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Bundle up for winter fly fishing

Bundle up for winter fly fishing
Posted at 3:42 PM, Jan 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-20 17:42:12-05

CRAIG — Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you have to hang up that fly rod just yet.

For the hardy angler out there, right about now is as good a time as any to get out there, chase some trout and have the river just about all to yourself. A sight you don’t see too often here on the Missouri, sspecially around the fishing mecca of Craig.

Even when the temperature drops though – you won’t be seeing Craig’s main-stay fly shop, Headhunters, closing its doors for the season. Because if the water is flowing, its time to fish.

“Winter fly fishing and summer fly fishing are quite different," Co-Owner of Headhunters Fly Shop Mark Raisler told MTN. "We still obviously have the flys in the water, but the type of water we’re fishing is much, much different. In the summers we’re throwing grasshoppers at the bank and nymphs down the center. And in the winter we’re just looking we’re looking for a habitat or climate where those fish are going to be. Their metabolism slow down, so they’re in slower water. Slower, deeper, more boring type water. So the water is the primary difference in fishing, executing fishing.”

And that water – especially near Craig – stays liquid pretty much year-round.

“It has to be below-zero for a number of days until we get slush up here in the Craig area," said Raisler. "You know Craig or upriver to Holter Dam. Below mid-canyon and down in the low river, that absolutely can be frozen-over. You know one of the things in the winter that you have to be aware of is the safety. There can be floating shelf ice, it’s slippery conditions getting to the river, you have to be dressed differently.”

If the river is flowing, then you’ll see the lights on at Headhunters.

“Our fly shop has full-time employees that work both summer and winter," added Raisler. "To have a full-time summer business you really need to have the backdrop of a full-time winter business as well. There is administrative things, we’re receiving products in all the time and putting those out on the shelf, there is some media to do and then, you know the computer work of course never stops. But people are calling and booking their reservations for the summer, not only for the lodging but for the guiding as well.”