simms wading room blog

Head over to the Simms Wading Room Blog for the latest gear reviews on goods fresh from the Simms showroom.  Up now is the Kinetic Jacket, which I was asked to help review.  Sweet jacket! I've worn this jacket a bunch lately and have found absolutely nothing that I'd change about it.  Hood. Zippered pockets.  Primaloft insulation.  Polartec fleece.  This thing wears like a layering piece and keeps you warm like an outerlayer.  This is right up there with the Slick Jacket as one of my favorite Simms jackets of all time!


TU Movie Night

Join us at the De Pere Cinema on Thursday, November 13th for a "best of" version of the Fly Fishing Film Tour.  For those of you that have joined us at the F3T in the past, this will be similar... But with all the best movie clips from the past handful of years.  100% of the proceeds will be going to local Trout Unlimited work crews for habitat restoration and stream work.  Contact Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company in De Pere (920-336-4106) for more info on the tickets.  As we've done in the past, we'll be hanging out at Caliente (just a few doors down) beforehand for appetizers and drinks.  Be sure to be back over to the theater by 6:15ish so you can get in on the bucket raffles and door prizes!


chasing dragons

It's been less than a month since the busy smallmouth season left us and my mind (and body) are still in "full function, don't stop" mode.  Heading into the latter parts of the summer, I simply couldn't wait for fall hunting, football season, Oktoberfests and a little "kick my feet up" time.  Nice weather and hungry fish have kept me from slowing down much.  When I haven't been with the kids or at their school events, I've been on the water.  Across much of the state the musky fishing has been absolutely great.  The Lake Michigan tributaries have fish in them and (believe it or not), we actually have an abundance of water this fall.  I haven't heard of many browns being caught, but the steelhead and salmon seem to be around in great numbers.  For the past couple years the browns have been entering the rivers later and later.  The water temps and levels have been good, but the fish have simply been later than usual.  I would not be shocked if that were the case again this year.  Some of the lakeside tribs have seen good numbers of early browns, but the bayside rivers have been slow to get going.  Couple that with the ultra-cold Novembers we've been having and it makes for a small window.  It's a great window when it's open, but she's closed quickly when the rivers start to lock up.

Because of this short window the past couple years on the tributaries, I've switched gears a bit this fall and have been spending more time chasing muskies.  Yes, I realize I'm going from one difficult fish to another, but it's been a blast exploring new (to me) waters and tying flies as long as my daughter's arm.  Side Note:  Most of the fish we've caught have actually been on flies in that 6-8" range, but it IS fun to tie the really big ones!  I've cast flies to river muskies for a long time now, but this fall has been about as good as I ever remember.  We've been moving, on average, 4-6 fish per day.  Some days we've moved a dozen fish and hooked half of those.  Some days we've only seen a few fish and none of them even made an attempt to eat.  That's musky fishing.  However, the beauty of it all is that it only takes that one cast.  Just to move a big fish is reason for celebration.  Michael and Bart joined me last weekend for a float and about halfway through the day, Michael had a decent fish shoot up and rock him just off the back of the boat.  Fish and steel did not meet, but I loved Michael's reaction afterwards... After a bit of yelling came the big wide grin and the comment that his knees were shaking.  Yes!  That's what it's all about.  It's the only freshwater fishing that I've personally done where sightings, follows, chases and a "swing & a miss" actually mean a damn thing. It's exciting, terrifying, nerve wracking, heart-breaking and rewarding... All at the same time.

