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Fish Farmageddon Update


Let’s face it, the national political scene is about as entertaining as a never ending Nascar crash.  As a result, local issues seem to be easily set aside.  About a year ago Michiganfly, along with a number of far more credible sources, reported on the Grayling fish farm and their pursuit of a permit to operate the largest fish farming business in Michigan located in the East Branch of the Au Sable River (Michiganfly Piece).

To bring everyone up to speed, here’s what’s happened over the past year or so:

Trial Update

The Sierra Club and Anglers of the Au Sable weren’t able to win their case.  On February 1, 2017 Judge Daniel Pulter upheld the MDEQ permit with modifications including requiring Harietta Hills to conduct additional water quality monitoring and install settlement basins at the downstream end of each raceway where fish waste would be collected for removal.

The Permit

TDEQ Director Heidi Grether will reportedly make a final approval on the amended permit on March 8, 2017.  If so desired, Director Grether has the authority to deny the permit although this isn’t seen as a significant likelihood.

When will the facility be operational?

The facility is reportedly able to begin ramping up operations at this time.

Can anything be done at this point?

Yes, there is still hope as Anglers of the Au Sable plans to take the case into the judicial court system.  Those of us interested in supporting their cause can do the following:

1. Get educated

MLive piece Read This

Anglers of the Au Sable Trial Recap Read That

NY Times piece (hint: if you have anger management issues DO NOT read the comments) Read if you’ve got the time

2. Those active on social media are encouraged to share updates from the Anglers of the Au Sable website:

3. Anglers of the Au Sable has spent several hundred thousand dollars and anticipate several hundred thousand more.  Funding comes from the general public Get wallet and click here

4. Take a look at Congressman Dan Kildee’s legislation and write your congressman.  So, new legislation was proposed by Congressman Dan Kildee on February 9, 2017 to ban fish farming in the Great Lakes and all federal “Wild Scenic Rivers” including the Au Sable.  The legislation is called the Ban Aquaculture in the Great Lakes Act.  Mlive has a nice overview of the proposed legislation (MLive Link)

This massive fish farm is a bad idea and needs to be shut down.  Get educated and get involved by voicing your opposition and supporting those who are willing to fight the good fight.  The national political scene is a mess, we all get that, but let’s not become complacent about what is happening in our back yard here in Michigan.

Travel Ban Invoked Against Michigan Anglers


This week marks the midway point of the annual migration of Mitt Monkeys to the northern Arkansas White River watershed and, as expected, tensions with local residents are at an all-time high.  From the bloated Cotter Courier police blotter to boat ramp protests at the Bull Shoals dam, it’s clear that Michigan anglers have once again worn out their welcome.

With local officials at their wits’ end, area officials reached out to inquire whether the new administration’s controversial travel ban could be invoked.  After hearing testimony from local restaurant and hotel proprietors and reviewing selected 911 recordings, the administration quickly became sympathetic to the plight of Arkansas residents and committed to adding Michigan anglers to the travel ban under an executive order.  “We think this is best for everyone” tweeted POTUS, “these Mitt Monkeys are really bad and totally stupid”.


The area has a long history of Michigan angler distaste.  Tensions boiled over in 2015 when Mitt Monkeys were suspected of starting a fire at the Bull Shoals dam (link to article).  In 2016, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission issued an invasive species alert for Michigan Anglers, a tongue-in-cheek campaign with limited success (link to article).

A rapidly growing group of area politicians are advocating additional tactics to supplement the ban including the construction of a wall said to be paid for by Michigan anglers at the Arkansas border.  Others have put forth a plan to post “Welcome to Buckeye Country” signs at the border meant to confuse, disorient, and deter Michigan anglers.


With the expectation of an executive order, residents may finally get permanent relief from their distant neighbors to the north.  Will the impending travel ban keep Michigan anglers from venturing south or is a massive wall in order?  Michigan anglers may finally realize that they aren’t welcome back in Cotter.

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week satire column intended for entertainment purposes only.  No fish were harmed in the creation of this post.

Fly Fishermen Ponder the Approach of Peak Beard


Although few would argue that the steady rise of beard fanaticism is sustainable, many were taken by surprise this past week when Dale Dobak greeted his clients at Green Cottage on the PM Monday morning with a face as smooth as a baby’s bottom.  Dobak has long been considered a leading indicator of peak beard not only due to his use of beard fibers as dubbing in many of his unique steelhead patterns but also because his wooly mammoth beard covers a number of ill-advised face tats.

Michiganfly reached out to several local bearded fly brah’s for comment on this momentous event:


“Once I saw a small pair of hands shoot out of Dale’s beard to help with a client’s tangled line”


“I heard that brah’s beard got him in tight with a pack of local Sasquatch.  That shave is probably some kind of Sasquatch hazing ritual”


“What’s next, are you going to tell me that Dobak took up golf?”


“No way.  Dobak’s beard has some kinda forcefield around it.  One time at a tying demo I saw his scissors get too close to that beard and they just flew out of his hand”

Is peak beard in sight, will the Dobak doctrine hold true, was Dobak duped into shaving his magnificent beard?

Pollution May Be The Asian Carp Solution


Severe weather in the Midwest is taking a toll on Lake Michigan waterways as urban chloride pollution from 50 years of heavy winter road salt application has turned sections of area rivers turgid with nearly a half million tons of salt discharged into storm sewers each year.  Since 1960 when the use of road salt began, the salinity levels in the Chicago Area Waterway System have steadily increased to the point now that sections are now classified as salt water.  While Lake Michigan is relatively unaffected, thanks primarily to the reversed flow of the Chicago River, its immediate inland rivers no longer resemble fresh water.


