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Guide Profile – Brian “Koz” Kozminski

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Networker.  Conservationist.  Educator.  Fly Fishing Evangelist.  Communicator.  If you are at all plugged into the Michigan (or beyond) fly fishing scene, chances are you are aware of the man everyone calls “Koz”.  Originally hailing from the Grand Rapids area and now residing in Northern Michigan, the only thing bigger than Brian Kozminski’s network is his generous and affable personality.  http://www.truenorthtrout.com

Koz serves many roles in the fly fishing community.  First and foremost, he is a defender of our resources – promoting educational opportunities for others to better take care of our waterways.  Koz also has done a great amount of work to promote fly fishing in a positive manner that encourages youths and others to explore the sport and take advantage of our great fishery.  Leveraging his vast network of people involved in the sport and industry, Koz serves as a one-stop hub for endless amounts of information.  It is obvious to anyone that visits his Facebook page, that Koz is a sharer of important information and events that impact and inform the entire fishing community.

While I have not yet had the privilege of spending a day on the water with him (something that will get remedied this year), my numerous conversations and encounters at shows, all of my exchanges with Koz have been nothing short of extremely pleasant and focused on driving the sport forward in a positive manner.  It is obvious that he not only cares deeply about the health of our sport and the resources, but he also has the same level of care for the people in it.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?

You can find me taking clients on a variety of water, whether wading the upper Jordan Valley, floating its cedar strewn lower or my favorite stretch of the Upper Manistee from M-72 to Three Mile.  Some wadable locales on Lake Michigan for Carp or smallmouth. We will always make a worthwhile trip to Mio on the Au Sable to throw articulated wet tube socks with the best of the Mitt Monkeys around. There are a handful of other northern Michigan streams not as often publicized, but equally rewarding because of their secrecy.

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding?

Anytime you have a client that can cast-> BONUS!

Watching an angler who can negotiate down trees and flip streamers within inches of structure, cast after cast, all day long, can make for a productive day. But I really, truly enjoy being on the river in near complete darkness, all other senses besides sight are heightened and on high alert when you are casting foam and deer hair tangerine sized rodents against the double shadow of a tall grassy bank that seems to move and come alive the longer you stare at it……waiting for the explosion at the surface and the entire universe erupts with chaos.

Species of fish that you guide for? 

Primarily a trout and steelhead guy by nature, but my youth was focused on bucket mouth bass, so it feels good to get back to basics and peruse local warm water species. Smallmouth and carp are so abundant in the Great Lakes and especially the Lake Charlevoix system. Toothy fresh water wolves have become more notably sought after species.

koz-gearing-up

What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

Best case scenario, at the end of the day, clients learn a thing about fly fishing, its rich and deep history in Michigan. They have a remarkable ‘all day’ experience, from casting & conservation, to bug lessons, and hopefully catching a fish or two. That is not always the case. we have to remember to make the experience fun, so they wish to return. I try to make these things memorable by providing a farm fresh lunch and out of this world scones from the Boyne Farmers Market, a taste of up north to take back home with them.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

It used to be a wine marinated hanger steak with fresh grilled asparagus, these days, I have more requests to be ‘heart smart’ and not waste an hour grilling- even though I enjoy a good steak from time to time. Seems lately we are doing a sweet potato black bean quesadilla with pepperjack cheese and fresh ginger guacamole- and people are raving about it.

If you could be in a band, which one would it be? 

stuck on a retro 80’s mohawk, black leather kind of mood- Depeche Mode – seems Dave Gahan & I have hit bottom and are building ourselves back up from scratch. everyday, one day at a time.

Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse?

Totally a mouse trap. I know people who have worked for the mouse, they rarely ever come out the other side the same. Its like they brain-wash you to the next level, CIA conspiracy kind of stuff. I would like to convince my family we could vacation in Yellowstone for 6 months on the same amount of coin we would spend in the Rat Trap…

 

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?

