With colder weather, many give up on angling, but with the fall clean-up finished it can be a good time to explore new fly fishing opportunities. December is the time to get a new fishing license and break out a map.
No secrets, but there are plenty of streams across the region that are open year-round that are often stocked in the fall or have naturally reproducing trout. Some really good opportunities can be found in the limestone spring feed streams too. They generally hold good water temperatures and some of the more challenging fly fishing opportunities. Take a little time and do some research for something new there are plenty of places to explore here in the forums!
Any day works as compared to moving your old soccer trophies in the basement. No sense waiting for that late evening sulphur hatch because that ain't gonna happen. On mild winter days, your best bet is late morning through mid-day. Trout are going to be the most active when they get a chance to warm up a little (whatever that means when the water is 47 degrees). Certainly, it will not be at the crack of dawn so a little sun on the water often helps, but not required.
If you are lucky on a warm day you may find a BWO hatch or some stoneflies coming off. This is rare and will only happen on the warmest of days. So most of your time you spend chucking some lead. Everybody has their favorites and truly it depends on the stream. My approach to each stream is a little different. I often start with some streamers or woolly buggers. For stocked streams, I like San Juan worms, bead head nymphs and dare I say the dreaded green weenie when I get desperate (after standing in cold water that happens
So it is pretty simple and this has been told to you plenty of times - Layers, layers and layers: Wool socks, wool hat and fingerless gloves are a must. Use a lightweight wickable base layer that will keep you dry.
Avoid cotton layers as they retain moisture and keep you cold. Add warm mid-layers and an outer shell or jacket that will break the wind. Try your gear on before and make sure it works. I almost busted a gut this year after the holiday fattening season trying to fit into my neoprenes. I don't know who the jerk was that bought them, but the damn things must have shrunk or something. Throw some extra layers in the car just in case. There is a huge difference in taking a winter walk for one hour in 45-degree weather and standing in a stream that is 45 degrees. For me, it is all about keeping my feet warm. I try to move about and stand on the edge of the stream every 20 minutes.
If you find the fishing slow you can get some time in scouting for some new fishing locations or just go home and move boxes from one wall to the other?
PS - leave a note, bring a blanket, food, and water. The last thing I need on my conscience is that you read this post and went fishing, got your arm stuck in a boulder or worse yet trapped in the Rathskeller in State College and didn't come home safely. Finally, as we have learned in our history classes about the Donner Party, bring along a friend, it never hurts.