Here they come, college students, skiers, ice fishermen, and snowmobilers. People will fill the north. Many resort cottages will be open for the Christmas holidays. Decorations everywhere. Those desolate days of early December surrender to city sidewalks dressed in holiday cheer. Where do I hide?
I will admit the season can be enjoyable, but it's the winter solstice on December 21 at approximately 5:11 PM that I look forward to. Even though colder temperatures are still to come, a little more sun light is welcome.
Can it only be 90 days to some hatches; possible? The fact is the temperatures will be brutal for the next couple of weeks. The ski resorts are fine, the small lakes will have safe ice by later this week. Most winter activities are experiencing perfect conditions. The last week thaw is over and the snows are daily.
The dedicated fly fish angler is up against the toughest odds of the year. (White Tail rifle season is over and the deer did well, hunting was down.) With most secondary roads still open due to the last warm rain, you can still get to most streams with the family car and favorite fly rod. I'm not up for an eight hour fish but if I can eek out one more afternoon trip to a stream before the holiday rush, I will be happy...how about you?
Baby it's cold outside and it is going to stay that way. Snow covered and icy roads made some traveling dangerous. The first snow covered roads are always the scariest until most new comers to the north get the hang of winter driving. Highs in the 20s F and lows in the single digits made the couch look pretty inviting this past weekend, however, if you did fly fish you experienced that phenomena of icing of your rod guides. That's when stripping in your floating line icicles form on them. The icicles make shooting the line out on your cast difficult if not impossible. You have to break them off and recast. Just one of the many challenges of winter fly fishing.
Did I mention how many fish I caught? None, I chose to watch the Lions football game Sunday. I wish I had gone to the river. It is of course the start of those holidays that bring families together. That creates difficulty in doing the things you like to do. Keep the peace on earth, the trout will be there when you can next get away.
Reel Waters wishes you good tidings and have a Happy Thanksgiving.
The weather says winter with highs at freezing and lows at 20 F. The rivers are as high and fast as at anytime in recent memory. Fly fishing is a challenge. The smaller rivers have a few resident Brown Trout and Brook Trout but the Rainbows / Steelhead / Chromies of any size have moved out into the Great Lakes. Large tributaries like the Pere Marquette and the Manistee rivers are your best bet. Fly fishing streamers and large nymphs are the choice.
Other considerations, the hunters will be in the woods until January 1. Whitetail rifle, muzzle loader season, and land owner doe season make a bright hunter orange hat a must.
Trout in the smaller rivers will be under the cut banks of the river. To get the fly down to them is very difficult at best. Open water is still the rule. The small lakes rarely ice over before Thanksgiving. Ice fisherman are waiting now, then will venture out as that ice offers a great opportunity for all species. However moving water of our streams never freeze but Humans do.
It is the start of the Holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It can get a little hectic around the cabin with all those turkeys, Xmas trees, and decorations. The back roads are still open. The woods & rivers are a serene escape to say the least.
Picture...the Maple River head waters on a November dawn.
Good morning. Make the coffee hot, it makes it easier to look out at the snow covered countryside. Soon the snow will linger and the Lake Michigan moisture or lake effect snows will be upon us. It is early but mother nature makes her own schedule. Soon the logging trails will be closed to all traffic. Fly fishing opportunities will shrink even smaller. Dedication, nymphs, and streamers are the rule. Patience is a virtue. The weatherman is predicting on and off snow, no warm days. The sun has abandoned us.
There are dirt roads marked "Seasonal Roads" that will become impassable. I have, over the years, sought out year 'round roads with access to the rivers; few are far between. Water levels are dangerously high. The trails can be dangerously slippery. Freezing temperatures add to your adventure. Medical advisers tell me that frostbite is possible even if it is above 32 F. All things considered you must plan your fly fishing trips carefully.
The forecast shows some lows in the teens that will continue into next week. You must stay warm and dry. If you should accept natures cold and wintery challenge, always prepare for the worst. Take extra dry clothes, some hand warmers...and hot chocolate, a real riverside luxury.
A sunny Sunday in northern Emmet county, November 3rd. The fishing was about all you could expect this time of the year. The wind was the only problem. Temperatures were in the 40's F and no hatches to speak of.
Streamers or nymphs were the only choice. Water levels on the Pigeon, Sturgeon, Black and Maple rivers were high second only to the spring run off. It was a beautiful day on the river. These memories are going to have to last at least 5 months to next spring's warming. The weather will remain cool. More calm sunny days are rare. Rain and wind rule the forecast. Snow is an anytime occurrence. What ever the northwest wind brings off Lake Michigan.
All things considered it was a nice weekend minus our warm weather guests, the tourist. It was a quiet on the roads and rivers. Hope you found time to enjoy the outdoors before the winter sports take precedence.
It's November and still raining. I must say we've had a lot of rain this month. So much rain that getting a line wet doesn't require you to go to a river. So with all this bad weather, what is a true fly fish angler to do?