Surprisingly, this salt pollution has resulted in an intriguing opportunity in the war against Asian Carp. During the fall of 2016, an independent scientific coalition calling themselves SADSACS, Scientists and Democrats Seeking Asian Carp Solutions (Republicans commented that they have their hands full with an invasive species of their own) tested with favorable results the release of several predatory salt water species in a section of the Cal-Sag Channel.  A 6 ft hammerhead shark reportedly survived for 18 hours in the channel until it was caught and eviscerated by a local catfish angler confusing the giant fish with a mutant channel cat common to the area.  Despite the loss, SADSACS confirmed that the shark remained confined to salt laden waters of the channel.

Hammerhead sharks were selected based their affinity for not only Asian carp but for anything remotely edible including small appliances, discarded auto parts, and empty cheese whiz cans littering the rivers.  The sharks are expected to live quite comfortably until carp eventually arrive in the kill zone. Watersport restrictions are being considered but debates are ongoing as to whether the waterways in question could become any more hazardous.

Confirmation that the salinity of Chicago and NW Indiana water has attained levels high enough to host ocean predators is seen as the likely solution to the Asian Carp conundrum.  In a related note, scientists in San Diego, CA recently provided disturbing evidence that hammerhead sharks are becoming increasingly tolerant to freshwater ecosystems.  When asked about a future involving the great lakes teeming with sharks, SADSACS representatives commented “Let’s just solve one problem at a time”

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week satire column intended for entertainment purposes only.  No fish were harmed in the creation of this post.

Nestle Admits No Ice Mountain In Evart, MI


Consumers of Ice Mountain bottled water were shocked this week when news of the deception was announced. For years, area residents have been on the lookout for the Ice Mountain that can be found on Nestlé’s bottled water taken from Evart.  “It’s adorable how the local folks think that there is an actual ice mountain” commented company representatives.  When asked if Evart’s residences are dim-witted, the response was about as clear as a bottle of zebra mussel filtered Muskegon River water “they’ve let us take nearly 4 billion gallons of groundwater from them since 2005 for free, what do you think?”5612036-ice-images

Upon hearing the news, residents were quick to dispute allegations of having a gullible nature.  “Of course we knew there was no ice mountain and yes, I checked again today to find that Evart is not in the dictionary under gullible” commented local resident Dale Gunderson.  To their credit, some area residents confused the 2,500 foot pile of off-spec water bottles near the company’s bottling plant as the ice mountain.  “In the summer when that bottle mountain gets hot, the sun shining through the BPA cloud is downright beautiful” mentioned Gunderson.



“Look, their high school team mascot is literally a babe in the woods” commented company representatives, “we just can’t help ourselves”.  “In fact, it was kind of a joke when we asked for another hundred million gallons of groundwater but they just smiled and said sure, why not?”



When asked why Evart doesn’t drive a harder bargain or at least charge a fee for groundwater sold for profit, town officials commented “we heard you can’t put a price on Pure Michigan so of course that’s why it’s free”.  The future is definitely uncertain at the headwaters of the Muskegon River as species indigenous to the watershed prepare to feel the full effect of the Nestle crunch.

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week satire column intended for entertainment purposes only.  No fish were harmed in the creation of this post.

On the more serious side

Nestle is working to double-down on bottling groundwater from the headwaters of the Muskegon River.  Osceola County and the DEQ are set to approve an increase of nearly 2.5 times their current withdrawal, amounting to about 576,000 gallons-per-day or 210 million gallons-per-year.  One would think that the DEQ would advocate the resource but they’ve instead quietly given their seal of approval despite less than favorable computer modeling data concluding that a massive increase in Nestlé’s harvest of Muskegon River tributary groundwater may not be favorable for the watershed (not to mention the big picture issue of millions of additional plastic bottles set free in the world – not exactly environmental stewardship at its finest).

For those interested in voicing an opinion, public comments on the Nestle proposal ( are being accepted until March 3, 2017.  Comments may be sent to

Swingers Unite


Fly fishermen choosing the alternate swing lifestyle have found themselves the subject of ridicule and jeers from nymphers, pluggers, centerpinners, and spin fishermen.  Although the method held mainstream appeal in recent years, it’s no longer the case as swingers are increasingly bashed for their choice of piscatorial presentation.  “It’s bad” commented Dale Farner, “I’ve been locked in the Pine Street outhouse, my truck tailpipe jammed with spawn, and the other day a Tenkara guy shoved me and called me a loser”.

Swing fishermen have recently realized kindred spirits with the original swing community.  “It’s no surprise” commented lifetime swinger Jim Barns, alongside his frisky wife Betty, “we all love to hook up”.  Citing additional similarities, Barns went on to comment “think about it, we both use intruders when conditions are right and we all like to work with jungle cock when we can get our hands on it”.  As it turns out, swing fishermen have recently taken a page from their kindred spirit brothers and sisters and have adopted the swingers pineapple as the international symbol of their preferred pastime.

“I don’t miss having that awkward conversation with new fishing partners” says Farner, “we both know what each other wants so we get right down to business”.  Nowadays, Farner is often seen browsing around local fly shops wearing his pineapple trucker lid.  “You’d be shocked to find out who swings these days, the camo wader crowd is surprisingly open”.

So if you’re finished being rejected by pals when you mention breaking out the spey rods and fat lines, take a cue from the original swing crowd and slap a pineapple decal on your bumper.  Whether swinging for steel or swinging for real, both groups agree that the tug is the drug.

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week satire column intended for entertainment purposes only.  No fish were harmed in the creation of this post.

Unpopular Fishing Blog Announces 7 Month Vacation

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Likening the task of pushing out two or three posts each week to repeatedly placing a man on the moon, wildly unpopular bolggers at Michiganfly announced today that they will be taking 7, maybe 8 months off to recuperate, fish, and try desperately to catch up on American Idol before the series finale.

Just when site traffic finally began to surpass most pre-2012 inactive DIY project blogs, the guys predictably decided to “take a bunch of time off before people’s expectations get way out of whack” according to Michiganfly’s Chief Rocka.

Response from their tragically low readership has been mixed.



