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.


5/25 smallmouth report

Weird, to say the least.  That about sums it up.  Our rivers here in NE Wisconsin have warmed enough to get the smallmouth dispersed and active.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that every day has been different than the previous.  Not by a drastic amount, but just enough to keep a guide on his toes. For the most part, our rivers are dropping (in volume) and warming nicely.  It's been a slow process, as slow as we've ever seen around here.  The fishing has been good, but flexibility and mobility have been the keys to success.  One day we caught almost a dozen smallmouth in an hour on a deer-hair frog diver.  The next day (in the same spots) we caught two small fish with a Murdich Minnow and couldn't raise a fish on the frog.  There was another stretch that we crushed fish over deep water with a suspending minnow pattern and the next day they either weren't there or they weren't buying what we were selling.  The key has been to not get caught up on one specific structure or fly pattern, because it's been changing from day to day.  Cover water like crazy and when you find a pattern, work it hard and make mental notes... Just don't count on it working the next day.  By the third week of June, most of the fish will be recovered from spawning and settling into their normal summer holding water and feeding patterns.  Of course those will change (slightly) from day to day, but it's much more reliable than the first month of the season.  Just the changing water levels alone right now is enough to dictate where the fish will be and what type of flies they'll eat.

Pictures will be up soon... I've been old school with my DSLR and have always uploaded via a USB cable.  Either the cable itself or that port on my camera is acting funky.  Looks like I'll have to go find a card reader to upload pictures, which I've been told is faster anyways.  Once I get the issue resolved, I'll do a post with a bunch of pictures from the past couple weeks.

Check out smallmouthflyshop.com or swing into the shop for some of the new smallmouth patterns, including the Game Changer, the Dirty Hippy, the new Murdich colors and Dave Whitlock's new ultralight foam poppers!


about time...

After months of speculation as to what the first week of the fishing season would bring us, the people that had a generally negative feel about it were correct... It stunk.  Cold "high temps", melting snow, cool rain and a lack of sunshine did not warm up our smallmouth rivers to the extent that we'd hoped for.  In fact, we ended up canceling and rescheduling our entire first week of pre-spawn smallmouth trips that we were scheduled to guide.  Instead of putting in a solid week of work on the big river, I found myself continuing to chase steelhead, which was as late into May as I can ever remember doing.

One week from the opener, we found ourselves slowly becoming more and more optimistic.  The rivers were finally beginning to drop and warm up, both of which were happening at a maddeningly slow pace.  Tim and I spent a few days on the river with our newest guide, Drew, and were pleasantly surprised at what we found - Fish that were generally willing to eat and starting to disperse throughout the system.  We started our trips on Monday, which was nine days later than we'd originally planned. The fishing has been very typical for pre-spawn conditions... Big fish, big water, soft eats and crappy weather.  Deeper minnow patterns and Mud Bugs have been solid, fished low and slow with longer fluorocarbon tippets.  Most of the takes have been nothing more than weight on the end of the line. Hardly different than hanging a rock, although with a different outcome.  This time of the year I like fly lines with a brightly colored tip or just bright all around.  The loud colors won't spook the fish when there's this much water and it's nice to be able to see that line straighten or curl when a fish picks up a deep fly.  It's been great the past few days and I'm sure it will only get better.

As rotten as the weather's been this spring, the fishing has been shockingly great.  Trout fishing in the Driftless Area is great (as it usually is this time of the year), although they've had their share of water issues with the repeated rain storms that have been moving through the area.  Believe it or not, there are still some steelhead around in the smaller rivers to the north.  Most all of them are done spawning, but the dropback fish have been comfortable as the river temps haven't gotten too warm yet.  Look for deeper pools and runs that will have the coolest water and use your stealth techniques (long leaders, drab clothing, etc) as most of the rivers are on the low and clear side.  The warmwater fishing is picking up and before we know it, flip flops and sunburn season will be upon us.


may deuce report

Yeah, it's been a while since my last post.  Fishing has been phenomenal, which has kept me from the computer and away from photo uploading and editing.  Blame it on the fish...

This weather has kept the steelhead happy and in the rivers.  Most of the river temps in the area are ranging between 39 and 45 degrees, which gives those fish no reason to head back to the big pond. The fish that I've seen thus far this spring have, for the most part, been clean and bright.  I haven't seen many of those olive, beat up post-spawn fish that we normally do and this is due to those cooler water temps.

As good as this weather is for steelhead, it's also created a slow start to spring, which has meant moving back some smallmouth trips.  We're now scheduled to begin next Friday as opposed to tomorrow. Hopefully this week will give us a few more degrees (water temp) and the fish will be hungry and happy when we get back up north.  I'm stoked to get back on the big rivers and chasing smallmouth, as I'm sure my clients are as well.  We'll be there soon fellas!

Enough words, time for pictures.  Because of the rainy, crappy weather, these were shot on my iPhone. I've been leaving the DSLR in the truck on those days.  The bottom picture is of a couple redds that I found way up a small tributary (which dumps into a larger river) that has cold enough water to sustain natural reproduction.  Most years there isn't enough water for the fish to make it up this far, but this year we've had plenty.  Another reason to let spring steelhead swim...