Monday, December 21, 2009

Annual Holiday Hunt

Older daughter Leah is home from school in North Carolina, and we were able to get out for our annual hunt together. This year we decided to chase pheasant and chukar at the the Conneaut Creek Club. Here is a regular ringneck and a black hybrid that were part of this year's Holiday Hunt harvest. The birds will be part of our holiday fare and the skins are being treated for fly tyer friends.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gearing Up for Winter Fishing

Patagonia's Sticky Rubber Shoe was one of the original rubber-bottom wading shoes and still has to be ranked as one of the best all-around wading shoes available. I finally wore my original pair out after almost three years of heavy use. This shoe is extremely lightweight, a pair of them weigh about the same as one of most other rubber-bottom wading shoes on the market. The Sticky Rubber shoe is super comfortable, has great foot protection and support, drains rapidly and picks up minimal water weight. It works well on most regular stream bottoms and will not pick up snow in the winter.

To give added traction on ice and flat, slimy rock, I have added a series of 3/8" sheet metal screws into the raised "star" portion of the tred. Nothing is worse than taking a spill during cold weather (I am speaking from experience here!). This little trick only takes a few minutes and a few dollars and can help keep you high and dry.

Cold As Ice (Almost)

Steelhead fishing in the Great Lakes area in mid-December can be a real challenge. The lakes themsleves create their own weather and most winds from west, northwest, or north pick up moisture as they cross the warmer lakes and deposit either rain or snow when land is reached.

Jeff Liskay swings a fly on Rocky River last sunday during a usual mix of December weather on Ohio's North Coast. The day started with air temps in the 20's and slush on the river, but "warmed up" to break the freezing mark with a mixture of snow, sleet, and rain, just to make it interesting. These conditions can be tolerated if the angler is dressed correctly. Patagonia developed the concept of layering to keep warm and dry during extreme conditions and has been a leading supplier in the clothing needed for this. The shelf ice along the bank gives a pretty good indication of the water temperature.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When searching for steelhead in big water, or when the water is off color, a reliable strategy is to put on something big and bright and start swinging. Having a visible fly and keeping it close to the bottom will give a chance to locate active fish, ready to eat. Use a sink tip that allows the fly to touch bottom periodically, don't dredge the bottom constantly. You want the fly up a bit and able to be seen. After finding an area that is holding fish, you can then slow down and fish more carefully.

Bruised Steel

This Grand River (OH) male hit Jeff Liskay's blue and black tube in off-color water. After several short strikes, Jeff rigged his tube fly with the hook farther back and promptly hooked this fish. Having the ability to adjust hook position in the fly is one of the advantages of tube patterns.

Little Guys Eat Big, Too!

This bright-colored river brown was a bit outmatched when it hit a big, flashy streamer being swung for steelhead.

All Fogged Up

Dr. Mitch Nahra prepares the two-hander for some shoreline swinging on a foggy Michigan morning.

Just What The Doctor Ordered!

Dog friend, Dr. Mitch Nahra, shows a hefty Muskegon River steelhead caught while doing a float with Jeff Liskay in the StealthCraft Sniper drift boat. Mitch and Jeff, fished a day with Kevin Feenstra and then ventured out on their own and managed to strike silver a number of times. Swinging big streamer on two-handers was the method of choice.