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Winter river fishing for trout with inline spinners.




Winter fishing with inline spinners on the Bitterroot River, Montana. I grew up fishing the Logan River in Utah, using grasshoppers, worms, powerbait and other trout bait. A couple of my friends taught me how to fish with inline spinners for river trout. I was immediately hooked. I spent years fishing this way exclusively. In the fall lots of leaves drop into the river. During this time trout don't hit spinners as well. It seems that the floating leaves keep the fish from wanting to hit trout lures as often. Maybe they are tired of hitting leaves. This was usually determined to be the end of our spinner fishing season. My friends always told me that trout wouldn't hit inline spinners during the winter months.
Fishing for German Browns on the river, using trout lures. I came upon river fishing with spinners in the winter by accident. I was so tired of Mepps, Blue Fox and Rooster Tail Spinners not spinning. The Panther Martin spinners seemed to spin better until the shafts got bent. I was also sick and tired of the paint chipping off all of these spinners after just a few casts. I had decided to design a better inline spinner. I would spend my spare time designing fishing lures. I would punch new spinner blade designs out of brass and form them using hand tools. I wanted to create the best spinning spinner on the market. Once I had created a new design I would take it down to the river to test the spinning action. One day I caught three brown trout in the middle of the winter on the Logan River, while testing the blade action on one of my new spinner designs. I was so shocked that I called up my friends and told them about my new found success. I spent the next 2 or 3 years fishing in the winter with inline spinner by myself with lots of success. I talked to my friends about it, but they seemed uninterested in trying it. Once they finally tried winter fishing on the river with spinners, they became hooked themselves.

I live on the Bitterroot river in Montana where we have several trout species. Although we have rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, bull trout and brooks trout I find that the brown trout hit most often during the winter months. They seem to be much more agressive in the winter on the river than the other trout species. I do find that the trout like the slow deep holes in the winter. I think this is so they can conserve energy during the winter. I don't catch as many fish, but they all seem to be 15 inches or bigger. I have caught tons of browns over 20 inches during the winter months. I wish I had more pictures to show you, but it is hard to get a good picture while fishing by yourself. I am usually the only fisherman out there fishing this way. Having the whole river to yourself is kind of nice.

Most fishermen think it is too cold to fish the river in the winter. I find that most days are actually pretty warm since you are wading up stream. I usually don't go out until about 11:00 am. If you go out fishing too early in the winter then ice will be floating down the river and this really affects your retrieve. Just carry a few extra clothes in your backpack in case a storm sets in, but I find that usually I get hot and start taking clothes off. Don't be afraid of the snow. It usually warms up when it snows and I have caught some of my biggest german brown trout on the river during a heavy snow storm. Just make sure your wading belt is secure in case you fall in. You don't want those waders filling up with ice cold river water. Have fun, maybe I will see you out there. The 1/4 oz. black Squidy Mangler inline spinners are my favorite for winter fishing. Try it with black, green, silver or gold stickers. Pink/orange Squidy is my next favorite. The originals work well too, but I think the browns like a little bigger bait. They need to make it worth their time to expend the energy.