Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Gig

Well, since it is about time for my yearly post, I thought I would get it done when I had some free time ; ) In all seriousness, I have had some really good changes come my way in the last 8 months, and I thought in this entry I would elaborate on those, as well as highlight some of the moments that stood out for me while fly fishing in the last year or so.

Last July I took a Customer Service position with 3M/Scientific Anglers/Ross in Midland, MI. It has changed my fishing schedule tremendously. But more importantly, it has offered me the opportunity to talk with people knowledgeable in fly fishing all over the country, to learn from them, and to bounce new ideas off of those same folks with a wealth of expertise in their respective fisheries. I never thought that I could be as happy as I am in an office job, but alas, aside from the obvious ups and downs, it is treating me very well.

Oddly enough, the new gig has not really cut into my fishing time. I have just become more of a weekend warrior. I have been asked the question "are you fishing as much as you used too?" The truth is, I was on the water more when guiding, but my actual fishing time has stayed the same or gone up slightly. Since August 1st of 2011, I have been on the water about 50 days. The quarry chased during that timeframe has included Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, Smallmouth Bass, Snook, and Redfish, and success has been had in most areas.

As far as fishing highlights go, I cannot get swinging flies for King Salmon off the brain. This year they jumped way up on the list as far as my favorite great lakes fish. When executed properly, they take a swung fly much better then Steelhead, fight as well pound-for-pound as a Steelhead, and are just downright MEAN! Last fall I had some major eye-opening experiences with salmon, and I absolutely CAN'T WAIT until this fall to chase them again.

Speaking of Steelhead, this fall/winter has been one of the mildest on record, and the steelhead have been acting accordingly. The run on most west-side rivers is waning, on the East side there are a lot of fish on gravel, and not much else. The run this year is probably a full 3 weeks ahead of schedule. The weather has been good for fly fishing in the short term, but bad for the long term. Prolonged cool, wet Springs are known to grow big trout, as they gorge on worms and other disoriented prey in the higher flows. I am hoping for a wet, cool summer...

Two weeks ago, I fished down in the salt again with Austin Lowder, targeting Snook and Redfish. My dad and I had a blast chasing them, and it has me thinking: In what applications can I do this in Michigan? I have some ideas I will be experimenting with over then next couple of months, will let you know if they work out ; )

Below you will see some of the more notable pics from the last year or so...

This was the moment I realized how well kings eat a swung fly, this fella was hooked in the tongue...
Stellar Buck on local water
Fishing buddy Chuck with a large Fall chromer
Nice fall Steelie for me
Winter Chrome, one of the coolest looking fish I saw all fall/winter
Here Snooky snooky, have a cookie
Spring Dimer

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Springtime in the Mitt

Hey there folks,

I have been very busy around here the past couple months. Work, fishing, and watching little Jack grow up have pretty much consumed every waking moment for me lately, though it hasn't been at all bad ; ) In fact, it's been quite good.

Fishing has been VERY good. I can't remember ever having a steelhead run like this year. Maybe I'm just too young to remember the "good old days," but the numbers of fish have been impressive to say the least. Last week, the Pere Marquette looked to be in the peak of the salmon run, which, for those of you in the know, means INSANE numbers of fish. Only this time, they were STEELHEAD!

Though the hookup to landing ratio hasn't been great with hot spring fish, hookups have been plentiful and many have been giving us a full aerial display.

On the West side of the state, the steelhead run is winding down, but the East side is just heating up. I'll bet there will be fish around into June over there. I can only hope that the West side was only a precursor for what the East side has to offer this year.

I CAN'T WAIT for trout season this year! With all of the water in rivers across the state, the Brownies will be fat, sassy, and STRONG this spring. The first good dry fly day is something I look forward to every new year. There is nothing like watching a solid brown sipping a bug off the surface...

Whether it is steelhead, trout, Walleye, smallies, or muskies, our state has a ton to offer in the way of fishing. Pick your poison, and get after em', because there is no better place on earth for a fisherman than Michigan in springtime!

I see a reflection...

Chrome Hen

Ken with a nice Buck

Yours truly with a bruiser

Nice fish Paddy

EB Brown

Mike M. works a slot

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Singing in the Rain, Fishing in the Snow

The river had been frozen completely across for the past 2 months. It took two days of higher-than-normal flows to blow the ice out. The ice chunks thrown on shore by the increase in water were a solid 3-4 inches thick, and rather mean-looking when stacked three feet high.

As Dane and I made our way to the river I said that we'd "be heroes or zeroes," not knowing at the time whether there was ice on top of the river. When we made our way around the corner and saw open, flowing stream, we each let out a small gasp of excitement and made our way down.