I am repairing & reconditioning my reels. To me rainy days are for such things. However, I have been indoors sitting at my desk for weeks looking deep into my tack bags and cases. So deep I am on a sentimental journey going back over a half of century with old reels. Bristol 65, House Of Hardy, Pflueger Medalist, and a late 1980s Orvis Battonkill the newest of my antique reels. The Medalist brook trout (smaller) is still a favorite. The cost was about $19. It is all metal, and except for wear, works as good as the day I purchased it at Bay Sports on main street in Petoskey. They have been out of business for over 30 years.
The weather is going to remain wet and cold. The next time we see the sun, the high is predicted to be in the 30's F. If you are still out on the river...you won't see me. I would love to catch just one more trout, but I don't want to catch pneumonia. This weather I delegate to the young which excludes me. Streamers and nymphs are the rule this time of year and will remain so through the next six months. Those brave hearts who are still fly fishing, Reel Waters would welcome your stories and pictures.
Jim and I will be doing feature articles in the "Outdoor Lore" section that will examine the rivers of northern Michigan during the coming winter months. (Already thinking about April.) We will provide you with some interesting reading to help ward off the cabin fever some of us experience.
The weather forecast for tonight is a low temperature of 21 F. I guess you could say that it is unusually cold. According to records the all time low for this date is 24 F set in 2005.
This week I spent time in the outdoors and the sky looked down right angry. The high black snow clouds rolled off Lake Michigan pelting me with freezing rain and snow. The trees last leaves were blowing in the wind and an eerie feeling that is Halloween was all about. With leaves floating in the river, the wind whipping the water and the trees waving in the high winds, all of nature is spooked.
The Pigeon, Sturgeon, Black and Maple rivers are all deep and swift. Water clarity is silted. Fishing is tough on our streams and dangerous on the Great Lakes. Those of you who did fly fish surpassed passion to an obsession. It was a week to stroll along the trails of the river and dream of better days ahead.
NOAA has the temperatures to continue below normal for another week with above normal temperatures to return to the north 8-10 days from now. I would like to believe that one more warm weather pattern will bring a hatch to the river before streamers and nymphs become the rule. Winter is at the door. Gloves, insulated waders, and knit hats are now a necessity.
With the temperatures falling below 32 Fahrenheit, the bug hatches cease. The trout weary in their spawning become lethargic and very hard to catch. Trout and salmon are no longer looking up for insects, but are feeding on streamers (Minnows) and some free floating larva. The challenge is wet flies. Many of us, me included, look for rising temperatures or an Indian Summer to trigger a last chance hatch. Some fly fishing anglers however will not surrender. Cold temperatures of late October still offer some trout fishing opportunities, but dedication is paramount, success is limited.
Rain, sleet, snow and cold temperatures are in the forecast. I feel that at least one more warm period is in the near future. It is for that reason my waders are at the ready as I am not willing to retire 2013.
Look for cooler temperatures for the next week with hopefully one more 60 F front to end the dry fly season. It is a transitional time of the year with Ruffed Grouse season upon us, and the Whitetail season only weeks away...their still is much to do for the outdoor sportsman. It is a local boys favorite time of the year. Trout, salmon, grouse, whitetail deer...what's a guy to do, live & enjoy.
Weather or not...that is the question? Sunshine, rain, cold, you have to pick your days carefully. Watch the weather to catch what few hatches are left. The rivers are clear (may be a little dark) and high. The Maple was the last to settle down.
The Brook trout are on their redds. Watching 13 and 14 inch Brookies in the middle of the river is a sight not often seen. They just dart back and forth across the polished gravel bed. The secret is to stay away from the spawning area. Fish near by deep and calm feeding holes behind long runs. Early afternoon to 6 PM works for me. The Pigeon, Sturgeon, Black, and Maple rivers are under post September rules. Be sure and check your MiDNR fishing guide and website for fishing opportunities.
The low angle of the sun will have the rivers around 50 F to 55 F on some of these upcoming days. The Great Lakes tributaries Salmon runs are nearing their end and comfortable weather is fading with the sun. Yes first snow flakes can be only a couple weeks away when fly rods are replaced with a snow shovel. Get out and fly fish this week if you can.
Rainy days until late Monday afternoon. Into every life a little rain must fall. Well I guess so. This weekend had to be very hard on the "Leaf Peepers". The dark overcast skies and heavy rains washed out the leaf viewing and the rivers. Growing up in Northern Michigan I know to stay home during a wet tourist weekend. No matter were you go, movies, restaurant, shopping you will have a wait of a hour or more. So those of us lucky locals can stay home, balance the checking account, clean the garage while resting up for the nice weather forecast this week.
The rivers are going to take some time to settle down, but the massive amount of water will benefit the Great Lakes salmon run here in Emmet county. I am looking forward to this week. My plans are to chase Lake Michigan King Salmon through Wednesday and return to the Maple, Pigeon, Black, and Sturgeon rivers by Thursday for Brook, Brown and Rainbows. This week the clear and calm weather, coupled with the peak fall colors are going to be in gorgeous form. I can commiserate with the wet tourists. Convertibles and motorcycles went extinct this weekend, but for us locals we caught up on our house choirs. The upcoming nice weather and rivers are calling...sometimes life just isn't fair; to some!