Posts tagged “michigan

Guide Profile – Max Werkman

15822599_10154036483810588_27844573989136708_n

Four years ago, I received an email message from Max Werkman.  I have saved this email as it is a constant reminder to me, and I refer back to it in times when I ponder what direction the sport and industry of fly fishing is heading in.  With a new generation that is typically pre-occupied with tweeting cat videos, posing half naked on Instagram, spending their time with their noses buried in their phones, or trying to level up in the most recent Xbox game – there are young men and women out there like Max.  As long as we have people like Max involved in this sport and industry, we will be in good shape.  I won’t share with you the entire email, but here’s how it begins;

My name is Max Werkman,  I’m 15 years old and I live in Holland Michigan. I love fly fishing and I always have.  I do most of my fly fishing in my local rivers here in Michigan. I also see that your company is based out of Portland Michigan, so your might know the rivers I am talking about.

I met with Max a short time after receiving this email and was came away from that time we spent together extremely impressed with his passion, thirst for knowledge, and commitment to the sport.  With all of the different opportunities available to find social connections and to be entertained, Max more than anything just wanted to fish.

Since that time I have been fortunate to spend time with Max on the river and feelings of admiration and if I’m being completely honest some amount of jealousy came over me.  I admire Max’s work ethic, energy, and passion that he exhibits while on the water – he works extremely hard and is able to find fish in even the toughest of conditions.  The jealousy stems from my own personal experience in that I don’t think I was nearly as focused, driven, and committed to anything at his age, as he is to fishing.

16195155_1273716239390904_8378261868651592003_n

Most people Max’s age are spending their summers figuring out which party they are going to go get wild at, living in the comforts of their parent’s homes, bumming money from dad to fill a tank with gas, and working on a tan at the beach.  Not Max.  Max left the comforts of post high school/pre-holy shit I have to be responsible for myself life to gain more guiding experience in Alaska.  Coming back to the Mitt, with a ton of experience Max is ready to spend the day on the water sharing his knowledge and passion for our resources –

Not only is Max and Werkman Outfitters committed to giving their clients a great experience, they are also extremely strong advocates of our environment.  Here is a statement from their website: Click here for more.

“Being from southwest Michigan, we saw the ecological and economic damage that occurred as result of Enbridge’s Line 6 B spill in the Kalamazoo River. Although the clean up has restored the habitat we feel a spill in the Straits would be far worse and more difficult to clean up.  For us, having a healthy wild fishery in the Great Lakes is critical to our livelihood. If a spill were to occur it will effect wild populations of salmon, steelhead and trout not only in the Straits, but as they are migratory, through out the Lake Michigan / Lake Huron basin. In addition, the native smallmouth bass and carp populations that live along the flats in the area will be negatively effected.”

Here’s the Q&A with Max:

What rivers do you guide on primarily?

White River

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

Honestly my favorite method of guiding would have to be float fishing. It is the most effective way for me and my clients to catch fish, but it is also a very easy method of fishing to teach as well.

Species of fish that you guide for?

 I guide for Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead as well as Smallmouth bass.

Are oranges named oranges because oranges are orange, or is orange called orange because oranges are orange?

I think that oranges are named oranges because oranges are orange. The color orange was probably established before the food in my opinion.

What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

My favorite thing about guiding is seeing the excitement that someone shows when they catch fish or see/do something that they have never done before. Seeing the excitement of catching a huge steelhead or just helping someone learn to cast a fly rod for the first time is what I love about guiding.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

Probably my favorite lunch to prepare on the bank would have to be hamburgers. There easy to cook, don’t take up much space in the cooler, and almost everyone loves hamburgers.

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

I am a huge metal fan so if I were to be in a band it would diffidently be Avenged Sevenfold.

avenged_sevenfold_warner_brothers

If I were to eat myself, would I become twice as large or completely disappear?

I think that I would probably disappear if I were to eat myself.

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

I am only 19 years old so I am a younger guy, but I have tons of experience. Most clients have never spent a day on the river with someone who is the same age as me.

What makes a good client?

To me a good client is someone who likes to have fun, takes my advice into consideration while fishing, and someone who is willing to try something new.

Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?

I would rather fight 100 duck sized horse’s because I feel like being taller would be a good advantage in fighting duck sized horse’s.

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

I would want Charlie Day to play me. I think he has a goofy personality like me and he is a very funny actor in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

untitled

What else would be helpful for people to know about you?

I am not a very up tight guide, I like to have a good laugh about stuff on the river. Another thing would be that I can’t control everything that goes on during the day. Weather that is catching fish or not, or if a client is cold I cannot control everything that goes on during a guide trip.

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

Visit my website at www.werkmanoutfitters.com. Email me at max@werkmanoutfitters.com or call my cellphone at 616-403-8780.

 


Tough Day? Go Bigger.

If you’re anything like me you’ve had far too many days when the steamer bite is tough, fish seem harder to find and engage and it seems like you are floating along simply getting 6 hours of casting practice.  Bug switches become frequent as panic starts to sit in that the dreaded “skunk” is staring you straight in the face.  Each and every single time you open your giant box of flies, a feeling of helplessness comes over you – and all of these great once proven fish catching patterns strike ZERO confidence.

We have all been there, sometimes the reasons are obvious why we aren’t able to engage fish – sometimes all you can chalk it up to is that fish are assholes.

As I look into my boxes of streamers I see several neatly organized rows of mostly natural appearing food resources.  There are natural colored, natural sized sculpin imitations.  There are piles of small appropriately colored baitfish patterns.  There’s weighted flies, there’s unweighted flies.  There are flies that swim left to right, flies that swim up and down, and flies that do both.

What I didn’t have in my box are large, bright, flashy, here I am type of streamers.  Everything is in the 4″ to 5″ range with muted flash.

Before my last outing, looking at the water temperatures (33 degrees) and anticipating higher and dirtier flows than normal, I hurried to throw together some larger flash bugs – for when those desperate times called for desperate measures.

