Sunday’s high is zero degrees, actual temperature, which is cold enough to keep me situated between the woodstove and the coffee pot.  We’ve been spoiled this year.  There has been a lot of trout fishing.  Every winter has a chiller week like this.  Yada yada.  We have about three inches of hard snow in the woods and could use some more for the ski trails and as insulation to protect the various pipes connecting our houses to our wells and our septic fields.

I made it out a few times this week, once for an afternoon of sight fishing that went quite well, even after I lost this fish.

What a cool trout!  Sitting in less than two feet of water and actively swooping to the left.  The key was to put it to his left and then wait for him to swing around and follow the nymphs downstream and wait, and wait, and wait for him to eat, and then turn back upriver, before setting the hook.  It was an easy set up to video so I did.

I wasn’t trying to lose him.  I just thought he was ready for the skate in.

Redemption was just upriver, sitting in three feet of water on a sandy hump midstream hump, deep water on each side.  It was the perfect place for an aggressive trout, and this beauty swam to the right to eat my Prince nymph.  Some winter fish fight like oblong logs, rolling around waiting to be netted.  This fish fought like a June trout, leaping twice and taking drag.

Sight fishing is one of many winter techniques, from indicator and tight line nymphing, to stripping streamers, to messing around with the trout spey.  This winter’s mild weather has made it easy to find the time in the late afternoon to play around and have some fun.

Yesterday, Matt and I took a little adventure into a more remote stretch of river.  The water was fairly low but had a bit of a stain.  The trout were on black streamers, size large, fished on sinking line and retrieved slowly.  We had very few fish chase and not eat.   If we saw them, we got them.  We didn’t see many, but we had a nice fish landed within 100 yards of put in, and moved our last fish 100 yards from the take-out.

And that, by the looks of it, is that.  Winter is upon us.

We have lots of food to eat and flies to tie over the next few weekends.  No tying this coming weekend, but plenty of food (hours and menus at bottom of report).  On January 26th, Gates tyer Andy Girard will be joining us for an evening tying/dinner session in the Board Room.  We have a few spots left in this class and you will learn a ton about tying flies that swim.  Andy is one of the most diverse fly tyers I know, from technical nymphs to dries to streamers, he is a student of the game who picks up tons of stuff from the European tyers and channels it into Northern Michigan trout.

Gates guide Matt Verlac will be featured on February 2 to demonstrate some of his big fish flies for the upper river.  This class is also filling up quickly.

Both classes go from 5:30 pm to around 8-9 pm, depending on everyone’s fortitude.  Dinner is included, and drinks are reasonably priced extras.  The cost is $50/head, and include all tying materials.  Please bring tools, vise, and a tying lamp.  If you need one or all of these items, please let me know ahead of time.  To sign up, email me at [email protected].    Make it a winter weekend, and book a room and plan on dinners on Friday and Saturday nights, and breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  We’ll have free fly tying on Saturday mornings, January 26 and February 2.  Spend some time in the board room checking out our new, huge fly fishing library.  Go skiing.  Or, if the weather switches, hit the river.  You’ll love the winter pace as much as we do.

We’re open on the weekends!  Most of them anyway.  This weekend (January 18,19,20) we are serving Friday and Saturday dinners (5-730 pm, call for reservations) and Saturday and Sunday breakfasts (8 am – 11 am)…

We have ten rooms open for the winter.  Coupled with excellent cross-country skiing, winter fishing, snowshoeing, and fly tying…take a break and have a winter vacation.  You’ll love it.

Aaron at Cross Country Ski Headquarters.  There you’ll find a wealth of knowledge, skis (great rentals), sandwiches, beer, and trails

The Mason Tract has been groomed courtesy of Friends of the Mason Tract and their number one volunteer, Cris Jones.  Hartwick Pines trails are groomed and wonderful shape.  Hanson Hills is always groomed perfectly, and ski reports and all sorts of outdoor gear are available from our friends at Northbound Outfitters.  Forbush Corner has Olympic caliber trails.  And Wakeley Lake, while not groomed, offers awesome backcountry skiing and snowshoeing around the most picturesque lake in the county.  All these trails are within fifteen minutes of the lodge.