How to Beat Seasonal Angling Depression (SAD)

Originally published through Vail Daily on 11/6/2020.


The onset of winter in the mountains brings snow and cold temperatures and for many of us the excitement of the start of the skiing or snowboarding season, however it can be a very depressing time for those who love to fish. It’s not out of the question to throw on some layers to get out there and fish, it’s just not as easy to do so in the cold conditions. There are a lot of non-fishing activities to take your mind off of not fishing and I’m going to highlight some things you can do to get rid of SAD (seasonal angling depression)

Fly Tying

Tying is a great wintertime hobby that will keep your mind on fishing. We deal with the early sunset from now until the spring. I really enjoy having my vice set up in front of my television, and whipping up a few dozen flies while watching football or reruns of Seinfeld. Tying can be very therapeutic and extremely rewarding when you start filling your depleted fly boxes. One of the best feelings is to start the spring with boxes filled to the brim with flies that you’ve tied. Get behind your vise and start twisting some flies and if you’ve never have tied a fly before, take a class and begin a new hobby.


The winter can be some of the most underrated fishing of the year. This season gets overlooked by many due to the cold temps and the other winter activities that consume most local’s winters. The lack of anglers on the water translates to fish feeling less pressure. Trout have to eat year-round to survive, so presenting a fly to these hungry fish can equal amazing days on the water. One of my favorite things to do in the winter is hitting the slopes in the morning and then soaking my sore legs in the cold water of the river.


The winter is also a great time to learn some new skills through watching videos or reading books. There’s a vast amount of information on the internet on the subject of fly fishing. You can watch videos on new knots that might help speed up your knot skills on the river. There are some great videos on different casts that you might not even know about. The topics of reading the water and fishing different types of water are extremely helpful and there are numerous videos and blogs about these subjects.

Podcasts are another great resource of information for anglers. I have listened to most of the Orvis fly fishing podcasts and I have gained so much knowledge from those episodes. I like to listen to these on my daily commute or when I’m traveling. They help the time go by while at the same time you gain a deep wealth of information.


Perhaps the best way to get rid of that seasonal depression that comes along with the cold months is by going to an exotic (warm) location and trying your hand at the saltwater fly fishing game. Mexico and Belize are two great fishing locations that open for travel right now. Figure out a species or location that sounds great to you. Do some research online and find a spot that sounds attractive to you. Save the money and have an experience of a lifetime.


Of course, the mountain is always calling. As much as I love to fish, I also love to strap into my snowboard and ride the local mountains. Our mountains offer endless possibilities to a wide range of experience levels. The named and rated runs are just the tip of the iceberg due to the endless amount of “hidden stashes” all throughout our mountains. Get out in the morning, make some turns, then soak those legs in the river…”The Colorado Double Dip”.

The winter can be long, however, there are definitely some options to take your mind off not fishing. We are lucky enough to have the ability to fish all year but if you can’t handle the cold, grab your vice and fill those fly boxes. Or if you have the means, book a plane ticket and a guide and explore some saltwater locations. If those fishing blues are really getting to you, layer up and get out there on the water for a few hours, you won’t be disappointed.



Ray Kyle

Manager & Guide