Slow & Low for Winter-Chilled Trout

Trout are cold-water creatures by nature, but a major cold snap in the South might alter their feeding habits.

Ice extending from both banks of a South Carolina river suggested far colder temperatures than normal. Trout are cold natured, so a big chill usually doesn’t shut them down. It can alter their behavior, though.

After crunching through the ice, Bruce Stanton and I began by casting Rebel Tracdown Minnows and Teeny Wee Crawfish. When we found fish, which were visible in the very clear water, we could see that they would turn toward our plugs and sometimes make swipes, but wouldn’t quite commit.

Varying presentations didn’t do the job, so we switched gears, turning to Lindy Fuzz-E Grubs and Watsit Jigs. The jigs drew notably more interest, and it wasn’t long before Stanton was sliding his net beneath a pretty brown trout.

The trout proved willing to bite, but the hard baits seemingly moved too decisively or stayed too high in the water column. Even our jigs got rejected when we drifted them high or added significant action, and once the fish had seen them a few times, we would have to move along.

We also noticed the trout to be holding in very specific locations. They were in deep runs with light current, holding beneath the edge of the ice. That’s a pattern I hope not to repeat, but recognizing it allowed us to bypass unproductive water and target casts, which is extra important any time conditions turn the fish extra fussy.

p>If South Carolina and trout streams don’t seem like they should go together in your mind, by the way, you probably haven’t discovered Upcountry South Carolina.

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