Trout Bum Diaries 1/3/2018


Saving Sanity


  ”   Tis the season of the antsy steelhead fisherman. The winter doldrums have already begun to sink in due to Michigan experiencing record-breaking cold weather for December,

with temperatures reaching negative twenty degrees and colder in some places. True Michiganders have a pretty decent tolerance to cold weather, being able to withstand hours of snowmobiling,

ice fishing, skiing, and other cold weather activities with their spirits kept aloft by a single shot of fireball. With that being said, this weather is getting a bit ridiculous.

Most of the rivers around are low and pretty inaccessible in spots, with the cold, icy grip of winter tightening its grip on the rivers each day. Most lakes have already succumbed to winter,

with even some of the lakes that normally aren’t frozen for a month or two already waving the white flag of defeat. I think we all are waving that flag right about now. At least now the risk

of those “first icers” falling through is less imminent due to inches being made every night on the lakes. Some of those “first icers” are just steelhead fisherman that are showing very early

signs of losing their minds, fishing for bluegill on an inch and three quarters of ice as if to replicate the same thrill of steelhead fishing.


     As far as fly fishing is concerned, forget it. There is such a thing as too cold, even for swinging. Your fingers won’t last

as long as it takes the water to freeze on your guides, and your patience may last only just as long.

Quick tip for you guys — stay inside — for now.  This is the time of year where Youtube and my vise become two of my best friends.

Endless hours are spent perusing Youtube for videos, with one video leading to the next, just looking for my fishing “fix” you could say.

 Copious amounts of flash, bunny, and feathers are strapped to shanks, hoping to come up with the next “must have” pattern for the boxes,

with many prototypes being invariably tested on the cat – luckily I don’t put hooks on my flies until I plan to fish them

 – as I find my creations scattered around the house. So now I have a few proven cat catching flies, for what it’s worth. Tying flies is where anglers get

to exercise their creative sides, especially when creating streamers or flies to be swung. These sorts of flies don’t require the specificity of lets say,

a size 18 BWO emerger, so they are more fun to just throw together.. I couldn’t tell you how many times i’ve sat down and tied a few

streamers just for the hell of it. Not to be examined or to necessarily be fished. More so just physical renditions of how I was feeling on a specific day.

Tangible thoughts I like to call them.I keep them littered around my desk, some sparking interest for future creations.

Some days it’s all about filling the boxes, making sure to have two dozen white and olive Sex Dungeons ready for spring. But most days its just

about keeping my mind and hands occupied, anything to try and keep some sanity.


Getting antsy is almost an understatement at this point. When I know there are steelhead to be caught, and I’m not catching them,

I actually begin to have withdrawal symptoms, not limited to but including excessive swearing, constantly refreshing weather reports, organizing and reorganizing

fly tying materials, and watching my collection of switch rods gather dust.  It has been been exactly two weeks since I caught my last steelhead.

For some people that would be just fine. But steelhead are my favorite fish, and not a single other fish eludes me more, looks prettier, goes through a

more magnificent journey, or simply fights better to me. A lot of people can relate. Sure I could go catch some panfish through the ice for a quick fix.

Or even set some tip ups for pike if I want to catch something a little larger. Pretty soon I guess I’ll be forced to set tip ups in the shelf ice

to try and get my steelhead fix. Or drive over to Milwaukee to fish the western side of the lake where brown trout and steelhead stage in shallow

Lake Michigan bays that have already frozen over. With none of these options seeming enticing enough, it looks like I will have to wait

for the “big warm up” we are supposed to get next week, with temperatures reaching the mid twenties. Hey, I’ll take what i can get.

That’s still thirty degrees warmer than it was last week.


 Shop life has been really exciting as of late, with every day consisting of finding a new task to keep myself busy before Frank does.

I have a bit more fun writing blogs than dusting the shop for the umpteenth time this week. Aside from the grumbles of a boss dealing with year end business shit,

and some soft music playing in the background, all is quiet around here. For now. The daily customer count mirrors a day of

winter steelhead fishing right now, with a grab here and there the norm.

Fly tying sales have been up though ironically.  “


By Westley Allen

Westley is our newest shop employee, originally from Frankfort, Michigan. Westley has spent nearly the last decade enjoying all that Michigan has to offer when it comes to fishing. From chasing Brook Trout in the Upper Peninsula on a dry fly, to swinging streamers for steelhead and browns, and chasing Kings off the piers, he has honed his fishing abilities and hopes to be the newest guide on the block. If Westley isn't in the shop working he is either tying flies or out fishing somewhere. The kid never stops. A bright, sharp - both in mind and tongue - young man that everyone seems to enjoy spending time with, Westley looks to have a bright future in the fishing industry.