I’ve read it before, I’ve heard it before, I’ve seen it work before – but I’ve never done it before (I’m a slow learner), on slow days when you are not able to engage fish actively looking to feed………invade their safe space to invoke a reactive territorial strike.

Some times fish just won’t eat – but almost all the time they will protect their homes.

After fishing a half a day with 3 guys in the boat and seeing no fish, I figured it was time to throw caution to the wind and go big and bright.  My confidence was nearly zip when I saw how stupidly bright and giant the fly was in the water, it was unlike anything I’d thrown before.  Planning to give it an honest 30 minute trial run before going back to the tried and true more natural imitations – I only had to wait about 5 minutes before my large fly was completely inhaled by a fish about a half a strip after it landed in the water.  I must have threatened this fish’s home for it to jump on the fly so quick and violently.

3

Sitting back down in the rowers seat, having a victory cigar never felt so good.  After hours of casting and not seeing a fish – a nice trout like this is even more sweet.  After spending a little over an hour trying to find fish for my boat buddies, I jumped back up to the front of the boat as shoulders were getting sore and spirits waning a bit again.  About 10 minutes longer using the same giant ball of flash fly, and not even getting through one full strip of the line I was rewarded again.

4

The lesson here for me was simple and it was something that I’ve heard and read many times from far more accomplished and wiser anglers than myself – if they don’t eat, go directly into their kitchens and threaten them.


Guide Profile – Brian “Koz” Kozminski

15822599_10154036483810588_27844573989136708_n

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

 


Guide Profile – Matt Zudweg

15822599_10154036483810588_27844573989136708_n

Without any shred of doubt, Matt Zudweg is one of the most (probably is #1 actually) supremely multi-talented individuals that I know.  Possessing more creativity in his left pinky finger than I have in my entire being, Matt is able to inspire through his art work, popular sticker creations, t-shirt designs, and innovative fly patterns (Click here to view his work).  That creativity, along with the enormous attention to detail that he exhibits, undoubtedly allows him to achieve great success in not only his creative business but also when he provides his expertise to clients on the river for a day of fishing.

When he’s not guiding clients to enjoyable days on the water, exercising his artistic abilities, or reconditioning classic ski boats, Matt is a leading advocate for Michigan’s precious resources,  working tirelessly to preserve and protect our fisheries.  matt-z

It’s obvious that Matt is extremely passionate about his crafts, but its his humility, humbleness, friendly demeanor, and  genuine enthusiasm for sharing great experiences that makes him a great guide, and even better person.

As a new feature on Michigan Fly, we will be highlighting a new guide each week – please see the end on how to contact to book a trip.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?

Since 2003 I’ve guided exclusively on West Michigan’s Muskegon River.

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

For steelhead my favorite and primary method of fishing is swinging flies with a Spey Rod. For trout, I’m also primarily using switch rods and swinging wet flies (unless of course there is a good surface bite)… although I am a slightly bigger fan of hucking a big streamer for the big guys, if conditions are right. For bass my favorite method is fishing large poppers into nooks and crannies or a streamer fished just under the surface. The take is what does it for me so I tend to be drawn to the method that creates the most exciting strike, although most of those methods are the more challenging ways to produce numbers of fish… I’m ok with that though.

Species of fish that you guide for?

Steelhead, Bass and Trout

What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

The teaching aspect probably. I never really pictured myself as a teacher until maybe 7 or 8 years ago. One of my kids was taking one of those tests to see what kind of job they’d be good at, so I filled one out as well. I was surprised at the time when it said I should be a teacher, but that conclusion has made much more sense to me ever since. I also love the camaraderie.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

A good steak and some grilled pineapple.

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

Definitely something bluegrass and from days gone by like the Osborne Brothers or Flatt and Scruggs. I’ve wanted to learn the banjo for some time now, but I’m not sure I have the musical talent to ever make that happen.

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

Ahh, this is a question always in the back of my mind, I’ve just been waiting for someone to finally ask it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it absolutely is a people trap and most likely run by a large herd of mice with ambitions of world domination.

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

I believe my good humor, positive attitude and undying passion for making my clients better anglers is something that I have to offer.

What makes a good client?

The “ideal” client to me is someone who is easy going and looking for a great overall experience on the river. They are motivated to become a better caster and angler, and they prefer angling methods that target the most aggressive fish, rather than using methods that may be more productive for numbers of fish. I have been so blessed to have mostly clients who fit that description.

The “perfect” client also shows up in a 69 Charger painted Hemi orange and let’s me do some donuts at the boat launch.

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?

Of course I do. After a certain amount of time fishing alone I think that thought crosses every anglers mind and they come to the same conclusion.

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

Probably Jase Robertson. He seems to have a similar sense of humor, he’s a fair skinned fellow like me and he already has a gnarly beard.

untitled

What else would be helpful for people to know about you?

I love people, but hate crowds. I’m very comfortable around 2-4 people. I love making balsa poppers, antiqued furniture and vintage style signs. I had a life changing moment when I was 18 and dedicated my life to following Jesus. I’ve been married 22 years to the most incredible woman and we have 3 kids that mean the world to us. I feel older than I look but am trying to reverse those. Some people call me Pastor but I’m not officially a Pastor and have no plans to be at this time. Many call me “Z” or “Zuddy”, nicknames I’ve had since childhood. I still jump up and down clapping my hands when a client hooks a swung fly steelhead… it just never gets old. I’ve got a thing for Toyota 4Runners and I’m super thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given in this life. How’s that?

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

Through Feenstra Guide Service www.feenstraoutdoors.com or my personal website www.zflyfishing.com or by email matt@mattzudweg.com or even by calling/texting at 231-206-7660 or just yelling my name very loudly.

 

 

 


We’re Back…….

 

62881406

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?

13076731_1321896621159154_8692134748978847743_n

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!


