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Tips for Fly Fishing During the Alaska Winter

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There are many forms of fishing that can be enjoyed virtually year-round, and fly fishing is a good examples. While certain forms of fly fishing aren't realistic in winter due to frozen lakes or streams, there are many locations and settings where fly fishing can continue during these months, including in Alaska.

At Pybus Point Lodge, we're proud to offer the very best fishing lodge and amenities in the state, offering both boat-guided fishing tours and access to beautiful streamwater fishing options. If you're looking to take part in fly fishing at any point this winter, whether on one of our programs or in any other setting, what are some important cold-weather tips to keep in mind? Here's a primer.

Know What to Expect

First and foremost, you must enter any winter fly-fishing situation knowing that it will be different from other seasons of the year. You'll be in the coldest water possible, and will be looking mostly for non-aggressive fish that are slow and sluggish. Many fish go into a hibernation-like state during the winter, where they're less active, even in rivers that remain open to fishing from ice shelves or frozen waterways. This means that you'll need to adjust your tackle accordingly, using small flies and light lines that won't disturb their sense of quietude.

Our next few sections will go over specific tips to look into.

Fish With a Partner

Fly fishing during winter isn't outright dangerous, per se, but it does present a few more safety risks than in warm-weather and spring conditions. One of the most important safety tips we offer for fishing during winter is that you always want to do so with a partner, especially if you're going out onto ice or open waterways where there's potential danger.

For instance, consider situations where you might be fishing from a small vessel on an open, frozen section of river. Just as with icefishing or hunting, you want to make sure that someone at home knows where you're going and when you plan on coming back – not just so they can reach you if necessary, but so they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

If you're planning to go fly fishing during winter, always have a plan in place that includes having someone at home know where you are and what you'll be up to.

Proper Wading Apparel

If you're fly fishing using the wading technique that involves moving from spot to spot along a river or stream, you'll need to make sure that you have the right wading boots and apparel. In normal seasons of fly fishing, waders are used to keep your feet out of cold water.

In winter, however, what you need is icy-water waders that will stop the water from seeping to your feet. These are generally made of neoprene, which provides excellent insulation against the cold while also keeping you dry. Wading boots should be similarly insulated to maximize warmth, and adding an extra pair of socks can help with this task.

Pro Tip: Be careful not to get your waders too tight, especially when wearing additional layers of socks. Remember that you'll be on the move during winter wading, so it's important to buy waders that provide maximum mobility while also making sure they don't leave too much room for heat loss.

Retrieve Streamer Flies Slowly

To avoid any risks of them being caught on icy patches or the ice itself, you'll want to retrieve streamer flies as slowly as possible. When water temperatures are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius), fish aren't able to digest food quickly, and will be lethargic at best when it comes to striking your fly.

You should always keep in mind the need to take extra care with your flies and the way you cast, especially when winter fishing. While it may be tempting to use quick retrieves and aggressive casting styles during other seasons of fly fishing, remember that angling in winter is about slow and deliberate movements as much as anything else.

No Need for Early Start

One actual benefit of fly fishing in the winter compared to most other seasons of the year: You don't typically need to get up early to maximize your time on the water. Early start times are best for hot summer days, when you may need several hours of strong sunlight in order to warm waters and be able to fish effectively.

In winter, however, this isn't as much of a priority. Mid-day and afternoon fishing is just as effective as earlier start times, and you'll actually be able to enjoy the conditions with some extra morning time at home.

Bracing Your Longer Rod

Finally, when you're fly fishing in Alaska during winter you should always keep in mind that a longer rod is best for most situations. Remember that your long rod will be subject to increased bracing pressure when it's snowing, windy or the water is partially frozen.

To compensate for this increased pressure, make sure to use a rod with a longer handle that can give you greater bracing power in difficult conditions. It will take some adjustment if you're not used to fishing this way, but soon enough winter fly fishing will be easier than ever before.

After You Return Home

The last thing you should do after coming back home from a day of winter fly fishing is to give yourself and your gear time to dry out. While you may appreciate the warmth and relaxation of being indoors, it's important that your waders, boots, clothes and other belongings are able to dry fully.

If you don't have time to fully dry out, the moisture could lead to unwanted odors and other unpleasant smells.

For more on winter fly fishing in Alaska or any other location, or to learn about any of our fishing trips or wildlife adventures, speak to the staff at Pybus Point Lodge today.

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Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery. I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.


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