“It’s obvious they’ve been coasting the past few weeks and to be honest, I don’t think I could bear to see what they’d post if they were to try even less” commented Rich Youngstein.


“Avoiding work is pretty much what they do best so it’s no surprise they’ve decided to take a 28 week vacation” commented Ryan “Pulled Pork” Riggins.

Unsurprisingly, many appreciate the break.


“I just wish I could get back the four or five hours that blog sucked from my life this past winter” commented Cole Beardsley.

When asked if actually planning to return later in 2016, Bob and Dan commented that they’ve been thinking of opening a mall kiosk selling replica designer sunglasses and motorized scooters with all the click-through proceeds from their site. If for some reason that fails you can expect to see them back at it this fall.


Brah’s Annual Steelhead Weekend


Preparing for the annual weekend of “hot steelhead action” with Sam, his high school best friend, Dale Unger has a pretty good idea what to expect. Sam, a tantrum-prone 35-year-old, predictably goes through the same rituals starting with a healthy dose of pre-trip boasting about all of his new gear, secret bugs, and YouTube prep for an average of 12 weeks prior to the outing culminating in the purchase of a top shelf rod, reel, or waders, typically a brand name he’s spent years criticizing. About one week out Sam’s focus and attention is directed to heavy internet analysis with hourly USGS updates, Facebook puffing, and sarcastic forwarding of fishless outing reports from acquaintances with taglines like “not gonna be us pal”.

Knowing the impending events about to unfold, Dale endures Phases 1 and 2 like a pro realizing that this, by far, will be the most joy Sam will feel during the entire experience. Phase 3 starts in the parking lot where they meet Saturday morning when, while gearing up, Sam begins laying out a carefully orchestrated series of handicaps and disadvantages for use at some appropriate moment during the day. In a futile attempt to lower the odds of a meltdown, Dale often gives Sam’s gear a quick once over for obvious flaws.

During the walk in, Sam treats Dale to stories of his many successful outings in this river, often recounting events that Dale is pretty sure never involved Sam. Tuning out Sam’s tall tales, Dale recounts some of the more memorable blowups, fondly recalling the 2013 event when Sam spent 45 minutes fighting a “monster chromer” that turned out to be a despondent turtle. In 2014 it happened when Dale hooked and landed a large buck in water Sam had fished for over an hour. 2015’s meltdown resulted from Sam ripping a hole in his waders trying to step over a low barbed wire fence and snapping Sam’s brand new Sage 8wt that he’d nicknamed Excalibur.

Desperately trying not to trigger Sam’s impending hysterics, Dale fishes secondary water two bends down from his pal. After about an hour and when some of Sam’s gear begins floating by, Dale knows his buddy is upstream going ape shit.  Thankful for not having to witness this years meltdown, Dale quietly gathers his gear and prepares to call it a trip.

Reflecting on the galactic disconnect between Sam’s expectations and reality, Unger notes that it would probably help if Sam got out and fished on some of the 363 days between outings.

FishBrah App Release Announced

Buckle up brahs, the much anticipated FishBrah app is set for release on May 1.  This killer app is stacked with everything a brah needs to max their stream creds.

Brahs can tune up their streamside photo’s into epic shots.  Can’t grow that bro beard – no problem.  Forgot to sport that flat-brimmed hat today – gotcha covered.  Didn’t want to bring your psycho dog in the boat but want him in your shots – can do.  Want to spice up that shot with a flowing red cape – Done!  Just drag and drop from their extensive menu of goatees, bro beards, muttonchops, gangsta lids, and superhero accutraments.


Right On Brah!

And it doesn’t stop there.  FishBrah ensures that photo’s posted to social media sites will get proper billing.  Want to kick off your post with 25 thumbs up – you’re covered.  Are you tired of aunt Betty commenting about your “pretty fish” – now her posts just say “right on brah!”  Are you done with those snarky comments like “that’s my favorite spot” or “I remember when I caught that fish” – they’re outta here.  Protect your prized posts and be the hero you deserve to be.

FishBrah IS the must-have app for all troutbums and brah’s.  Get yours May 1.

Upgraded versions of the Brah app will:

  • Allow you to auto generate a photo slide show that plays bluegrass music while transitioning from photo to photo
  • Post automatic comments to your buds social media updates – using phrases like: “so sweet”, “yup!”, “get some”, “rad”, “duuuude”, “boom”
  • You will be able to swap out the fish in your picture with the hot trendy fish of the year, options include: musky, carp, pike, catfish, bluegill, taimen, and bluegill

*A small upcharge is applied for premium features. 


MDNR Unveils Master Plan to Thwart Snagging



Snaggers looking to pluck fish off beds this spring may find the task more challenging than ever as MDNR plans to deploy their fleet of metallic monofilament-chomping fake fish known as Gravel Guards. Placed strategically in and around spawning areas, Gravel Guards deter those planning to “fish” actively spawning steelhead with their scissor like mandibles and realistic profiles. Results of the Gravel Guard test phase were considered a fantastic success during the spring of 2015 as many anglers looking for an easy meal left disappointed and separated from most of their terminal tackle. Crowds gathered at times to watch world class lifters and snaggers attempt, unbeknownst to them, the impossible task of hooking a 40 inch, 75 pound, fake fish.

“When we realized our poaching hotline had been dialing a closed soul food restaurant in Detroit for the past 5 years we decided to refine our approach” commented MDNR spokesperson Phil McCracken. Following the hotline debacle, efforts to remove snaggers primarily involved posting bogus used car ads at trailheads, mostly for late model Chevy Astro Vans, a wildly popular vehicle among the snagging community. After a couple years of distracting snaggers with excellent results, the Astro program was exposed and snagging resumed in force.

With fewer returning steelhead anticipated this year, MDNR’s approach to protect the limited resource is considered pure genius. While a shroud of secrecy surrounds the program and specifics as to where Gravel Guards will be deployed, it’s no secret where snaggers tend to operate. River stretches with monofilament tangled tree limbs and the occasional rusty lawn chair are considered prime locations but beware as the agency plans to deploy some in secondary gravel areas to keep the honest fisherman honest.

