Hello everybody and I hope this emails finds you well, ahead of Christmas and after an enjoyable Thanksgiving.

Fall temperatures have remained mostly mild here in the Chicago area and early winter seems to be a continuation of that. Except for a pretty large snow event (8-15" locally) which occurred a ahead of Thanksgiving. As most of you know, I really enjoy winter and welcomed the snowfall as I was able to take advantage of it and snowshoe at one of my favorite forest preserves before it quickly melted.

Before that though, I was out east hiking in Shenandoah, Smokey, and Mammoth Cave National Parks as well as visiting Civil War battlefield sites Antietam, Manassas, and Gettysburg. It was a great trip with the highlights being the absolutely crazy, Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth and the battlefields.

Now I am performing my usual offseason duties such as wrapping up the numbers from last season and preparing them for the accountant. Taking line off, cleaning, oiling, and making minor repairs to reels. Wiping down and cleaning rods, and taking a general inventory of gear to see what needs to be ordered for next season. I am also about to begin tying flies which we'll use for coho salmon in the spring. And as always this time of year, I continue to reflect back on the previous season and think about what tweaks I can make for a more successful and enjoyable upcoming season.

As a recap of last season, we saw pretty good fishing overall. The highlights were a productive but shorter than usual, shallow water trout season (brown and lake) in April. Coho salmon were a little late in arriving but when they did, we generally saw good fishing for them, interrupted at times by schools of fish which abruptly disappeared or moved to different locations in a matter of hours. But we continued to catch a fair amount of coho into mid-June before it turned to a variety of species. Late summer and fall lake trout fishing was excellent for a periods of time but it occurred earlier than normal and in different locations than usual. And then heavy fall winds took a grip and didn't let go until it was about time to close the season. Still it was a successful season and like every year, I learned a few things.

King salmon numbers remain below normal due to efforts made by the state-stocking agencies to help, better balance the the king salmon to alewife (baitfish) ratio levels. The DNRs have a difficult job and they are taking precautions in order to keep the lake healthy for the future. This is a king salmon-specific thing and doesn't have anything to do with the other four species we catch.

However I was encouraged to see that we caught more kings this past season than in 2014. We will likely see continued lower than average numbers of kings in 2016 as well. But like this previous season, we hope it improves further again and continues to get better. In the absence of big numbers of king salmon which typically only make up our late July and early August catch, we are fortunate enough in this area of the lake to have 'seasons within the season' for other species. First is the coho salmon fishery which is honestly the best on the lake and dominates our catch, many times with limit-hauls in the beginning of the season for anywhere from 4-10 weeks. Many people also feel that the coho are the best tasting fish in the lake. In addition to the coho, we also have a very nice, shallow-water brown and lake trout fishery that develops at the start of each season in April. These are good size fish, good fighters, and excellent smoked or grilled. Rainbow trout (steelhead) are often available throughout the season and we usually get a large school of them each year which we target for 5-20 days or so until they move on. Lastly, this past season we saw some of the best lake trout fishing I've seen since I was a kid, develop over the late spring, summer and into fall. I suspect 2016 could yield similar results for summer and fall lake trout fishing.

Reservations for the 2016 Season are quickly filling in. If you want to fish next year, the answer to 'when you should think about a date' is 'soon'. Additionally, I do sell gift certificates and time is running short if you needed any last minutes gift ideas. I normally mail these with a brochure card and a magnet for you to give to the recipient. However, I can also email you a gift cert copy to print if we think it won't reach you in time before Christmas.

Finally, in these same regards, I took a lot of reservations last season for dates in 2016. I did not require a deposit at the time, although some of you did so, but the time has also come to solidify those reservations with me. If you know you put a date on the book already, please feel free to reply back to confirm that date as well visiting the website to submit the deposit. If I have a date down, don't have a deposit, and don't hear from you, I will be circling back with you to make sure we are still on. There are also few of you who have a carry-over deposit from a weather-related cancels last year that need to be put toward a new date.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope everyone has safe and happy holidays and new years.
- Capt Rick