Springing Into Action, Pre­Spawn Smallmouth Bass on the Fly

title

Today’s feature is from Kory Boozer, SW Michigan and Smallmouth guide extraordinaire.  CLICK HERE to see more info about Kory and how to book a trip to elevate your Smallmouth game.

When fly fisherman think of Smallmouth Bass in Michigan, they think of hot Summer days spent tossing poppers at the rivers edge and while this is a great time of year to pursue Smallmouth Bass, it is far from the only time of year fly fisherman can enjoy chasing these river assassins.

While many anglers are still chasing Steelhead or Brown Trout on Michigan’s Rivers, Smallies begin to put on one of the biggest feeding binges of the year, typically once the water temps reach the mid to upper 40’s is when you will begin noticing a sharp increase in activity. They have yet to vacate their Winter holding lies and are still congregated in large groups which means if you find them you can typically catch a bunch of them. Look for fish to hold in deeper water in slack water areas, such as natural wing dams, sharp drop offs in the river bottom, eddies, etc… Any area that provides baitfish, slack current and deeper  water with access to spawning habitat nearby while retaining access to food is the ticket.

The results of properly matching the fly to the most abundant forage.

The results of properly matching the fly to the most abundant forage.

As far as gear goes, this isn’t time to fish floating lines and light weight rods, I recommend Scientific Anglers Sonar lines in the 250-350 grain range depending on the rod you are using. Some days you simply need to get down deep and I will throw a 9 wt and 350 grain line. As the water warms fishing deeper water becomes less and less of a necessity though and for the most part 7 and 8 wt rods are all you need. When you fish weightless flies as I do a heavier line is necessary to get them down, lucky for us a good sized Smallie will fold a 7, 8 or even a 9 wt to the cork. You do not want to fish large streamers, even if you are targeting big fish, streamers roughly 3″ – 4″ in length are ideal to properly match the forage at that time of year. Fish them slow with short and fast strips to provoke reaction bites, some times very slowly swinging through an area with minimal action is ideal, others they want more action, this can vary by the hour so something you want to continuously play with to maximize your effectiveness.

Releasing a chunky pre-spawn Smallmouth Bass.

Releasing a chunky pre-spawn Smallmouth Bass.

Fly choices are dictated by the most available forage where you are fishing. For example if Chubs, Suckers or Gobies are the dominate food source where you are fishing, you want to match the colors, size and flash these bait fish give off as closely as possible. If young Trout & Salmon or Shad are the most abundant food source in the area, then that is the type of forage you want to mimic. A flies effectiveness for Smallmouth Bass is measured by how much motion they provide without movement, how closely the color and flash matches the natural forage and how fast and cheap I can tie the fly in my opinion. I want a fly that swims without being stripped, matches the size, hue and flash of the naturals while being slightly transparent and one that I can tie reasonably fast. I also when possible want it to be cheap so I don’t mind losing them and will fish them like I stole `em so to speak. You can basically get away with 3 flies, a white/grey hue, an olive hue and a brown hue, which would do a good job of matching everything from Shad, Baby Bass, Sculpins, Gobies, Suckers, Shiners, etc… A pattern called the Bad Hair Day, developed by my Friend and Wisconsin fly fishing guide Dave Pinczkowski is a great starting point for flies emulating anything in the baitfish form. It utilizes craft fur which is cheap yet has amazing action in the water, various types of flash and wool or dubbing as a head. Simple, Cheap and Effective… Simply match the materials you are tying with to the forage you are imitating, and get started.

A group of Bad Hair Day streamers tied in various colors to suit a variety of conditions.

A group of Bad Hair Day streamers tied in various colors to suit a variety of conditions.

The pre-spawn bite will vary in duration, typically it takes place until water temps reach the mid to upper 50’s and the fish begin to spawn. Depending on weather and location, that can lead to a vastly different window of opportunity. If your into hard fighting fish and don’t like fishing around heavily pressured areas, early Spring Smallmouth Bass might be just the thing for you!

Kory Boozer – Boozer’s Guide Service – www.BoozersGuideService.com

 


UnHoly Waters (Part 3)

as

“Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” -Cree Indian Prophecy

Growing up in rural mid-Michigan, nearly 15 miles from the nearest town, in the rolling rich agricultural ground that is abundant in that region, farming is an essential part of who I am.  Spending the days of my youth picking rocks and weeds out of fields, operating tractors, enduring sweltering afternoons loading hundreds of bails of hay into the loft, and tending to herds of cattle has shaped and molded the person that I am today.  I find it darn near impossible to not root for the small family farms as the industry has evolved and giant corporate like farms have encroached and gobbled up gigantic swaths of land, making it hard for the “little guy” to compete.  I understand the importance of providing family owned businesses with the necessary means to compete in the ever growing global economy.

While supporting farmers and small businesses tugs at my heart strings, I also work very hard to keep in perspective the larger picture of the surrounding world and develop an understanding of other important issues.  The fishing industry in Michigan has been stated to be a $7 billion a year influx into our economy.  Say it with me here, SEVEN BILLION each and every year that is infused into our local economy.  How many local jobs at hotels, restaurants, bait shops, fly shops, gas stations, boat dealers/manufacturers is that?

The truth of the matter is that the great lakes and the waterways that feed into them are substantial to the existence of a healthy economy in our state.

It is troubling to think about all of the potential dangers that our natural resources face, and now they are threatened by additional dangers associated with fish farms under the guise of economical development.  There are many data points that suggest a high likelihood of profound negative impacts to our waters and the fish that inhabit them if fish farms are introduced.  While there are measures that can be imposed or put into place in an attempt to mitigate the potential risks, the possibility of a total demolition is still greater than 0% and I do not believe that is a risk that should be taken.  It’s similar to playing Russian Roulette for money, only someone else is the one pulling the trigger of the gun aimed directly at our resources AND getting the money from it.

I’ve thought long and hard about the proposed fish pens in the Great Lakes and the proposed aquaculture on the Au Sable watershed, and I fail to see the risks that the businesses running those operations would assume, but it is easy to recognize all of the risks posed to ecosystems in and of themselves and to the people that enjoy those resources.

