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With Wildhorse iced over and South Fork not far behind, many anglers are getting ready to put their fishing gear away for the winter. A couple of weeks ago we discussed winterizing your boat, which many boaters know to do, but winterizing fishing gear is also important. This week we will discuss fly fishing gear. Next week will be spinning gear.

Waders first. Thoroughly clean and dry them before storage. Many breathable waders may be cleaned by hand washing or on the delicate cycle of a washing machine with cool water. Do NOT dry them in a clothes dryer. If you have Goretex waders, add a water repellent treatment to them to help rejuvenate the water resistant finish and then dry using a hair drier to set the repellent.

For non-Gortex waders, hang them inside out to dry and then right side out. To store them for the winter, hang them by the suspenders in a cool, dry place out of the sun. If you don’t have a place to hang them, don’t fold them. Roll them up to avoid creases. This will help prevent weak spots developing on the crease which will lead to leaky waders.

For wading boots and sandals, remove any laces, wash and dry thoroughly and store them next to your waders. Add new laces if the old ones are worn. If you have felt bottoms that are becoming detached, use a waterproof glue to re-attach the old ones or add new ones.

Take the reel off of your rod, take the line off of your reel and clean both the reel and line. For the reel, set the drag to its lowest setting, take the spool off and remove any dry material with a brush or compressed air. Wash with a mild detergent, dry and reapply lube to the manufacturer’s specifications. Wipe excess lube off and store the reel in a neoprene reel case in a cool dry place.

Hand stretch the line to remove memory, and soak it in a mild detergent that doesn’t contain any grease-cutting compounds. Rinse it off and dry it by pulling through a towel. For floating lines, apply a light application of fly line dressing. Coil loosely and store in a cool, dry place.

Take your rod apart and put a light coating of paraffin on the ferrules. Carefully wash the rod with a mild detergent, dry thoroughly and apply furniture polish to the rod for protection. Check the ferrules for sharp edges and have them replaced if found. Use a liquid household cleanser to clean the cork handle, rinse and dry thoroughly before storage. To help keep the handle clean in the future, apply cork sealer.

Open all of your fly boxes and make sure that none of the flies have rusted. Sharpen hooks and lightly lubricate any metal hinges. Make sure everything is dry and store in a cool, dry place.

This is also a great time to completely empty your fishing vest or pack and remove all the extra junk that you may have put in it during the fishing season. You would be surprised at what you have forgotten what you have put in a pocket. Re-organize the gear into appropriate pockets and make a list of what you may need to replace (great list for Christmas gifts). It is recommended that all tippet and leaders be replaced annually.

Once spring comes all you have to do is put your line back on your reel, your reel back on your rod and you are ready to go fishing.


Wildhorse is covered with unsafe ice, so open water fishing is done for the year here. As of Thursday there was approximately 2 inches of ice at the boat ramp. Not safe! Generally Wildhorse isn’t safe before Christmas. The good news is that fishing through the ice should be very productive later this winter when it is safe.


Surface water temperatures are in the 30s and there is ice in the coves in the morning. As of Thursday, the lake was mostly ice free. With the cold nighttime temperatures and daytime highs around freezing and below the open water won’t last long. Generally this lake is a couple of weeks behind Wildhorse for freezing. Trout fishing has finally picked up over the last week with several anglers reporting good luck at the north end of the lake by the dam. They are full of snails and brown wooly buggers seem to be the ticket.


Jiggs is covered with unsafe ice. NDOW will be operating an aerator to try to keep the lake from winterkill so the ice will be unsafe all winter. No report until ice off next spring.


No recent report on Wilson, but expect fishing for trout to be fair to good though with last week’s weather expect bad roads that are 4WD only. Wilson follows South Fork in both fishing and ice conditions so expect some ice here as well. If you do make it here trout should be hitting hares ears, PT nymphs, red copper Johns, red brassies and chironomid patterns. Black or olive wooly and crystal buggers fished on an intermediate or full sinking line should also work. Bait anglers should have some luck with garlic PowerEggs or worms for trout.


Bass fishing is done here and much of the south marsh and units are covered in ice. Even the collection ditch and units have some ice, though you can find open water where the springs are. Fishing continues to be fair to good at the collection ditch for 12 to 16 inch trout. Small spinners and minnow imitations were producing some fish for spin fishermen, but fly rodders were doing better. Blue winged Olives, ants, beetles, and Griffith’s gnats, are all good choices for dry flies. However, wet flies will probably outperform the dries right now. These include the usual small nymphs such as PT’s, hares ears, red or blue copper Johns and prince nymphs. Wooly and crystal buggers in black, purple or olive are also working. In the crystal clear water of the collection ditch, if you can see the fish, they can see you. Go low, slow and wear drab clothing. Last week the USFWS was removing some vegetation so the area by the pit toilet on the Brown Dike was closed to the public. You may want to call ahead before you go.


Mostly covered with unsafe ice.

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No recent report but with the colder temperatures expect this lake to freeze over soon if it hasn’t already done so.


Barrick has completed the work on the dam, making some major improvements and last weekend Barrick employees and community volunteers worked with Barrick and NDOW to install fish habitat structures in the bottom of the lake while it is empty. All we need now is a good winter to help fill it and stocking may begin next spring and summer.


The road to Angel Lake is now closed and there will be no fishing report here until late spring or early summer depending upon how the winter snows are.


High mountain lakes should all be frozen over and there won’t be a fishing report here until late next spring or early summer depending upon the winter.


With the cold nights and snow, expect to find very slippery conditions along the shorelines so take care when walking the streams.

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