1. PICK AND CHOOSE YOUR DAYS
A very important piece for a successful early spring fly fishing trip is to pick a good day to go out. If you have the leeway, try to pick a day where the air temperature may climb above 40 degrees. You have already spent too many mid winter days freezing you face off where the temperature struggles to hit 20 degrees. Enjoy the springtime sun and let it not only warm you, but the water a few degrees as well!
2. THINK LIKE A FISH
With the snow still on the banks, but beginning to melt, the water temperatures can still be in the low thirties this time of year. Fish really don't like to waste energy in order to gain sustenance when it is this cold. I tend to think like a fish myself most of the time: "If it is in front of me, I will eat just about anything, but if I have to go to the store to buy it, I can go without." That being said, if someone tells me they are going to cook me up a venison steak and all I have to do is drive to their house to eat it.... I'm there! In other words, a fish might move a few inches to grab that little nymph, but if you toss out a big honking woolly bugger, you might just get them to move a bit farther as their reward is worth their effort.
3. DRESS IN LAYERS
4. LOOK FOR WARM SPOTS
No, not the warm spot that happens when you can't quite get out of the river and get your waders off in time....
There are always spots on a river that are just a few degrees warmer than the rest of the water. This could be an area where a spring pops up or a spot where a small stream, just a bit warmer, flows in. I had a cool experience about a month ago on a local river. I was wading in and checked the water temp. 35 degrees. I wasn't catching much and eventually moved over to a sandbar and began casting. Immediately I was into fish. I landed 3 or 4 fish and then started to wonder. I took another temp in my new location and was intrigued to see 37 degrees on my thermometer. What I came to conclude was that the bright sun was warming the sand bar and creating a little bit of extra warmth in that area. The fish could feel it and that's where they all were.
5. If all else fails.... Try a Feedinator! :)