If allowed a scary precedent will be established and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that these aquacultures will begin to pop up throughout our state like claims during the times of the gold rush.

It brings about the question, is the risks associated really worth the reward?

To see more about this issue, please see Parts 1 and 2 (click links below)

UnHoly Waters (Part 1)

UnHoly Waters (Part 2)

Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause.  (Click here for more)

Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)


Weekly Review

12

If you missed the F3T in GR this past weekend, Koz has got you covered with a recap

Found this killer PT nymph variant  at Frankenfly

Matt Barthels will be tying big streamers at the Muskegon River Fly Shop soon, get in while you can fit in

Get your fill of #glassisnotdead here (Spoiler Alert: theres some badass photos)

Bucket list fish Golden Dorado is explored at Gink and Gasoline

Funny stuff over at Windknots and Tangled Lines, be sure to watch out for the fresh water sharks and Great Lakes Whales

These guys seem like fun:


UnHoly Waters (Part 2)

as

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” – Ansel Adams

In an effort to share and provide further education regarding the issues that surround the proposed aquaculture fish farm on the Au Sable, below you will find a compiled list of documented concerns with aquaculture.

From Natural Society (Click here for more):

Fish farms cause serious environmental damage – Raising fish on farms causes serious ecological harm—by polluting natural waterways and more. The U.S. farmed fish industry is said to have $700 million in hidden costs, which is incidentally half the annual production value of the farms.

Farm-raised fish can be rife with disease – Because they are crowded into areas that are far more compact than in a natural environment, disease and illness can spread rampantly. Oftentimes, these diseases can even spread to wild populations.

From Food and Water Watch (Click here for more)

Massive amounts of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides are required to keep disease at bay just to keep fish and shrimp alive in overcrowded conditions (typically in nets, cages, or ponds). The risk of contamination is high, both to the surrounding water and within the enclosures themselves.

Uneaten fish feed, fish waste, and any antibiotics or chemicals used in fish farm operations flow through the cages directly into the ocean. This can significantly harm the ocean environment. Caged fish can escape and compete for resources or interbreed with wild fish and weaken important genetic traits. Farmed fish can spread disease to wild fish.

Factory fish farms may interfere with the livelihoods of commercial and recreational fishermen by displacing them from traditional fishing grounds or harming wild fish populations.

From Mercola.com (Click here for more)

The Jevons Paradox says that “as production methods grow more efficient, demand for resources actually increases – rather than decreasing, as you might expect,” MindBodyGreen reports.7 This is precisely what has happened with aquaculture.

Aquaculture has been deemed both ecologically and economically unstable, with “an unequal tradeoff between environmental costs and economic benefits.” In the US, hidden environmental costs are said to cost $700 million a year, which is half the annual production value of the farms.

There are multiple problems that result when farmed fish escape into the wild (which they do, in the numbers of millions each year). For starters, the ‘wild’ North Atlantic salmon that you purchase may actually be a farmed escapee, making it difficult to know what you’re really eating. The escaped fish also breed with wild fish, and research shows that these hybrid-born fish are less viable and die earlier than wild salmon. This could contaminate the entire gene pool and harm the future of the wild population.

From the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (Click here for more)

The main environmental effects of marine aquaculture can be divided into the following five categories:

  1. Biological Pollution: Fish that escape from aquaculture facilities may harm wild fish populations through competition and inter-breeding, or by spreading diseases and parasites. Escaped farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) are a particular problem, and may threaten endangered wild Atlantic salmon in Maine. In the future, farming transgenic, or genetically modified, fish may exacerbate concerns about biological pollution.

  2. Fish for Fish Feeds: Some types of aquaculture use large quantities of wild-caught fish as feed ingredients, and thus indirectly affect marine ecosystems thousands of miles from fish farms.

  3. Organic Pollution and Eutrophication: Some aquaculture systems contribute to nutrient loading through discharges of fish wastes and uneaten feed. Compared to the largest U.S. sources of nutrient pollution, aquaculture’s contribution is small, but it can be locally significant.

  4. Chemical Pollution: A variety of approved chemicals are used in aquaculture, including antibiotics and pesticides. Chemical use in U.S. aquaculture is low compared to use in terrestrial agriculture, but antibiotic resistance and harm to nontarget species are concerns.

Some environmental impacts of U.S. marine aquaculture have considerable immediacy. Since organisms cannot be recalled once they are released, biological pollution is often permanent.

Other biological impacts from aquaculture may not pose immediate threats to endangered species. Nevertheless, potential introductions of marine diseases, parasites, and transgenic fish could permanently harm fish populations and even marine ecosystems.

From Modern Farmer (Click here for more)

The vast majority of farmed fish are raised with methods that are detrimental to the environment (and sometimes the consumer) in one or more of the following ways:

  • Removes unsustainable quantities of water from rivers or ground sources

  • Returns contaminated water to local water bodies

  • Employs hormones, antibiotics and aquatic biocides that damage local ecosystems and have negative effects on public health

  • Raises fish on pelleted feed made with unsustainable ingredients, such as GMO soybeans and the waste products of factory-farmed livestock

  • Fails to prevent the escape of farmed fish into nearby waterways, where they may behave as invasive species and spread disease

From a study titled “A Global Assessment of Salmon Aquaculture Impacts on Wild Salmonids” authored by Jennifer S Ford and (Click here for more):

We have estimated a significant increase in mortality of wild salmonids exposed to salmon farming across many regions. However, estimates for individual regions are dependent on assumptions detailed in the Materials and Methods section, and the estimates often have large confidence intervals. Given that the data analysed are affected by considerable noise—including changes in fishing and environmental factors—the important result of this study is that we are nonetheless able to detect a large, statistically significant effect correlated with trends in farmed salmon production. The significant increase in mortality related to salmon farming that we have estimated in almost all cases is in addition to mortality that is also acting on the control populations.

Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause.  (Click here for more)

Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)


UnHoly Waters (Part 1)

as

“Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress.” -John Clapham

Michigan waters have a history steeped in controversy, tragedy, and invasion.  Ships traveling into our waters from far away oceans have introduced a multitude of invasive species that have resulted in decimating the ecosystems and ravaging the native fish populations.  There have been public political battles waged over the use of the watersheds.  Public outcry arose when a plan to install offshore energy producing wind turbines was unveiled.

Through over fishing, deforestation, and other damning practices that had profound negative impacts to our watersheds, native populations of grayling and brook trout have severely diminished or become extinct. Populations of other indigenous species have declined so much that they are more of a surprise when encountered, instead of a norm.  A love affair developed for dams has lead to substantial blockage of primal spawning grounds for native species, rendering natural reproduction more limited than it should be.  We are faced with the perpetual (seemingly inevitable) threat of asian carp invading our waters, if they haven’t already.  The extent of their impact upon arrival is somewhat unknown, but we can all agree it won’t be good.

Historic low water levels, warming water temperatures, increased imbalances in critical chemical compositions of our lakes and rivers, degradation of habitat, expanded erosion,  additional invasive species, draining of headwater aquifers, and other natural and human induced threats encroach upon our natural resources.  The easy excuse is – these are out of our control.  The reality is, they are a direct result of us as a human race.

Sure, you could argue that as a result of many of these negative events positives have come about.  Positives like the multi-million dollar a year salmon and steelhead fishing industry.  Or the increased ability for anglers to catch limits of walleyes in the reservoirs of dams.  But at the end of the day, salmon populations are collapsing and dams are failing, and there is probably no way to fix either.

Haven’t we learned from the mistakes of our forefathers?  Are we so shortsighted as to think that we can continue to place “band aid” style of fixes to man caused ecological issues and they’ll eventually just go away?  Because we have “solved” issues in the past by introducing new species, doesn’t mean that is a sustainable solution.

Here’s a sustainable solution – realize that our waterways are precious and water is life.  Click for the trailer on a great feature I watched at F3T over the weekend: Water is Life Trailer.  Fish and other aquatic life is are the litmus testers, the canary in the coal mine, that provide insight into how healthy our resources are.

The proposed aquafarm on the Au Sable doesn’t just impact the fishermen that enjoy the resource named “the Holy Waters”.  It affects the small towns that call the river home, it affects the entire economies in those areas that jobs are created as a result of the thousands of folks recreationally enjoying the resource every year.

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm has championed aquaculture tirelessly in the state of Michigan for a number of years.  Recently, they have proposed significant expansion of an existing farm currently operated as a tourist attraction on the Au Sable into a full blown aquafarm.
In an interview with Michigan Radio authored by Lindsey Smith(Click here for more) Dan Vogler, co-owner and general manager of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC states:

“It gets the community what they want, which is the opportunity to maintain this as a tourist attraction. And it gets us what we need, which is additional production space,” Dan Vogler said. Vogler is co-owner and general manager of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC, the small business that’s leasing the hatchery.

How can he be so sure that is what the community really wants is my question.  Does the community really want to be known for the good old days of cold, clean, fish filled waters that once were?  Do they want to be known for the local businesses that used to line the streets but can no longer exist without the seasonal population booms that come to enjoy the resource?

The article at michiganradio.org goes on to state:

With all the fresh water Michigan has, Vogler believes Michigan could produce much more fresh, locally produced fish, adding value to the state’s economy and residents’ diets.

Here is information regarding consumption of farmed fish found at clevelandclinic.org (Click here for more), citing Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs for short) sound dangerous. They are. POPs have been linked to several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity. Evidence suggests obesity might be even more of a risk factor for diabetes when POPs are present in your body. And specific types of POPs increase the risk of stroke in women. Why does this matter? Because PCB (one type of POP) levels are five to 10 times higher in farmed fish than in wild fish.

“The benefit-risk ratio for carcinogens and noncarcinogens is significantly greater for wild salmon than for farmed salmon.”

Farmed salmon comes with uncertainty about antibiotic use. Wild salmon does not.

There is an obvious threat to the high water quality the river currently experiences.  Increased discharge of foreign chemicals and fish feces poses a substantial risk to the health of the ecosystem.  In the previously cited interview with Michigan Radio, Vogler had this to say about monitoring:

“Monitoring is very expensive. It’s a lot of lab work and I pay the bill. So as you add more monitoring to my operation, you’re impeding my ability to make a living here,” Vogler said, “The reality is that I’m not a non-profit organization. So if I’m going to be here and run this thing and give the community the benefit of the summer tourist aspect, I have to be profitable. So adding more monitoring burdens without being able to demonstrate how that helps – I’ve got a little problem with that.”

This does not strike me as someone that is overly concerned with the health of the river, to me it seems he is more concerned with operating a profitable business at the potential expense of the resource.   To further complicate matters Dan Sanderson writes for the Crawford County Avalanche (Click here for more):

Instead of grab samples, the fish hatchery operator will be required to take three-portion composite samples collected at equal intervals over the 12-hour period of maximum fish activity.  A weekly monitoring frequency will be required for all levels of production. 

If I am understanding this correctly, the hatchery is being asked to self monitor in this situation.  That would be like asking me or you to turn ourselves in every time we exceed the posted speed limit.  This does not seem like a viable plan to ensure the water quality does not diminish so much that it is destroyed.

At what point do we recognize that we are destroying the very things that give us life?  Apparently, it requires an enormously catastrophic reoccurring event to open our eyes.

Here’s what you can do to help, go to the Anglers of the Au Sable site and read their statements regarding the issue and make a donation (if you are able to) to the cause.  (Click here for more)

Order a shirt supporting the efforts (Click here for more)

 


Feature – Dave Hise, Casters Fly Shop

casters_banner_new_2015_1428760038__20597

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.

dh

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

12

True North Trout heads out with some buds and gets his Soul Replenished, as we all need more often than we experience.

