I’mmmm back! Better late than never, but I did say “before the end of the day” when I signed off earlier. (Sorry about the delay there.) It’s actually been quite busy around here lately with a number of projects. Some that we’ve had planned for this winter for some time now and are finally getting started on, then a few new ones that just popped up more recently! I’m kicking this off with a bit of “shop talk”, but be rest assured there is a very real river report before it’s over. ;^)
We are also in the process of implementing a point of sale system that should help us climb up and out of the dark ages when it comes to inventory management among other things and just learning the ropes, inputting all of our current stock and then getting up and running as our primary is going to be a mammoth undertaking for an old river guide like me. Lets just say, it’s a really good thing I’m not alone in it…
I must say however, in all honesty, it’s actually been fun getting back in the shop here lately and taking care of some business while we’ve got the time in the off season! I almost forgot the reward and sense of accomplishment I get and got out of it for so many of those great early years before some personal conflict had me basically avoiding it for quite a while. That particular issue has since resolved itself however, my apologies go out to all who were affected by my basic absence and I am looking forward to a more hands on approach once again going forward.
I’m also excited about working closely with my business partner John and our newly minted/very official “General Manager of Operations” (Has a good ring to it I think!) Jacob McMillon!! “Jake”, as most of you already know him, will be taking on a range of responsibilities and new challenges in partnership with John and I that this sort of position hasn’t really seen or had before with us as our combined new style is meshed with some processes and ideas that my original partner Bob and I both shared.
On another note, if you missed it in my earlier posting today, we have a brand new page on the web site now that is a treasure trove of information on the Pere Marquette River. Topics covered are it’s location, an in-depth description of its waters and surrounding lands, quite a bit of history, information on our hatches, our Trout, our Salmon and our Steelhead, the tackle required for each of these, all of the access points as well as fishing regulations and links at the bottom to a whole bunch of relevant information to any visit here!
It’s a veritable one stop shop that I hope you’ll want to bookmark for regular reference… (The most recent updates and edits were just a short while ago if you haven’t seen it really recently.) So, when you’re done with the report below, grab yourself a cup of coffee or another favorite beverage and click right on the pic (or the link below it) to enjoy the new addition.
Now, as promised, a bit of a report! The water is in “normal” shape for this time of year as far as level and clarity go and water temperatures have been fluctuating between 33 and 37 degrees lately with air temperature and sun being the major factors over the springs that feed it. It “looks like” we are in for a cold spell now with teens and even single digits at night and daytime highs that don’t break freezing until not this weekend, but the next.
Fish can, do and will acclimate to these conditions if you are up to the challenge of keeping yourself warm and your guides ice free, but bring both barrels of skill along also as it will be the major factor outside of just being there, in the right place, at the right time that is known as the bite window. Fish can be caught at any time of the day if an offering is presented properly and the required movement from the fish is minimal in these temperatures, but the “bite window” is a very real thing as my buddies Steve and Kirk can attest to…
The other day we fished for hours without a bump or bird singing and the only fish we had on is one I think I may have flossed with my bobber rig as I was lifting up to make the next cast. It could have also been a “swing bite”, but it took me to the wood not two feet from there in short order and we’ll never know. Anyway, we fished the last stop for a while and then, as I was putting things away, out of nowhere as it so often happens, the woods and the water lit up at the very same time!
Long story short(er), right after that, the guys got handed three solid steel ass whoppings from fish that had previously ignored all of our offerings before Kirk brought a fourth one, an acrobatic chrome little gal, to hand. I tell ya, the glass in that “window” was as plain and as clear as day and then, it was gone, soaped over so to speak, just as quick as it had gotten there!
That scenario above plays itself out over and over again at all times of the year, Sometimes it almost constant, sometimes it’s several times a day, sometimes it’s just once and sometimes you just simply miss it all together! I’m convinced that all of the fish I spoke of above where triggered by a change in the barometer the same as the wildlife were around us and it is entirely possible they moved out of the nearby log jam to feed or, at least moved a little further to take the offerings.
More often than not you are fishing without a bite window during these winter months the majority of the day and you are trying to coax an otherwise dormant fish into feeding. Now, quite often, it actually, but only if it doesn’t require more calories to take your offering than it feels like it will get from eating it.
Indicator or, “bobber fishing” is great and it can work well at almost anytime, but if you’re into swinging this is just about perfect for it as low and slow is the way to go! In all reality however, deep water nymphing techniques like Chuck & Duck or Euro style nymphing, done properly of course, are often times the very best presentations where they are possible in these freezing cold waters as it gives the fish a better look at your offering and you can more thoroughly “grid out” a pool or run in such a manner that you can be almost certain your fly was at least seen and studied.
Start on the upper inside of the pool or run, slowly, every 10 or 20 cast, work your line out, just a little at a time, to the far bank and then take only quarter steps downstream every 10 to 20 cast or so afterward working a solidly tight grid. Once thru the end or, tail out of the run if you will, change your flies, maybe lighten that tippet a bit and try it again if you’re fairly certain there’s fish in that spot as there actually are in most of the decent holding water throughout the system right now.
No matter what you do or who you are you will still get skunked some days, but in this manner you will at least be rest assured in the knowledge that you gave it a good go and maybe, just maybe, lady luck will be on your side the next time… (Because hey, she plays at least a very small a role in it as well, like it or not! ;^)
I’ve got to get off here soon or I’ll have lied to you about when I’ll have this posted and besides that, my eyes are killing me from way too much screen time today! Oregon cheese eggs and small brown stones have been my most recent consistent producers, but standard clowns, hexes, black stones, even small fry have all hooked fish recently in my boat as well.
What would my advice be if I were your life coach for today and every day? Keep your head up, but try to do so without sticking your nose too high! Please be kind to one another, even if you differ in your politics, your religion, or, god forbid, your methods of having some good clean fun and catching a few fish!
I included a few memes I felt were recently relevant; I promise I’ll “try” not to make that a habit!
Much love to you all – Steve