Winter- not a death sentence 

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above zero…headed in the right direction

If you are like me winter can get you down a little. Its a problem for fly fisherman, for any fisherman for that matter. Winter weather is horrible and we can’t fish or don’t feel like fishing. The days are shorter and darker. There is no beautiful sunset to inspire me to stop at a small stream on my way home. So in the winter I tend to fish less,  the weather might hold me inside for a few days at a time ,and when I do get to plan a trip it is often times ruined by more weather which can be very frustrating. Not to mention if you live in a state where there is a season and you have to wait for opening day. (I am not sure how folks in those states survive for months with out fishing, it would be very hard to do)

So here are a few things that I try and do during the winter to keep sane..

1.Get everything out – Clean it, organize it and put it back.

      It sounds like work I know, but it’s like giving your fly fishing gear an oil change. I will have to admit I am horrible at this, but sometimes the act of cleaning, organizing and storing stuff can make bad weather bearable, at least it might distract you from staring out your window at the frozen tundra wondering when the next nice fishing day will be. Take your time, look at everything, clean your fly lines and your reels, wax your ferrules, clean your waders and boots, organize all your fly boxes. This could take several hours, and at the end you might have a better idea of what kind of flies you need to be tying, if you need to send a rod to be repaired, or what you need to buy on your next visit to your local fly shop.

messy boat bag

(this is my boat bag after my last trip I wonder why I can’t ever find anything!)

2. Tie some flies and when you are done tie some more.

     Can you ever have enough flies? My answer is always no, and guess what? I never have enough, so finish what you think are enough and then wrap a few dozen more of the most common patterns that you fish.

Winter provides a nice opportunity for learning to tie new patterns and inventing new twists to the ones we fish regularly. Check out the vast array of fly tying videos on You-Tube for new patterns and tweaks on old ones.(i like these guys on You Tube

Be social and  invite some folks over and have a few drinks and wrap a few bugs.. This is important unless you enjoy being a hermit.

Involve your family. Last  year my daughter began learning to ty flies at nine  years old. We make it fun, she creates what she wants, lots of feathers and eyes. She likes learning and its a nice break from tying production.

3. Do get out and fish.

it’s good for your four-legged friend to get out too!

Make the effort and go out for a while. It’s good to be out on the river just to be out! When is the best time to go? We can sit and look at weather maps, try and guess which edge of the next front to fish on, and take a good guess…..But the old adage still applies – The best time to go fishing in the winter is when you can go fishing!

Rainbow trout
A DH fish that finally I caught on the 20th cast last winter.

You might have to do a little work to go out in the winter, like digging out your truck and boat. But some times working hard to go have fun is worth it, especially if there are no crowds on the river.

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a little snow at Brown Dog HQ…

Enjoy yourselves this winter… stay warm!

Thanks for reading!


North Carolina’s Delayed Harvest, We get some mileage from our fish in the south..

Spring Stocking of North Carolina’s Delayed Harvest streams began earlier this month, we were out and about today for a quick fish and have decided to highlight a few things about Delayed Harvest streams and why they are important.

The Regulation

First of all, to those readers who do not live in North Carolina, we should probably explain the regulation. From October through the end of May, the designated streams, rivers or lakes are catch and release only, from June through the End of September the streams are catch and keep. All Streams are Stocked around the first of the following months of the year : October, November, December, March, April, and May. The list of stocking dates is published by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Here’s the link-

Why we have it….

Delayed Harvest began in the late 1990’s as a pilot program on the Watauga River Near Boone, The  North Mills River in Henderson County, and in the South Mountains State Park near Connely Springs. The objective of the pilot program was to see if the commission could enhance angler experiences by allowing fish to be caught and released numerous times throughout the year, while stable water temperatures persisted in creeks and rivers in the North Carolina Mountains and foot hills. To make a long story short – they could never produce enough trout and they need to “get some more mileage out of their fish”.   The delayed harvest program now uses twenty five lakes, rivers and streams throughout the  foothills and mountains of the state.

Why its a good thing..

Delayed harvest is a great thing on many levels. First it creates an economic benefit to those areas that are close to the regulated streams. Second ,it takes pressure off of wild populations of fish by spreading anglers out to other streams and rivers that could not support a trout population. Third, it makes each fish raised in a hatchery more valuable as it’s time in the water making fishermen happy is greatly extended. Fourth, some of the fish do actually “get smart” and stay in the river after the catch and release part of the season  as “hold overs”.

A good thing for fly fisherman????Rainbow trout

“it’s like shooting fish in a barrel baby!” I can just about hear Dick Vitale wailing those words while catching a trout on a Delayed Harvest stream. It is a lot of fun to go and catch fish when you know where they are and that they will eat just about anything.  Rivers and streams in this regulation allow you an opportunity to practice skills like setting the hook, or watching the strike indicator for subtle hits. Today I fished one hole for half  an hour, and i was able to work on my rather unimpressive and weak strip set. I caught ten fish on a yellow, blue, and brown wooly booger (my eight year old daughter is a fly designer and needs a sponsor), and set the hook while stripping on each fish. Large numbers of hungry fish allow any angler to improve with great strides in a day or a weekend spent on this type of regulation.

Delayed Harvest streams are great to guide on. I can’t even begin to fathom the numbers of people that have been brought to this sport and fell in love with it because they had access to numbers of hungry fish. These streams and rivers are also wonderful classrooms for young anglers to learn on.

This regulation also helps those of us who get “the fever”  or those never get rid of “the fever” to go catch a fish. I have seen a delayed harvest stream quell even the strongest fishing addict’s need to fish. Some years ago, I would regularly run into my truck mechanic on his lunch break, fishing for thirty minutes.. He would be in his work uniform, covered in grease,getting his lunch time fix. He later infected the parts manager at the dealership and he also became a regular DH user.

Urban spotlight-

A few weeks ago I opened my big mouth at an industry event encouraging my piers to introduce their clients to  urban fisheries.( I Mean, hey man, Kraut creek in Boone has some nice holes, you can even fish behind the Boone mall… and lets face it lots of people fish these days) Several streams in the Delayed harvest  regulation  run through town parks or green ways.  In this sense DH can be another valuable asset to county or town managers seeking grants for improvements. Fish in your back yard or down the street from where you live… how cool is that?

Be Kind – 

While using a DH stream please practice proper catch and release techniques!  Make it a challenge – fish barbless for the day!… If you see a poacher, please make a call and report them. If you see trash, pick it up!

So this week Hit your local DH stream..Call your local fly shop or Trout Unlimited chapter and volunteer to help stock in April.. What? Your state does not have DH as a regulation? Make a call! get involved with your state Wildlife Agency.

Thanks for the Read!


River lion
My Daughter, the fly designer… This one is named “The River Lion”