Originally Posted by webrx
yeah, kinda tough to fly fish through the ice
Still curious about why you can't C&R in the winter - as long as you don't pull the fish out of the water and freeze the gills, is there some other reason why you can't?
It isn't that you can't or that you shouldn't, I used to fish the spring creeks in Pennsylvania all winter with no harm done other than a few sore jaws. Freestone rivers and creeks that are frozen over are usually running around 33 - 34* where they are open I just choose not to try to find any fish when the water is really cold. Food is hard to come by and added stress shouldn't be on the menu.
If you have local waters where the water is at 44 or above with actively feeding fish spread along the channels in feeding holds I say go for it. Usually when the temp is much below 44 (my experience not a law) the fish tend to pool up in the deeper stuff and try to lay low conserving energy and waiting for warmer currents.
Winter steelhead are another matter but still if I intend to release the fish I would prefer to find bright fish fresh in from the lake or salt as opposed to a colored up fish that is wintering it out in the river. The steelhead that run in late winter / early spring are more influenced by their pituitary gland via diurnal stimulation (lengthening hours of daylight) than they are by water temperatures.
I did not study fisheries biology but this is a pretty close call on what the temps and other factors are that trout deal with in the winter. I hope this clears up the thought a bit for you.