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Fishing on a Fly - February Report

Fishing on a Fly - February Report

After a warm late January and a cold spell the first half of February, temperatures are warming up and things are turning the corner into a more productive part of the early trout season.  This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish because the fish are hungry, and there’s a sense of awakening in the stream and land environments with fish, in-stream insects, birds, and animals.  Sparse crowds, warm sun, packed down bank grass, no poisonous plants, and no mosquitos are icing on the cake.

Here are some things you need to know before you venture out:

  1. 1.  Pick sunny days - the sun warms up the water a few extra degrees making fish and instream aquatic life more active and the fish more willing to bite.
  2. 2.  Use your stream thermometer-we’re looking for warmer water temperatures this time of the year.
  3. 3.  Beware of the snowmelt.  With the sun comes snowmelt that can cool down and in extreme cases dirty up the stream.  A sudden decrease in temperature stops the bite.  Best time to fish right now is between 9A.M. and 3 P.M.
  4. 4.  Pick your day - if it’s below the mid 20’s the air temperatures can damage the fish’s gills. If your rod guides are icing up, a fish’s gills will most likely ice up.  Not good for the long-term health of the resource.  If you must fish cold days bring a net, pinch down hook barbs, and leave the fish in the water while removing the fly and releasing the fish.
  5. 5.  Fish the deep, slow pools with nymphs and streamers.  Put extra weight on your leader to keep your flies deep and to help slow your drift speed down.  The longer your flies stay in the strike zone the more likely they are to be eaten.
  6. 6.  Observe the bases of riffles for surface insect activity.  Trout start looking up earlier than we think. The first hatches of the season are starting that include midges, black winter stoneflies, and a few early blue wing olives.
  7. 7.  Dress in proper layers of merino wool, primaloft, and Gore-Tex to stay warm and help enjoy your time on stream.


Hot Flies:

Nymphs:  Craig’s Spring Creek Scud in Orange and Tan, Pink Squirrel #12, Tungsten Big Greem Baetis #16-18, Bead Head Prince Nymph #14, Tungsten Flashback Pheasant Tail #16-18, and Tungsten Zebra Midge #18.

Dries:  Matt’s Midge #22, Griffith’s Gnat #20-22, Sproat Midge #22 Gray, Early Winter Stone #14, have a few Baetis Sparkle Duns #18-20 just in case.

Streamers:  Rubber Leg crystal Bugger #6-8 in Olive and Black, Fishstress Sculpin #6, Leechinator #4-8


March and April Preparation Tips:

  1. 1.  Check your fly boxes and stock up to fill any voids whether it’s buying or tying more flies.  We have a good selection of both flies and tying materials for the early spring trout season.
  2. 2.  Have a good stock of a variety of nymphs and streamers.  Underwater snags take a lot of our terminal gear-it’s a reality.  Be prepared ahead of time to part with flies.
  3. 3.  Have a good stock of Blue Wing Olive(Baetis) dry flies in sizes 18-20.  Baetis typically start hatching around St. Patrick’s Day but can happen earlier if it’s a warm February.
  4. 4.  Have a good stock of Olive/dark and Tan Caddis-the Grannom Caddis hatch starts on Tax Day(April 15).  The Little Black caddis start hatching earlier.
  5. 5.  Check your tippet supply.  The critical link between you and a nice fish is your tippet material. Ditch last year’s tippet and start fresh-fluroucarbon for subsurface fishing and nylon for dries.
  6. 6.  Check your fly lines.  Old, dirty, and cracked fly lines don’t cast or float very well.  A new line gets your bug to the fish with less effort and fishes better.  This helps you catch more fish.
  7. 7.  Make sure you have a good supply of fly floatant, dry shake, strike indicators, and splitshot.


New Gear:

Our first spring shipment of Simms Fishing Products just hit the deck.  Product highlights include the new G3 Guide  Waders and Boots, G3 Guide Tactical Jacket, and the G4 Pro Sling Pack.  The new waders don’t even feel like you’re wearing waders!  They’re 31% lighter weight, 11 times more breathable, 25% stronger, and more flexible - Trout Stream Khakis.

We’re bringing back Scientific Anglers fly lines with the first shipment due in in March.  The brand has done some amazing things with materials, coatings, and slickening agents under new ownership.  Fish a new S.A. line and see for yourself.

In addition to the X (2017 release) and the Salt HD, SAGE has a new rod we’re excited about called the Foundation - it has a smooth action, it’s lightweight and responsive, and prices out at $325.  This is a great value to performance ratio for a fly rod. 

Beginning in March, we’ll have new gear from Fishpond including the Thunderhead submersible sling and lumbar packs - no more getting your gear wet from an unexpected dunking in the stream or rainstorm.


Trips & Bookings:

We're also accepting booking requests for Driftless Area Spring Creeks, the Lower Wisconsin River, Lake Michigan Tributaries as well as Hosted Hayward Smallmouth Bass and Musky trips and Hosted Saltwater Flats Fishing Trips in 2019. View our Guide Handout here!

Casting lessons and Guided trips are a great way for beginners and advanced anglers alike to learn the skills of fly fishing quickly and/or develop new skills to improve their angling ability.  Guide trips also introduce you to new water and learn the skills needed to successfully catch fish these fisheries.  In a nutshell both programs save time and move you up the learning curve faster so you can get more enjoyment out of fly fishing.


Upcoming Events:

Fly Fishing Film Tour  Tuesday, March 6 7 P.M.-9 P.M. at the Barrymore Theater.  Its location in the hip East Isthmus of Madison with great restaurants and bars makes this a great date night.  Tickets are available at both Fontana locations for $15.00 CASH ONLY. Our Henry Street location has lots of tickets so if you work or live downtown, show ‘em some love and get your tickets there.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival:  Wednesday, March 21 5:30 P.M. (VIP Party) Films 7 P.M.-9 P.M.  at the Barrymore Theater.  This is an event to support the River Alliance of Wisconsin with some interesting films.  Without clean rivers, we don’t have great fisheries, tourism, or livelihoods.  The event supports a very worthy cause.  Also a great date night - see above event for explanation.

Fly Fishing Rendezvous:  Wednesday, April 11 4 P.M.-7 P.M. at the Junction Road Location.  There will be giveaways, free gifts, demos, contests, special pricing, snacks, and free brews. Factory reps and talented local fly tyers will be on hand to answer all questions on the new gear and local fisheries.   It’s the kick-off to the fly fishing season.

Fly Casting Class: With options in April, May and June, there is sure to be a time for you to hit the creek with us. Join us for a hands-on class where you'll learn basic fly casting fundamentals! This class is suitable for beginners and we'll also cover advanced techniques for experienced anglers.