Winter finally arrived this week and the stormy weather should remind outdoor enthusiasts that care should be taken when heading out to enjoy the great outdoors. Not only should the appropriate survival gear be taken, like chains, shovels, water and food, but anglers should also understand the danger of hypothermia and how to prevent and detect it.
Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature falls below 95 degrees, only three degrees below normal. If the body continues to cool, blood is withdrawn from the extremities to the core to keep the vital organs and brain alive. Wet, cool conditions are generally the cause of hypothermia.
Staying dry and dressing in layers with clothing appropriate for the weather is the best way to prevent hypothermia. Some synthetics such as polypropolene as a base layer can wick moisture away from the body keeping the skin dry.
Soft, fine wools, such as merino wool, also make good base layers as they retain heat even when wet. Modern techniques combined with the merino wool make this base layer soft and supple, not scratchy like the wool of our grandfathers.
Outer layers of wool, over either the synthetics or natural wool base layer, help hold heat in even if wet. Avoid cotton clothing at all costs, including cotton long underwear, which hold water but provide no heat when wet. The body loses heat 24 times faster than normal when wet. An uncovered head loses 40 percent of the body’s heat, so make sure to wear a hat.
The first, and often the only symptoms a person suffering from hypothermia will recognize are shivering, numb hands and lack of dexterity. Even then these symptoms are often denied and ignored, so never enjoy the outdoors alone as it is easier to spot hypothermia in others than yourself.
After that, blue lips and fingernails, along with violent shivering, loss of muscular control and most importantly the ability to make rational decisions are symptoms that the victim has become moderately to severely hypothermic.
It is important to get the person warmed up as quickly as possible by getting them into dry clothes, in a sleeping bag or blanket, or using skin to skin contact with another person. Warm, sweet drinks provide heat to the core and may help release blood back out to the extremities.
Get them out of the wind and if possible into some form of shelter. Shelter can be anything from a sleeping bag, tent or even better, a vehicle with the heater on.
Since anglers are inherently on or near the water, great care must be taken to stay dry. By following a few simple rules like staying dry, never fishing alone, wearing appropriate clothing in layers and avoiding alcohol or other drugs, you can enjoy the outdoors, even when conditions deteriorate.
The wind this week blew apart the ice that had been forming in the arms and the coves and as of Wednesday the lake was ice-free. Once the wind dies down expect ice to start to form very quickly with overnight lows ranging from single digits to teens and daytime highs hovering around freezing. The boat dock is out of the water, so boaters will need to beach their boats to load people and gear. Up to now, fishing for trout has been good, while fishing for bass is poor. For fly rodders black balanced leeches with some blue or red flash have been productive. Of course, the standby wooly buggers, leech patterns, hares ears, prince nymphs and copper Johns should all work as well. Chartreuse PowerBait, perch colored minnow imitations and black or dark green spinners with gold or yellow spots should be tried by spin fishermen. Fishing in the stream below the dam is has also been good especially in the pool directly below it. The campground is open and on a first come first served basis.
SOUTH FORK RESERVOIR
As of November 27, the lake was ice-free with surface water temperatures at the main boat ramp a balmy 40 degrees. Generally, this lake is a week or two behind Wildhorse so may have open water for fishing for another week or two. Trout fishing has finally gotten good here with a number of angler reporting limits of three to five-pound trout! Anglers at Coyote Cove were catching trout averaging 14 to 18 inches using worms or PowerBait. Fly rodders from float tubes have done well with sparsely tied leech patterns along the weed beds at the south end of the lake and anywhere there is a ledge dropping off into deeper water. Fishing is fair to good from the main boat ramp cove up to the dam. Black leeches have worked at the south end and chironomids were working at the main boat ramp cove. Other flies to try include black, brown or wine colored wooly buggers and leaches, hares ears, prince nymphs, Carrie specials, balanced leeches and copper Johns. For spin anglers dark spinners with gold or yellow contrast colors and minnow imitating lures should all work. Bait fishermen should use very small worms on a small hook or PowerBait rolled into a bell shape and floated off of the bottom using a slip sinker. Bass fishing has slowed considerably and is probably done for the year.
