Snow Melt & Winter Fly Fishing


Fly fishing in the winter for me is a must. Its the harshest time of year to catch trout but also the most rewarding. The Deerfield River in western Massachusetts holds big brown trout that can be a handful in the winter. Its all or nothing when fishing for these brutes – Sometimes you catch one and sometimes you don’t catch a thing.

Here are some of my tips for catching fish in the winter:

Snow melt. Its easy to overlook this when you’re daydreaming of catching fish after fish on a warm winter day. It might be 45 degrees on a good day in March but the water temperature might be freezing from the thaw. Fish stop eating when there’s a lot of run off or melt that seeps into the river. They become lethargic and disinterested in just about anything you could offer.

Know where to fish. Do your homework before the snow sets in and know where the most fish hold up. Trout tend to stick together in these cold months and the same area can be fished over and over. Try not to disturb the water and continue to fish in the same location.

They’re deep. Use a weighted fly and fish slow. The best results are using  a dead drift. This is critical because trout won’t chase a fly in really cold water. They are trying to conserve the most amount of energy possible.

Rises? Occasionally trout will rise during the winter, almost always to small midges or olive mayflies. A small midge emerger or a tiny olive mayfly emerger will be the only dries you’ll need to carry.

You caught one! Bring in the fish relatively quickly and get it into your net ASAP. There’s no time for “over-playing” the fish. Wow you landed a beautiful trout in the winter. Now get it back in the water as fast as possible. Its important to keep the fish as active as possible and sending it on its way with enough energy.

Fish Tailwaters! To avoid snowmelt, tailwaters provide some of the best winter fly fishing. The water temperature is fairly consistent and the fish tend to be more active.

There are windows in the winter months that offer some amazing fly fishing. Mostly when there is consistency in the weather and temperatures stay in the 30-38 degree range. Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you won’t have a productive day. Its all about consistency.


Pheasant Tail Nymph. Size 18 and 20 – It is a great fly that produces fish almost every time I go.

BH Hares Ear Flashback Nymph. size 14-16 – a killer fly 12 months out of the year.

San Juan Worm. size 12 – colorful, effective and goofy. Covers all the bases.

CH Marabou Muddler White. size 6 – This is my go to streamer for big browns who will go the extra mile. Hold on.

Before the influx of rain hit and melted almost all the snow – I had a solid day of catching some winter browns on the Deerfield. One reaching the 20” mark. I’m beginning to gaze forward into spring and started booking some guiding dates. Email me at if you want a day with me on the Westfield or Deerfield River.



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From The River: Opening Reception

Blue Rock Opening Reception Poster

Are you in Western Massachusetts? Come out and see my new work at the Blue Rock restaurant in Shelburne Falls! I’ve taken objects from the Deerfield River such as driftwood, feathers, leaves, fly fishing line, nets and hand tied flies and used them to create one of a kind images inspired by my experiences. Delicious libations from the infamous Blue Rock a must-have to compliment the evening…Its gonna be a hoot!

If you want to stay for dinner, reservations are strongly encouraged…

PS: I will be there to talk about all things fly fishing, my guided trips this spring and anything els with beer in hand. Hope to see you there!

Snow & Silence


When fishing in the snow there’s a stillness that settles in. It moves in fast as the snow hits the banks, it quiets my head. There are moments when I fish in the winter when time seems to slow down as I continue downstream. The only sound that’s present is the water moving around my waders. Echoes in the distance bounce off the forest. I am once again reminded that I’m just a guest in these woods and catching fish becomes secondary.


Only you and the river.



Off The Beaten Path

This mild winter has produced some phenomenal winter fly fishing here in western Massachusetts. Temperatures in the 40’s and mid 50’s are enticing for both the fisherman and the fish. I’ve spent most of my time on the Swift river during this moderate weather. Knowing the Swift to be a popular destination for many (even in the winter months) I found myself exploring a stretch of water that I’ve never fished before. I wanted to get past the crowds and experience something new. Oh and I was after brook trout. The Swift is a prime spot for these all American fish. From September through December its not uncommon to catch 20+ brookies in one outing. I also happen to think that brook trout are the most beautiful. Needless to say, I love brook trout.

Now anyone who has recently fished the Swift knows that above and below the Rt 9 bridge has little to no brook trout kicking around. Even by the fallen trees and enticing debris by the outer perimeter of the river its rare that you will hook up with one in the winter months. As I pushed father and farther downstream I found a run where the brook trout are still able and willing to take down a fly. Warm stretches like this are great because the fish come out of their winter slump. They are more active and feed more often. These brookies where after anything that drifted their way. What a time. I must have caught 16 or so in this one honey hole.

Sometimes the best fishing happens when you try something new. What a winter!