Wednesday, January 6, 2016


(check the shelve ice for a slew of these critters now!- minnows of all kinds due to a warm/hot fall- trout and steelhead crack!- tie your intimations sparse and with the proper translucent materials)

With a mild El Nino winter , things will be a lot different this winter when it comes to nymphing/streamer fishing for trout and steelhead. Each year the importance of the shallows- even more so on big river systems with huge pools and well defined runs, hold the key to trout and steelhead predation movements. Only on very severe sub-zero winters will these fish seek out the absolute warmth of deep water pools where the thermal heating comes from Terra firma.
                         ( This pig brownie was caught feeding in inches of water in the middle of February on a small sculpin- even though a bigger pool was adjacent to it- oven Hexagenia nymphs change their burrows several times in winter especially with a few degree water temperature increase)
(This fat January buck was hunting bait-fish under cracked shelve ice)


It is amazing if we knew in hindsight, from little spring creeks to big rivers how many fish we spook as we near the stream- even before we get in it! With warm sunny days with air temps in the 30's(tropical!) , the shorelines are coming alive with biological drift as the sun has the most warming impact in these vegetation/rock/sand/gravel areas teeming with life and all predating participants are tuned in- no deep winter hibernation this year!
With a cool summer and very hot fall, the conditions were ideal to produce tiny minnows:chubs, darters, shiners- you name it! The other day on a swinging trip walking the shorelines I was amazed by all the 2-4 inch prey fish that are everywhere!- I was practically stepping on trout and steelhead hunting the shorelines. With less forage in the big lakes , the estuaries and rivers will be a great source for trout and steelhead feeding migrations. Also with no lake ice I saw no diver ducks;mergansers and cormorants in the rivers- THANK GOD!

Crustacean are not just about spring creeks. 95% of all Michigan and Great Lakes rivers harbor them in amazing numbers- even freestone rivers. They love to come out and feed and play on balmy 30F sunny afternoons :forage , exercise  their swimmers next to the vegetation and shoreline sand. Also caddis larvae are making nets/cases, and midges?....well that will be a separate subject.

With the warm inters expect the early black stones to be out and about a month or two earlier than usual-wiggling along the shorelines to waiting mouths of trout and steelhead- mayfly nymphs a s a whole are more mature given the above normal fall temps and will be scooting about on warm days changing lies and drifting.

BOTTOM LINE- Stay on the shoreline before you plunge in looking for the 'sweet spot' of that hole- observe and you'll be amazed what you find! If you are swinging, even for trout on the new breed of 12 foot/3/4/5 weights, swing tight to shore.