We had agreed to meet at the Spring Chicken Inn, in Wanship, at 8 a.m. My friend, Scott Lamoreaux, wanted to show me his secret nymph – guaranteed to catch fish – and some of his favorite holes on the Weber.
It was Dec. 5th and it was freezing cold. A mist was rising from the river's surface. Ice and frost made interesting patterns along the bank and on nearby brush. "What a beautiful scene," I thought as I pulled on my waders.
My perspective changed a few minutes later. On my second cast I snagged the big, black woolly bugger I was using. As I tried to free it I found myself waist-deep in the river, trying to balance against a strong current, my fingers and nose tingling from the cold. "If my feet slip this is going to be one short fishing trip," I said to myself.
The fishing was slow. Scott caught a 13-incher but I wasn't having any luck at all. As my fingers grew numb I found myself muttering, "Why did I let Scott talk me into stream fishing in December?" I was miserable and not having a good time.
An interesting thing happened a short time later: the sun came out and it became almost warm. My outlook changed considerably as my fingers started to thaw. I found it easier to tie knots, cast and maneuver along the stream. I started having fun fishing. I still wasn't catching fish, but it was enjoyable being out.
Then a few midges appeared on the water's surface. Before long there was a full-blown hatch going on. Midges soon covered the water in some protected spots. The browns in the stream became more active – some started slurping the bugs – and our success began to improve.
The action was never fast and furious. There were a lot of bugs on the water but the fish were certainly not in any kind of feeding frenzy. A Griffiths gnat seemed to provide a good imitation of the bugs on the water but the fish didn't respond to it. I did better with the old standby haresear nymph. I also experimented with lures and found a back and gold Panther Martin to be quite effective. Scott caught several fish on a Rapala.
I had afternoon appointments and so ended the outing at noon. Looking back now, it seems the fishing improved as the day warmed. I suspect surface action would have been best in the early afternoon. If I had it to do over again I would not start at 8 a.m. I would have slept in, enjoyed a leisurely morning, and arranged it so I could be on the stream during the warmest part of the day.
The fish we caught were all browns. Most were 10-12 inchers, but we caught a couple 16 inchers. Scott has fished in the area many times and often catches bigger fish. He hooked into a 32 incher a couple years ago.
The Weber between Echo and Rockport reservoirs is a wonderful stream which generally offers good fishing for anglers who know how to target browns. The stream flows through private property but is open for fishing in most areas.
A popular starting point is the bridge right by the Spring Chicken Inn. Big browns are caught in that area every year.
We chose to drive downstream and concentrate on the area just above Echo. I did best fishing the pools and slower water, casting right into overhanging brush and working deep along cut banks.
Snow and ice will be building up along the stream now, making fishing more difficult. Whitefish will begin schooling in the deeper pools and they will attract some fishing pressure. An occasional brown will be caught by people after whitefish. But browns can also be targeted with some success through the coldest months of winter.
Conditions will begin to improve in late February and fishing success will pick up in March. Action is often very good in April and May.