Specialize in beginners, fresh, local friendly, and genuine. Making a day trip on one of our rivers is an escape from the busy text message, fax, memo, meeting filled world. We just like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the nature that surrounds us.  We waste too much of our valuable time on the things that really mean so little.

What makes a good client? 

Practice casting prior to getting in a boat and not be happy with missing a few fish. You dont buy a new set of golf clubs and fly to Pebble Beach without a few practice swings. You need your A-game on any river in the Mitt, some days, it’s the wind, others it’s the fish, current, rain, bugs, the sun, etc. You need to do the best you can to be prepared for connecting with a trout. Listen to your guide, chances are, they have been down this river a dozen or more times than you have…image4

Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens?  We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky? 

It is true~ like in “Horton Hears a Who” the fish world is a speck on a flower, and their world is equally dependent upon how well we take care of it…

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you? 

Of course the ego maniac would like Brad Pitt in the lead role, some would say more like Matt Damon- not that bad, but reality is- Anthony Michael Hall(16 Candles/Weird Science fame) is your huckleberry, a sure shoe in for my days on the river and chasing Molly.untitled

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

The usual suspects: calling works- 231 675-1237 or

Facebook

Flyfishbkoz@gmail.com

http://www.truenorthtrout.com

 

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We’re Back…….

 

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The very first post written on MichiganFly was published on Jan 9th, 2014 – 3 years ago today.  That Michigan winter was especially brutal, temps that reached a high in the single digits for several days in a row and snow that was measured in feet instead of inches.  Dan and I started this as a coping method as we searched for any crutch available to maintain the level mental sanity we both had.  Luckily for us, jumping on the internet and acting like clowns worked to the degree that we didn’t have to resort to our final plan that involved tons of drugs and booze.

We decided at the time that we would operate the blog through the winter months, then bail out of it when time no longer permitted, usually signaled by the polar bears and penguins migrating back to more permanent arctic lands.  So……..we’re back for the next couple of months.  Who’s ready for Tuesday bananas?

2016 was a good year – they are all pretty damned good if you have a group of friends that you spend time with on the water.  Here’s a the start of a brief recap:

SPRING

Instead of typing some BS that nobody wants to read here, a video recap is probably better.

A few trout a few steelhead, nothing wrong with that.  Then towards the latter half of spring, something happened that….that changed everything forever.  In our circle a 20″ trout is usually referenced as a “good fish”, anything over 24″ becomes a “giant” and if you topple the 27″ mark, something that has been done once by Jeff (see his work at  Fly Fish the Mitt) its legendary status.

Well, Dan (MichiganFly co-founder) didn’t just set a new bar this year, he took the old one, broke it and shoved it up everyone’s rears.  Never in my lifetime did I expect to witness a 30″ resident brown trout being put into the net – but it happened.

The fish ate a fly of Dan’s own design – the Mitt Fiddle.  Guess what bug got fished by everyone else a lot for the rest of the year?

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Personally, I was on the struggle bus a bit streamer fishing this past spring.  I had a number of opportunities at good fish maybe even a few giants in there – but usually I had my head up my ass and completely blew the chance.  Definitely, something that will be addressed this year.  I don’t know – is there some surgical procedure or something to remove craniums from rectums?

Rest of the year recap to come soon.  Tune in tomorrow for the 1st Tuesday Bananas of the year!


Steelhead vs. Big Brown Trout

We are fortunate in Michigan that we have the ability to target so many different fish in varying types of water on the fly.  The opportunities here are seemingly endless in regards to the species we can catch and the type of water we can catch them in.  In my opinion, the 2 greatest sport fish we have available are Steelhead and Large Brown Trout.  I have, over the years, waivered back and forth as to my answer to the question: “if you could only pick one fish to fish for, what would it be?”  So, I thought I’d weigh out many of the deciding factors that go into it for me.  These attributes are just my opinion on the matters – would love to hear what everyone else has to say about it though!

steel v brown

STEELHEAD BROWN TROUT                           REASONING
Availability

   √

It’s reasonable to expect that you would be able to find a brown trout pretty much all 12 months out of the year.  Great Lakes steelhead are typically only available from October through April (sometimes May).  Edge Brown Trout

