7 Winter Fly Fishing Destinations Worth Visiting

By Debbie Hanson

Dec 27, 2016

You can continue to develop your fly fishing skills once winter arrives. Learn more about these winter fly fishing destinations, start planning your trip!

What should you do when you aren't willing to stash away your fly rod for the winter? The answer is easy. You should plan to take a trip to one of the most worthwhile winter fly fishing destinations, that's what you should do. From the saltwater bays of Florida to the freshwater rivers of Colorado, learn about these fly fishing destinations and find out why now might be a good time to pay them a visit.

  1. Islamorada, Florida. While there are many inshore species that can be stalked on the saltwater flats near Islamorada during the winter, bonefish are among the top saltwater fighters you'll ever experience on fly. When you're ready to make the switch from freshwater to salt, make sure your fly box has plenty of crustacean patterns and then book a flight to the Keys this winter.
  2. Forks, Washington. Winter runs of steelhead on Washington's Olympic Peninsula have earned Forks a place on the list of winter's top fly fishing destinations. Peak season for wild steelhead on the peninsula starts in late January and runs through early April. Intruder-style flies and spey flies are most often used when targeting steelhead in this area.
  3. Sebring, Florida. Within just a short drive from the city of Sebring, you'll find Lake Istokpoga and Lake Glenada. Both lakes are populated with sizeable largemouth bass, so pack up your Woolly Buggers and then keep an eye on the weather. When Sunshine State temperatures hold consistent for a few days in a row, it will be time to head out for a big bass on fly.
  4. San Francisco, California. Delta striped bass and largemouth bass action heats up during the winter months. You may want to consider hiring a fly fishing guide who knows where to find the top-producing rivers and sloughs since these are two types of areas that can produce big winter striped bass. Bring along your Whistler and Clouser fly patterns when taking a trip to the California Delta.
  5. Austin, Texas. The Guadalupe River and Llano River are two winter fly fishing destinations near Austin that are worth visiting. These waterways are open year-round for fishing because the primary water sources are 70-degree underground springs. You can catch rainbow trout and bass on flies every day, even through the winter months.
  6. Telluride, Colorado. You can skip a day on the slopes in lieu of a day of casting flies on the Lower Gunnison River. Plan to go between February and March when the river valley begins to warm up. During these two months, you may see an increase in insect activity that often brings dry fly fishing opportunities along with it.
  7. Bozeman, Montana. If you want to land a few brown trout or rainbow trout, the Madison River is a year-round fishery that can often produce well from late winter through early spring. Your best bet is to focus on the lower end of the river, closer to Bozeman, while keeping in mind that warmer water will equal more trout activity. Plan to fish during the warmest hours of the day.

Do you have any other favorite winter fly fishing destinations that aren't mentioned? Or, were you were surprised to catch your biggest fish ever during the winter season? Check the seasonal fishing regulations and purchase your state fishing license, then try one of these fly fishing destinations so that you can share your stories with us.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.