Let it be known that MDNR has given fair warning to fishermen that choosing to snag may lead to nothing but frustration and failure. Time will tell as to whether the Michigan crickets and other lead-laced treble hook creations have finally met their match.

Amusement Park Announced for Prized Michigan Trout Stream


Tourists looking to visit the old Grayling Fish Hatchery this summer to throw a few pellets and maybe wet a line will be thrilled to find that the hatchery is now a fully-fledged amusement park. Doing what they do best, Hunkeydory Hills has exploited yet another aspect of their arrangement with the county by opening Desolation Au Sable, a hatchery-themed amusement park. Providing that much needed bump to already skyrocketing revenues, the park pokes some good natured fun at county and state officials eager to give away the resource.  “It was kind of a joke when I said we should memorialize the desolation of the Au Sable with a theme park” commented Dale Vermin, owner and operator of Hunkeydory Hills, “and they freakin’ gave it to us!”.

Vacationers will really enjoy the attractions and rides awaiting them at Desolation Au Sable including the Au Sable Tilt-A-Whirling Disease, a classic ride with a local flare. Patrons will be thrilled by the crazy corkscrew ride, not unlike the journey that many juvenile trout stricken with whirling disease will be making in the river. This Tilt-A-Whirl is not for the faint of heart and boasts a 90% mortality rate, similar for both patrons and trout fingerlings. Survivors will be rewarded with a lifetime supply of skeletal deformation and neurological damage.

Those seeking interactive exhibits and youth oriented activities will be not be disappointed. “Overload the Ecosystem” lets guests enjoy dumping trash can sized hoppers of phosphorous and fish excrement directly into tanks of unsuspecting rainbow fingerlings. Children will experience a sense of unrestrained glee watching fish spend their remaining seconds in confusion and agony. Later, algal blooms develop and provide park attendees with a sense of natures chemically enhanced beauty.

Kids will also love the “Suffocator” where they will enjoy witnessing trout mortality first-hand as trout pens fed with clear, cold, oxygen enriched river water are switched with warm oxygen-deficient water simulating expected summer conditions on the Au Sable. Prizes will be awarded to kids able to estimate the number of floating fish, rounded to the nearest thousand.

Extending the olive branch, Hunkeydory Hills will generously hire locals unable to find gainful employment following the decline of the Au Sable fishery. In addition to earning minimum wage as attraction and ride operators, former guides and lodge owners will enjoy re-living the devastation and horror of their fishery’s decline each day in painful detail.

Expectations are high for Desolation Au Sable this summer as families begin planning dream vacations in the little town formerly known for trout fishing.


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* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week column intended for entertainment purposes only.

Fish Farmageddon


***Folks, we interrupt your regularly schedule programming to bring you a special feature on the issues going on regarding the proposed fish farm on the historic Au Sable river.  While the information here may read as outlandish as other Tuesday Bananas articles, it is not embellished, nor is it satire.

A dangerous cocktail of entrepreneurial myopia, county officials willing to pimp out a priceless and fragile resource, and an agency asleep at the wheel has been poured in northern Michigan as the largest fish farming business in the state gears up for production just upstream of the famed Holy Waters of the Au Sable River.

Harietta Hills Trout Farm is on the verge of turning a simple caretaker arrangement with Crawford County to operate the historic Grayling Fish Hatchery into wads of cash as they plan to ramp production up from 20,000 pounds of trout annually to 300,000 pounds.

The East Branch of the Au Sable literally runs through the hatchery where river water is directed into rearing areas called raceways then right back into the river at a rate of 8.64 million gallons per day. Hatcheries with far less production are required to operate wastewater treatment systems with settling ponds and chemical treatments to bind and drop out phosphorous and other pollutants. But let’s not talk about that in the face of economic prosperity for Harietta Hills. Also, let’s not even mention the risk of introducing invasive species and disease to the Au Sable as hundreds of thousands of pounds of trout are moved in and out of the place each year. While we’re at it,

Let’s not ask why a study wasn’t required to understand impacts to pollution intolerant aquatic invertebrates such as mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis when a giant trout toilet is constantly flushed into their faces.

Let’s not discuss prudent lease requirements to rear only native species such as brook, brown, and rainbow trout OR discuss the effect on wild fish when farm fish, hopefully not exotics, escape into the Au Sable.

Let’s not get upset about the site’s MDEQ pollution permit that actually states “lowering of water quality is necessary to support the identified important social and economic development in the area”.

Let’s not ask about the moral hazard of Harietta Hills self-monitoring water quality by collecting their own weekly pollution discharge sampling and why it’s not done on a automated and continuous basis.

Let’s not discuss what happens when mass quantities of hatchery fish are treated with formalin, better known as formaldehyde, to remove parasites allowing residual chemical to flow into the river OR what happens when some knucklehead employee dumps 20 gallons instead of 20 ounces into the river.

Let’s not ask Harietta Hills why they need to go from 20,000 pounds to 300,000 pounds of trout in order to make the tourist attraction profitable.

Let’s not ask why Harietta Hills isn’t having to put up financial assurance such as a performance bond or environmental pollution coverage to restore damage that may be caused.

Let’s not ask MDNR or MDEQ why they are willing to allow phosphorous levels to increase with seasonal, summer fluctuations, instead of requiring more restrictive limits during the time of year fish are most stressed.

Let’s not discuss permit bypass provisions which allow, during unavoidable events including property damage, for effluent limitations to be exceeded.

Let’s not discuss the risk of whirling disease, known to increase when raceways are filled to capacity.

Harietta Hills says they are simply responding to a seafood crisis and that we should get behind them.  It would seem that their motives are a bit less altruistic and a bit more capitalistic.  Regarding economic benefit, just how many jobs will this will actually create, maybe a couple?  How many jobs do we stand to lose if guides, restaurants, hotels, and retailers, are unable to make money off the amazing fishery that exists today?

