February 25, 2022

Winter Fly Fishing With Brian O'Keefe

A Thermos with hot chocolate, plus Schnapps.

While our mates in Northern climes are still getting it cold, down here in the Southern Hemisphere we're still enjoying the summer season.

I was recently chatting to my buddy Brian O'Keefe about what he was up to over the winter months, and after having returned home from a balmy trip to Patagonia he was straight back into it - in the snow.
In New Zealand, all but the most hardened anglers hang up their gear come winter, so I had a few questions.

This man is fishy!

(What makes this little photo essay all the more special is that Brian took all these photos, in the cold with his iPhone)
~ Carl

A Chat With Brian


Carl: A rough location?
Brian: A spot close to home. Eastern Oregon, about 25 minutes to my first cast.

Carl: Average temp?

Brian: 28°F to 38°F (i.e -2°C to 3°C)

Carl: What flies are you fishing Brian?

Brian: Winter midge fishing - 7X tippet, size 22 adult midge.

Carl: Lordy, there's not a size 22 fly in any of my boxes

Carl: How long can you fish before frostbite sets in?

Brian: About 45 minutes, then a warm-up session (in the truck, heater blasting, a cold beer is still great, maybe better, and an Almond Joy. I know where there are some small hot springs and I warm up up my hands and feet. I think cranking 'The Doors 'speeds up your circulation.

I believe that cold fingers are hereditary. My friends of Swedish descent (men, don’t get all excited!) can pull up anchor rope all day and not get cold fingers. I’m one and done. Thank God for bonefish.


Carl: Do you do anything to help prevent the guides from icing over?

Brian: Not really. I just swish my rod underwater for a few seconds every other cast. I hate it when the guides freeze solid and a big fish hits and it breaks off because the line is frozen in the rod. %$#@&^%$!!!!


Carl: Anything else you'd like mentioned or included?

Brian: YES!! A Thermos with hot chocolate, plus Schnapps (I recommend 100 proof). Did you know I was the person to introduce NZ to tequila? Another day, another story. Mt. Hutt will never be the same...

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