Winter bugs? Yep.

Hatches of any kind are reason to celebrate, though some are clearly the big stars of most river systems. The obvious star of Rock Creek in western Montana is the big orange and black helicopters known as pteronarcys california, but that doesn’t mean their little winter cousins capnia should be overlooked. Winter hatches are about small sizes and sturdy bugs.

Hatching in winter has it’s benefits: low predatory rate, mating in the snow is super sweet and not at all weird, and most importantly: you can straight run antifreeze through your veins.
That might be putting it too simply for the entomologists, but it comes down to the same thing: winter bugs are very cool, very strange, and very much part of every fish’s diet.
As the river salt saying goes, “Same fish that eat in the summer gotta eat in the winter.”

A little stroll along the river in the winter can do wonders for your understanding of the trout streams you fish in the summer.

You think winter is hard for a single human dude?
These tiny stoneflies have to knock their man parts against the snow to attract a mate.
When was the last time you banged your junk off of an icicle to get laid?

No matter the river system, midges live there. A great way to find winter midges is to visit your local river right after a snow, which makes these tiny bugs a little more visible against a pristine white background. It can’t be stressed enough: big fish still eat small bugs. Season in, season out: midges are on the menu.

Winter doesn’t stop midges from hatching, or fish from eating.
This bug and a size 18 palomino midge would make a real swell couple come prom season.

Even if you can’t get a line in the water, there is plenty to enjoy on the river in winter. Do yourself a favor and get outside, keep an eye out for the little stuff, and get ready for the big hatches to come.

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