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Spring

With Spring comes warmer air temperatures, which melts the snow of Winter, triggering runoff. Runoff can be a great time to be on the river with a guide. There are certain times when the snowmelt or Spring rains cause the river to be unsafe to wade or cross. High water and decreased visibility can make it very dangerous to even step foot in the river. Why not jump in a boat, and safely float down the river with a guide who loves the challenge of fishing dirty high water conditions. Your expert guide has quite a bit of experience when fishing high water conditions. This is a great time for you to ask questions and learn about fish behavior during high water. During this time of decreased visibility, it can help to cover multiple river miles to have a chance at high water success.

Steelhead

On many of our Michigan rivers Spring is a time for Peak Steelhead fishing. Spring brings a large amount of Steelhead into the river to spawn. Steelhead spawning typically occurs during March and April. Peak spawning activity always depends on weather, water, and individual river. This is a time of year that brings lots of fish and anglers to the rivers. Although there are many anglers enjoying their own time on the water, there are plenty of fish to go around. River Ninja Outfitters prefers to fish to non-spawning fish. This leads us to fish behind spawning fish or in the deep dark holes for staging fish. Spawning fish provide a unique buffet line of eggs. We like to leave these fish unmolested and keep the buffet line open. When you find spawning fish and let them be, it can be some of the most fun fishing of the year. Not only steelhead, but resident rainbow and brown trout are found behind spawning gravels, feeding like there is no tomorrow. During this high water time nymphs and other food sources may get kicked into the flow and carried downstream to the first eager fish.

Stripping Streamers

Brown Trout are a favorite fish to chase for many anglers in Michigan and across the Eastern states. They are known for being very aggressive and territorial. Fishing streamers for trout is active and involved. The angler is tapping into the fish’s attack instinct. This leads to some ferocious eats of your fly. Casting a fly to the bank, or some piece of structure, and stripping it back to the boat seems simple. There is actually a lot of technique that goes into each and every part of this game. Some of the most fun I have ever had in a boat was spent stripping streamers for trout. Also some of the wildest fish experiences I have had were during streamer trips. The fish are chasing the fly back toward the boat and you get to see the whole thing.

Summer

Dry Fly Hatch Fishing

As Spring transitions to Summer, rising air temperatures warm the water. With increased water temperatures aquatic insects become more active. These aquatic insects becoming more active exposes them to the trout that like to eat them. Once insects absorb enough heat units to hatch they will ascend to the surface of the river and begin the hatching process. During this ascent through the water column insects are at their most vulnerable state of the year. Trout begin to key on these insect during the months of May, June, and July. Insects make up a large amount of biomass in a trout’s diet during Summer months. The increased water temperature makes both insects and trout more active, and can create a feeding frenzy. Insects hatching can induce trout to concentrate on surface activity. At these hatch times, nymphing can be very productive, but most anglers concentrate on dry fly fishing. During a hatch it can be some of the most fun fishing of the year. Chasing fish on the surface can also add some frustration to the angler. Fish may be only eating a certain bug, or a certain stage of bug. Fish may be eating sulphurs in a brown drake hatch, eating spinners when all you see is duns popping, or eating a flying ant when there are blue winged olives on the water. These are all situations that anglers run in to on a regular basis. This is part of the reason that fishing for trout on the surface can be so challenging and rewarding.

Nymphing

90% of a trout’s diet is consumed subsurface. This is a hard fact to refute. This is why I enjoy nymph fishing so much. Keeping this in mind, fishing subsurface increases the odds of having a multiple fish performance. There is also some stigma in the fly fishing industry about nymph fishing, fishing with a bobber or indicator on your leader, or fishing with weighted flies or split shot on your line. I tend not to pay attention to this negative outlook from other anglers. I fish the way I want to, and gives me the best opportunity to have a fun and successful day on the water. Nymphing continues to produce higher numbers of fish than any other tactic out there. Don’t believe the stereotypes, nymphing is NOT easy, and it is not cheating. It can be matching the hatch just as much as dry fly fishing. As trout are eating nymphs more than any other stage of bug, you are matching their predominant food source. Nymphing as all about presentation. If you can present the flies naturally to the fish at the same speed as the current you are golden. This is sometimes harder than it looks, because of differing currents in the river.

Mousing

Mousing is presenting a waking fly on the surface to a nocturnal aggressive brown trout. These fish are larger on average than the fish you may hook during the daylight nymphing. Mousing brings out the biggest predators in the river. These fish come out from their hiding lairs to hunt in the darkness of night. The flies thrown may look more like something your cat hacked up than a traditional dry fly. Don’t be fooled people, this is not presenting a size 18 adams to a rising trout. This is lobbing a rodent like fly to the bank and hoping that the biggest fish in the river tries to KILL your fly. The lights out, so this fishing is not for the faint of heart. But the nighttime can be the best opportunity to hook and possibly land the fish of a lifetime. These fish tend to let their guard down a bit at night as they are the apex predator in the dark. Large predatory brown trout can hunt in 2 feet of water at night without exposing themselves.

