What to do in the Tetons if you don’t Ski? Winter Fly Fishing on the Teton River.

The Teton River on a lovely winter day.

The Teton River on a lovely winter day.

Spending time in nature makes one start to pay attention to the surroundings. Have you ever been on the river fishing when all of a sudden every fish in the river is up and feeding and then, an hour later the biggest hail storm comes through and shuts it down?  How about bonefishing when every single fish or school of fish are running and not eating, then the next day the wind blows so hard you can’t stand up on the bow?

Spending time observing the locals of Teton Valley, Idaho is much the same.  The locals are aware of the weather as much as they are aware of the day of the week.  We live the weather.  When the forecast was calling for 10 to 20 degrees below zero temps in the mountains, the fly tying materials were selling off the wall at our fly shop in Driggs, Idaho.  Our favorite locals were stocking up and preparing for the cold, just like the native cutthroat on the Teton River before a hail storm in the summer.  Locals just seem to know before others.

Linus looking for a native Cutthroat rise on the Teton River.

Linus looking for a native Cutthroat rise on the Teton River.

After the area cold front, the winter temps were forecasted to be back up to 26 to 36 above zero.  Think about a 43 to 53 temperature change, it is a change most experience when spring conditions turn to the summer heat or the summer breeze turns to the fall chill. Here in the Tetons, that’s winter.  The locals watch as the Teton river freezes over with temps in the 14 below zero range and the landscape, from the Big Holes to the Tetons, looks white. When the temps warm up by 43 degrees, the river comes alive again, flowing through the valley bringing definition to the basin.  We start to see locals buying their 2013 season fishing license, and the local talk of  “Hey, anyone gone fishing lately?”,  “Anyone been to the Henry’s Fork, anyone going tomorrow?  It’s supposed to be warmer – in the 30s?”, and the midges size 22’s and 24′s leave the shop with more of our local fishing pals.  They are the ones that are fishing our rivers right now, while others wonder, “what do you do in the Tetons in the winter if you don’t ski”?

Written by Jennifer Cornell, Fly Fishing Guide for Three Rivers Ranch and fly shop guru @ www.TRRoutfitters.com