Allowing a giant trout farm in the headwaters of the AuSable is simply bananas.

Go to Anglers of the Au Sable webpage to learn more and make a donation.

Heavy Expectations for Flint River Bass


Credible reports of behemoth smallmouth action resulted in Bassmaster rescheduling this year’s Classic, previously scheduled for Tulsa, OK, to the Flint River in Michigan.  Toxic river conditions will likely result in lower than normal catch numbers, however, lead-infused bass have tournament officials expecting record breaking tournament results.  Anglers able to haul in just one or two of these metallic monsters are likely to break the 65 pound longstanding tournament record.

With the tournament merely weeks away, anglers are scrambling to decorate their hazmat suits, a requisite given the nature of conditions, with sponsor logo’s and color schemes unique to each contestant’s image. Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines simply melt when exposed to the Flint River so anglers are spooling up with a variety of braided metallic products capable of withstanding the extreme environment. Expect to see boats coated with impervious truck-liner materials and anglers waving metal detectors instead of relying on traditional sonar equipped fish finders.

Tournament fish, typically released at designated locations following each day’s weigh-in, will be belt-fed into a portable onsite incinerator to assist with the removal of lead from the ecosystem. Remarkable opportunity arises as the world looks toward Flint Michigan to figure out the crisis in their water system.


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* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week column intended for entertainment purposes only.

Damsel Madness

A couple years ago I was on a streamer trip with friend Joe Donati.   It was a day in late May and the weather was warm and overcast with water a bit up and stained, perfect for pulling bugs.  Joe had landed a few nice trout and we came into a straightaway with grass tight to the bank.  I was rowing and Joe noticed a trout shoot completely out of the water for some right along the bank.  We dropped anchor mid-river and watched for a bit as more fish along the bank proceeded to come flying out of the water with reckless abandon.  We soon realized they were going after damsels hovering near the grass.  We sat there for a while just watching one after another taking shots at these bugs that were obviously driving the trout mad.  Neither of us had anything remotely similar to a damsel so Joe just went with a hopper pattern and was able to get one to go.  I took some video that really doesn’t do the moment justice  but worth sharing.

After telling Bob this story that evening he laughed and said that he’d just taken the two or three damsels he had parked in his dry fly box out because he never thought he’d get a shot at fishing them.

If you’ve been living off the grid for the past couple years and haven’t seen this amazing video of trout crashing damsels then check this out.

New Direction for Michigan Fisheries


The Michigan DNR enthusiastically announced this week that they will be making some exciting changes to their 2016 fisheries plan. Stocking programs previously geared toward rainbow and brown trout, chinook salmon, and steelhead will be scuttled and replaced with a host of species from the Amazon basin including golden dorado, payara, and piranha.  “We figured what the hell? Asian carp are knocking on the door, gobies are everywhere, and zebra mussels carpet the bottom of our rivers. How can we make this place any worse?” commented DNR representative Jimmy Lee Farnsworth.

Most view this as apparent evidence that MDNR has simply thrown in the towel in favor of a shotgun approach with a bit of scorched earth policy sprinkled in. “These fish exhibit a tenacity and resilience to nearly everything Michigan rivers will put in their way from frigid winter temps to springtime floods and summertime heat.

Let’s get a better look at this year’s starting lineup


Salminus brasiliensis, or golden dorado, are incredibly strong, acrobatic fighting fish that attain weights in excess of 30 pounds. This migratory gamefish will take a variety of streamers, dead drift flies and even surface swung presentations not unlike Atlantic salmon. They sport an impressive set of choppers earning them the nickname pit bull of the trout world.


Payara Photo Credit

Hydrolicus scomberoides, or payara, are a ferocious migratory gamefish commonly referred to as Jurassic salmon since they are constructed similar to a giant Atlantic salmon and share a metallic silver sheen. The mouth of the payara is what sets them apart from all other gamefish, as they sport an intimidating set of razor sharp fangs which protrude from the lower jaw like two glistening tusks.


Piranha Photo Credit

Phygocentrus nattereri, or piranha, because, why not? Smaller than the others, they range from 5.5 to 10.2 inches in length with trophies in the 17 inch class. They have a single row of tightly packed sharp teeth that are interlocked for puncturing and shearing flesh. Similar to bluegill in their fight, the real challenge is being able to remove hooks before one’s fingers are removed.

When asked regarding the impact, if any, recreational users of Michigan lakes and streams this will experience, Farnsworth commented “I don’t think inner tube floating is going to be that popular anymore.  Also, anyone trying to snag a Payara is likely to be eviscerated”.  Amazon basin plants are expected to clean up what remains of chinook salmon and most living creatures in the Great Lakes region in a matter of weeks.

It took nearly 60 million years for these fish to make their way to Michigan. No longer will deforestation, illegal poaching, water pollution, wetland degradation and oil spills be what makes Michigan and the Amazon basin so similar. Now we’ll have some of their ferocious fish.


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Disorders Among Fly Fishermen Revealed

The Psychiatric Association of America recently updated their exhaustive list of over 500 mental disorders with a number of sport-related conditions. Unsurprisingly, Fly fishermen were found to identify with conditions unique to their


Fly fishermen are susceptible to this condition following prolonged periods of fishless outings such as the fall of 2015 when most Michigan anglers failed to satisfy their self-imposed hero-shot quotas. Grip-n-grinitis causes frustrated fly fishermen to seek photo opportunities with anything slightly intriguing. Recognizing red flags and knowing the indicators of the disorder are important.

During early onset, those afflicted seem enamored with everyday items and often ask for a photo presenting the item, occasionally demanding a measurement. As the disorder manifests itself further, those stricken with the condition exhibit manic behaviors including high-fives and fist pumps following these meaningless sessions.


