It’s hard to say how much winter we’re going to get, but the last two weeks were some winter. I’m not lamenting the snow or the cold — the snow wasn’t too deep and the cold wasn’t too cold. The usual things began happening. The deer grouped up beneath the cedars. The pair of mallards found the little cove across the river from the dining room. The work-stuff that I didn’t want to do until it was really cold and snowy got mostly done. At long last the Mason Tract got groomed for skiing, thanks to some local volunteers (one of whom is guide Matt), and that has been and will be wonderful:
And the river downstream turned to ice for the briefest of moments:
And then today the air temp soared into the 30s, a dank fog hung in the forest, and it was time — finally — to go fishing. I knew I didn’t have all day, and I could have done the old run and gun between nymphing spots, but I wanted to do some sight-fishing and so I stuck with the game plan for better or worse. The glare and the slight discoloration in the water made sighting difficult, but what really had the fish nervous was the shelf ice breaking off (or was it the heavy clumps of snow falling from the trees?) The glare was terrible. I kicked some dandies out of the shallow stuff that I just couldn’t see into. I hooked and lost a nice fish that was sitting on the deep side of a shelf and ate, with conviction, on the first drift. Finally I found a trout…
Instead of switching to blind fishing — which was definitely the play — I bailed and headed to a new sight fishing beat. There, the glare was even worse, the ice chunks broke more frequently, and the snow falling from the pines and into the river seemed louder. I never saw a trout on the fin and only spooked a couple. It was clear that I was a day or two too early for the fishing I wanted. A few more warm days and those fish would be up on the sand. Meanwhile Matt and Chad floated the river with streamers and had pretty good action most of the way down. It’s a classic winter weather break. You chase the experience that you want — there are only a few to choose from. You fish for an hour, or four, or more…but you don’t lose sleep over it. It’s the middle of January and it’ll be, for a few hours in the afternoon, above freezing. So whether it’s skiing or snowshoeing or fly tying or fly fishing, or some combination of all three, it’s a good time to seize the break in the weather and enjoy it. We don’t run a lot of guide trips in the dead of winter but the conditions don’t look half bad for some fishing if you want to get out there with a guide. We have rooms available and are serving dinner on the weekends for the next month and a half. I have a soft spot for the mild adventures that winter affords. And when they don’t, there’s always flies to tie:
We have the Dr. Slick Nippers back in stock. We also have this neat little stream thermometer from Fishpond that is going to make it a lot easier to take water temps. Both qualify as gadgets with improvements, which in fly-fishing is an important distinction.
A new video from Robert Thompson: On the Au Sable’s famous and infamous hex hatch, with RT’s characteristic attention to detail: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/noth2