   √

Photogenic qualities This is a really tough one for me – giant slabs of buttery goodness are not exactly a dime a dozen, but steelhead go through several unique transformations of coloration and composure once they enter the rivers.  In a close call, I’ve got to say Edge Steelhead
Watersheds found in

   √

Most of the rivers that steelhead can be found in will also hold a population of large brown trout.  However, there are several areas that browns are found in that steelhead don’t have access to, including some of the most beautiful/pristine stretches of river this state has to offer.  Edge Brown Trout
The take

   √

As the saying goes, the tug is the drug when it comes to steelhead.  While I will admit that the ‘jolt’ a steelhead on a swung fly is exciting, for me the visual experience of catching a big brown on a pulled streamer or on a dry fly can’t be matched.  Watching a buttery brown propel itself towards the boat at Mach5, and open its mouth to inhale a streamer makes me weak in the knees.  Edge Brown Trout
Tactics they are targeted with

   √

Swing and bobber fishing for Steelhead vs. Pulling streamers and dry fly fishing for Browns.  I’m an extremely visual person and watching a bobber all day while visual, is far less interactive than pulling a streamer or manipulating your line for a drag free drift of a dry.   Edge Brown Trout

   √

The Fight This one isn’t even close.  Rarely, in my experience will a brown put up nearly the fight or require the amount of skill to land once hooked that a steelhead requires.  Edge Steelhead
Crowds

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Uggggghhhhh…..steelhead brings people out of the woodwork, people come from all over the country to experience the great fishery we have.  Many people you encounter will be utilizing questionable tactics as well.  You’ll often times spend as much time searching for a spot to actually fish than you will fishing.  Edge Brown Trout

    √

Success Rates Steelhead, when they are available are for the most part more easily caught than large brown trout.  Steelhead success rates are measured in #’s, browns are measured in inches.  Being that steelhead are typically easier to encounter – Edge Steelhead
Tying the Bugs

   √

Steelhead fly tying, whether it is for swinging or nymphing gets very monotonous, it feels like full on production mode.  Tying streamers for trout allows me to flex the minimal creativity that I possess, and I enjoy it.  Not to mention you only need a few streamers and a few dries and you’re all set.  Edge Brown Trout

You’re Probably Paying too Much

It sometimes amazes me at the amounts of money that some individuals spend on fly fishing related gear – specifically the amounts that are spent on fly rods.  Some time back the owner of a very well known fly shop in Colorado – one that would benefit greatly by the sale of expensive rods by the way – put together a great piece highlighting why you are probably spending too much on a rod.

The first point in his arguement is:

1.     The more expensive rods don’t catch more fish. So don’t think that because you are paying more for a rod, you will catch more.

Most often a more expensive rod WILL NOT make you a better caster – I’d even say that many times it makes you a worse caster!  Today’s rods tend to lean more towards ‘tip flex’ instead of moderate actions – many of them on the expensive end of the spectrum.  ‘Tip flex’ rods, from my experience are much more difficult for MOST fishermen to cast because they loose the feel of the rod actually loading.

So it maybe that you have an affinity with a characteristic which is not solely about catching fish. Rather there is some other aspect of the sport to which you are attracted.

Also, do you really believe that a fish cares if a bug is presented with an expensive rod?  All that fish cares about is if the fly is presented in a way that convinces it to eat or not.

So ask yourself whether you just want to catch fish or satisfy some other urge. If you just want to catch fish, the relevance of the rod should be dictated solely by reference to that metric. Cost should generally be irrelevant.

Secondly:

2.     The more expensive rods are not necessarily more expensive to build. The increased price is often just to fund the extensive marketing and propaganda campaigns that rod makers undertake to convince you that their product is better.

The ability to have a “peek behind the curtain” has been an eye opening experience for me!  The amount of costs associated with marketing, sponsorships, enormous amounts of overhead is incredibly substantial.  Those costs will be transferred to the consumers.

