Back into winters grip in Northern Michigan, but it shouldn’t last much longer. By the middle of the week the weather looks like it will begin to settle out and we will finally get more seasonable weather. Snow and ice accumulations from this last storm will produce some runoff in the upcoming week, giving the fish some water and a much needed push of food. Fish were out and active before the latest winter event; a predictable bite considering the incoming front.
In two days of fishing we landed a bunch of fish on streamers. Four of them exceeded 22 inches; fine trout anywhere in the country. It’s been a few years since there has been this healthy of a population of good fish in the Au Sable. There are several fish around, and nice fish, a few big fish. Hopefully we will continue too see this trend throughout the season.
The fish have still been in winter mode, and with the clear water it made for some exciting fishing. The fish were following, giving chase, and most fish needed to be teased in to eating. When done right it’s pretty easy to pick the fish off. Once you see the fish, the game begins. Most fish aren’t hooked the first time they are seen. Many good anglers will pick up a fish early into the retrieve and adjust from that point on, expecting the bite to be any second. In cold water it is typically better to give the fly long pauses, and at the end of the pause give a firm strip anticipating the fish there. If he isn’t, repeat the process throughout the retrieve expecting the bite any moment.
Seeing the fish can be difficult; when you learn what you are looking for it will be easier. You are not looking for a large trout right behind your fly. You are looking for a piece of a fish, movement behind the fly, a shadow moving over a sand bottom. They are not obvious all of the time; they wouldn’t feed successfully if they were. Just maintain your cool and continue your presentation, expecting the bite.
Many people fail at this moment by not recognizing that a fish is following, and recast to the bank. Just keep your eyes peeled and the fish will tell you what to do. If I see a fish early in a retrieve I will assume that it is following until I lift my fly out of the water. Many times they are there but the angler loses visual confirmation during the retrieve.
The boat driver is as important as the angler. They have to know the characteristics of each bend, the deep trench, the wood piles, and feeding spots. Boat speed and location is critical to the correct presentation. If the boat is moving too fast, the angler loses contact with the fly and won’t be able to get solid hook sets. It’s a two person game for it to be done correctly; both equally important to success.
Streamer fishing is more than just casting at the bank. It’s knowing the river and it’s bottom and understanding where fish live depending on conditions. It’s also about understanding brown trout and what weather and river conditions do to their activity. It’s having a plan, and knowing how to adjust to be successful regardless of conditions. Good streamer anglers rarely have a day they don’t move any fish. If you tinker enough and put your fly where it needs to be frequently enough you see fish. If casting is slow and infrequent, line control is lacking and casts are inaccurate it will be tough to see any fish.
This week should be an interesting one. I’d guess we will get a push of high water and reverse the falling water temperature trend we are currently seeing. I’d also guess there will be some good days of streamer fishing this week. By Wednesday they are calling for 40’s, which would be a nice change. Hopefully by next weekend the lakes will be clearing of ice. I’m hoping to dig out the motor boat this week and get it in the water as soon as possible.