As of Tuesday, November 27, the lake was about 50% ice-covered with poor shore access for fishing. With the colder predicted temperatures expect the lake to freeze over this weekend and with an aerator running to help prevent a winter fish kill, any ice here this winter should be considered unsafe.
No recent fishing report from Wilson. Generally, the same presentations, flies, baits and lures as used at South Fork or Wildhorse, should also work well here. Shore anglers should be seeing success for trout with the colder water temperatures. With this week’s precipitation, expect 4WD conditions to get to Wilson Sink Reservoir.
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RUBY LAKE NWR
Water levels in the collection ditch are low and clear and fishing for trout is fair to good depending upon the day. Windy or cloudy days seem to be the best. Anglers would do well to target areas where springs flow into the ditch or around culverts that create some flow between the ditch and the units. Very small dark flies fished dry or just under the surface have worked as have streamers and spinners. Anglers should also plan to use the usual small nymphs such as PTs, hares ears, olive soft hackles, red or blue copper Johns and prince nymphs in sizes from 14 to 18. Wooly and crystal buggers in black, purple or olive are also working.
JAKES CREEK/BOIES RESERVOIR
No recent report but expect some ice here as well with shore access to open water poor. Expect the lake to freeze over with unsafe ice over the next week. As a general rule, any ice here should not be considered safe until after January 1st.
COLD CREEK RESERVOIR
Like other area waters ice will be forming here over the next week, though with the creek flowing in, some open water should be available at the south end of the lake for a while. The usual worms, PowerBait, small spinners and flies should all work. Trout are also hitting small midge dries and emergers. Expect the lake to freeze over sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Due to work that needs to be done on the dam, the water level will be dropping over the next few weeks. During construction, Cave Lake State Park will remain open to the public, and visitors can continue to enjoy kayaking, fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities. The lake will remain easy to access, and the health of area fish and wildlife will not be impacted. The fish will occupy a smaller area within the lake, potentially improving catch rates. The boat dock, however, will be closed for the duration of the project. Expect the shorelines to be muddy as the lake recedes leaving the old saturated bottom behind. Fishing has been fair to good, but the lake is starting to ice up.
Trout fishing has been fair to good. Much of the middle and south end of the lake had been covered in unsafe ice though with the warmer temps and the winds, it did break some of the ice up. The north end of the lake has been open water for fishing, though there is ice in most areas where there are tules and cattails. With the forecast calling for much colder weather, Comins lake should start freezing over this weekend with unsafe ice. If you can find open water, expect trout fishing to be good. For trout, anglers should try Panther Martins, spoons, PowerBait, salmon eggs, and night crawlers. Fly fisherman should use wooly buggers, leech patterns, and nymphs patterns (midges, beaded pheasant tails … etc.). It is also the time to use chironomid patterns under an indicator.
Trout fishing has picked up with anglers doing well near the inlet of the lake for both browns and rainbows. The south end of the lake has been icing up and will probably freeze over with unsafe ice this week.
WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR
The lake level has dropped over the past few weeks and fishing is slow. There was a problem with one of the outflow valves being stuck open, but it is fixed now. This lake is freezing over as well.
Angel Lake is completely frozen over and there will be no fishing reports until late next spring or early next summer depending upon winter weather.
Most of the high mountain lakes are iced over and there will be no fishing reports on the high mountain lakes in the Rubies or East Humboldt’s until late next spring or early next summer depending upon winter weather.
With low flows, cold nights and snow, fishing has slowed on the streams and streambanks are difficult to navigate. Nymphs and small streamers should be working though expect bites to be very subtle in the cold weather. Fishing the tailwaters below both Wildhorse and South Fork dams has been good for reservoir sized fish though flows below South Fork Reservoir are low and anglers will have the best luck hitting the pools where larger fish have been trapped due to the low flows. As of Wednesday November 27, the East Fork of the Owyhee showing ice at the station, the Bruneau River at 27 cfs, the Jarbidge River at 7 cfs, Salmon Falls Creek at 67 cfs, Lamoille Creek showing ice, South Fork of the Humboldt at 17cfs, Cleve Creek at 9 cfs and Steptoe Creek at 5 cfs.