Well, things have really escalated here in Michigan. Over the past 24 hours, the government has issued a statewide lock-down, instructing people to stay at home as much as possible. As far as we can tell, you are STILL ALLOWED to go fishing. But be smart about it, don't share a boat with a buddy, and try not to stop at gas stations along the way (if you can help it). There is nothing wrong with driving to the river, and spending some time outdoors. Again, be smart about it, and take this ordeal seriously. The only way we're going to "flatten the curve" is if every single person does their part.
From the DNR wesbite:
Go away COVID-19 !
As far as the shops, we are obviously closed for 3 weeks. But, our website is still functional, and we are able to ship items out as long as the post office is still functioning. Many of you are at home tying flies (when not working), and likely have down time to hit the water. The curbside thing we tried over the last week was working well, but unfortunately, we are no longer offering that service. So, if you need anything, we will do our best to get it in the mail, or have it shipped directly from our vendors/manufacturers.
Many of you are familiar with our website, but in case you are not, follow the links above you, or click HERE. Nearly everything in our store is on our website, so PLEASE don't hesitate to utilize it, and support us during this bizarre time. We ask you please think of us before going to Amazon or Ebay, as we are trying to stay viable through this and could use as much support as we can get. We wouldn't be here without our extraordinary customer base, and we hope to remain a strong organization on the other side of this crisis.
Another venture we will be experimenting with is staff tied flies. Many of our guys are trapped at home, with nothing to do except tie flies. As an effort to keep them afloat, we will be offering flies tied by our staff. A lot of them are able to do custom stuff, but prefer to stick to their "menu items" as much as they can, to meet demand, and keep their out of pocket costs low. So instead of 2 or 3 flies individually, we are looking at more of a "bundle" type deal. For example:
- 4 Warpaint Minnows
- 4 Down-presser Shiners
- 4 Evo Crays
Again, we are just starting this, and will have more of these bundle packages posted soon, so keep an eye out for more. Some will be designed for trout, some for bass, some for steel, etc etc.
Now for the fun part, the fishing...
Over the last give or take 10 days, the fishing has improved drastically. Even though the temps have dropped a bit recently, prior to that, the rains and overall warmth really gave us a solid improvement in fishing. More numbers, more active fish, and near perfect water conditions have made things extremely fun lately. This next week will be even better.
Steelhead are basically everywhere at this point. Any river you're familiar with is essentially guaranteed to have fish. On some rivers, they have been spawning for over a month. Other rivers, they are just now getting started. Usually the window from St Patrick's day to Easter is considered "peak" steelhead season for most anglers, and we are smack dab in the middle of that window. So get out there and take full advantage of this uncertain and rare time.
Steelhead have been plentiful, and will take lots of different fly types. Most important thing is presentation, but small stones, caddis, pheasant tails, alevin, salmon fry, and obviously eggs are good spots to start. Also a great time of year to experiment with any oddball patterns you may have come up with while at the vise. With so many fish around, and lots of angling pressure, sometimes throwing them a fly they haven't seen can yield some surprising results. Plus it's always super satisfying to catch a nice fish on a fly you invented out of curiosity.
Another fun option that's coming into view is the dropback streamer program. Once the fish are done spawning, they turn around and head back to the lake. During this "dropback" migration, they are tired, emaciated, and sort of desperate for food. If you run a streamer in front of these fish, they often times hit it really hard. Weighted sculpin flies, leeches, and swung speys will work. Like most angling, you have to devote most of your time prospecting, and put it in the right spot, at the right angle, and right depth. Do this over and over and over, and you will eventually be rewarded.
Trout fishing has been great, and getting better each day. Lots of nymphing lately with some really good days mixed with slow ones. This time of year, just before all the major hatches start, is a great time to nymph. If you flip over rocks in the stream bed, they are teeming with nymphs that have been developing all winter. A great time to look for bugs, and get an idea of what hatches will happen on that section of water 2 months from now. But lately, the pheasant tail and hare's ear type stuff has been good, again imitating those maturing nymphs. Caddis larve are good, as well as stoneflies. The dry fly fishing will pick up probably next week with the stoneflies, as the remainder of this week looks wet and chilly. Tomorrow (Wednesday) looks quite nice, and might be a good day for some dry fly fishing with those little black stones.
The streamer game has been fun too. This time of year, seems like the trout are "waking up" after a long winter, and are stuffing their faces any opportunity they can. Obviously it can be hit or miss, but the streamer fishing has nowhere to go but up right now. Warmer days, higher sun, warming water, and fluctuating flows are forcing them to feed with each hit of rain. On Saturday, Erich was touched by the hand of God when he found a really solid trout in a tiny creek.
Pike and bass are in play too, and we have't quite shifted gears since we are in full trout and steelhead mode currently. While smallmouth are certainly an option, our rivers are still quite cold, and could use a week or two to warm up. Not saying you can't go for it, but with so much else unfolding, it's difficult for us to transition to that, especially since we have the entire summer to focus strictly on smallies.
In general, the fishing lately has been just fine. With so many options coming into view, it's hard to focus on just one tactic many days. Nymph rods, indicator rods, steelhead indicator rods, small streamer rods, large streamer rods, dry fly rods, and anything in between are legitimate options. It can make your head spin with all the tackle and equipment in your truck.
But, it's been such a bizarre time, that many people aren't fishing. Things are so uncertain, and people are so stressed about every conceivable aspect of life, that they are simply not even thinking about fishing. It's the last thing on many peoples minds, and we totally understand that. But, if you're able, it can be such a great escape from the reality we face. Even if for just a couple hours, it's now more therapeutic than ever, and we encourage people to get out and get some air.
Hope this helps. Again, going forward we are online ONLY, and will be able to send stuff out daily. We hope this crisis fizzles out quickly, but it's not looking too good right now. A huge THANK YOU to all who have supported us lately, and who have done so in the past. Stay safe, best wishes to all, and we will see you on the other side of this mess.