Super interesting take at Fontinalis Rising regarding The Search for Balance

I may have just become a fan of Lanyards – check out the info I found at The Fiberglass Manifesto

Gunnar Brammer tying featured at Frankenfly

Mary and Dan O are super cool to follow along with on their adventures, check out their latest

Gink and Gasoline provided me with a mental escape from a shit week.  Read this.


Heavy Expectations for Flint River Bass

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.

tuesday-bananas

***If you like Tuesday Bananas and want to show your support, or even if you don’t like Tuesday Bananas and you hate us and want to defile our swag that took painstaking seconds to create, CLICK HERE FOR INFO

 

* 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.


The Ones that Keep Me Coming Back

Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.  ~Author Unknown

Far more often than any of us would like fishing outings conclude with thoughts of “what the hell happened” or “what went wrong” instead of the glorious celebratory end to the day that we all yearn for.  As I look back upon my past few years pulling streamers I have experienced a fair amount of success and have been fortunate to come face to face with a number of quality trout.

Thats all fine and dandy, and I feel honored to have been able to put a fish in the net – but thats not what drives me.  I am unequivocally motivated by the fish that I had brief encounters with.  Those ones that showed themselves in a lightening quick flash as soon as my streamer descended into their habitation OR the ones that charged the stripped bug all the way to the boat and inexplicably turned away without commitment OR (and the worst ones of all) those fish that ate or tried to eat and in a fit of excitement and stupidity I trout set the shit out of and they quickly came unpinned.

10270435_10152327735706311_91884961737397944_n

I spend way more time than I should trying to figure out how to elicit a reaction from a predatory fish with a brain the size of a dime.  I lose sleep at night because of it.  It’s a sickness in which there are only 2 cures – more whiskey than my bank account could afford or more time spent on the water.  The biggest problem is, far more times than not I have a brief encounter with a fish that undoubtedly in my mind looks somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 times larger than it really is if I were to actually catch it and get a tape on it.  The fish that we don’t catch seem to always be potential record breakers that would land us piles of “thumbs up” on Facebook, never before seen levels of street cred, piles of endorsement, and an endless stream of friend requests from women not trying to sell us Oakley sunglasses (seriously, what’s up with that on Facebook right now?).

12573917_10153251200655588_8399998178424611345_n

The persistent challenge that exists of cracking the code of trout drives me.  If it were easy I don’t think I would do it as much.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying that if I had the ability or opportunity to walk out my door and start railing 30″ giant browns one after another any day of the week, that I wouldn’t do it.  Of course I would – I’d also probably be unemployed.  What I’m getting at is that the ever changing challenge of catching these fish on streamers is what gets me going.  If I could go out and rail 30″ giants, I wouldn’t feel the need to devote so much time and energy into figuring this stuff out.

The sad fact of this is….this is a game you can never really win.  There will be days that you are ahead in the score column, but in the end the fish will always be victorious more times than not.  So, the reality of this is I’m going to spend an enormous portion of my adult life trying to win at a game that is impossible to win.  Sounds like a great plan to me.


Warmwater Thoughts

Michigan differs from most other states that have a trout oriented fishery, unlike the landlocked states of the Rocky Mountain west we are fortunate to have a migratory fishery available to us.  Another often overlooked opportunity to enjoy the bountiful resources in our state is targeting warm water fish.

This year I plan to spend a considerable amount of time pursuing bass, pike, and pan fish in many of the lakes that are in my immediate geographical area.  Instead of settling into the same routine of summer which is smallmouth bass fishing every weekend, I’m excited about learning something completely new and different.

I’ve made the statement several times over, that “if you put me in a lake, you might as well blindfold me because I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”  I said that to my wife not so long ago – and she surprised me with a guide that focuses solely on the lakes in our region.

1 2

Doing a fair bit of research between this guide and the internet, has more than peaked my interest this year – it has me really excited.  I’m completely engulfed right now with gathering as much knowledge as possible to learn about how to fish these resources.  Another exciting component is that while my normal trout/bass streamers will most likely work just fine, I have enjoyed seeking out new patterns to tie.

345

While I’ll always be a trout streamer and steelhead nympher first – finding a new way to further immerse myself in the sport isn’t a bad thing.


Welcome to Ameautre Hour

When Chief first asked me if I would contribute to this prestigious fly fishing blog, I figured someone blasted him in the head with a musky streamer on a back cast. Then I thought, what if someone has finally recognized my true potential as a savant fly fishing blogger, and now is my big chance to amaze the Internetz with my skills and knowledge?! Unfortunately, my dreams of winning a Pulitzer were quickly extinguished as he revealed that the segments were to be focused towards fisherpeople (I see you fisherladies!) who are new to fly fishing — and as I was the noobiest of noobs he knew, I’d be a perfect candidate. But, I’ll still take it!  Everyone, welcome to amateur hour!

First things first: being “new” at fly fishing is incredibly relative, as there are so many different facets to this sport. So, even though I definitely want to make true newcomers feel at home, some of you pros may find something useful here, as well. With copious ways of putting flies in front of fish, in just as many geographical and seasonal scenarios, there are always opportunities to jump back on the new guy bus. A grizzled, seasoned fly-chucker can find himself lost in the sea of kindergarten supplies as he finally delves into tying his own flies. Or an “out-west” angler who’s used only a 5wt and dry flies to seduce trout-skis from soothing, unobstructed meadow streams may find himself moving to Michigan. As such, he may be coerced into a 20ft, 15wt double-handed skagit rig, and may try to throw six-inch articulated piles of marabou and deer hair for steelhead in large rivers filled with sunken trees that have magnets tied to them (true story: MI rivers are where kitchen magnets go to die). Odds are he’ll be forced down the skill ladder lickety split and feel like it’s his first time on the water when that slab of chrome runs under a log and makes him a fool. But to me, this is what makes fly fishing so great. It’s really hard to find yourself bored or unchallenged (or with a healthy savings account).  Hopefully, this will be a place we can all come together and talk about how lost we all can be in this sport — and maybe even ways we can navigate learning it better.