     Learn to recognize the signs.  This man is dying inside

If not properly treated grip-n-grinitis can lead to more severe conditions including ED, tourettes, narcolepsy, and eventually heroin addiction. Help is not far away, and in fact, it goes by the name Ohio. Thirty or forty steelhead landed during a weekend trip to steelhead alley typically cures even the most afflicted fly fisherman and temporarily satiates the anglers need for attention.


This disorder is an intense fear of fly fishing techniques applied by others that do not resound with one’s personal preferences. Tactiphobics tend to overzealously persecute those who do not subscribe to their definition of the sport with an inability to show empathy for other human beings. Tactiphobics are generally easy to identify whether in person or in online chat forums where they can be found denigrating ideas not of their own. Tactiphobia is a psychopathological condition characterized by fantasies of supreme relevance, over inflated self-esteem, and megalomania.

Concensus among psychologists is that there is no known treatment for the disorder given that those suffering from the affliction have no interest in examining or changing their behaviors and tend to spiral into narcissistic insanity.

As with many conditions, early detection is of the utmost importance. Seek help if you or one of your friends exhibit signs of these disorders.  Learn to identify red flags, whether it’s something as small as asking for a picture with a nicely prepared omelette or large such as witnessing someone enthusiastically bash another angler’s methods.  PAA representatives ask fly fishermen to remain vigilant and stay tuned, clinical trials are underway for over 30 additional Fly Fishing disorders.



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2016 Fly Fishing Darwin Awards


2015 yielded a bounty of Darwin Awards in the fly fishing category. For those unfamiliar with the prestigious award, it’s given to individuals who have contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions. It’s quite apparent that not all fly fishermen are the intellectuals that they are made out to be.

Green River, UT – After talking-up his rowing skills, Joe Pulaski accepted a bet from friends that he could row Mother-In-Law, a class II rapid, blindfolded. Pulaski’s blindfold and 0.2 BAC eventually led to his demise as his boat spun perpendicular to the river and taco’d against the Mother herself in the center of the run.

Baldwin, MI – Stan Hurley was on fire during the fall of 2016. He consistently hooked fish while his friends could do nothing other than work the net. His life and his secret were both given up on a high water day last December in the flies only stretch of the PM when Stan became hung up on the far bank from where he was fishing. Taking a break, his friend Paul saw that he might be able to help and began walking downriver toward Stan who began reefing on the tangle and yelling “I’ve got it”. Fearing his dirty little secret from becoming known, Stan attempted to wade across the river and was carried under to his death. Stan and his spawn sack-tipped flies were both later dislodged from the lumber.

Newaygo, MI – Muskegon newbie boat owner Gavin Hurst was the victim of impatience this past spring when he became frustrated with the pace of a drift boat puttering upstream ahead of him.  Described by his fishing partner,  who miraculously survived the event, Hurst floored his new power drifter to pass on the inside bend just below piano rock at full throttle.  Just as Hurst raised his middle finger to salute the slow moving drift boat his boat caught the front edge of the giant rock, raking the bottom of his boat from stem to stern and exploding the lower unit of his new Mercury.  Hurst was gruesomely impaled by his centerpin rod and did not survive the impact.

Honorable Mentions, those individuals who survived their misadventures with their lives and/or reproductive capacity intact, were numerous last year. For his third year in a row, Hank Peterson found himself in a life and death struggle when he was struck by lightning while streamer fishing the Madison River during a thunderstorm. Following his 2015 event when a pike bit into his femoral artery, most thought Hank would start making better decisions.

Readers are encouraged to cast votes in favor of this year’s winner. Last year’s winner Martin Beele, who removed the front casting braces from his new drift boat for more space, won in a landslide. Cast your votes carefully and remember that style counts, not everyone who dies from their own stupidity can win.



Kids can be a blast to hang out with in the outdoors.  They’re fascinated by so many things that we just take for granted and most of the time their expectations are just to have fun, something that’s often way down on my “to-do” list when I head to the river.  I couldn’t wait to start fishing with my son but I had this nagging sense of dread as to whether he’d eventually join me, willingly, on trips in the cold, crappy weather that makes me love living and fishing in Michigan.

We started with summertime floats on the river for smallmouth, a perfect segway from the foam spiders and bluegill pond. Good times indeed, each of us enjoying a beverage of choice, talking about turtles, trying to identify bugs flying around, watching the sun go down and feeling the heat push out of the day. Summertime smallmouth fishing is a low key good time and hard to beat. It’s simple. Pack a cooler, grab a couple rods, maybe even a spinning rod because why not? Casting a topwater Zudbubbler or the ever deadly Rebel Craw and just kick it down the river. In the back of my mind I thought about steelhead fishing and whether this would be where it ends for us. The weather can be brutal, turtles and signs of life are nowhere to be found, those bugs and sun are gone and fish are few and far between

I decided to take a small step toward steelhead fishing by doing some salmon trips on small water to give him a sense of the creatures that migrate into our rivers in the fall. Our first trip was a September day on the Pere Marquette during one of those years when the fish were everywhere. My dad joined us that day and the little guy managed to get one in the net. A guide who patiently waited in his boat with clients until we had it in the bag tossed him a reward Reese’s peanut butter cup as they passed by with both clients laughing and congratulating him. It was perfect and yet I still worried whether this would be where it ends or if steelhead fishing might just happen

2013-09-13 19.14.27

My dad wanted to join us on our steelhead trips looking to make some memories. I realized that I was outmatched with my dad in his 70’s and an 8 year old. I pictured double-duty rigging, un-snagging, cooking, and I threw in the towel. I hired a guide and it was the best decision I could have made.

The first trip he fished a few hours and played angry birds for the last couple hours of the day. He was 8 and I figured making him fish would eventually backfire on me. On the second trip I casted for him most of the time and he fished about half of the day and ate twizzlers and talked about whatever was on his mind. He was happy and that was all that mattered. On the third trip he thought it was hilarious to step on my line when I went to cast. During the fourth trip he got into the game. He asked lots of fishing-related questions and began wanting to catch fish. He started getting competitive with me and it was awesome but he was on the struggle bus when it came to fighting fish. On the fifth trip he figured out how to fight fish, when to apply pressure and when to take the hand off the reel and let the fish run. During the last few trips he has pretty much figured it out.

