shelves will also hold fish. Flies that work this time of year differ from the
streamers used in the colder months. Until the water drops into the high 30s,
you should use larger streamer patterns such as M.O.A.L leeches (mother of all
leeches) and Gallop’s Circus Peanut. The particular pattern you choose is less
important than selecting one with a few simple key characteristics. In warmer
water colors like purple, black, white and hot colors like pink and chartreuse with
significant flash in gold, silver, or red will be effective. Streamer length from 3 to
5 inches is the rule and sometimes going even larger can be the ticket to get the
attention of aggressive, fresh fish in warmer water.
Late fall and winter are the true test of the steelhead swinger’s patience. As
temperatures plunge, steelhead hug the bottom tightly, so slowing down your
presentation is a must. It is critically important to make sure your fly is in the
productive water as long as possible, something not as easily achieved
swinging flies as it is with an indicator rig. One simple, but often overlooked way
to keep flies swinging in the zone longer is to make your cast as close to the
water you’re fishing as possible. Ideally, you should stand directly on the current
seam or drop off. This way, when your fly swings straight, it is still
in the productive water. Casting from a distance guarantees that the fly will
swing out of the productive water before your line straightens and the all
important flutter of the fly entices a fish to strike.
It is also important at this time of year
to methodically pick apart a run,
taking your time from top to bottom.
Remember that these fish are sluggish
and they are generally not willing to
move very far to take a streamer.
During the cold months, it is necessary
to switch over to smaller, darker, more
natural patterns with minimal flash.
Color combinations like black and red
with gold tinsel, olive with copper
tinsel, and brown with gold tinsel
generally work well. Streamer length should be between 1 and 2 inches, no
bigger. In colder water temperatures, from 33 to 36 degrees, slower runs with
pooling water, inside edges of faster moving runs, and the inside of river bends
are good places to find fish. Remember that in the winter, presentation is of the
utmost importance. Be sure to fish deep, fish slow, and cover every inch of a run
keeping your fly in the productive water as long as possible.
As winter begins to loosen its grip in March and the water temperatures reach
the low to mid 40s, the fish start occupying gravels to begin their yearly
spawning ritual, providing the all important next generation of fish to the river.
The spring is when swinging streamers can be the most fun. The fish are
aggressive and generally easy to locate. Hens working the spawning gravels are
an irresistible draw for the males which stack up behind them, vying for a chance
to lay next to their queen. It is important to note that a certain amount of care
must be taken to avoid swinging streamers onto actively spawning
fish. Taking fish off their gravels during the spawn can have detrimental effects
on their reproductive success. There are usually plenty of eager, non-spawning
fish in runs behind the gravels that can provide for a very fine day of fishing
while minimizing effects on spawning fish.
On my home river, the Pere Marquette, my preferred rod for swinging streamers
is the new 12 foot 7wt Greys GS2 spey rod lined with a 425gr Rio Skagit head .
This rod offers great sensitivity for feeling the peck of a reluctant winter
steelhead or for absorbing the shock of a hot 10lb fish bucking in the current.
And the price is right for a special-purpose rod that most people will not use all
the time. The extra length helps with casting heavy sink tips and if paired with
the right line, this rod will allow you to execute textbook two-handed casts. 9
foot rods rated for 8 and 9 weight lines work fine. Large arbor fly reels with a
good drag and the capacity to hold at least 150 yards of backing are a must. As
with rods, there are many good reels out there, but my go-to reel lately has been
Greys G Tec reel, which hasn’t failed me yet.
Swinging streamers isn’t a new way to fly fish, in fact it is one of the oldest, but
it seems to have been eclipsed in the Great Lakes region in the last few years by
indicator nymphing techniques. While I’m the first to admit that nymphs will
almost always out-fish streamers, the rush and sheer surprise of a 10 pound
bruiser grabbing your streamer at full downstream swing is better than any
feeling that’s legal. And the numb toes and cold fingers are an afterthought
when you realize that the swing is the thing!
The Tackle Shop, est. 1937 is the oldest fly fishing
shop in Montana. It is located in the picturesque old
west town of Ennis, Montana. Ennis is 54 miles from
the town of Bozeman which is the airport that anglers
use when fishing Western Montana. Fishing on the
Madison can be done in less than one hour from the
The Tackle Shop is owned and operated by Gary and
Michelle Wood. You may remember Gary from the
Orvis Store in Carmel, Indiana where he was the
manager of the fly fishing department. He has a
wonderful group of twenty two experienced guides
who can fish just about any water in the Yellowstone
Country. The Madison, Big Hole, Yellowstone, Ruby,
just a few of
river for the
but the other rivers of Western Montana lure the
angler to discover water he/she has not yet fished.
Montana is a paradise for fly fishing!
