Cold Weather, Big Fish

Chad Johnson (right) puts a client on a solid winter brown.

Chad Johnson (right) puts a client on a solid winter brown.

Dress for success and enjoy the rest of winter with these tips from big brown expert, Chad Johnson.

Though spring is right around the corner, we’re not quite out of winter. Just because the temps might be a little bit cooler, there’s no reason you can’t go out and enjoy and indulge in some awesome trout fishing. Here, Simms Ambassador Chad Johnson of Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher answers a few questions about his cold weather kit and some of the advantages of getting out on the water (no matter your location) while most are sitting in a Lazy-Boy at home staying warm.

Simms: Your specialty is fishing tail waters, right? What is it about fishing in the winter you like the most?
Johnson: Well, first and foremost, you pretty much have the river to yourself. The colder it is the fewer people you will run across. But, you have to dress for it for sure.

Simms: What are you wearing to stay warm and dry when the temps drop?
Johnsosn: Staying warm is really all about how you layer. Here’s my setup. I go with a thin wicking shirt and pants, such as the Waderwick™ Core Crew Top and Waderwick™ Core Bottom. As a mid-layer, I go with the Axis Hoody and Guide Mid-Pant. One thing I always make sure and do is to tuck each layer into itself to make a full connection of the set. It helps keep the heat in. Once I’ve thrown on a mid-layer, I use the ProDry™ GORE-TEX@ Jacket and Bibs as a shell. Or, if you prefer, you can use your preferred pair of waders. Now, if it’s really, really cold, you might want to add one more piece to your set, The ExStream™ Jacket and Pant. These are insanely warm and will keep you in the no matter how cool it gets.

Simms: How about the fish, do you end up catching a lot of small fish or are you typically searching for the one?
Johnson: It’s been my experience that the winter is when the biggest fish in the river can be caught. You can pick up fish of all sizes for sure but again, I’ve landed some monsters on some really chilly days. In the winter here, it’s post spawn which means the big fish are on the feed.

Simms: Are you throwing nymphs, streamers or both?
Johnson: Personally, I’m throwing all streamers. Because it’s post spawn, this is when the big browns are looking for a big meal. Nymphs might work okay but I like going big and throwing big.

Simms: Do your winter time tactics differ a great deal from other times of the year?
Johnson: People have dialed in their own methods and hey, if they work for them, that’s great. For me, I find that the winter is when browns are more aggressive. Once they are done with their business (spawning), they want to eat. I feel this is the time of year where they are really looking for substantial size food. My tactics will change a bit depending on weather and water levels but by and large, I’m out there stripping streamers and waiting for the two-footer to take interest.