It hasn’t been easy and we’ve had a bunch of fish-less days together which is just not that big of a deal to either of us.  Sometimes trips get shut down early and somedays we push on.  On one of our first smallmouth trips we never launched the boat. We spent the afternoon up at the Croton dam catching crayfish, trailered the boat up and went back home. I’ve learned to reacquaint myself with what makes fishing fun, hanging out with a buddy and taking what comes our way.

Jack MO Bacon Nov 4 2015a

Illegal Fly Tying Business Busted


Kalamazoo police arrested a couple suspected of operating an illegal underage fly tying operation this past week in the quiet neighborhood of Milwood.  Search warrants were issued following an eight month sting focused on Jerry and Betsy Hankin, suspected of forced child labor involving their three children.

School representatives reportedly tipped off police in early 2015 when it was learned that the children were nicknamed after popular trout and steelhead flies. “After one of the kids was asked to be referred to as Glo-Bug we didn’t think much” noted Principal Gabe Henderson, “but after his sister mentioned that her parents now call her Size 22 Adams at home, we found that unusual”.

A grizzly scene awaited police in the basement of the home.  Although well adorned with high quality materials, tables and vises, the rest of the basement looked like a Barny-themed sweatshop.  Even more disturbing was the music being piped in which included “The hackle on the fly goes round and round” and “Itsy bitsy foam spider”.


Attempting to defend his actions, Jerry Hankin stated “It’s not like we’re making them smelt iron, we pay them better than adults doing the same work in Kenya and Detroit.”  Hankin continued extolling the virtues of having flies tied by children such as their amazing dexterity and ability to tie the smallest flies with ease.  Hankin also commented that they exude a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction after 14 or 15 hours at the vise.

Commenting on the arrests, local fly shop owner Dale Schwartz stated “I’m shocked, I wasn’t aware that we could even buy flies tied by adults”.  Schwartz later asked for his statement to be redacted.

Tuesday Bananas*Tuesday Bananas is a weekly satire article meant for entertainment and laughs.

Mitt Monkeys Top Arkansas Invasive Species List

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has issued an Invasive Species Alert for Mitt Monkeys, replacing the Northern Snakehead as one of the top threats to state waters.  Unsurprisingly, the alert coincides with the annual winter migration of Mitt Monkeys to the warm and friendly White and North Fork Rivers.  Employing a multi-media approach, the Commission has strategically placed billboards on I44 and other common northern routes of travel displaying the the familiar circle-backslash symbol over a monkey and the phrase “When it comes to invasive species, Zebra Mussels aren’t alone, Mitt Monkeys go the F back home!”

The Commission’s Invasive Species page provides the following detail:

Origin – Native mostly to Michigan they have been found to originate from nearby states including Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Irritating numbers started appearing in the late 1980’s. This detestable species is known to inhabit AR watersheds during winter and early spring. Appearances range from hipster to dumpster diver but most are characterized by mismanaged facial hair, a propensity to go shirtless in temps above 40 degrees, are often seen consuming BBQ like a swarm of locusts, and generally act like they own the place.

Damage – Voracious consumers of craft beer and beef jerky, the species is known to choke out native fishermen by blanketing local streams. Millions of dollars are spent annually to discourage their travel to AR. They attach themselves to local bars, restaurants, women, and hotels, sometimes for weeks at a time.  If they spread they could disrupt the natural order of fisheries in the US.

Prevention – If you encounter one, don’t try to kill it. If engaged in a conversation, residents are strongly discouraged from suggesting fly patterns or alternate fishing techniques as they can be met with intense opposition. Deterrents include commenting on slow fishing, salad bars, math, and expensive shuttle rates.  It is rumored that they can carry disease so handling is discouraged.

“It’s time we stop with the southern hospitality and put our boot where the sun don’t shine” commented resident and outspoken monkey opponent Hank Himler.  “Last year they burned our dam”, referring to the Bull Shoals disaster, “and this year it’s time to send them packing”.  (Click to read about the assualt on the Bull Shoals dam)

Northern snakehead, feral hogs, silver carp, and now Mitt Monkeys. Time will tell as to whether AR survives this year’s infestation and if anything can be done to slow the annual Mitt Monkey invasion.

Donkey Landed on the Fly


Decades of optimism and hard work finally paid off for Jane Flannagan this week when she caught and released a true donkey. It happened on Michigan’s fabled Pere Marquette River late Tuesday afternoon in a run she suspected held quite a few donkeys. “I’ve had my shots at this one before but today it all came together and we finally put a donkey in the net!”

Flannagan’s single-minded pursuit of a donkey on the fly over the years has garnered her share of nay sayers and critics. “Fishing for donkeys is not a numbers thing” stated Flannagan who estimates over 10 million casts prior to Tuesday’s payoff.

Flannagan’s success couldn’t come at a better time as angling friends and family were beginning to question the mounting number of stories of near misses, plucks, pulls and hooked but lost donkeys beginning to pile up. “I knew people were starting to lose faith in me” commented Flannagan. “Lately when I mention losing a donkey at the net people just smirk and give me some sort of half-hearted platitude“.

Everyone who has spent time fishing Michigan’s rivers can tell tales of spotting Flannagan dutifully working water out of her custom drift boat with her faithful husband on the oars and gigantic net hanging off the back.

Flannagan’s catch has stirred up a heated debate amongst IGFA officials who seem split as to whether the species warrants inclusion on the record books. IGFA rules do not allow class tippets heavier than 10 kg (20 lb); however, certain factions of the association believe a 200 lb tippet class should be established along with this unique species.

