November 27, 2018 - Winter Bliss
Thanksgiving is seen by many anglers as the unofficial switch date from fall to winter steelhead fishing. Steelhead numbers are decent, and if you brave the elements, you can usually find a couple.
Nymphs have been productive, with small, diminutive patterns working best. Things like pheasant tails, hares ears, and simple stones. Patterns with a “hot spot” work great in the winter (flies with a touch of florescent orange, pink, or chartreuse dubbing). Small glo-bugs have also been a safe bet, in cream, light pink, and lavender.
For swinging, this is usually the time we switch to intermediate Skagit heads. The speed of a swung fly is hugely important, and slowing it down is crucial in the winter. If you imagine a cross section of the water column, and compare the speed of the water at the surface to the bottom, you might be surprised at the difference. The top is almost always nearly twice as fast as the current at the bottom. This is due to the bottom structure creating drag, and impeding the overall current. Every stone, rock, and pebble deflects the water, and creates drag, sometimes slowing the current to almost a standstill. At the surface, these obstructions don’t exist, and water can simply flow unimpeded.
An intermediate Skagit head allows us to suspend our line deeper into the water column, and keep the fly in that slow, soft strike zone for much longer. A floating head can sometimes drag your fly out of that slow bottom current by the surface flows. However, some people prefer a floater all year because you can mend it much easier. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. But overall, an intermediate head is a winter necessity. Check out the Freightliner Intermediate from Scientific Anglers.
You may have seen by now, but we just got a large order of the new and improved Fly Fisher's Guide to Michigan by Jon Osborn. It's quite impressive. Loaded with detailed maps, access sites, great photos, and general information on Michigan rivers, it makes a great gift and resource for anyone. Best part, the author included a list of "watering holes" for each river; a short list of nearby bars and restaurants for each river. Brilliant!
We still have a few seats for Brews & Bugs tomorrow night (Nov 28th) with Dennis Potter in GR. Dennis is an incredible fly tyer, with several of his patterns in the Umpqua lineup. He has fished the Au Sable for years, and has great info on hatches, and how to tie flies accordingly. If interested, call us during business hours or email email@example.com.
Check out our list of upcoming tying events HERE for both GR and EL.
Thanks for all the support at the shop. Merch keeps rolling in the door everyday in preparation for Christmas. Check out the cool new HATS from Rep Your Water.
Fishing should improve as the weather settles into a normal winter pattern. See you out there!