The last week was one of the coldest of this winter. We didn’t get much snow but it sure was cold! After a couple of days indoors, I needed to get outside, if only for a little while. I know most of you can relate to this after being indoors for a while. I went down to the river to take some photos on a dreary day.
One of the things that I look for is falling water when it is very cold. Often times, falling water makes really cool ice formations along the banks of our great rivers.
Another great photo opportunity is when there is lake effect snow in the area. Often the sun will break few for a little while in the afternoon, making for a beautiful array of pastel colors in the dwindling light.
It may sound crazy but winter is one of my favorite times to photograph things underwater. The reason for this is that the water is extremely clear at normal water level in the winter. Additionally, most fish and insects move very slowly in the cold water, making them easy to photograph.
I sure was glad when the weather did finally break today, allowing me to hook a few steelhead. My favorite places to fish in the dead of winter are the inside of bends and behind fallen trees. Trout and steelhead to a lesser degree congregate in the slower water as it holds oxygen and food sources in the winter.
Last year, we were fishing quite large baitfish patterns as there was a lot of lake run browns in the Muskegon. Each year is different, and this winter we are fishing smaller patterns in the same types of water. These smaller patterns catch as many steelhead as last year’s larger flies. Since the lake runs aren’t as abundant, the smaller swung flies take advantage of the stream trout that are biters. A slight change in tactics makes for some relaxed fishing, sometimes with many bites in the course of a day.
A lot of times I look for sandy bends that have a bit of deeper, darker water between the lighter colored bottom and the swifter current. Often times these are productive places for a variety of game fish.
As spring gets closer, there will be a period of excellent fishing in these areas as stone fly nymphs move in close to shore, and king salmon begin to hatch. You don’t need to necessarily match these hatches below the surface, as the increase in subsurface activity makes the fish search out moving targets.
When you look at rivers every day, you see the subtle changes that occur day to day. Soon the signs of spring will be apparent. For now, I am happy to fish whenever the weather breaks.
Enjoy this time of the year!–Kevin Feenstra