No footprints on the bank, but fisherman were present at our honey hole. We moved upstream and hit the producer. A bend that starts as a shallow riffle and then dives into a fast run of medium depth, it ends with a deep, froggy-water lie, perfect for drifting a bobber through. Soon, it starts to snow.

Knowing the bucket, I worked out line, imagining what I would do when the fish took the fly. On the second cast a stick snags my fly, oh, wait, THE STICK IS MOVING, fish on! Here we go, keep the line tight. Fight her down through a heavy riffle only to have Dane tail the beautiful girl on the inside of the next downstream bend. Seven pounds of chrome. Nothing better.

Awhile longer, and we move again. The snow is really falling now. Up to an inch of snow covers Dane and I, and golfball sized snowflakes are dropping all around us. Dane catches a nice brown...

We arrive at another popular spot, which Dane always claims is the "best spot on the river." He proves it. Hooking a nice hen, he fights it through the rapids at the bottom of the run. Keep it tight. KEEP IT TIGHT, I'm thinking, watching Dane play the fish expertly into the shallows were I tail her. We get the obligatory hero shots, and send the lil' lady on her way. "I love watching as they swim off," Dane says.

It's snowing even harder now, and seven inches of the white stuff covers what was formerly bare-earth when we had started the day. Good fishing in a snowstorm. What an incredible thing! Ended up landing those two adults and one skip, with a nice little brownie thrown in between the both of us. The weather, however, is what we'll remember about this day...

Frozen river 2/18/11

Open river 2/20/11

My steely

Fighting a fish in the snow 101

Happy guy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Had the chance to take good a good friend and fisherman "P," out this past weekend. New to the fly rod/steelhead game, but not new to fishing, we set out to hook (and hopefully land) his first steelhead. We accomplished the goal...twice. I also threw one in the mix and overall we had a very good day.

I just may get more satisfaction out of watching a person hook/land their first steelhead. The king of freshwater. The standout part of the day was when P hooked into a dime bright steelhead. It took him for a nice ride and soon parted ways, but it left an indelible impression on both of us. Very cool moment.

For those of you more experienced steelheaders, try and take someone out who is newer to the game. Challenge yourself. The results can be even more rewarding than hooking the fish yourself.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Long Winter

As I write this, I am looking out the window at one and a half feet plus of snow. There certainly is no lacking in the white stuff this year. No lacking in the cold department either. It has made things tough on the open water fisherman. Many of my favorite stretches of stream are frozen this time of year.

Icefishing "scratches the itch," but it certainly does not do the justice to cabin fever that a dancing steelhead will. This year has been slow on the hardwater front as well, with chub fattened Walleye that are reluctant to eat. We are catching dinks, but keepers are few and far between. Underwater camera pics show their presence but an overabundance of shad in Saginaw Bay this year has them fat and sassy.

Every "warm up," in the weather has harkened me back to the stream. On the west side of the state, we have been managing about 3 tangles with chrome a day. The east side rivers are frozen (some of the west side rivers are too).

Went fishing with new friends Matt and Paul this past Sunday. New to the PM, but not new to steelhead fishing, these guys are good fisherman. They approach a day of fishing like a puzzle to solve. Each drift can give you another piece to the puzzle.

Matt wraps some sweet rods. You can check em' out here. These really are some of the nicest looking rods I have ever seen. The guy wraps a great looking bug too...

Paul is a west coast fisherman. Not Michigan's west coast, the real west coast, Western Washington to be exact. Paul has the confidence and steelhead sense to be successful anywhere he fishes.

All three of us landed fish yesterday, going 3 for 4 total on chrome with about a half dozen trout thrown in. Not too shabby for a 32 degree day. We didn't even get to fish some of the more consistant producing spots as there were quite a number of folks out there as well.

This time of year can hold surprises. Pockets around heavily fished holes start holding fish as they disperse because of the commotion fishermen bring. Finding these spots can make or break your day.

Close Up

Headshot, Matt's fish

Matt with chromer 2/6/11

Cold fishing 1/9/11

Hooked up in the slush 1/9/11

Doing the "Steelhead stab"

Paul's fish


Yours truly with a double stripe buck

Beat up buckeroo from December

Streamers designed to piss off a steelhead! (hopefully)

23 inch Wally

A rod that Matt wrapped, check em' out here

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Friends, Michigan Natives, and Fishing Trips

Yeah yeah, it has been a long time since you all have heard from me. A really long time. That's the bad news. The good news is that I have been fishing a lot. From native Smallmouth Bass to Steelhead, we have been covering the gamut in the past three months. From the biggest wild Au Sable Brown I have ever seen, to a tough but fulfilling Steelhead trip to New York state, I have certainly been getting mine. Have you been getting yours?

