed out through my guides and I knew it was a good fish. I couldn’t figure out why a big trout would be active in these kinds of conditions. To my surprise it wasn’t a trout at all, it was a big, river smallmouth bass. I spent the next few hours catching ‘em, and when the trout began to rise I was already tired from catching so many others.
The winter is a good time to seek out new species. Some of them may be in new areas, while others may be in the same place. Maybe there are pike, bass, and pickerel down river from your favorite trout spot. Maybe there is better holding water upriver from where you typically go. A topographical map or a nautical chart may reveal a pond that you never knew existed. When the weather warms up you can go. And in the end, what’s better than that?