Words + Photos: Joe Webster
January in Maine for most fly anglers is spent at the tying desk preparing for the next season's adventures. However for those that are brave enough to bundle up and find what little open water may be available, there are some opportunities to be had. Most of these will be stocked trout and landlocked salmon fishing in moving water. To find water that is open year round consult the IF&W law book. The next step is going out and finding ice free water. The combination of those two steps can often be limiting and has a lot to do with weather. The southern part of the state is often more reliable at producing fishable water that is open year round. Northern Maine has very limited year round trout and salmon. Do not expect the January bite to be red hot, but getting out in the solitude of winter can be rewarding in and of itself. If you are lucky to catch a fish in the dead of winter in Maine, it can be incredibly rewarding. Never stand on shelf ice on the banks of a river as it is dangerous and unpredictable. Always be aware of ice chunks floating down river, they sneak up on you more often and faster than you think. This happens when shelf ice breaks off on warm days, which are usually the days anglers would be out. For fly selection, streamers fished slow and low will produce bites, as well as nymph rigs that can get the flies down in front of the fishes face. Streamer selections should consist of Woolly Buggers in various sizes and colors, as well as smelt streamers and other small baitfish imitations. For nymphs, small Pheasant Tails, Hare's Ear, and of course midges are reliable bets.
Check out our Winter Fly Fishing: How to Stay Warm article for tips on making winter fishing comfortable.