When asked whether the Flannagan’s are going to hang up their net the couple revealed their new pursuit.  “We’re pretty sure there are fishable numbers of unicorns in the Manistee” commented Jane.

Tuesday Bananas



Hexito Epidemic Threatens Great Lakes States


The University of Michigan Department of Entomology confirmed this week one of the most bizarre cross-species developments in the insect world. “Hexito” is the a name entomologists are currently using for the mosquito and hexagenia hybrid recently identified near the rivers of Western Michigan. “This is the biggest piece of news since Blake O’Neill bungled that snap” commented a U of M spokesperson.

Increasing reports of anglers reporting encounters with wasps and other stinging insects while fishing the late night hex hatch peaked the interest of local fisherman and entomologist Aaron “Cal” Naughton. “I wasn’t taken seriously at first” Naughton stated, “because everyone thought I was trying to start wild rumors to keep out-of-state anglers from taking my favorite water”. “I’m not going to kid you” Naughton goes on to say, “I almost pulled my heater on the guy from Tennessee I found standing in my favorite water last July”. The hex hatch has become a true “shit show” as indicated by hundreds out-of-state license plates spotted at any given riverside parking lot in June and July and now has become even more life threatening.

According to Naughton, receding high water events leave mosquito and hexagenia larvae sharing the same brackish, silty ecosystems. It’s theorized that male mosquitos often confuse the large hexagenia females with their own species and attempt, with some apparent success, to mate.

Naughton successfully captured several Hexitoes and his is research revealed them to have all the characteristics of adult hexagenia with one startling difference, each had a sturdy proboscis capable of puncturing a soda can. “It’s pretty terrifying” commented Naughton.

Naughton’s research has revealed some startling facts about the hybrid creature including an extended life cycle as a mating adult of up to 40 days, typical of the mosquito and unlike the hexagenia which survives for only a few days as an adult. Limited research also indicates the hybrid’s distaste for blood containing alcohol, seemingly good news to hex anglers. Another deterrent, according to Naughton, is the scent of most brands of liberally applied cheap women’s perfume.

What was thought to be a rumor started by locals looking to fish their own water without out-of-state anglers to deal with has now become a huge discovery. MDNR is expected to issue public service announcements this summer warning fishermen of the dangers related to swarming Hexitoes.  Anglers planning to venture out this summer are encouraged to bath in perfume and bump up the BAC before heading out.

Tuesday Bananas

Deadliest Catch Kalamazoo


The Discovery channel announced today that filming for season 13 of the hit TV series Deadliest Catch will take place on Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. “We’re stoked to get in that water and go toe-to-toe with the crazy stuff swimming and crawling around in that cesspool” stated Andy Hillstrand, co-owner and captain of the Time Bandit. Crab wrangling captains and their crews will be dredging some of the deadliest creatures known to slither and scuttle beneath the surface of Michigan’s deadliest river.

Creatures in the K-zoo are evolving at an unprecedented rate thanks to toxic sediments, oil pollution, and thousands of industrial waste discharge pipes pumping up the flows and the biodiversity of the watershed. Despite the expectation of casualties during filming, the Discovery channel could not pass up the opportunity to raise the bar on the fleet and improve ratings that have flat-lined in recent years.

“It was a tough secret to keep with those giant boats being launched last week” stated the shows production manager Jimmy Slaussen. Harpoon stations, grenade launchers, and mounted machine guns were but a few of the many alterations made to the fleet to put down whatever might get hauled aboard and fend off locals rumored to be downright terrifying.

Northwestern captain Sig Hansen opposes the decision and has declined to join the fleet during the K-zoo venture. “It’s asinine! I’ll take my chances on the Bering sea in January” commented Hansen.  Captain keith Colburn of the venerable Wizard is rumored to have swapped out his crab pots for bear traps.

Narrator Mike Rowe is no stranger to the area having filmed 34 episodes of Dirty Jobs during the many oil spill cleanups that have taken place on the K-zoo. The channel is rumored to be filming a number of spin-off shows in Michigan including Allegan Bush People, Moonshiners of Hesperia, Naked and Afraid in Baldwin, and Fast N Loud – Muskegon River Jet Sleds.

Tuesday Bananas

Big Box Outdoor Store Discovers Fly Fishing Retail Operations

Corvela’s, the outdoor retail giant, reported this week that fly retail operations have been discovered within one of their big box stores. During a tour of new store number 758, Corvela’s executives encountered what they believed to be an attempt to sell fly fishing goods. Upon further investigation and after many hours of discussion with store employees, Corvela’s released a statement that unsanctioned fly fishing retail sales have indeed been attempted at one or more of their locations and that corporate personnel plan to further investigate the matter. The initial discovery was made when executives, after becoming lost and disoriented while looking for the men’s room, discovered a back area of the store with a surly old man behind a display counter full of utterly useless fly gear for that region of the country.


“We honestly thought he was hiding in the store until closing so he could steal stuff” noted Perry Feldman, Corvela’s Midwest Regional Sales Manager. “He barred his teeth at us, muttered something under his breath, and went back to chewing on his nails” noted Feldman. Questioning of the Corvela’s impostor revealed that he had absolutely no knowledge, or interest for that matter, with regard to fly fishing.  Apparently, people believed everything he said so he just kept peddling gear.  Corvela’s execs allowed him to finish his shift, monitoring his activities out of apparent curiosity, in which he sold a 3wt rod to a new steelhead enthusiast and took a four hour break / nap at his display counter.

“To be honest, we’re terrified that this may be happening at our other stores”, noted Feldman.  “If left to their own devices, cretins like this guy could destroy the entire Corvela’s brand”.  One day after our interview with Mr. Feldman,  store 758 was closed due to water damage.  Unconfirmed reports from store security personnel indicate that the the fraudulent fly shop employee broke back into the store and somehow shattered their 20,000 gallon freshwater fish tank.  Until Corvela’s gets a handle on these illegitimate operations, patrons are cautioned against taking fly fishing advice or purchasing such goods from their stores.