Fall

Salmon

Salmon start migrating up the rivers in mid-August, on a typical year. At this time of year the fish are few in numbers, yet they are very aggressive. It can be a gear testing time of year for the angler. Many rods are broken and drags burnt up in the Fall, because of hard fighting mean Salmon. They are the biggest hardest pulling fish in the river at this time of year. With the migration of huge King Salmon coming up the rivers, it triggers masses of anglers to the rivers to chase these large fish.

Egging for Trout

This is some of my very favorite fishing and guiding of the year. Who wouldn’t get excited about a 20” brown trout eating eggs in 18 inches of water like a shark attacking wounded fish one after another. These trout seem to forget about everything else in the world when the buffet line of eggs is flowing downstream. Some of the largest fish of the year are seen during this time of year. Trout come out of hiding from the logjams and undercut banks to partake in the chowing of high-protein eggs. At this time of year, I would much rather fish to an 18” brown trout than fish to the 18lb. king salmon he is feeding behind. Egging for trout is an opportunity to step up your stealth casting and advanced mending skills with a floating line.

Fall Steelhead

Steelhead enter the rivers in October. They migrate up river, and eat eggs behind king salmon. These fish will stay in the river all Winter long, so they must feed to maintain weight and gain sexual maturity. When these fish first enter the river they are extremely aggressive. Fresh Fall steelhead will eat almost anything that drifts naturally into their view. These hard fighting acrobatic fish possess a mystique to anglers pursuing them in the Fall. Hooking a fish is just one step in the process. Merely hooking one of these silver bullets does not mean you have even a 50% chance to land it during the Fall. We have seen fish jump as many as 11 times in the first minute. Typically, steelhead jump a few times and take Olympic sprinter like runs in the first few seconds of being hooked. I have been more humbled by steelhead than any other freshwater fish. It is like being hooked up to 220volts; Like trying to lasso a bull and pull him toward you.

Fall Streamers

Brown trout spawn in the Fall, giving anglers a unique pre-spawn and post-spawn bite window. Pre-spawn brown trout tend to exhibit extreme territorial behavior. Post-spawn brown trout have just endured the rigors of reproduction. They need to take in calories, and quick. The streamer that you are stripping through the water column represents a large meal for this hungry predator. It is a large payoff for their effort. The chases and aggressive eats will keep you coming back for more.

Summers in Colorado

River Ninja Outfitters Owner and Head guide Alex Forsberg has spent the Summers in Vail, CO since 2013 guiding for Minturn Anglers. During these years he has learned to appreciate many sections of all the rivers in Colorado. Each additional year he returns Alex gains a more intimate knowledge of the rivers, the fish, and effective tactics. Colorado has a variety of different types of water. Because of this there are many different types of trips and experiences to be had in Colorado. There are so many special rivers and places in Colorado that Alex loves sharing with his clients.

During runoff Alex takes trips to high country lakes and ponds, high altitude creeks and rivers, and tailwaters to avoid the high water of “Mud Season”. The incredible thing to many is that fish can still be caught in this high water, but safety is of utmost importance. The high country is habitat to plentiful brook trout and brown trout. These fish are readily to eat a dry fly many days. Sometimes nymphs are needed to hook fish subsurface.

Wade trips are typically taken on the Eagle River. This is our fly shops home river. Many days are spent on the Eagle River. Other rivers can be enjoyed during wade trips. The Eagle possesses a unique mystique and attitude about her. Some days she acts like a redheaded stepchild not giving up anything without extreme work and other days she can open up and tell all of her deep dark secrets. The river being a fickle environment at times is why it is such a rewarding river to fish and get to know.

Float trips are taken on the Upper Colorado, Roaring Fork, and Eagle rivers.

The float season on the Eagle only last a few weeks. These few weeks typically coincide with the caddis hatch. The caddis along with other hatching insects create some of the most exciting dry fly fishing I have ever seen. The Eagle River contained a healthy mix of Brown and Rainbow Trout.

The Upper Colorado River is a special place. This is where all the water in the West flows. It is the same river that carved the Grand Canyon, and flows through Mexico toward the Gulf of California (aka Sea of Cortez). The area we fish is just several miles from the headwaters where all the water starts. I have become quite fond of the Colorado system over the years. I spend numerous days straight in the boat each Summer navigating the rapids and fishing the depths of this beautiful river. The Colorado river contains mostly Brown Trout and Rocky Mountain Whitefish along with the occasional Rainbow Trout.

The Roaring Fork is considered an away river, as it is more than an hour drive away from Vail. Alex loves going over to Glenwood Springs to float the Roaring Fork. He only gets to spend a few days on it each Summer, but wishes that it was more. The Roaring Fork is world renowned for its famous Green Drake hatch.

All things considered, Colorado is a fun and beautiful landscape for Alex to call his office for a few months of the year!