One of the tricks to fishing lap:  When you cross Stephan Bridge, walk the centerline.  Don’t peek over the edges as if you might see a trout.  Sure you might see one spook, but that’s not the game.  Walk the centerline and then throw a leg over the guard rail and slide down through the powder snow and into the warm little spring that feeds from the north bank.  The ducks will spook from behind the island across the river, fat with the corn they are fed.  Just below the island a long black-bottomed backwater starts and that’s the first target.

From there, work slowly downstream.  The big deadfall above the bridge, the sneaky inside, the Fence Run, the tail-out, the dock, the Bread Hole, the Islands, Jody’s dock.  Try to keep the fly in the zone.  Cast, mend, strip, then feed line, mend, strip, and so on.   The takes are soft, more of a tap.  Then again, that could be the ice in the guides.  Today it was 10 degrees at 4:30 pm when I finally made it to the river.   The trout were actually in the mood – maybe more than I was.  Four for sure “taps”, two landed, the first above the bridge, the second from the slow water in front of the dock at the lodge.  I used hemos to disengage the hook.  Those trout looked cold.

Winter dock trout

Like Florida, we’ve been colder than normal.  Tomorrow is a high of zero degrees.  Not much to do, fly-fishing-wise anyway, except tie flies and text friends visiting New Zealand and Aruba, and tie more flies while thinking of fly fishing New Zealand and Aruba.   But there are things to do up here in the winter if you have a sense of humor.  Katy and I skied the Mason Tract today and it was beautiful, conditions were great – a little dry powder atop a packed trail. There are so many miles of groomed ski trails in this county and beyond, not to mention backcountry skiing.  Jordan and Denny were planning on looking for some after-dark crappies through the ice hole.   I heard of another lake that is so good, you just drill a hole and the trout leap up through it.  In the winter, it’s the little things.

We are ramping up our winter and spring activities, beginning this Saturday with our first Free Fly Tying Saturday of the year from 9 am – 2 pm.  We are changing venues!  We’ll be tying in the restaurant, still serving great chili, and enjoying views of the river.  I believe these classes are the very best way to learn how to tie flies.  Bring what you have – even if it’s nothing – and we’ll supply the rest.  You don’t even need a fishing license to tie some flies!  We’ll have several of our commercial tying pros on hand to help you spin bugs.  Learn, share, advise.

On the weekend of January 13, we’ll be at the West Michigan Fly Show with a couple of booths and a mix of clearance items and brand new cool stuff.  Look forward to seeing everyone there.