Wednesday, January 6, 2016

WINTER TROUT/STEELHEAD TIPS 101- CHECK THE SHORELINES-DEEPER NOT ALWAYS BETTER

(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)

  

THINGS ARE COOKING ALONG THE SHORELINES
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!
BAIT GALORE
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!

THE EARLY BIO DRIFT
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.