Here at Tight Lines, Spring is our favorite time of the year. As the snow and ice melt away, revealing Mother Nature’s colors once again, we begin thinking of open water and hungry fish. Ice rods and augers are put away in exchange for waders and fly rods. It is truly the most anticipated (and welcomed) time of the year for any fly angler. We are here to help you hit the open water prepared and confident.
Inland Trout Report
The state of Wisconsin could not have chosen a better year to open the early trout season in January! We’ve been hearing positive reports from the spring creeks (and even some of the freestones) since the beginning of the season and in the past couple weeks, the reports have been nothing shy of amazing. With water temps on some of the rivers creeping into the 50s already, dry fly action has been good and fish have been active. Little black stones, blue-winged olives and midges are around and you should be prepared for all three. Swinging soft-hackles in the slower riffles has produced fish on the warmer afternoons. In the morning (cooler times of the day), you may have to be prepared to work low and slow. Leeches and nymphs under an indicator have worked great. Concentrate on the edges of currents and the slower bottoms of runs until the water warms a bit. Even a difference of a couple degrees can mean the difference between lazy fish and fish that will move three feet to eat a fly. Sunny stretches in open areas will be warmer than stretches in the shade of a hill or in heavy trees. Most of the state shouldn’t have to worry too much about run-off at this point, with a lot of the snow already gone. Obviously heavy rain can cause a problem, but it’s unusual to have our snow basically entirely gone this early in the spring. Warm run-off from rain is far and away better than the run-off we get from snow melt, as the latter can drop river temps to a point where fish will stop feeding.
Get out and enjoy this weather! The trout fishing is rolling, the steelhead fishing is just starting and the warmwater species are awakening. For fly anglers, there is no better time of the year than right now. The shop is overflowing with new gear; waders, boots, rods, reels, lines, clothing and accessories. Our tying selection is as large as ever, with new vises in stock from Regal and more materials than you could shake a stick at. Stop by the shop to re-stock for the spring or simply to have a cup of coffee and give us a fishing report.
Our summer smallmouth floats are nearly full for 2016, so if you haven’t booked a trip for the summer and you’d like to, call the shop as soon as you can! Last summer was an amazing season on our local smallmouth rivers and this year should be no different… Don’t let a chance to see these amazing fisheries from the comfort of one of our drift boats slip by!
For those looking to embark on a winter trout adventure in the Driftless Area, contact Charlie at the shop. He will be available for guided trips most Sundays and Mondays, weather permitting.
For anyone with the steelhead bug, this early spring could not be more welcomed! Reports are coming in daily of rivers opening up and ice disappearing. This morning’s rain will only expedite the process and by the weekend, most rivers should have some fishable water. Get out early and don’t wait too long. Several years ago, we lost our ice early and then had a dry April, making the spring steelhead run extremely short. Take advantage of this weather and get out there. As far as technique, there is no wrong answer in the spring. Fly and presentation choices will be dependent on the water temperature. Early on, when the water is just barely over freezing, working slow and steady is the best approach. A nymph and egg combo under an indicator is tough to beat. Work through runs multiple times and keep changing weight and depth (of the indicator) until you hook fish. When the water is between 32 and 37 degrees, these small adjustments can make all the difference. Once the water approaches 40 degrees, fish will become more active and you can vary your approach. Stripping and swinging streamers will start to produce fish and you can move through runs more quickly with the indicator rigs. I like to pick my 4-5 favorite runs on a river on a given day and work through them each several times. With steelhead being a migratory fish, a run may be devoid of fish and then, just a couple hours later, have 8 fish in it. Be persistent and thorough and you will be rewarded.