Usually I like to have a game plan in place.  An example will be on Sunday I know where I’m going to float, what flies I’m going to use, and I even have a rough idea of where we will move some fish.  Other days, like this afternoon, I just ambled out the door with a truck full of fishing stuff, found a patch of river, and went looking for some trout.  It was a flat water stretch, and after finding a few fish sitting out on the sand, I decided to work upstream sight fishing and then tight line a few trenches before whipping a streamer through the deep water on the way back down.

I’ve had this work often enough that it’s become something of a technique.  It’s not really blind fishing because I’m actively searching for trout without casting.  It’s more of what deer hunters call “still hunting”…that is, I’m trying to see the trout before I begin casting.  Usually this means spotting them first, stalking into position, and then trying to throw a perfect cast.  It is at once both the hardest legitimate winter method, but also one of the best.  It can take a tough streamer day and make it a big fish day.  Over the last dozen years I’ve had it work just enough, on just enough large trout, to make it kind of an ace in the hole.  When you find a big fish feeding in two feet of water in the winter, it is no different than wading into casting range of a giant trout sipping brown drakes from a tail-out in June.

Well maybe a little different.

Today I found the trout but they were in no sort of mood.  One ate but I missed him when he followed the nymph downstream and into the glare.  Another, pictured below, was locked tailed and wouldn’t budge.  A happy trout wags his tail.  A grumpy trout does not.  We keep a pet bass at our house and he was grumpy too, merely sniffing at his goldfish.  One great thing about winter trout is they hold their spots, day after day, and I’ll be back for this one.

With polarized lenses, this is a big trout sitting behind a small log

I’ve been getting out and doing a little beaver trapping for our dubbing stocks.  Beaver makes the best dry fly dubbing, in my opinion.  It’s bushy and it floats.  While scouting out a few lodges I found a customized frog gurgler, what we call a “frogurler”, impaled on a log in the lodge.  I happened to have a pretty good idea who tied the fly, and he insisted that he didn’t snag the lodge, though he admitted that it “may” have been his fly.  What I think happened is this fly was snagged on a log across the river, and the beaver dragged the log to the lodge and packed it in with mud.

And a close-up:

We had pretty good streamer fishing last weekend and it looks like it might be even better this weekend.  The trout are in post-spawn mode and they will be sitting in the slow water and in the deeper spots, but they aren’t dormant.  Winter trout aren’t dormant.  Yes, the brook trout school up and are rarely caught.  But a brown trout will chase a streamer halfway across the river on a twenty degree day amidst slush and shelf ice.  Nymph a pool or throw big flies all day.  Swing steelhead-style with smaller leaches with a split shot or two in front of them.  Dead-drift weighted streamers (a boring but deadly winter technique).  Or try to sight fish.  There’s a lot to do on a warm winter day…far more than there’s actually daylight.

Our catalog is in the mail to those who signed up to be on the list.  Here is a link to the PDF version:  Gates 2018 Fall Catalog Small for Web

A few items of note that aren’t in the catalog:

Orvis is advertising 20% off all rod outfits (rod, reel, line).  This is a great time to get everything for what can be significant savings.  We will load the reel with the line of your choosing and ship it right to you…fast!  Please email [email protected] or call the lodge at 989 348 8462 for details, queries, and so on.

We are donating 1% of all tackle sales between November 20th and March 1st to help defray some of the start-up costs to the new Grayling Fish Hatchery.