When not watching YouTube videos of how to catch steelhead on midges and blue winged olives, Adam hones his magical levitating abilities.

When not watching YouTube videos of how to catch steelhead on midges and blue winged olives, Adam hones his magical levitating abilities.

But, as this is amateur hour, I feel the need to prove I’m not some retired river rat masquerading for fake Internet points, and actually someone who is still finding his way around this sport. Even though I can hold my own with the puffy-jacketed, flat-brimmed, old-timey-cigar smokers in a fly shop conversation, I assure you, I still really have no idea what I’m doing. Sure, I tie my own flies (with a vast variance in skill and outcome), have multiple rigs, can tie blood knots in my sleep and have a fairly decent overhand cast (also with varying skill and outcome), but there are plenty of things that still make me Mayor of Newbville. To show you how fearless I am, let’s examine a few of my fly fishing flaws on the Internet, shall we? What could go wrong!?

  • Despite how much I think/talk about fly fishing and with all the money I have put into this never-ceasing obsession, I really don’t even fish that much. It’s not because I don’t want to; I just live on the wrong side of the state in relation to the “good” rivers. Add in life events, other hobbies/passions, and life/family obligations, and it doesn’t amount to too many hours in my waders. I’ve made the best of it (high five to my wife for being awesome, and my Father-in- Law for keeping me from drowning!) but this is the number one reason my progress in becoming a better fly fisherman has been so slow. As my uncle always says (after mocking me and claiming  “trucker” hats are for Ashton Kutcher wannabes): “You gotta go to know.”
  • I’m TERRIBLE at roll casting. Seriously, who has fly fished in Michigan for as long as I have and can’t freakin’ roll cast?! It’s touted as one of the easiest forms of casting and the basis for a good majority of more complex casts — and I’m just the worst at it. A benefit of this (and being really tall), though, is that I’m pretty good at retrieving flies stuck in overhead trees!
  • Real talk: I only barely understand what the crap skagit or scandi or switcheroski fly fishing is all about. I mean, I think I get the premise of it, maybe? Some fisherpeople were having a hard time throwing big flies or rigs and were all like, “Hey, let’s come up with this new form of fly fishing where we make the rods impossibly long so no one can walk through the woods with them and then, THEN, let’s change how we classify all the lines and come up with even crazier ways to rig them up! That will totally make it easier to cast this size six wooly bugger with extra flashabou!” And after THAT, someone over in the corner shouts “Hey! You guys ever heard of centerpin fishing? It’s the only way to fish indicators now!” I’m pretty sure centerpin is a bowling reference somehow…but that’s about all I understand here.
  • I have never in my life fished from a drift boat. Walk-in only. I’m always so jealous of you guys in your fancy, zero-displacement luxury crafts, stealthily making your way (except you guys that can’t use oars) between boat-only honey holes while drinking beer, taking naps and warming yourself over Mr. Buddy heaters. (All the while staring as we earth-bound plebeians are struggling through tag elder with our skagity switch rods you tricked us into buying, and wading up to our belly buttons navigating around private property.)  It must be a magical experience.
  • I can’t tie anything smaller than a size 10. I seriously don’t understand how you out-west guys make nymphs sized in the 20s. I honestly struggle to tie most nymphs that aren’t wooly buggers, eggs or caddis flies (large ones, anyway), as my hands shake like I’m on an eightball of coke (I most definitely am not; I’ve seen The Wire), and there is just so little space to work with, I usually end up with some pretty disproportionate-looking barely-nymphs. Good thing pulling streamers is so fun!
  • Reading water is still like watching a foreign film with no subtitles for me. I can kind of get the gist of what’s going on under there and can usually understand the obvious spots… .but really I’m just guessing most of the time.  Again: a skill best learned by actually being on the water.
  • Finally, I only have ONE fly fishing sticker on my truck… and it’s not even that big!  Blasphemy.

Ok, I’ll leave you all with a video of one of the Golden Girls roll casting like an absolute BOSS….since I clearly can’t.

Joan Wulff: The Roll Cast


Weekly Review

weekly review

Zach atThe Itinerant Angler a great piece looking at 10 casting errors.

You have to watch….just watch.

Gink and Gasoline has a great piece highlighting 15 Dirt Cheap Pieces of Gear that are must haves.

The Fiberglass Manifesto does a great job looking deeper into why Smith Fly is a great company with great products.

Killer movie review of a sweet looking flick (The Revenant) at Unaccomplished Angler.

Always, always, always be sure to check out the Orvis Friday Film Fest.

 

 

 


Head Games

“Being stupid should be painful” – Unknown

This past weekend’s trip I was reminded of a very valuable lesson that I have learned many times over throughout my years of fishing.  It is a lesson that I have shared with many people, both experienced and new in relation to their level of experience.  I committed a cardinal sin and didn’t have my head in the game the entire day while fishing.  As a result I paid dearly for it.

We got on the river around 8:30 AM and within the first 30 minutes into the day I was into what I thought at first was a steelhead.  The bobber on my indy rig dropped, I quickly set the hook and something big and heavy began to move.  At that moment a familiar feeling of elation quickly overwhelmed me as line began to quickly peel out of my left hand and come tight to the reel all in the matter of about 4 tenths of a second.

The feeling of elation quickly turned into grave disappointment when I realized all that had happened is that I had inadvertendly dislodged a piece of lumber from the bottom of the river, and it immediately was caught in the current, displaying many of the same characteristics as a hooked steelhead.  In my frustration I immediately started to “horse” the log in so I could unpin it and get back on with my day.  The stress placed on my rod was substantial and quickly resulted in the rod snapping with a sound similar to that made by the .22 caliber gun my father used to hunt small game with in the days of my youth.

