Truck Driver and Fly Fishing Fashion Collide

who wore it better

The industry segment of the fashion world that serves up design and marketing to long haul truckers is considering a change in focus as a result of apparel trends in the fly fishing community.  Industry spokespeople claim that fly fisherman are more and more emulating the traditional “trucker” look with their style.  “Trucker” style mesh/foam hats, plaid shirts, puffy vests, comfortable pants and slip on shoes are all common sights at both local fly shops and trucker stops these days.  As such, the textile industry is shifting focus to marketing products to the fishing industry.

However, this merger of styles has been causing some confusion in several social circles as the two groups are often mistaking each other for peers.  A long haul trucker based out of the Grand Rapids area was recently quoted saying:

“I was at a gas station last week, saw a guy over at the instant latte machine who I assumed was a fellow trucker based on his appearance.  Had the mesh back hat, fancy vest for holding sunglasses and road snacks, comfy pants and the all important crocs.  But when I asked the fella what kind of rig he was running, he rambled on about a custom scandi butter stick rocking a hella aggressive front taper and mow leaders’.  I figured he worked for some European trucking outfit until I saw him walk out and get in an early 2000s Toyota Tacoma with more stickers on it than should be legal.  It was at that point I realized he was a into that whippity whip fly fishing and NOT a trucker.  So confusing….”

Petitions by truck driver unions for a ban on companies producing fly fishing clothing that mimics their uniforms has thus far been ineffective but they vow to keep on fighting to protect their image.  In the meantime, fly fisherpeople continue to take to the rivers looking exactly like truck drivers.


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Tuesday Bananas is moving to Friday this week for a BANANARAMA SPECIAL.  To hold you over here is a video of Sesame Street Performing the Warren G & Nate Dogg Classic “REGULATORS”

MARCH Video Recap

Here’s a quick edit recapping Michiganfly’s March (watch in 720 or 1080p for best experience):

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.

2016 Midwest Fly Fishing Expo


Sorry for the recent lack of activity – both work and life have had me firmly gripped right by the man sack.

This weekend I’ll be in my usual spot, manning the Mystic booth with Dennis and crew – stop by and see me.  Maybe we ought to come up with a secret Mitt Monkey handshake or something?  Never mind, that would probably go south in a hurry.

For more info click this link -> Midwest Fly Fishing Expo

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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More on the Au Sable


We ran a feature on the extreme dangers facing the Au Sable river with the proposed scaling of an existing tourist attraction (that isn’t much of an attraction) last Tuesday instead of our weekly Bananas article.  This is so important of an issue that it merits further attention.  Mich Outdoors recently put together an overview of information that I encourage you to read, you can find it here: Au Sable River is Under Attack

This is incredibly important for a multitude of reasons.  First and foremost, that Au Sable is an incredibly valuable resource to our state.  It is a nationally renowned fishery that attracts FAR MORE tourist near and far than the existing tourist attraction that is proposing to expand by more than 15x.  The undoubtedly negative environmental impact of this will be extremely damning to the entire ecosystem of the river, and the economy that the river creates.

The potential damage of aquaculture or aquafarming far outweighs any capital gains that the state or the economy may experience as a windfall from supporting these businesses.

The shortsightedness of this issue creates a scary precedent for all waters – not just in Michigan.  If this can happen on the Au Sable, I’m sorry to say – IT CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.

Here are some important excerpts from other resoures:

From the Anglers of the Au Sable

The DEQ admitted that when the fish farm discharges effluent at the maximum levels allowed by the permit, the fish farm will emit 160,000 pounds of fish poop and uneaten fish food, and 1,600 pounds of phosphorus per year. ** Without getting into detail, suffice it to say the DEQ testimony was weak. It reminded me of what the Flint Water Advisory Task Force said about the DEQ’s performance there: “Minimalist,” willing to accept mere “technical compliance” to protect the public, dismissive of others who raise concerns, and wrong in its interpretation of the law.

Finally, Dr. Canale applied his new model to the Au Sable River, and then assessed the effects the fish farm would have under various scenarios. His testimony and exhibits were stunning. He found that, even without the Grayling fish farm, the river violates oxygen standards. He said that, even if the fish farm performs the best possible treatment of its fish poop and feeding, the river will continue to violate dissolved oxygen standards. Finally, he said that, during low flows (summer drought conditions), if the fish farm were at maximum production with no treatment, oxygen standards at Stephan Bridge would be violated 98% of the time!

His findings regarding dissolved oxygen levels at Stephan Bridge were particularly alarming. Gary Whelan was asked if the current DEQ permit is sufficient to protect the river. His answer was short, sweet and to the point: “No.”