I'll have more pictures and reports in the next handful of days so check back!  I'm still uploading and editing a gob of pictures from the last month of the smallmouth season and I'll probably do a photo montage here soon of a pile of those shots.  I also have some new toys/gear reviews that I'll be getting to very soon!


monsters of fall

After an unusually cool summer, I'm not shocked to have a high-water fall.  That just seems to be fitting of a year marked with strange weather trends.  Through most of the spring and summer months we couldn't buy a measurable amount of rain.  Now, just in the past two weeks, we've gotten upwards of nine inches.  The rivers nearly quadrupled their volumes, started to recede, and are now on the rise again.  If you would've asked me two weeks ago what that would do to the fishing, my answer would have surely been less than optimistic.  The fish, however, haven't seemed to mind... Not in the least.  As a matter of fact, we've gotten some of the biggest fish of the season in the past couple weeks in the high water.  Everything has been tight to the banks, slinging big baitfish patterns and retrieving them all the way back to the boat.  Creek and stream mouths have been epic, with fish congregating there to gorge on minnows and worms.  Some of the fish we've landed have had gobs of worms coming our of their mouths.  Based on the size of the average fish, they're eating well and putting on fall weight.  I love this time of the year for smallmouth fishing and to have this much water makes it all the sweeter.

Below are some recent shots, including some of Scott's massive 24 1/16" fish that we landed on Monday.  It was the biggest river fish that I've ever personally seen and truly a different beast.  She weighed just over six pounds... Not the fattest smallmouth in the river, but definitely lean and in great shape.  Someone once asked me if I'd ever see a legit two-foot fish come out of a river and my answer was no... Unless it was a fish that had migrated out of Lake Michigan or the Bay.  I know they exist, but based on the percentages of fish that we see that are 20, 21 and 22 inches, I just didn't think that I'd tape one that was a full twenty-four inches in length.  Congrats Scott... Truly the fish of a lifetime!

There's a few great weeks of smallmouth fishing left before I'll make the switch over to muskies and migratory fish.  Fall is definitely in the air with the current temp at a chilly 46 degrees.  All this rain will definitely slow down the color change in the trees, but it's surely around the corner.  Enjoy it while you can... It will be over before you know it!


not much more to say

These shots about sum it up... The past couple weeks have been super fun.  Lots of big fish, great customers, mean topwater eats and amazing weather.  Keep it coming...



A few more from the past week - The old homestead is a cool place, it reminds me of the ones you see so much of out west.  They really trigger thought... What went on there?  How long ago?  Who lived there?  Places like that are neat and the setting for this particular one is beautiful.  I'll get some shots of it this fall when the leaves match the color of the lichen and wood on the roof.  The dragonfly picture is just a great illustration of how big some of those fellas get.  He landed right on my fish measuring stick and actually sat still long enough for me to get a picture.  I don't like the angle, but if I'd moved, he'd have left.  They're amazing predators and I'll often see them catch deer flies, damsel flies and even small moths out of the air.


Low Water, Small Flies and Smallmouth Treats

The smallmouth fishing has been solid over the past month.  Again, strange weather has been the norm with cooler than average temps.  We've had a good number of nightime lows in the forties and the daytime temps have been unseasonably low.  Typically we hope for hot, muggy weather, but the fish have adjusted and after all, they have to eat.  Most fish lately have been taken on the surface with terrestrials and small poppers.  Little deer-hair divers have also been productive on the drop-offs and around sunken timbers.  Mid-rivers flats and areas above riffles have seen a lot of activity from damsel and dragonfly eaters throughout the day.  Longer casts and longer leaders help when the water is low. I've been fishing a leader/tippet section in the 9 to 11 foot length and dropped from ten pound Maxima Chameleon to eight pound Maxima Ultragreen.  Long drifts with flies with just a little bit of movement have taken a lot of fish.  Be prepared for even the largest fish to eat very subtly... Keep an eye on the bug!  Some of the fish are pulling the old Houdini trick and making the fly disappear with not so much as a ripple or boil.

A quick recap of the second half of July in pictures...


off for the fourth

Enjoying a few days off for the 4th weekend.  A couple more shots from last week.  Mother Nature has thwarted my carp fishing plans with 20+ mph winds out of the south.  Have a great weekend!



June is closing on a high-note... While most of the state has more water than they know what to do with, we're actually in need of a little precipitation.  We're sitting at typical July water levels right now, with temps just slightly below average.  Fish are eating on top... Poppers, terrestrials and the frog have all done their jobs.  Here's a quick recap (visually) of the past couple weeks...



$20 for a card reader and voila... No more cords and carrying the camera in and out of the house. Here's a few from last week.