The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has seven tips for catching more trout during the winter months, including where anglers should focus on lower elevation lakes that do not freeze and rivers that are open year-round in Central Oregon (Deschutes, Crooked, Fall, Metolius Rivers).
1. Go small and light: ODFW suggests downsizing flies to better mimic the size of flies (midges) which are more common during the winter, as well as lightening the tippets (a section of fishing line) used to allow for the smaller flies to move more naturally — thus avoiding spooking fish in the shallow waters.
2. Hope for dry fly action but plan to nymph: To help keep fly bait near the bottom of the river, ODFW suggests a double-nymph rig with a smaller midge pattern on top and a weighted stonefly below.
3. Look for trout in slower waters: Back eddies, off-channel areas and inside of current seams are the best places to catch winter trout due to the fish trying to conserve energy during the winter.
4. Cover the water thoroughly: Trout will not move far to catch a fly, ODFW says, covering the water will increase the chances of catching a fish.
5. Sleep in: ODFW sees no reason to be on the water at daylight to catch trout, but rather during the warmest parts of the day.
6. Follow safety precautions: Travel safely, consider using wading staff and beware of the dangers of hypothermia.
7. Adjust expectation: Winter fishing is not about watching a lot of trout, ODFW suggests learning to appreciate catching as many as two fish during a winter trip. Rather, focus on enjoying the solitude of being outdoors while honing your fishing skills.