How to make it through a Chicago Winter:

Go Fishing as much as possible.  
I'm peering out the window, watching our first winter storm, and thanking myself for having escaped the city a few days ago to fish Steelhead in Michigan before this little cold snap put a lock-down on trips for a while.  
Really fun day on the river, exploring new water and discovering some great runs up north.
 A full day of swinging flies, covering miles of river and Grant hooks-up with this day saver in the final hour as the light gets low in the sky and ice thickens on the guides. Yeah!
I've spent countless hours fishing and as many miles driving after these things, but it never gets old!

I consider myself a lucky guy for a few reasons: One, because I'm getting married to a girl way out of my league this September, and two, because she let me buy a drift boat two and a half months before our wedding. 
So I'm happy to report that local smallmouth fishing has been pretty great this summer.  July gave me a chance to get out on the new boat with some great folks and get into some hard fighting fish.  Aside from a few hot days, the mild summer has made for terrific fishing and ideal local river flows.  

Considering the average size of smallmouth bass, you'd think a 4 or 5 weight rod would be about right.  But these fish are strong and they eat big flies.  6 to 8 weight rods will get the job done better. 
 Here are a few rods worth checking out:  
The new Radian from Scott offers a lot of feel and flex with plenty of power.  A great smallmouth/steelhead crossover! 
The Sage One; probably the most versatile rod on the planet, possibly my personal favorite for smooth casting in a number of situations 
The Hardy Proaxis 9' 7 weight.  This rod has incredible power, with a tip that gives finesse.  Not to mention, it's on Sale as are the 10, 11 and 12 weights.
By mid-July local smallmouth water temperatures were nearing 90 degrees!  Warm water can increase bass activity and feeding but it can also melt most cold water fly lines or at least, make them frustrating to cast.  Check out the Rio Smallmouth Line.  It'll keep its shape in warm water and cast nice clean loops.
A few other things from the shop that make life easier on the river:
Simms Solarflex Shirts; quick drying, sun protection, very comfortable.
Simms Streamtread Sandals; lots of traction for wet wading and ventilated for comfort. Perfect for hopping in and out of the boat or wet wading. 
If you don't have any big trips planned this year, try the local fishing around Chicago.  You can have a great day on the water and be home by dinner.  Stop in to see us and we'll be glad to help.