Can you catch trout when it is snowing?
Yes, if the water temperature is above 6c or 44f then trout will still readily feed even if it is snowing.
Sitting at home on my computer the first snow flurry of the winter is falling outside.Well, at this time of year it is more a wet sleet but nevertheless it got me thinking. Is it worth going trout fishing when it is snowing.
Thinking back to previous winters, I have had some memorable days despite snow falling around me. I can remember, late one Summer when I was camping at a high altitude lake. Up there the weather changes rapidly and snow can fall even during the summer months. I was woken from my sleep, to a thin blanket of snow with an occasional flurry of snow still falling.
I shook the ice and snow off my fly rod, and forced my feet into my boots which partly froze overnight and made my way to the lake edge. It was postcard perfect, and I had the entire place to myself. I looked out across the shallow flats at the head of the lake, quite expectantly there was no hatches. The air was still bitterly cold, but below the mirror like surface I quickly spotted a small brown trout slowly swimming its beat. I sat, and just watched and more trout started to appear. A few yards behind the small one a large brown trout was following, and several more were resting close to the bottom. The trout were still active and patrolling their beat. From past experience I know these trout will swim exactly the same route for hours on end.
The night before I was fishing dries, a combination of mayfly and caddies imitation. With next to no insect activity, I saw little reason to fish the surface. On previous trips to the lake, I have caught trout on suspended nymphs and even a few on spinners. Due to the lake surface resembling a mirror, I thought fishing a streamer will cause too much disturbance. So with cold fingers, I tied on a #16 pheasant tail dropper, about a foot below my dry and waited until the large brown and its smaller companion were cruising away from me and cast it out over their beat. Now, I just had to wait for them to return.
Time slowed, and for a moment I lost sight of both trout. Did a spook them. No, I just need to have patience. I waited, and sure enough the smaller of the two cruising trout swam directly towards my flies. It rose slightly, in the direction of my dry then swam on without even a flick of its jaws. Just then the larger of the two appear and I saw a white flush of its jaws. It was in the right area, so I paused then striked and felt weight on my fly rod. With snow flakes drifting around me the fight was on.
What are the best lures and flies to use when it is snowing?
Unless I can see trout raising I nearly always fish beneath the surface, when it is cold enough to be snowing there is usually very little surface activity.
I nearly always take the temperature of the water into consideration. Is it an early autumn snow flurry when the water temperatures are still over 50f, or is it the middle of winter and the water is close to freezing.
If the water is still relatively warm, I will continue to use the same flies and lures which brought me success earlier in the year.
If the water is close to freezing, I usually prefer to fish a midge imitation. In cold winter conditions the mayflies and caddies are not overly active so trout largely feed upon midges and maybe a few snails. There are dozens, if not hundreds of midge imitations on the market, but a few examples worth trying are the zebra midge, tun teaser, hares ear or even a #20 universal fly such as the pheasant tail.
I might still fish a dry, but mostly as an indicator but I been pleasantly surprised by raising trout before.
If I do decide to fish a streamer, or even get my spinning tackle out. I fish small, quiet and mostly importantly slow. When the water is a bit chilly, the trout are less active and the last thing I want to do is spook them by blasting some giant abomination pass their face. My go to streamers are nothing fancy just a #8-#10 woolly bugger or bunny fly. If spinning, I like to go for a jointed or floating Rapala and retrieve it ever so slowly.
Snow vs rain. What is the best to fish in?
When winter fishing, I much rather be cold, rather than cold and wet. So I much rather be fishing in dry snow than a wet rain.
Now, personal comfort aside. Trout are a bit different. Trout love being wet and they probably do prefer to feed when it rains. Because rain means increase river levels, which usually means more food is available for them to eat.
The atmospheric pressure drop before, and even during a rain event can see the trout enter a sort of feeding frenzy. This is less likely to happen before a snow event, simply because the water is usually cold and the trout metabolism have already slowed down. So, do not expect a feeding frenzy before a snow storm.
There is one exception, which I feel I must highlight. Trout can feed hard during the snow melt in the spring. They really start to gorge themselves… Although, even that feeding frenzy slows down during the peak of the thaw as the water temperature starts to drop.