The Tackle Shops’ prime season is from July thru mid
October. But there is never a bad time to visit Montana
for fishing. In May the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch is
outstanding. As the temperatures warm through May
the run off starts which clouds the water for several
days. That time period can be spent fishing some of
the Spring Creeks such as the Ruby.
Gary has carried his hoosier hospitality to Western
Montana and loves to talk fishing with anybody coming
through his door. Call ahead and book a trip or just
stop by to see how rivers are fishing. For whatever
reason you wind up in Ennis please stop and see how
he and Sparky, the wonder dog, are doing. They look
forward to helping you enjoy a trip of a lifetime!
3) Tie in the hologrphic gold braid on top of the tail section and wrap it
forward. Stop the wrap ½” behind hook eye. That measurement includes
the hook eye.
4) Tie in more gold holographic flash, fold back and wrap over the fold. Just
four or five wraps is enough. Super glue will bind the wraps and secure
the bead. Tie in your Olive Supreme hair, fold back and secure with 4-5
wraps of thread.
5) Then tie in your Fl Yellow Supreme hair and/or the Spirit River Fl. Yellow
glow mylar. Put super glue on the thread, push the bead over the wraps.
Sometimes it helps to pinch the wraps and material into a round profile.
Make them as long as the baitfish you are imitating. A fish eats what is most
abundant. And the young of the year species outnumbers matures by the
thousands. (The other color combination used frequently is A silver blade with
black over white using silver hologrphic flash. We call it the Policeman!!!)
Joe Zienowicz May 2010 on Gould Lake in Ontario, Canada
Fox Statler was the creator of the Spinner’d Minner fly. Thanks Fox!
Michigan's Au Sable River is far from underrated. It's a highly pressured river full
of mayflies and wild trout. At times the famous hatches draw people from across
the country to compete for their own "patch" of water. While never terrifically
crowded, those seeking solitude head to creeks and off-the-beaten path
accesses. Thankfully, there are plenty of those. But another way to beat the
traffic is to consider some of the less popular months on the river.
With snowmelt comes opportunity. The river runs high, fast,
cold. A few fat black stones are fluttering in the sun. The
steelhead runs have attracted hundreds of would-be anglers
away from the Au Sable. This is widely considered streamer
time. And it is. We run big flies – sometimes as large as six
inches – and use a variety of retrieves. Cold water requires
a slow jig-like retrieve, usually with floating lines and
weighted flies. As the water warms, the pace of the retrieve can increase. For
this more aggressive fishing, a sinking line with a short leader is best. Many of
the biggest fish of the year are caught in early spring. If the streamer fishing is
slow, no problem: go nymphing. This is the very best nymph fishing of the year.
The river is absolutely full of nymphs. World famous hatches require world record
amounts of nymphs. The fish are on them. And you should be too. With new
regulations hopefully passed in December, far more river miles will open up to
year-round opportunity. April isn't a sleeper – people know about it – but if
you're not a dry-fly purist, it's worth the price of gas.
July is a sleeper. It's clearly the most underrated
month of the year. As the hex hatch winds down,
people leave. Here's how I look at it: would you rather
fish to a full fish, or a hungry fish? July is the month of
the hungry fish. It's also the month of the 24-hour day
of fishing. You start with tricos on the North Branch, or
the Lata (#18 BWOs) on the mainstream. After the
morning rise you switch to a dry and dropper – that will catch you some fish.
During the afternoon you have the best attractor dry-fly fishing of the year. Then,
at dusk, you enjoy yellow stones, Isonychias, and then leftover hex. Finally, if
you're still awake, tie on a mouse and go hit the pools. Add to this list of
goodness the excellent small stream fishing at this time of year, and you have a
month that is simply overlooked.
October is for the stubborn, and the hardy. The leaves are beautiful, the trout
are beautiful. There is good afternoon olive fishing, as well as some late season
Isonychia. There can be excellent streamer fishing. But – and this is a big but –
the river can be low and clear, the skies can be high and dry, and the fish can
remain under the log piles and nary a one flashing at your fly. October is a give
and take month. It's also my very favorite month of the year in the North Woods,
and the trout fishing is a big part of it. Pack up the rods, the dogs, and a
shotgun. Fish small classic streamers on the bright days, and bigger darker
streamers on the rainy days. Some of the very best fishing of the year occurs in
this temperamental month, and the only way to experience it is to be here.
5) Turn the hook over and attach
rabbit zonker on top of lead wire so
that the tip of the zonker is halfway
between the bead-chain eyes and
the end of the lead wire. This will
insure you have enough room for
the proper number of wraps of
zonker can be applied.
6) Turn the hook over and wrap the
zonker strip around 2 ½ times
around wire. The zonker strip
should come around the top of the
hook and fit nicely between the
bead chain eyes.
7) Wrap in the zonker strip and cut
the excess so there is a small tag
between the bead chain eyes.
8) Cover end of zonker and between
eyes with thread. Whip finish.
9) Trim tail material to about 2” behind