Man it’s been a cooler back nine of fall this year… This past November being one of the coldest I can ever remember. Numbers of fish are here and there, but constantly shuffling as we are not awarded a huge run in fish numbers so much as some very sizable fish overall.  My boat already has 5 fish at, or over the 15lb mark, making this year the best in overall size.  Water temps have dropped out, but the brown trout bite is still strangely there, and remaining.  Arkansas Unicorn Hunt is up and running… Streamer focus, with nighttime options is the agenda for the few weeks we will be there.  Still need three more spots in the last two sessions, as 1stSession is booked and now bulging with 8 guys.  $1,300, per head gets you five nights lodging and 4 days/nights guided.  This is a serious streamer trip where we are looking to fill the spots with seasoned streamer anglers that mingle well with the group all into the same things… FISH, FISH MORE… FISH HARDER… Then fall over.  It’s all about seeing that next evolution of trout, which has been done many times in as many migrations to the White River for this group.  If you think you have the skills and the drive, and can play well with others into the same things… Mount up, and give us a ring.  There will not be a 4th Session this year, so when these three spots fill… That’s it!

Steelhead run as mentioned has been standard issue in as far as the runs number size, when factoring in how good October & early November were with the water, and now recently a bright little push since cooling off.  Swing bite this year has been great, eggs per usual get it done, and the strip bite is there for those with the faith and skills to sell that bug like a hooker on the boulevard!  Fishing pressure is still semi there, but fading with the holiday and temps… But I suspect following the holiday there will be some new toys for the boys that need to get tested on the water, so there will be some fisherman this new year, especially with some of those fish running silly big on the overall size of the 18/19 RUN!  Again, 5 over 15lbs, isn’t something I’ve ever said, in any one fall or winter mixed… BIG, BIG!  We just fell the water from a solid three day rain 10 days back, which reshuffled the deck and had us scratching our heads for about 5 days, but the pushes have entered the river, I’ll be it, slower with the water temps having been affected by the overall cold of November.  That said, December Temps have been improving almost daily, and there are even some 40’s in the cast, so make sure you come get yourself some while the getting is good… Again, when temps drop, the odds of you landing the steelhead of your Midwestern career is quite high, plus with the white backdrops, the photos really make the colors pop on the giant migratory rainbows.  As it stands right now, we may have a brown Christmas this year even with the little snow on the ground now, things are going to melt this week, leaving us with ease and access to the water.

Brown trout fishing a couple weeks back was silly good, and the lack of commitment witnessed during most of the “FALL GRRRRR” season, has been replaced with a GRRRRRReat bite following the spawning they are now finishing up with.  Killing over kissing has been the norm with any trout moved as of late, this after a clear water interval where the bite weakened a bit while they were getting it on.  Don’t neglect the winter nymph bite either… There are some very respectable trout laid up, and maybe no so willing to chase down and kill a streamer so much as forage sparingly deep in a hole, or even just in between around aggressive chops in a shallower run.  Favor either western 45degree with a Thill, or go vertical with some 2 grams if the water is deep enough where engaged.  If the water is too shallow, you don’t want that float going over their heads, which is why you vary the Thill “angle”, or just fish deep with the vertical floats.  Trapped air floats are terribly hinging on the leader and cast, and don’t give you a hemisphere perspective on the presentation.  Use the rubber band over the pick… Adjustments are easier and noticed. 4-6wt rods fit the bill, and if you think you want to be ready for a steelhead on the smaller trout candy patterns, then allow for a bit more tippet strength and up to a softer 7wt to keep the play on the smaller stuff, but at least be able to steer a bit if a steelhead takes.  There is no such thing as too long a nymph stick, so to protect tippets and absorb the battle… There is however too short of a rod… Winter trout fishing will take the place of streamers for the primary way to mine butter as soon as the post spawn slips deep into January. 

Best patterns right now are smaller eggs and even nymphs when clarity is high, and naturalized in size and color so to keep the “troutier” steelhead off their guards.  Don’t feel as if you need lighter tippet till it gins, and when threading an egg or nymph, the tippet should complement the size of hook and pattern select.  As you drop to the lower sections of the PM, beef up the tippets, flies, and rods, as you will need the attitude adjustment potential where fish are newer to the river and have all that lake pepper.  Swing fly leaders and tippets should be comparable to the ditches you swing… Big water, longer leaders… Smaller water, shorter. Keep one thing in mind when whipping them up… Rarely will I go any shorter than 4’ as the sink tip gets too close to the stationed fly, and though they get tunnel vision on the flash quickly, their ability in the cooler water to suck it up, versus the October/November train wrecks, fails as the tension doesn’t allow for the fall back of the fly when taken, giving you a bump or tug, but not a hook-up.  Not out of the question to run a 9’ swing leader on the Muskegon, or a very clear PM, to improve the track and the take potential, where here on the PM, even in the lower river, 7’ is max when the waters got color, and the upper river beats around 5 or 6’.  Strip rigs follow the same religions, but vary again not only on the watershed, but the style of cast primarily used in the beat. Next report I’ll go over some better nymphing options with leaders that will improve not only the roll over, but also the presentation, and hook up enhancements…

