Short casts: Turnpike trout, Tampa fly fishing, braving winter

The Henry’s Fork in eastern Idaho.

Local TU members in Chester County, Penn., won a small court victory recently in their effort to protect Valley and Trou

t creeks from highway stormwater runoff pollution when a judge ruled that public meeting requirements weren’t met when county and township officials crafted a stormwater discharge plan for a turnpike improvement project. Valley Creek, which runs through Valley Forge National Park, is listed in Pennsylvania as an “exceptional value watershed,” while Trout Creek is already deemed an “impaired waterway.” Both hold trout and both are important to regional water quality. It’s nice to see the Valley Forge Chapter pushing forward on efforts to protect their home waters by simply working to ensure development doesn’t come with a downside for wild trout in the area. Keep up the great work.

Meanwhile, in most of our nation’s “trout country,” it’s officially winter. Here in Idaho, we’re under a blanket of snow, with more expected throughout the week. It’s very … Christmasy. But it’s not very fly fishy. Every year about this time, I turn my attention south, to warmer climes, and just start dreaming. I’ve been known to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s tying things like Clousers and Shminnows and bonefish flies. Down south, where the water gets salty and the “polar vortex” is something those crazy Yankees have to deal with, fly fishing might be the best it is all year. Walt Durkin of the Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club points out that the best time to be fly fishing for speckled trout and redfish in southwest Florida … is right about now.

Anybody else combing those discount airline sites looking for deals? Let me know if you find one!

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That’s not to say that you can’t fly fish for trout in the dead of winter (although, by my ever-aging barometer, -17 is just too darn cold). My friend Spencer Durrant offers up a list of the best trout water on Utah’s Wasatch Front. If you’re planning a ski trip this winter, you might want to slip a 5-weight into the luggage. You know, just in case in warms up a bit.

And there is one thing I like about winter fly fishing. Trout and, where I live, whitefish, are late risers during the winter months. On a sunny day in December or January, midges will start hatching after the sun’s had a chance to hit the water for a bit. Where I live, I’m lucky enough to get to the Henry’s Fork in the winter months, when the midge hatch starts in earnest around 2 p.m. That means I get to sleep in a bit, enjoy some coffee and decide if I’m really “too old for this crap” before I don the waders and hit the river. And, when I decide I’m not too old, I like to listen to the advice of guys like Jon Kleis. Bundle up. Stay safe. And take care of the fish, too.

—Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.