From Mich Outdoors

The Michigan DEQ (yes, the same group made infamous by the Flint water crisis), has approved a permit to turn a small tourist attraction into a large scale fish farm on the Au Sable River. Currently the small flow through hatchery produces less than 20,000 fish per year, but the state and county have approved the expansion, up to 300,000 fish per year

  • Harrieta Hills (the people wanting to expand the farm) is being given the land for $1 on a 20 year lease

  • They are not required to expand or upgrade the current waste disposal system that has been in place since 1914 and designed to produce a fraction of the fish.

  • This farm is located just above the “Holy Waters” section of the Au Sable. Which means this trout fishing mecca, that people travel the world to experience, is directly in the cross-hairs, and will without a doubt suffer a tremendous hit to water quality.

  • There are other state ran hatcheries that have been required to invest tons of tax payer money (rightly so) to upgrade their systems to create little to no harmful discharge. For some reason however this private company is not being held to the same standard.

  • This is being looked at as a gateway case by the state, its agriculture agencies, and Harrieta Hills to open up our great waters to more large scale aquaculture business that could further hurt our delicate ecosystems.

After the farm was shut down, the state opened a large farm at the headwaters, quickly destroying the remaining trout population. An frighteningly similar situation. A once world renowned trout stream that brought tourists from around the globe was destroyed. The article below shows the research to the problem, and also explains that once the farm was shut down the river has experienced a rebound in local resident trout.

From Gink and Gasoline

They intend to operate the hatchery with little modification, which will flush all of their raw waste untreated into the river until they reach 100,000 pounds production, at which point they plan to establish “quiescent zones” in which solids will settle to the bottom and be scooped out and disposed of. And that’s it. No wastewater treatment. No filtration. No real cost to HHTF, and no real oversight by the county or state– they will be self-monitoring their discharge. If that weren’t enough, the DEQ acknowledges that water quality will suffer but “that lowering of water quality is necessary to support the identified important social and economic development in the area.” All of this just upstream from the famed Holy Waters stretch of the river. Angler’s and conservation groups asked that a performance bond be required of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm in case of damage to the river, but this request was denied by the county.

But here is what is really frightening. Harrietta Hills Trout Farm, the Michigan Aquaculture Association, the DEQ, MDARD, and the Department of Agriculture see this as a gateway operation to opening up Michigan waters to large-scale aquaculture including open net pens in the Great Lakes.

Feature – Dave Hise, Casters Fly Shop


I met Dave Hise a number of years ago, I had wandered into the Grand Rapids Orvis shop completely new to fly tying and not knowing my head from my rear in regards to where to even start.  Dave, sitting behind the counter was quick to greet me and offer his help.  I don’t know why, but at the time it was some sort of embarrassment for me to admit I didn’t even know where to start when it came to spinning bugs – instead I started fumbling around the walls of slat board loaded with endless pegs of colorful materials that at the time I had no clue what their applications or purpose were.

I suppose that my lack of comfortability in accepting Dave’s offer to help was probably a result of my previous interactions with other fly shops.  The monumental level of smugness and unhelpful attitude that I had experienced previously left me apprehensive to  seek advice or help.  Instead I opted to pretend to know what I didn’t know, quickly slide into the shop disguising myself as someone “in the know” grab a bunch of materials that I had no knowledge of the purpose, return home and try to figure stuff out.

Dave though, he was different.  It was obvious to him that I had no idea what I was doing – so he pursued further conversation with me.  As a result, I learned more in 5 minutes talking to Dave than I had in the previous 5 months.   This positive encounter substantially changed the path I was on.

Dave has since moved to North Carolina, opening Casters Fly Shop (<- click here).  He has won or been nominated for a number of tying and fishing awards, including a number of nominations for Orvis Guide of the Year.  He has an enormous number of fly patterns (<- click here) that are carried and distributed by Orvis.  Always trying new materials, Dave’s tying style is unlike most, pushing the envelope in developing ways to create fishable realistic patterns.  His flies combine realism that exceeds others and yet are functional to fish.

hise hex

Dave’s use of materials and innovation has always inspired me, since the time that I walked into the shop a fly tying rookie all the way up until this point.  While not tied to the exact lofty standards of his flies, many of the patterns that I carry in my box are direct descendants of Dave’s flies.


Reviews of Dave’s customer service are nothing short of glowing.  His ability to consistently get his guided clients into exceptionally large North Carolina trout is impressive.  The innovation and knowledge that he shares with the fly fishing community has a positive impact on the direction of the industry.

Recently I was in desperate search of a few particular materials that the local shops do not carry, I needed these materials pronto for a demonstration tying event coming up.  Because of extremely poor planning on my part I was in a bind, I had to get the materials quickly.  I contacted Dave and explained the situation – of course he had the materials I needed, his shop has quite literally every tying material imaginable.  But that is not the impressive part, Dave continued to go far above and beyond and took it upon himself to rush ship my order to ensure they arrived in Michigan ahead of the time that I needed them.

In an age where there are endless options of where to buy from, its this extremely high level of customer service that continues to set Dave apart in the fly fishing industry.

