Fall and Winter Fishing Gear

November 13, 2009, 12:10 pm
With days getting shorter, the weather getting markedly cooler and the transition from leaf-peeping season to what we euphemistically refer to as stick season, most sportsmen and women are focusing their attention on deer and turkey season and have put their fishing gear away. But for a few of us in the know, we who believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear, November and December is a great time to go fly-fishing. Not only are the fish still biting, you’ll have entire rivers to yourself.
Ask any angler and you will almost always find some commentary about the best water temperature to find or catch the fish. Anglers agree that water temperature is one of the most important components in determining where fish will be and how they behave. Most fish are cold-blooded and cannot control their internal body warmth and therefore are strongly influenced by the surrounding environment. Trout and salmon are most active within a specific water temperature range (see chart below).
Brown Trout: 60-65°F
Lake Trout: 48-52°F
Rainbow Trout: 55-60°F
Chinook Salmon: 48-55°F
Coho Salmon: 48-55°F
Get Prepared
Because water and air temperatures are probably colder than you are accustomed to, you may need a few different pieces of gear. Wet wading is definitely out of the question. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite pieces of gear, that will not only keep you warm, but are also easy on the planet.

Redington Eco Grip Rubber Sole Boots

If you have not already replaced your felt boots, there’s no better time than now as more parks, states and wildlife management units consider banning them to help halt the spread of exotic species and unwanted organisms like European milfoil, quagga mussels and whirling disease. Redington’s new Eco Grip Rubber Sole Boots are revolutionary in the fly fishing industry, featuring tough technology that’s light on the environment. The Eco Grip features a lugged rubber outsole with channeled Tactical Rubber Technology™, designed and engineered for the U.S. Navy SEALS for extreme traction in the slipperiest of conditions. They grip rocks like good snow tires hold the road. The Redington Eco Grip boot boasts many other unique features, including high-abrasion TPU uppers for a long, scuff-resistant life; ballistic mesh between the outsole and upper to keep out pebbles and debris; mesh side panels to aid draining; and a DWR finish to mitigate absorption and ensure a great day of wading. You’ll feel comfortable in the water not just because they of they fit great, but also because you’ll know that you are helping to eliminate aquatic hitchhikers and protecting the waters that we all enjoy and love.  For more information, click here.

Simms G3 Guide Convertible Waders

The Simms G3 Guide Convertible Wader is one of the most durable convertible waders available today. Constructed of the most durable GORE-TEX Pro Shell fabric, these waders easily convert from pant to chest high wader with an innovative waist-based zip away extension system. They have many other best of breed features, including a patented front and back leg seam construction for enhanced articulation, comfort and durability; patented integrated Gravel Guards, and most importantly for cold weather fishing, 4mm, high-density Japanese neoprene stocking feet. These waders are manufactured exclusively at Simms’ headquarters in Bozeman, MT which gives designers the opportunity to test gear is some of the most impressive fishing spots known to man. Think about stopping by the next time you are in Yellowstone. For more information, click here.

Ibex Zepher Long Johns

Layering clothing, which helps regulate perspiration and temperature control, is especially important when fly fishing in colder temperatures. Water conducts heat away from an object 25 times faster than air, so even if you are wearing waders, you are far more likely to get cold. To combat heat loss, we suggest to a next-to-skin layer, preferably made of wool, which is natural, remains warm when damp and has natural anti-microbial properties that combat heat. Ibex’s Zepher Long Johns is the perfect midweight foil to the chill of winter wading. Constructed of super soft 18.5 micron Merino, the Zephyr will wick away sweat so you don’t suffer the effects of evaporative cooling and the clammy feeling of sweat on your skin. You’ll be especially grateful to have them on if you are hiking in to fish, where you’ll quickly recognize the benefits of their wicking properties.
Where To Go
Fall arrives late in southern Appalachia and the water temperature in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is ideal for trout. Just-right water temperatures, combined with the trout’s instinct to feed as much as possible before winter, equal perfect conditions to fish.
In Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone, there are more than 2,115 miles of fishable streams teeming with brook, rainbow or brown trout. Anglers relish the park's bountiful mountain streams, including Abrams Creek below Cades Cove, Big Creek near I-40 at the park's northeastern end and Little River, near Elkmont Campground in the north-central section of the park. Fontana Lake, located along the park's southern boundary, is also popular.
You’ll have the some luck this time of year using terrestrials—hoppers, ants, beetles. Blue wing olives will get some attention as will nymphs. We rely heavily on the Prince Nymph in the turbulent waters of the Smokies from November through spring. In fact, it's effective any time the water is cold or high. If you want more information, click here to find a local guide.
Fishing is permitted year-round in the park from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset. Depending on where you fish, make sure that you have a valid Tennessee or North Carolina state fishing license available at sporting goods stores in gateway communities and at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center (TN). Please note that the park allows fishing in all streams EXCEPT the following streams and their tributaries upstream from the points described:
North Carolina: Bear Creek at its junction with Forney Creek
Tennessee: Lynn Camp Prong upstream of its confluence with Thunderhead Prong

Trout and Salmon have a knack for thriving in some amazing places in the states—from the wide rivers of the Pacific Northwest to streams and brooks in the New England. Of course, if you can’t stand the cold, you can always go south. Really far south. The fishing season in Argentina runs from the beginning of November until the end of April; the exact opposite of the North American season, with our longest day of the year falling on December 21. Sporadic mayfly and caddis hatches in November intensify in December as longer days and receding waters lead to better fishing. Patagonia’s scenery will not disappoint. So don’t stow your gear quite yet… the fish are still biting.