The 2017 season has officially closed and we are currently sitting in what is the first real winter deep freeze of the year. With the river frozen over and trip plans on hold for a while, it’s difficult to not reflect on the season that was. The year 2017 was as different from the previous season as it could be. As 2016 saw historical low precipitation, leaving us dry, with low water levels right through to December, this year was a clear 180 degrees swing.
The season opened to excellent spring runoff, giving the watertable a much needed boost and the rivers more water perhaps than we wanted. The spring steelhead fishing was slow as most of the returning fish took advantage of the high water and shed, however, as the crazy tend to do, we did get some OK pre-season trips in where the rivers were open.
For the most part, we fished periodically on the Saugeen, Sauble and Credit Rivers until mid April for steelhead but high run off and early shedding fish made it tough beyond that. The early trout season however, was off the charts! Across the region, from the upper Saugeen River, through the Grand River tailwater and into the little, unknown brookie creeks, the opportunities were plendy and anglers took advantage of it.
The hatches on most of our systems didn’t disappoint and we were greeted almost daily from early May through to the high water event in late June with sensational insect activity. For those that timed it properly, the dry fly fishing for large trout was as good as it gets. From the Hendricksons to the Brown Drakes in June, we knocked it out of the park!
Mother nature though, can be a cruel dame and as good as it was up until late June, a massive rain event on June 22nd took the wind out of our sails. That’s the nature of what we do and I’ve often lamented that few complain more about the weather than fisherman. That said, our clients this year weren’t disappointed as the river seldom failed to deliver.
Most of the systems in our region were unfishable until early July but even during the receding water, we continued to press for fish and as a result of that, our guides learned a great deal about overcoming adverse conditions. Casting large streamers or nymphing the fringe water continued to produce fish with water levels as high as 20 cms. After things settled down, we went through a period of warmer than average water in most of our trout streams but that didn’t stop us. Shifting our attention to smallmouth bass kept us on the rivers and though water levels were higher than we would like in August, the bass fishing was outstanding.