Winter Thaw

It’s been a week over forty.  The snow has receded from the sun and exists in the shade, on the north faces of hills, and in the denser parts of the woods.  Along the lower parts of the river there are still huge ice flats in the cedars.  Yesterday these bends were cold and foggy.  There were a few of the smaller stoneflies around, and midges at last light.

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For all the warmth, this week didn’t fish excellently.  People caught some trout, sure.  But the increased flows seemed to put the fish off.  For years I’ve heard the theory that this is because the melting snow lowers the water temperature.  I guess it might slow down the rise of the water temperature.  But these late February/early March thaws can be fantastic streamer fishing.  For whatever reason, this one wasn’t.  It required diligence and optimism.

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It seemed that nymph fishing was the most consistent method.  Yesterday, the majority of the trout we caught were around 12″, and smacked our streamer in the middle of the river right as we were scoping out our next cast.  Though the water was murky, the fish we spooked were small, and were kicking out of the middle.  I’m guessing these trout were eating nymphs.  The big trout weren’t very active for us and the few we had chase seemed less committed to eating.  The best fish we did land was built like a tank and fought like a spring fish, instead of a winter fish.  I took that to be an encouraging sign.

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Spring seems to be coming early.  The ten-day forecast has a lot of daytime highs over 35 degrees.  And a lot of highs below freezing.  This is good as it should help slow run-off a bit.  Depending on how much rain we receive on Friday (we’re supposed to get 3-5 inches of snow and ice and/or rain) the river is either going to be blown out or just fine.  That’s a lot of variation.  But that comes with sudden thaws.  Give us a call for river updates.

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Ice shelf

For right now, all three branches are a bit high and stained with run-off.  Nymphing seems to be the most successful method.  I like to use larger nymphs when the rivers are off-color in sizes 8-16.  Focus on the edges of slow water, any drop-offs and where gentle riffles tail out.

Black was by far the most productive streamer color yesterday…and we tried them all.  This can change daily as the water warms.

It’s exciting to see spring coming so quickly.  To see a lot of 10-14″ trout in the river.  To see stoneflies already (and a rumored rise too!)

Our spring catalog is at the printer.  We’re prepping for the trip down to the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo.  I’ll be posting an updated 2017 calendar of events next week.

Sign up for our Spring 2017 Catalog

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Full of new, cool stuff, a few trouty meditations, and our events calendar for 2017.  If you’re already on our catalog list, you’ll get this one too.  If you’re not, send me your mailing address to sign up!  Our new events section on this website will be updated shortly as well.  From George Daniel’s streamer class to fly tying with Alex Lafkas, we have a great season of events, schools and classes fast approaching.

Previous Fishing Reports


It really is 92 in the shade.  We’re poling riverboats, not flats skiffs, and the trout don’t like the heat any more than any of us do.   The hex is

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