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> > This fly fisherman's fall philosophical dilemma...

Jmd123October 29th, 2011, 1:15 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Well guys, at this time of the year I have to do some soul-searching, especially since I have moved to an area with so many fly fishing options. The salmon have come in for real and the steelhead are right behind them, so I feel that I should be devoting effort to pursue these large fish. However, past experiences are long hours of casting, casting, casting, and MORE casting to catch few or no fish. Even when I was using spinning gear in the old days (10-12 years ago) and methods that were most definitely successful, i.e., I actually caught some fish, there was a LOT of effort for few fish. I have never caught a steelhead, and in my endeavors to do so only ended up with small brown and rainbow trout that would have been a lot more fun on my 3-weight than my 8-weight (9-10 weight in the past, even worse). Those that actually are catching these fish are using spinning tackle, lots of lead, and scented, rubber eggs, and even these folks are putting in long, frustrating hours hoping for just a few fish (at least that's what I've heard so far from my visits to the hotspots). There's always one guy who seems to just hammer them, though of course I always hear about this and never seem to see it myself except for maybe one or two fish...

In contrast, there are several lakes with stocked trout that are open during our "extended season" (i.e., the rest of the year), one of which I have been recently exploring (you've seen some photos I have posted) and at least two others that are within striking distance (an hour or less drive and easy access). The fish to be had are no comparison in size to the incoming salmon and steelhead (but of course, one never knows until that lunker comes along!) but are considerably easier to catch, and can be had on dry flies (there are midges and who knows what else still bringing them to the surface in spite of the recent cold weather). Having spent the summer experiencing pure unabashed joy catching brookies on dry flies (and early on Woolly Buggers) on [REDACTED] Pond from my kayak (now closed until almost next May, and boy do I miss it!), I must say that I almost prefer the thought of chasing these small, surface-feeding (or at least, streamer-taking) fish in an environment of peace and solitude to the constant, unending effort of trying to convince fish sitting on the bottom in fast water to take my flies, when in the past I often felt that this was nearly futile, and downright BORING. Cast, cast, cast, cast, cast...OH I GOT ONE - oh crap, it's just the bottom again, gonna break it off and have to tie it on all over again...

Guys, is it really WORTH IT?? Should I stand there day after day, dredging the bottom in the hopes that a salmon or steelhead will actually take my fly and give me the thrill of a lifetime? Or should I go for the pleasant satisfaction of the beautiful, sunny fall day on a lake in the kayak, catching little guys and having lots of action, still with the vague possiblity of a fish of unexpected size and heft slamming it's weight against my rod? I know they can't all be little guys in these lakes, and the surface waters are cooling down with each passing day, giving these fish no excuse not to ascend into shallower waters and be vulnerable to my dries and streamers...

Just this humble fly rodder's philosophical I went to the range and shot three rifles, had a BLAST, but stopped at a salmon/steelhead spot on the way and nobody was having that much luck, though one guy had a 2-foot steelhead (DARK, like it had been in the river for quite some time) on a stringer, going home to the freezer...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
AdirmanOctober 29th, 2011, 9:05 am
Monticello, NY

Posts: 505
I'm jealous of you!! I haven't time to do anything but scout for deer the last few wks!!
SayfuOctober 29th, 2011, 9:44 am
Posts: 560
That is quite a dilemma. I was a steelhead fanatic, but not a nutjob like some where. I didn't bare the Winter conditions like some did having to dredge the bottom with the heavier, line wt. rods. But I did steelhead virtually every day in the Fall when the water was clear, and low, and the water temps conducive for steelhead to rise to the surface, and take my waking/damp fly. I fished 6wt rods using a dryline. What a fly angler has to accept is fly fishing water, and forget about a lot of those deeper, bait fishing drifts where they can get down quickly with substantial amounts of lead, and thin mono line. My dilemma is I luv to watch my bird dogs work a field, as one did yesterday, and I was able to bag a ringneck, and then watch the proud retrieve.
Jmd123October 29th, 2011, 10:36 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Sayfu, good point about the water. The Au Sable is deep and swift, and during the winter the steelies hole up in the deeper areas, pretty much out of reach of fly tackle. The Rifle and the Au Gres are smaller, shallower rivers, so maybe that's where I shoud head. The Rifle also gets some lake-run browns, and some salmon too. The Au Sable is close by and so that's why I have been checking out things there, but it also gets the most fishing pressure so that doesn't help either, though the crowds of old are gone when the salmon runs were thick and so were the fisherman...I prefer fishing smaller waters anyways. Still, the kayak fishing is so tempting, even if the fish are smaller.

Adirman, it's all where your priorities lie. I'm not a hunter so at least I don't have that to add to my dilemma! Good luck on bagging a nice one!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MotroutOctober 31st, 2011, 8:25 pm
Posts: 319
Though obviously we don't have steelhead or salmon in Missouri, I do sympathize, because fall is always a hard time to figure out what I should be doing outdoors. I think fall (mid-October to early December) has the best trout fishing of the year down here, with wonderful hatches of olives, midges, and caddis most years.But I also really love hiking, and and fall is also my favorite time to get out on the trails in the wilderness areas in the Ozarks. The decision has been a bit less difficult this year though...With bluebird skies, and pretty much no rainy, cloudy days to get the olives going or the fish feeding, the conditions have been perfect for hiking and pretty much exactly wrong for trout fishing, so that has a way of making things clear-cut. I'm really hoping for some rainy, nasty weather to get the hatches going and the water levels up but until then I'll mostly just be hiking (although I do usually pack a rod, as most of the trails I like to hike are within a stone's throw of pretty good smallmouth water.)

It's all equally fun, and in the end for me even fly fishing is really just an excuse to spend lots of time outside in beautiful country.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
OldredbarnOctober 31st, 2011, 10:48 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608
It's all equally fun, and in the end for me even fly fishing is really just an excuse to spend lots of time outside in beautiful country.

Nicely put!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood

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