Trout Talk

Early snow isn't a deal-breaker

I dread mornings like this every year. Sometimes it holds off for a few more weeks, or even a month or longer. But this year, winter showed up early.

As I type this, it’s snowing. And not just a little snow. We have a good 10 inches of heavy, wet snow in the yard — had it happened a week ago, we’d have gotten a much-needed soak of good, cold rain. Blue-winged Olive kind of rain. The best-fishing-of-the-year kind of rain.

But every so often, winter shows up in October. And, honestly, it goes against my better judgment to complain about it. I used to revel in the winter snow, knowing that the more we got, the less we’d have to worry come summer. The more snow, the more summer water, and the more summer water, the better the trout fishing come July and August.

But I’m older now. A fused back, tired knees, and a belly that’s much bigger than it needs to be, I’m one of those old guys who can “feel” the weather coming on. So when I woke up this morning and looked outside, I kind of already knew what to expect.

I have plans to fish the South Fork of the Snake River later this week with a buddy from Seattle. My first text to Earl this morning was, “Bring you long underwear. It’s gonna be chilly.”

But, early snow isn’t a deal-breaker. It’ll climb into the 40s later today, and by Friday, it should be sunny. The snow might be gone by then, but the big browns will be busy pairing up and getting ready to spawn. The river’s cutthroats and rainbows will gather behind redds in anticipation of the annual brown trout egg buffet, and the fishing could be incredible.

I’m lucky to have the South Fork so close. It’s a reliable tailwater, even in high summer when a lot of freestone trout streams are too warm to safely fish. And in fall, the river can be about as perfect as any river in the West. Yes, we might have to change things up a bit, but I’m betting by Friday, the BWOs will be back at it, and I’m looking forward to throwing big streamers at the river’s bruisers. The first “cold shock” of the off season will have worn off and the fish should be back in feeding lanes and busy putting on weight for when winter really does arrive in a few more weeks.

That’s about as optimistic as I get about winter these days. I know a lot of folks love the cold and the snow and all the trappings that winter brings with it — the holidays, skiing, snowmobile rides, soup nights and such. Winter’s not my thing anymore, so I have to dig through the powder to find something appreciable.

So when winter shows up early, I cheer a little harder for fall to keep it going. Just a little longer. Please.

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