So, it wasn’t a fish, I broke a rod, and now I have to walk up 144 steep and icy steps back to the truck to re-rig another rod?  Now I’m pissed, but mentally chalked it up to some sort of necessary penance required by the Fish God’s – a toll I’d gladly subject myself to if it resulted in a great day of fishing.

Only it didn’t result in that.

On a river that I know relatively well that had been holding several steelhead as of late, in several cases being the first angler through sections of particular runs, with a good selection of proven flies would usually result a decent outing.  All it resulted in for me throughout the day was losing about $467 worth of flies lost and a helluva of a lot of knot tying.   I’d rather have walked down to the river, opened my wallet, pulled out $467 and thrown it straight into the river (from the top, not the bottom of those damned stairs of course), and turned around and went home.

1932277_10152227203966311_1177450274_n

After about 7 hours of no fish encounters, Dan questioned whether or not I had the correct depth set on my indicator – stating that I might not be fishing a run not quite deep enough.  At this point my head was someplace else other than focusing on what I should have been, I was more or less going through the motions.  I turned to Dan and assured him that I had the correct depth and to further prove my point I said “watch, if I cast a few feet closer I’ll drag bottom”.

Upon casting in closer to me the bobber lurched towards the river bottom as I had previously, indicating that my rig was set too deep for the water I was fishing.  I turned to Dan and smugly said “see, I told you”.

My confident assertion was met by him emphatically screaming “FISH!”.  I quickly turned around and quickly recognized my bobber nearly a foot below the river’s surface, screaming towards the opposite bank with a large silver steelhead not far in front of it.

I lifted the rod and came tight on the fish.  The physical attachment to that fish lasted about as long as my mom’s apple pie at a family dinner.  All because I was being an idiot and not paying attention, it was over as quickly as it started.

Instead of having an opportunity to land a beautiful January steelhead and erase all of the hardships THAT I CAUSED myself during the day, I added to it because I committed the substantial crime of not having my head in the game at all times.

 

 


Weekly Review

weekly review

Koz at True North Trout reflects back on 2015 and looks forward to 2016in his most recent writings.

Fontinalis Rising offers a a look back at the year that was for him.

The Fiberglass Manifesto details in words and incredible photos a trip to the Pere Marquette.

Persistence pays off at Gink and Gasoline.

Nomad Anglers announces the 2016 Brews and Bugs lineup at all 3 of their locations.

If you care about our waters you should read this article by Josh Greenberg on A Tight Loop.

FrankenFly put together a rad pictorial of his 2015 – highly recommend looking through the awesome photos.


Steelhead Flies

Now that the holidays are behind us, its back to our regularly scheduled programming…….who am I kidding, there’s nothing “regular” about us.

Spent some time behind the vice the past few weeks, spinning proven steelhead targeting nymphs and trying to come up with a few “new” patterns.  There’s really not much new in the world of fly tying, we borrow materials, proportion templates, color schemes, and pretty much just about anything else fly construction related from others.  However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying new things, developing new ideas and adding new bugs to their box.

Here are the “new” bugs that I put together for this year’s edition of my steelhead nymph box.

FLY1 FLY2 FLY3 FLY4 FLY5 FLY6


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!”

Untitled
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.


Fantasy Football Ruined Fishing

For the second consecutive year I commished a fantasy football league filled with a bunch of fish heads.  A motely crue cast of charachters all bound together by our strong affinity to chase fish.  I quickly found out that there is 1 thing these yahoos take as serious as fishing, fantasy football!

I spent most of my season last year getting repeatedly curb stomped but had a good time doing it as the near daily trash talk added good commentary to give me quick breaks from my work day.  This year, I decided I’d spice up some of the weeks by publically calling out particular opponents on weeks I faced them and challenge them to a “side bet” of sorts.  Well, unfortunately for me those curb stompings from last year carried into this year and it didn’t go well for me.

Throughout this I discovered I may have a bit of a repressed gambling problem, as the typical wager was 3 articulated streamers and each week I lost I would just double down the next week to try and win some bugs back.  Let’s just say I burned through a lot of materials this year.

However, thats not where my punishment ends.  Oh no…that’d be way to easy.  My poor decision making and inability to set a good roster of players continues to punch me square in the throat.

Twice this year I lost to Jeff from Fly Fish the Mitt and had to contribute to his already loaded streamer box.  Being that I was going to be fishing with him on this past Sunday morning, I worked late into the night spinning up a version of Galloup’s Boogie Man.

12342560_10153164588670588_5665290192043299302_n

Jeff, not one to shy away from rubbing a bit of salt in a pal’s wound decided he would immediately lace one of his winnings up and fish it right out of the gates on our streamer escapade.  I quietly chuckled to myself as I sat in the rowers seat and watched him struggle with the bug getting fouled around itself, as it appeared that I unintentionally provided him with a “dud” that had too much space between the hooks and not enough beads to prevent the hooks from becoming entangled with one another during casting.  “Serves him right” I thought – but of course outwardly I appeared apologetic. “Jeeze man, I’m really sorry.  I thought I tied those perfectly.”

A simple adjustment, opening the loop of this cast up a bit, allowed him to accurately sling the bug without it getting tangled.  No worries, the color combination is surely not one we’ve ever seen  work in this particular river – he even commmented on it himself.

That’s when the throat punches started rolling in.  On his first shift he brought a few fish to hand.  Then on his second shift, Mike Tyson punched me square in the neck and this fish decided this terribly tied bug looked good enough to eat.

bt12jeff trout

He continued to fish the fly for the entire day and of course landed not only by far the largest fish of the day, significantly more fish than I did as well.  Wasn’t it enough that I just paid my dept and suffered the humilation of proclaiming my Fantasy Football superiority only to be embarrased?

Stay tuned for the report following me paying my bet to Dan, as I practically have to row him around the river the whole day without me even fishing.  Fantasy Football sucks.


Hexito Epidemic Threatens Great Lakes States

hexuito

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