The three weeks of arctic air has ended! The past few days have been in the high 50’s or low 60’s. That was a long cold spell and just when I thought the rivers would be free of ice, it would get in the teens at night again. Good news we have had some moisture lately, little snow and some decent rain. The rivers and creeks are looking much better but we still can use more precipitation.
I go through spells as a fly tier – sometimes I love to sit at my vise and tie flies and other times I just don’t even want to think about it. But three plus weeks of cold weather will light a fire under one’s ass to do something constructive. What gets me at the vise, more than anything, is seeing new flies.
After seeing some attractive streamer patterns by Gunner Brammer on Instagram, I searched to see if he had a Youtube channel. As luck would have it, he does. The fly that interests me the most was called the “Mega Jerk,” a beautifully profiled 10 inch streamer for pike and musky that swims a lot like a glide bait musky lure. I have made my own brushes for fly tying, but Gunner’s tutorial on the brush for the Mega Jerk opened my eyes to many new ideas. I thought to myself, why I haven’t thought of that? Gunner strategically uses three to four different materials in one brush and cuts to length for the fly to have a perfect fish taper. I decided to try it out and came up with three different brushes, which turned into three different colored flies and I was anxious to try them out.
I finally got my chance to fish for the first time this year last Friday. I didn’t have much confidence in catching a musky since the water was still very cold, but it was worth a try. Thinking the river would be free of any ice by this point, I found myself in disbelief as I followed the James river upstream. Some sections were still covered bank-to-bank in ice and the higher I got, the better it looked. That is of course if you didn’t mind floating in chunks of ice.
I met up with a couple of buddies at noon and we decided to tackle the ice flow anyway. It cleared out as the day went on but no muskies were hooked or sighted…no surprise. After the weekends warming trend, I figured it would be better come Monday. I waited until the afternoon and hit the river. It was very calm and warm with the water clarity being perfect, what I call big fish green. The water temp was a whopping 39 degrees, which isn’t great but I’ve caught muskies in colder water temps. After about 5 casts my line stopped on my retrieve and I felt some weight. Not thinking it was a fish, I set anyway and after some hard strips on the line, the fish finally showed itself. I said “Oh, its a musky!!” Well duh! But even I have those moments occasionally. Thankfully it wasn’t the log I thought I hooked.
February is usually a great month to get out for the musky hunt because it is pre-spawn and the big females are looking to put on weight. If you have been musky curious, its not to late. In fact, its just getting good!