Best patterns going right now are eggs per usual, as they sort the most fishing to the lethargic fish of the late fall that are ditched up… But with last weeks surge in water, we have plenty of new fish out and about that will be more than willing to take a swung or stripped fly. One could argue the best time of year to fish the swing or strip is in the deep of winter when the waters go sterile & clear, and fish get bored… CUE THE MOVING DISCO BALL!!!  When seen it’s almost a reason to be a fish again, to hunt down and assassinate; and with less fishing pressures, the fish tend to be more playful.  Though we all have our favorite patterns for swing and strip, to say that one wouldn’t have gotten the same fish to go over another is all speculation.  Confidence again catches the most fish, as you will fish the pattern differently if you believe it’s being noticed and considerd.  Myself, I believe more in the individual fish, and it’s disposition before the cast is made… As a player can be made, but often is present pre presentation.  In that same idea, if you were to argue color, your data is bias in your confidence in any one pattern at the moment you got a tug or take; which is also to say why ever color in the spectrum gets taken at some point or another.  Only its availableness allows for the opportunity based of the percentage of players out and about; which, again is readied by the weather layouts, both in and outbound barometric pressures, and then again in water conditions and temp.  Speculation is pretty much all we have to go on when we choose color or style of pattern, as they are seeing these patterns at different spectrums and angles, all paged through bubbling currents and a plethora of structures. Understanding two finer points between the brown trout and the steelhead is this and only this when considering the technique, fly, or angle to engage any one body of water, whether high or low in flow, or low in color, to straight up mud… “STEELHEAD ARE WILLING AND BORED” whereas “THE BROWN TROUT IS CRITIQUING AND ALMOST ALWAYS… RESERVED!” Approaching both fish, with conditions and season always in fluctuation, and then your perspective on adversaries general motivations during that period based on those points… Your direction is almost written on the wall with this general overview.  Hardest part is then just identifying the situation as it based on your awareness and knowing of the selected watershed.  Too many beg a technique to work, instead of insisting with the right one!!!

Normally I quit booking past the 15thof December, but with the forecast and conditions, and these TROPHY STEELHEAD about, it’s tough to not leave the lights on.  Fishing is steady, and yesterday’s trip went great, and we shared our beat with NOBODY!  Streamer trout game is still strangely STRONG, and though the steel numbers aren’t “super run status” like we’ve seen a few times the last 7 years or so, they are still very solid, and now improving after this last push, even in the clearer waters.  Fishing pressure has slipped to almost nothing, and I’ve been peppering a couple different rivers for steelhead, and a few for brown trout as the conditions are still favorable on all fronts.  If you looking to bump your big fish bar, be it Gold or Chrome, book a couple of 28 or better degree high temps and get up here… The fishing is still very worth it!  Little T got his first steelhead on the swing a week or so back, which really is one of the finer points in my life to date, and there’s a cool video of it even!!  If the weather is a little chilly, we can call it a half day, or better still, come up for a couple of half day trips to fish the finer half of the day with the warmth.  Half-day trips are very recommended for the winter season as the best windows are later when the water bumps in temp, and you don’t have to freeze as long to get it done.  If you need a little work, or are a beginner and want to build some game, book the full day so we can get those skills up for the second half. Swing & Indicator fishing come recommend to all, and if you’re pretty savvy with the cast, we should try some Strip & Rip as the browns are still fully engaged, and the steelhead grab will knock your socks off!  Fishing will remain pretty solid all winter with the numbers we have, and are getting, if you see good weather… CALL IF YOU HAVE THE WINDOW and we will get you into some good Strip, Swing, or Bob action with some very sizable fish this year.  GET ON ARKANSAS if you think you got the skills… If you think you are close, book a day for the download here in MI and we will get you on step for some big water BIG FLY applications in the world series waters of the White River.  Again, three spots, and then its filled and there isn’t another add on for lodging reasons!!!  It’s been a great year, and congrats to Scott Woodard for landing the largest steelhead on the swing my boats ever seen… 18lb GIANT, that took The Greg Senyo Green Goblin.  Hope to see you folks up for the great winter fishery, and if you have the itch to take a swing for any post spawn brown trout on our local tail-waters, winter is that time when they quiet and settle… Headed to one at dawn come to think of it… Big Flies, Big Casts, and some Bigger Potential and great practice for Arkansas bombing!  It’s a tough old life, and I thank you folks for affording it… Family Thanks You Too!

Happy Holidays From All Of Us…

Too All Of You!  Again, Thanks Folks!