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.
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.
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.
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.
Lansing, MI – Fisheries biologists have announced today that the once extinct species of grayling have returned to Michigan thanks to a public / private effort conducted in the cold headwaters of the Little Manistee River. The five year project included rearing a small population on several candidate rivers selected based on temperature, habitat, available food and water quality. The DNR determined that in order to consider the project successful one of the planted populations would need to sustain itself for a minimum of five years, a milestone that was reached on the first of March this year.
As most fishermen are aware, Michigan’s grayling population disappeared in the 1930’s due to overharvest, predation by non-native planted species, and impacts to habitat from the logging industry. Until now, the only self-sustaining populations of grayling in the lower 48 are found in Montana’s Big Hole River. Several attempts have been made to re-introduce the species in the AuSable and Big Manistee Rivers without success. One of the key factors in the success of this most recent effort is the strain of grayling selected for re-introduction. The strain chosen is from British Columbia and is believed to be less susceptible to predation, the most significant cause of planting failures to date.
Biologists were fearful that the population would not survive the Spring of 2013 which found many of the state’s rivers flowing out of their banks. Remarkably, the Little Manistee grayling have revealed an extraordinary ability to survive extreme weather. Although it has been considered a success, the mood remains one of cautious optimism among those involved with the project.
The signs of spring in northern Michigan are finally here. Robins and Starlings have returned and eventually the sound of Spring Peepers will begin to fill the meadows and ponds. Other signs, and with similar regularity, are those like Brady Huff who take it upon themselves to lecture all that enter the hallowed waters of our state in pursuit of fish on the fly. When moved to preach, Brady can be seen scaling his giant soapbox to deliver his views on fly fishing to the humble and ignorant members of the fly fishing community. Towering over the obtuse, the witless, and the misinformed masses, Brady delivers his sermon from high above. His aged and weathered soapbox, adorned with fly gear stickers of all shapes and sizes, appears to waver high in the air as his sermons rage on. Seemingly incapable of supporting his large and intimidating form, his soapbox has withstood years of foot stomping, pounding, and infantile abuse – until today.
During an impassioned speech on the tyranny of beads and chuck and duck tactics, the soapbox gave way sending him to the ground atop his beloved podium in a flop that would have made Chris Farley proud. When the dust settled and everyone was accounted for, Brady was slow to rise but eventually got to his feet to deliver some insufferably self-righteous words before collapsing once again. Some say his soapbox finally gave way under the weight of hypocracy that had burdened his station for some time while others believe it was simply a matter of mass and gravity.
Since the fall, Brady has experienced symptoms of paranoia, a distorted sense of time, and random thinking believed to be from a mild concussion or years of heavy marijuana use. Given the recent tragedy, and irreparable damage to Brady’s soapbox, it is rumored that he will be gallivanting about on a high horse next spring.
My son is growing up fast and the signs are starting to show that he’s gearing up to be an independent little dude. Those days of getting a hug before school in front of his friends or after a baseball game are gone. We do have our times though, and fishing together happens to be one of them. A short window of opportunity opened this past weekend so we both jumped at the chance to run out for a few hours. It was one of those quick trips that finds me in a mad scramble for gear and wondering whether I forgot something during the entire ride up. Things were forgotten but we had what we needed to set out.
We had time to fish only a couple runs so I was happy to see the one I had in mind was open when we walked up. He’s been tying some flies lately and we picked one he tied last spring during high water, a black rabbit strip leech over an orange estaz body.
It didn’t take long before a nice fish was hooked. He did a solid job of fighting the steelhead, knowing when to reel and when to let the fish run.The fish was fairly compliant and after a few runs in the pool I was able to get a net under him.
The fish was a clean, nicely colored male steelhead. We’ve had our share of fishless outings so it felt great to see him bring a nice fish to the net in one of those moments when a lot of things could easily go wrong but didn’t.
We took a couple quick photo’s and released the fish to finish it’s work over the course of the next few weeks as the spring spawning period kicks into high gear. Afterward we made some half-hearted attempts at another knowing we got what we wanted out of our afternoon. We found a river rock to memorialize the day as we always do then made our way back to the car talking about cedars and trying to find the best tree to build a tree fort in so that we can live near the river permanently. Often times the highlights of a fishing trip are just the twizzlers and orange soda we eat and drink on the way up and back. This trip had a bonus fish and some good ideas on where to build our dream home.
Wellston, MI – It was a very tight race for the Michigan Fly of the Year announced this week in Wellston and the winner, the Turk-u-lated Egg, was no stranger to many in attendance. Just in time for the spring steelhead run, this fly goes deep, penetrates deep, and brings home the meat. The Turk-u-lated Egg, a slight variation on the infamous Turks Tickler, is a staple fly for those ready to rake some gravel.