Larry H, a very good friend and client landed a 27" Brown trout with me on a moonless night in September. It beat my personal best by a full inch, and it was a truly spectacular hook-jawed male. Three casts prior to landing this fish, he landed a 22". Not too bad for night that started rather slow.

John J, the "Pine River Jedi," has been showing me around the Smallmouth Bass waters in the tri-city area. Catching between 50 and 80 fish each time out sure is a tough job, but someone has to do it ; ) During the extreme heat of August this past year, his info was key when the northern trout waters became too warm to fish.

Jared M is a newer fishing buddy with whom I took several fishing trips with over the past three months. Originally addicted to the pursuit of catching a salmon via a legitimate hookup, it was hooking a Steelhead on the swing that eventually left him shaken and wild-eyed.

Blake H is another new fishing buddy. In fact, he is new to fly fishing. In our time together, he has described fly fishing as a "religion," and the river as his "church." Seems to me that he has the bug for sure.

Finally, my son Jack is doing great. We started him casting a fly rod this fall, and he took to it very quickly. A picture of our casting sessions can be seen below. It was great watching him cast the rod while laughing uncontrollably. In fact, it was priceless.

The fishing is good and the company is better. Steelhead are in the rivers, deer are in the woods, and there is definitely no better time of the year to be a Michigander than now. And again, I apologize for the time lapse in reports and stories. Please look forward to many more blog entries to come!

Larry's 22 incher, imagine his surprise when...

Three casts later he landed this 27 incher!

Lil' Jack casting with flare

Barr's Slump Buster with a twist

Zoar Valley, New York

Emerald Shiner imitation

This fish hit HARD!

She put up a great fight on a 5 weight Hydros

Myself with a Michigan native, the Smallmouth Bass

The Pine River Jedi

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The End of a Western Adventure Plus

Arriving at the creek mid-morning the next day, we looked at the long 8 mile hike ahead of us with anticipation. We were after Cutthroat Trout on this day. One hour goes by, and we are still walking. After two hours of walking, we started fishing. Between Ken, Dan, and myself, I think we landed around twenty cutties ranging from 14 to 20 inches. We even had the chance to sight fish for some of them. That night, after the 4 mile hike out, we had a memorable dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone and departed for Lander, Wyoming for the last leg of our trip.

Arriving in town around 2 AM, exhausted from our drive, we chose to set up "camp," in the local city park. By camp I mean that I laid a tarp on the ground, slipped into my sleeping bag, and passed out under the stars. Somehow, I managed to avoid the sprinklers that apparently go off nightly (found that out the hard way the next night).

The next morning, we hit the local fly shop and went to the little river. When we arrived, hoppers were EVERYWHERE! Trying to contain our excitement, we strung up the sticks and headed towards the creek. That day of fishing was some of the best Brown Trout fishing I have ever witnessed. Between the 3 of us, 40 to 50 trout were caught and released from 10-20 inches long. All of them came on dry flies. These were not normal Brown Trout. Large fish between 17-20 inches charged our oversized hoppers with abandon in the middle of the day. Not only were they plentiful, the trout were also beautiful, having a buttery yellow color with amazing Brook-Trout like spots. That night we camped at the city park yet again. Only in Lander would they allow campers to pitch their tents next to a community center and a playground. It's a pretty awesome place.

The next day, we had a rod reservation on a local "creek." I use the term creek loosely because the stretch of water we fished was actually a lake. Here, large Brown Trout (16" and up) made their living by cruising the shoreline looking for unfortunate terrestrial insects that had fallen into the water. Hoppers were all over the place here too. The trick was to quietly stalk the banks of the lake looking for the fish swimming along the shore on the search for food. If the cast was right, they would eat it. Bonefishing for Brown Trout, if you will. Very exciting stuff.

That night we made our way into Lander Bar and met some really great people. I also tried to track down an old fishing guide and friend, but the connection was not made. Maybe next time I guess. That night we camped on the little river, each of us looking forward to fishing it the next morning before our departure back to Michigan.

As it did before, this river provided great hopper fishing the next morning. It gave us a great sendoff and gave us memories to last until next year. We will be back, rest assured.

As far as Michigan fishing, mouse fishing was very good around the new moon. Now that it has brightened up, night fishing for big Brown Trout has slowed down considerably. Today, I managed to do some fishing with friend and local warmwater guide John Johnson for smallmouth. A video from the morning will be coming soon.

We had just gone for a dip

The crew

Hoppers on the tent at big fish canyon

Tying mormon crickets on the road

Our campsite at big fish canyon

The Yellowstone

This Bison looked like he had a bone to pick

Cool shot Kenny...

My biggest trout of the trip-22"

The "creek"

Yours truly with a 19"

Kenny with a pig

Myself with a buttery brown from the little river

On our way home