Weekly Review


Matt Zudweg is one of the most talented people I have ever known, check out this feature at FrankenFly.

Some day I’ll have a Swift, and it will look as classy as this glass looks.

Gink and Gasoline has great casting tips here.

Rivers of Reckoning is one of my favorite reads this week he lays out the insanity that is associated with articulation

I’d really like to know how flexible Windknots & Tangled Lines is with #2 on their Prostaff Checklist.

Pile Cast hits close to home with this one.

Everything you need to know about sinking lines at Itinerant Angler.


Scientists Discover New Tribe of Mousers in Pigeon River Country


Mitt Monkey Special Correspondent Jason Tucker of Fontinalis Rising brings us a breaking story from Northern Michigan. 

Gaylord- Anthropologists with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources are abuzz today with the discovery of a previously uncontacted tribe of Mousers in a remote section of the Pigeon River Country.

“We were up at night in our helicopter” says lead scientist Dr. Jared Ostro, “looking for anything really- elk poachers or a pot grow, anything, when suddenly in a clearing by a river we saw a fire and some headlamps. We set down as close as we safely could and tried to make contact.” The exact location is not being disclosed to protect their discovery.

There have been rumors about “Mousers” in Michigan for years, but up until now, the DNR has denied their existence. They are called Mousers because they fashion lures that look like mice in order to trick their preferred prey Salmo trutta giganticus. Many believed mousers were the imaginary bogey men dreamed up by intoxicated tubers.

“Mousers are extremely secretive, nocturnal, and usually solitary.” Says veteran Bigfoot tracker Bill Henderson. “It was years before I ever saw one, and most folks still don’t believe me.”

Well now they do. Dr. Ostro describes the meeting. “We set (the chopper) down close by and tried to make contact. When we entered the clearing where they were we tried to communicate with them via the pidgin English they are thought to speak. There were at least six of them, maybe more, dressed in their traditional garb” he says. “At first everything seemed to be ok, but quickly it became clear that we were not welcome in their territory. They became agitated, and so we backed off without provoking an incident. We are just so excited to discover a new tribe, right here in Northern Michigan.”

But the discoveries don’t end there. Dr. Dano Petrolakalis, a Doctor of Field Anthropology, who is in charge of logistics for the team added some thrilling details. “It was once thought that mousers were just rogue solitary males. We didn’t even think they reproduced, or if they did, that they played no part in rearing their offspring. But this tribe was different- there were two females with them. We thought there were three, but one of them turned out to be a male. It means that they’re a tribe. It changes everything.”

We reached out to famed fly fishing documentarist and auteur Randy Tillotsen. He seemed a bit shaken when speaking about his experience trying to document Mousers.

“The lighting man, the lighting man, it was terrible, just terrible. And I had to bleep most of the audio.” He took a drag on a cigarette held by trembling fingers. “They wouldn’t let me name the river, wouldn’t let me show their flies, wouldn’t let me take shots of the RIVERBANK man!!” he said with eyes bugging out, his voice rising as he spoke, and then trailing off.

Gerald Finkbiener, a biologist with the DNR, spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, as he is unauthorized to speak with us on the matter. “We have a zero contact policy. As long as no laws are being broke and they’re no threat to others, we have a hands-off policy toward mousers. Also, there’s no cougars in Michigan.”

Dr. Ostro says he and his team plans to return next summer to study the Mousers if they safely can. “We don’t want to change their way of life” he says. “We just want to learn their secrets- for science of course. Learn how they exist, how they’ve adapted to a nocturnal lifestyle, learn how they make their mouse lures. We will of course respect their autonomy. We will have to gain their trust first. We don’t want to destroy their world.”

Dr. Petrolakalis outlined some questions the team hopes to answer. “We want to know what role herbalism plays in their art and worship. They have a cult of donkey and unicorn worship. I mean, what’s that all about?”

Not everyone shares the team’s enthusiasm. “Yes I’m aware of rumors about lost tribes of Mousers here and there” says head of the Yale Anthropology Department Dr. Moe Schlosser. “I’ve tried to watch the documentaries but they’re all terrible if you ask me. Just awful footage and worse audio. We know that there are a few such individuals out there, but a tribe? I don’t think so.”

When pressed, Dr. Schlosser elaborated. “Just because a couple of women joined up with them and got Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t make them a tribe. Show me some dwellings, show me some six year old children tying gurglers and then you’ll have a tribe. Without further proof I’d say the jury is still out, at best.”

The skeptics haven’t dampened the team’s enthusiasm one bit. “We intend to go back and find them again after the Hex hatch. That’s when they seem to be most active” says Dr. Ostro. “This is exciting, because a new indigenous tribe hasn’t been discovered in the Pigeon River Country since the 1970’s, and they were Elk Poachers. They all died out in the 1990’s and early 2000’s once the State started maintaining the roads out there. To find a new tribe now is the discovery of a lifetime.”


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