“The crowd went bananas when that curtain dropped” noted Mark Nader, attending his 18th consecutive ceremony. Nader, a local guide (spring and fall-only) is a big fan of the heavily weighted egg and provided the crowd a tutorial on how to deliver the heavy fly by tucking his head low and simulating the requisite lob cast. Scars on Nader’s neck and shoulder offer a cautionary tale for those who lose focus.
Pesky state regulations have kept the Turk-u-lated Egg from being sold legally but this hasn’t stopped those who rely on it to fill their stringer. The Turk-u-lated Egg is brilliantly simple to tie with countless patterns available online. A couple pounds of lead, 1/0 treble hooks, and a touch of yarn is all that’s needed to craft this magical bug. When asked how a fly that clearly resides outside the lines of legality could win the contest, Nader commented “aww, them’s just guidelines – and everyone knows the government is run by lizard space aliens so I don’t pay no attention to their rules”.
The Turk-u-lated Egg has won the Michigan Fly of the Year award 15 out of the last 23 years with an eight year hiatus during which the Michigan Cricket reigned supreme. With the spring run gearing up here in Michigan those braving gravel should expect to hear the familiar sounds of Turk-u-lated eggs crashing through the woods and water of our great state.
The shocking highlight of this year’s Flyfishing Expo was when Dale Bronson’s pants suddenly burst into flames. Bronson, a regular attendee at the expo, was delivering a spirited narrative of a recent steelhead excursion when suddenly his pants caught fire. Those close to Bronson at the time say he was midway through recounting another of his amazing solo fishing adventures when it happened. The tale reportedly involved him battling an “epic buck that crushed” one of his secret flies. The quick thinking of bystanders who doused Bronson with cups of LaBatts left him unscathed yet bewildered.
Amazingly, many weren’t surprised including Jim White who commented “The guy has been talking smack for so many years it’s no wonder this happened”. “I think it all just caught up to him” said Mark Connely, Bronson’s longtime fishing pal until an argument over the best micro brew selection while fishing dries caused a permanent rift in their friendship.
“I may stop following his advice” said Dave Gorsky. “He seemed so believable and even promised to teach me how to shadowcast this summer”. Bronson has not made himself available for comment.
In a startling new report that blows the cover on over 50 car shuttle / spotting services nationwide, something we’ve all suspected is confirmed – most vehicles shuttled are in some way violated. Common offenses, and ones that would be considered somewhat expected, include texting while driving (89%), smoking (28%), smoking marijuana (63%), siphoning gas (43%), nose picking/booger flicking (73%), stalking x-girlfriends (22%), fishing through the loose change receptacle for quarters (98%), stopping at liquor stores (21%), and cruising high schools (42%).
Several more incideous behaviors were captured on video including two rival shuttle companies found drag racing customer vehicles, with trailers, on a stretch of road between boat launches. One trailer jockey took his whole family to the Buford Waterpark for the day in the customer’s Escalade after finding out that the customer was going to try to fish two stretches of river, ensuring he’d be on the water for over 10 hours.
All of this is the work of Jerry Karlin, your ‘average Joe’ trout fisherman fed up with never having any change in his car after his shuttles. “Trailer Jockeys need to elevate their game if people are going to trust these guys anymore” noted Karlin. Back in 2013, Karlin set out to get an inside look into just what goes on during that 30 minute shuttle from Flaming Gorge Dam to Little Hole on the Green River. Over the course of a two year period what he found ranged from the expected to the astounding. Karlin decided to take action and during the summer of 2014 Karlin convinced 250 people countrywide to install hidden cameras in their vehicles in search of the truth and possibly some justice.
Further inquiry of 10 regional car spotting services revealed that only 47% of shuttle drivers had valid drivers licenses. Karlin and many others who are just plain sick of these shenanigans are advocating a trailer jockey certification program. Drug testing, background checks, eye examinations, proof of citizenship, and psych tests are but a few of the criteria. Industry objection to regulation is fierce. Veteran trailer jockey Skeeter McGavin summed it up in saying “Jockeys is gonna scatter like carney workers on payday”.
Even if Karlin doesn’t get his legislation, the work of the video footage that was captured lead to the arrests of 39 shuttle drivers abusing the job as a means of funding everything from drug trade to illegally transporting bottles and cans across state lines for undeserved recycling refunds. If you suspect your local shuttle service of foul play just mention that you’ll be fishing with Jerry Karlin on your next trip and rest easy that you’ll be taken care of.