Today I saw a fish rise.  It’ll probably be the last rise I see all season.  It was underneath a tag alder, in a slick that wore the reflection of a leafless hillside.  It was a soft but unmistakable rise.  A few midges floated above the surface.  I had nothing to cast at it except a nymph, which it didn’t eat.  You’d think I’d be ready to drop everything to catch a trout on a dry, but sinner that I am, I do enjoy the subsurface winter game.  I guess that makes me a purist in a reverse sort of way.

Fin pointing out the color change

We are between seasons here, though it should be winter.  Until it is winter, it’s time to enjoy the bare ground for as long as it lasts.  As rifle season wraps up tomorrow, the many accessible trails will allow us to sneak back into our favorite spots, to swing a streamer, or to meticulously fish a nymph.

Aside from Sunday, the fishing was pretty slow over the weekend.  On Sunday I had several good reports from anglers in boats (it’s worth booking a guide this time of year).  During this week, there were some trout caught, including some dandies.  As it warms back up and the water recedes things should get back to normal: which is, a few trout here and there, some of which will be big.

It’s never quantity that drives the winter angler.  It’s the quality of the trout, and the quality of pursuing them.  Today I fished three good runs and fished hard but the high skies didn’t do me any favors.  But the fishing, as the tired old trope goes, was just fine.  We saw a pile of brilliant mallards, we saw a few trout still hanging out on redds, we kicked up a great buck that had bedded down on an island and would have stayed that way if my dog hadn’t nearly run it over.  And that was just in a quick hour float.

The South Branch has leveled out at around 330 cfs but by the weekend it should be wadeable for experienced waders of above average height.  The rest of the river is in excellent shape.  A few of best nymph runs are still coated in weeds – a cold night will thin them dramatically – and that makes nymphing difficult.  The trout are there, but they seem to stay tucked into the grass on the bottom where, presumably, they graze on the real thing, safe from our best imitations.

This weekend looks pretty killer.  Somebody else can have the “partly”, we’ll take the “cloudy.”  I expect fish to be on the feed, and willing to chase streamers.  There has been some good morning fishing and then again at dusk.  Wait for the air temperature to start to climb and go fishing.  When the highs are in the 40s this time of year, plan for a longer wade, or as much of a float as the shorter days will allow.

 Holiday Shopping

Our Holiday catalog is out…in pdf form at least.  Still waiting on the printer to print it and ship it.  Read.  Share.  Circle what you want!  If you don’t see it, we can get it for you.  Gates-2017-Holiday-Catalog

We’ve added a bunch of new products to our online store.  Click here to check it out:

Some of our favorites:

The New Scott G Series fly rods are in.  We demoed these all winter.  Perfect Au Sable rods with way more power in the hand then the precursor.

American Made Performance (AMP) Shirts are selling fast!  Born on the North Branch, excellent artwork, and $39.95.

Simms G3 Waders are on sale at 25% off!