Friday, November 4, 2011

The Angler's Year- November

November sunset

It lies there on your calendar, like a dare you don't want to take.  November is a clear demarcation in the year.  Spring was refreshing, Summer glorious, and even September and October had their share of pleasantness, but November throws down the gauntlet- from here on out, if you're going to fish, you're going to suffer.  November can be your Rubicon, or your Waterloo.

Don't let those die-hard jerks fool you.  Sure there's lots of space age materials and clothing available these days.  Sure the equipment and waders, thermals, fleece and polymers are so much better today.  But let's face the facts- the cold season has begun, and here in Trout Country, the weather will typically be gloomy, rainy, cold, or snowy.  You may get some 50 degree days, but I wouldn't count on it, and before the month is over we'll have a skift of snow, if not a  foot already.  At some point if you're out there, you'll have to expose some skin to cold air and icy water. At some point, if you're going to fish in November, you'll have rain runneling off you or wet snow piling up on your shoulders.

So what are you going to do- fish, or hibernate?

November's distraction
November continues a trend here in Michigan, in that many anglers are also hunters, and so they set down their rods and pick up their shooting irons.  November 15 kicks off what may be our grandest outdoor tradition, as about 750,000 hunters embark on opening day of deer season, an orange clad army taking to the woods in hopes of taming the local deer infestation.  Me, I'm a bowhunter, though I usually try to take my rifle out and shoot coyotes.  November 15 is the one day of the year I will never fish here.  Never mind the risk of taking a stray bullet, you're likely to piss off some hunter who practically had to bribe his boss to get the day off so he could hunt down by the river for that giant swamp buck he saw cross the road in August, and now you're here, lanyard rattling and whistling Dixie, scaring his buck into the next county, all because you wanted to catch a couple 8 inch trout.  Yes the man is armed, and there's always the chance he was drinkin'.  No sir, it just don't make sense.  If I was you, I'd say November 15 is the one day to stay home if you don't hunt.  (You can insert your favorite country twang into those last two sentences.)

Here's your opportunities in November. There's steelhead, steelhead, and St. Steelhead.  Sure, go fish for browns if you like.  Yeah, I know, there's chrome coho's to be had late.  Or better still, kype jawed, red-flanked male coho, pissed off that you had the gall to swing a chartruese and white fly past their face.  But you're back to talking moldy fish here essentially.  If you catch a silver fish, I say keep it- it will be bright orange inside, and smoke up nicely, and the DNR will plant more.  But if what you want is a big angry silver-plated, whale-tailed fighting machine, then swing something to Madame Chrome, because November is the month of fall steel, and aside from the more famous Great Lakes tributaries, you're likely to have the river to yourself.

So here we are, at the brink of the cold season.  As Julius Caesar put it "alea iacta est (the die has been cast)".  It's time to wade in.


  1. I definitely look forward to your "The Angler's Year" posts. You should look into doing a book with them kind of like "A Sand County Alamanac" in style. Thanks for the post.

  2. I wish I wouldn't have started fly fishing so late in the season. I'm not sure I can handle freezing my toes off....although Steelhead does sound like a lot of fun. :)

  3. Wonderful sunset, just wonderful.

  4. I'll hibernate thanks. I'll sit in my cozy den with a nice drink and a roaring fire and wait for all the "hard core jerks" to post about their winter experiences.

  5. I'll be fishing...except any day there is a chance I'll take a bullet for my efforts.

    Here's to November...cheers!

  6. I'm hoping to reap the benefits of living on the west slope in the desert, with close proximity to tailwaters. The best of both worlds.

  7. Right on, Sanders! Hard Core Troutbum it is! And a Steeliehead this winter to boot! Got fleece, handwarmers, and faceguard. Huh...sounds like I am skiing! (on the off week) haha