This is not the November I envisioned.  In my head I had 40s, drop-back trout, nymph fishing, a few streamer floats.  Instead todays high was 18, wind chill had us below zero, and it snowed all day.  I stared at the sign in front of the shop: Here’s a tip, get ’em on the strip.  Then I went back to check a few frozen water lines we had at the lodge because I’d forgotten to leave them trickling.  Well, the water is back to running, no further maintenance is necessary, and tomorrow’s high is 30 degrees and I’ll be out fishing.  But that’s a December routine, not a November routine.  When it’s that cold, keep your faucets on drip.

A North Down Sunset

This past weekend was good.  If you didn’t hit it, don’t feel bad.  I didn’t either.  But friends did.  These are just a few of the pics.  Enough trout finished their spawning to make for some excellent streamer fishing, and there were a few good nymph-y afternoons as well.

In the high water, the best colors were brighter than normal this time of year, which has resulted in a little ribbing from friends since I almost always fish the same colors: black, brown, and dirty yellow.  Chartruese and white, or just white, worked best this weekend.  But, then again, the water levels are far different than normal for November, especially in the lower river.  As I told my friend Greg, the river just keeps you guessing, and learning.  Next November 10th, if the water is high, white and chartreuse.  Keep that in mind.  Ha ha.

We have about five or so inches of powder on my deck right now.  Leelenau County had 30 inches.  So we missed out on some skiing but on the plus side the snow is so dusty that most of the river is accessible with AWD.  I will note that the drive into Guides Rest should be made only if you value your fish truck as much as I value mine, which is not very much, aesthetically speaking.  Many of the jackpines tipped over during a previous snow and your vehicle will take some abuse.

The river is up on all three branches but the North and Main are in good wading shape and the lower river is clear, just high.  This next warm-up should make for some pretty good streamer fishing and I’m only slightly sad to be heading to North Dakota for pheasants, missing out on deer camp and my favorite form of deer hunting, which is fishing a quiet November river.  When I return, it’s time to fall into the winter routine of fishing, tying, more tying, and skiing once we have a good base of snow.  Y

This winter I’m going to try some new sight fishing spots, mess with some new, small, jig-style streamers, and enjoy those little afternoon getaways…this year to new water.  I love the hatches — I wouldn’t live here without them — but there’s something to not feeling like you’re missing something.  In the winter you just go fishing knowing that something cool will happen.  You might kick a pair of bald eagles off a deer carcass, enjoy the pass-thru of a chickadee flock, or catch a big, twisting, winter trout.  All good.  You might even get your vehicle stuck, never make it to the river, wrestle, briefly, with your own mortality, and then solve the problem and just drive to Spike’s to celebrate.  That’s good too.

This Friday is the Opening Day of Michigan’s rifle season.  The kids get school off.  Many businesses, including Gates, close that day.  That means there are a lot of people with rifles in the woods.  Wear orange, or other bright gear, and stick close to the more populated river sections…at least thru the first weekend.  We’ll be back open on Saturday for our normal winter hours, 9 am – 2 pm.

We’ve got a lot coming your way this winter with a variety of tying classes, winter lodging, winter dinners, and more.  The best way to survive the winter is to thrive in it.  We’ll be posting our calendar the week before Thanksgiving, as well as the PDF of our holiday catalog.  We’ll have sales, specials, and lots of gift ideas.  We enjoy helping folks pick out the perfect present.