Friday, February 11, 2011

The Anglers Year- February

Almost there, but still some work left
 I'm starting this series in what may be the hardest month of all for the fly angler, so it should all be downhill from here.  After all, by now we're getting sick of snow and cold, your enthusiasm for tying flies, creating new patterns, or just perusing catalogs is starting to wane.  I'm well into my reading list, and my short little span of attention is starting to fade.  It's way too early to start dusting off your summer gear, it will only be in the way.  It seems as if we're as far from fly fishing as it's possible to be.  If you've got the scratch you may be reading this from Belize or Andros Island, maybe even Chile or Argentina (I hate you all), but perhaps I'm being overly optimistic about my readership.  My guess is that 98% of you are in your mid-winter funk, testily waiting this one out, grousing about the cold and delay.

All is not lost.  If you're paying attention, you'll notice that the days are measurably longer than those darkest days of December.  The sun shines more- it lifts my mood.  The ice on the lakes is at its thickest, which tends to make for some slow ice fishing, but also allows for some decent walking or cross-country skiing conditions.  If one was so inclined, it's the mating season for coyotes, so February is the month for coyote hunting.

For the fly fisher and tyer- knuckle down, it's time to flex that work ethic.  Look at your boxes- you started the tying season doing the fun stuff- your favorite patterns, creating streamers, perfecting that difficult dry.  Look at your box and figure out what you really need.  Are you ready for steelhead season?  I go through a couple hundred flies in steelhead season alone, and I give away a lot.  So, love or hate it, it's time to do an inventory and set a schedule, so you don't get caught pants-down in April.  I don't know about you, but spring is my busy season- I won't have time to tie in May, so you might as well look at your summer boxes and get to work on those.  Be professional and analytical about it- give yourself assignments, set goals.
Two of my hardest worked planning tools
It's also time to get serious about planning your angling year.  Get out those maps and start planning.  The State of Michigan has an excellent resource, the coloring book guide to Trout Streams. 
Pick out one of the color coded streams you've never fished, research it, research the local resources- fly shops, hotels, campgrounds, local guides, and make a solid plan to try something, someplace new.  If you're a steelheader and haven't figured this out yet, the blue colored streams in the book are managed for steelhead.  Pick one.  Go.  Inventory your gear and figure out what you need, or how you'll get by with what you have.  Patch those waders, clean out the fly boxes.  Clean out the candy wrappers, old leaders, tattered flies and that peanut butter sandwich you forgot about in your vest or pack.
It's also time to tend to other non-fishing matters.  Take care of the honey-do list.  Take your wife to Florida (sneak in that travel rod). Paint the kitchen.  Do anything you can now that could interfere with your fishing season later- those days will be precious enough.  Rent chick flicks and watch them with your significant other (if you're a chick, you're going to be making him do this anyways, so I have you covered in that sentence.)
mid-winter steel, size 16 micro egg
 All is not lost on the fishing front either- despite the recent cold, we will still often get some warmish days, perhaps even 40 degrees, days that just may roust up a couple of steelhead.  By late February the first hatches of Black Winter Stones come off, peppering the snow banks and providing a meal for chrome fish biding their time in the holes.  The water being quite cold, small nymphs, green caddis and micro eggs are the order of the day.  If you live in Trout Country, don't make it a death quest- go for a couple of hours on a nice day and enjoy it.  Quit when it's no longer fun.  It will feel good just to have the rod in your hands again, listen to the river, see a fish or two, and, who knows, catch one.  If you don't live in Trout Country and have to pick a day and just go with it, you have my pity.  You wish you were me, don't you.

So it's February, so what? Deal with it.  Brace up your mind for the rest of the year.  Get ready- the frantic pace of spring and summer will be here soon enough; you'll wish then that you had a moment to breathe.  If you don't prepare carefully now, another spring and summer will flip by with you being only half prepared, frustrated at the missed opportunities and disorganized gear, the expensive flies you're buying instead of smugly fishing your own.

It's February.  Get cracking.

Are you ready for this?


  1. nice job! seeing those eggs in that box makes me realize I need to get tying those critters. Egg tying, a necessity that is all about speed & productivity :)

  2. Lots of tying that I've been procrastinating about... I need to set goals... you are wise man.

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  4. I removed my previous comment because I can't seem to type properly when I am thinking about fishing.
    Here goes again. I am not in that winter funk as I am heading to the San Juan this Thursday morning. World class trout tailwater. Home of the famed striped and spotted football.
    The saying is "the snowier the better".
    Just no wind PLEASE no wind. I can't stand the wind.

    (Oh, by the way. Enjoy the blizzards while you can. Global warming is crawling up our backsides.)

  5. If you get tired of the snow and ice, you can always come to California. We have trout just waiting for you.


  6. I've tied two flies in the past 2 months. I need to get busy.