So why are some rods more expensive than others? The answer is simple. Marketing. If you read fishing magazines, you will see particular products given a lot of real estate in the various publications. This is simply a consequence of magazines demanding that manufacturers advertise with them in exchange for positive reviews. Nothing more. If you want proof, look at the number of advertisements devoted to particular brands and then check out the numbers of reviews and advertorials where those brands are mentioned. Then look at the brands which don’t seem to show up in the magazines so much and see how little they advertise. In other words the fishing press simply sells itself for advertising dollars. Nothing more. Then the uninformed public sees the masses of print devoted to particular products and that becomes their choice. These companies do it because they have the budgets to do it and to some extent it works sufficiently to justify the expense.

If you are to take a rod that costs in the $200-$400 range produced by a company that DOES NOT spend a great amount of money on advertising and compare it component by component to a rod in the $600-$800 range produced by a company that DOES spend enormous amounts of money and promoting their product – you’d be surprised!  Often times you are actually getting less in the more expensive rod!

I’m not saying that the least expensive rod is as good as all the other rods out there.  What I am saying is next time you are in your local fly shop, do a side by side comparison of rods that are in different price brackets – start at the tip section and work your way down.

Are the guides for each rod comparable?  Check!

Do they have the same number of stripping guides?  Check!

Is the cork quality relatively the same? Check!

Are the reel seats similar – both double locking?  Check!

Then cast each rod – try and hit a target at the distance that you will be fishing away from you most often.  Does each rod allow you to hit that target?

**Block quotes were pulled from an article on the Frying Pan Anglers website, more info can be found here: http://www.fryingpananglers.com/How-to-choose-a-fly-rod.html


2014 Photo Wrap Up

2014 was a great year spent in the outdoors.  Here are a few pics wrapping up the year that was:

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Selectivity

I am currently engaged in Matt Supinski’s newest book titled Selectivity: The Theory & Method of Fly Fishing for Fussy Trout, Salmon, & Steelhead, and will have a complete view and write up of it soon.

My initial thoughts on the book are this:

  • Great content, written in a way that illustrates value of the philosophy
  • The photography is really great
  • I always head straight to the “fly plates” first – and they don’t disappoint in this book at all.  Some really innovative patterns that will be added to my arsenal
  • Information is so far very thoroughly developed
  • Entertaining

In the meantime while I continue to digest the information in the book and construct a feedback and review post – here is a great Q & A that The Trout Zone did with Matt himself.

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As well there are some great photos in here by local celebrities Rich Felber from Trout on the Fly and Jeff Cole from Fly Fish the Mitt.


Mystic Tremor

In complete and total transparency I am associated with the no longer new on the block, but quickly gaining popularity Mystic Fly Rods.  I have known Dennis (the mastermind behind the products) since just after the company began producing rods nearly 7 years ago, and have helped him in some capacity or another for most of that time.

As I don’t find myself making any trips to saltwater oriented fishing destinations, I have never really spent much time exploring the capabilities of the Mystic Tremor, as it is designed primarily for that particular function.  I did however start fishing a tremor last year while pulling streamers for trout and pike.

Blue Tremor in the middle  between a pair of Reapers

Blue Tremor in the middle between a pair of Reapers

The above photo was taken by Rich Felber, see more of his work at Trout on the Fly.

Here are my thoughts:

  • First and foremost the Tremor is one of the best looking, aesthetically pleasing rods on the market.  The blue blank, with blue thread wraps and violet trim bands are absolutely beautiful.
  • Rod is very light in hand and is not fatiguing
  • One area that the rod excels in is it’s “lifting power” – the 8wt rod easily lifts 7″ flies and heavy 300 grain sink tips up and out of the water to start a backcast.
  • The rod loads exceptionally easy – after the lift up of the bug/line – 1 simple backcast was plenty enough to deliver the fly accurately and at relatively long distances.
  • More reviews from around the interwebs:
  1. MidCurrent
  2. The Perfect Drift
  3. Fly Life Magazine
  4. Florida Fly Fishing Magazine