After refilling my cup of coffee for the third time this morning, I sit back down on the couch and notice the view out the window hasn’t changed….not that I expected it to. Wind. Lots of it. Too much of it. The reality of my situation is inevitable. My Jon boat will remain on the trailer today. I shouldn’t be surprised though. A 50 degree day in April in Northern Michigan is almost always guaranteed to include a healthy dose of the big W.
Spring in the Midwest is funny this way. If you’re anything like me, you spend more time than the average person checking multiple different weather apps throughout the day. Your heart rises with anticipation when predicted warmer temps grace the days to come. The next step however is the heart stopping anxiety as you determine ‘how windy is it going to be’. This is the time of year where my fly boxes are as stocked as they’ll be and these feathered and flashed creations from a long winter need to get on with their lives’ purpose. My reels all proudly display new fly lines. My racoon-esque sunglasses tan, now a distant memory. It’s time to get this show on the road.
My reason for giving ‘the breeze’ such consideration is that, at my core, I’m a lake guy. More specifically, I’m a warm-water lake guy. I love rivers, don’t get me wrong, and the fact remains that 99% of my guiding over the years has been on moving water. That said, my happy place this time of year is about as basic as it gets. It involves a 12 foot Jon boat, a few Winston fly rods, a cooler keeping some beverages cold, and a fully charged Bluetooth speaker. (side note: if you don’t like tunes in the boat, we probably shouldn’t fish together). But as you may guess, sustained 20’s with gusts to 40 don’t exactly create the recipe for success on the stillwater.
I’ve been known to say Fall is my favorite time of the year more times than I can count. This time of year though, I always wonder if that’s correct. There’s just something special about being on a pond or lake right now. Like rivers, a lake also ‘awakens’ once we’re able to spring forward and days begin to lengthen. If you’ve never experienced what I’m referring to, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. To put it in perspective though, every fish in the lake is up shallow seeking warmer water and a willing mate to produce the next generation with. Water clarity should be about as good as you’re going to get all year as well, as summer weed/algae growth is yet to begin. Did someone say sight fishing? Oh yeah, and the fish are hungry. Some days very. And speaking of the fish, keep in mind you’re fishing for predators. Bass and pike don’t casually sip dry flies. They crush bait fish patterns. The only real negative component to striking out for a day of Springtime warmwater angling is going to be the crowds. Oh wait, nope, they’re on the rivers right now. You’re likely going to have the water all to yourself. If someone has issue with the scene described above, I’m all ears.
In all seriousness though, the only real consideration you’ll need to do battle with is the weather. Which, as alluded to at the beginning of this essay, has shut me down today. What you’re looking for are what I call weather windows; those days where the meteorological stars align to create some of the best warmwater fishing we’ve seen in many, many months. Typically, the further south you go in this country, the easier it is to find weather windows. Up here near the 45th parallel however, they are something you still can’t take for granted with regularity. It’s a feeling really, something you can smell in the air. Spring is ready to kick ol’ man winter out of here for good. There’s a sense of urgency to the situation. The birds, the squirrels, the turkeys…everything is active. It’s not too calm, but also not too windy. Not too sunny, but also not too cloudy. The sun warms your face. But you may still need to throw on an extra layer. I could go on. But I think you get my point.
It goes without saying, we’re currently living in a world unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The degree to which this virus is affecting us all varies greatly, but no one is completely unscathed. From a sporting perspective, I’ve had two guide trips cancelled (and likely three). With so many of us being home bound these days, I can’t think of a better time to dust off the 6 weight, tie on a clouser, and go make a few casts in that local pond you eye every time you head to the river. Just don’t be surprised if you head home that day wondering why you never did this before.
Originally from Southeast Kansas, Kyle received his first fly rod at age 10 and immediately began harassing any available fish that would eat a fly. Now, 20 years later, his love for the sport and passion for sharing the great outdoors with others continues to grow by the day. Kyle has fished extensively throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, as well as nearly a dozen saltwater locations. He is a very patient, energetic and knowledgeable instructor who loves nothing more than helping people catch that first fish on a fly. Kyle is on both the R.L. Winston and Bauer Fly Reel Pro Staffs.