So that may have been one of the best spring streamer seasons I’ve ever guided as far as consistency across the board. Pere Marquette, Manistee, and Ausable Rivers all fished well for me.  Haven’t been down to the MO in awhile now, but really soon I’ll head down for a little streamer/dry mix up action.  You guys should check out Matt Supinkski’s book… Salmo Trout Nexus… Dude knows his shit when it comes to the science of butter!  Gray’s should be great down there with the extra water this year.  The Hendrickson hatch on the PM existed amongst the fry hatch this year, which too has been running a little later than normal, and still leaves the salmon as the highest level of protein for the river here at home.  Hatches are the mainstay for the next month or so here on Upper/Westside of Michigan…  Grey Drakes are terribly overlooked by comparison to the Hex Hatch and often yield more consistent action over a longer period of time.  Mouse fishing is a go as of whenever you decide to flip from here on out with the water levels, temps, and even the bugs now bringing the surface takes too a head.  Mayflies will run the show the next month or so, but the variety of others things in play is daunting; this keeps the angler in a conditional happening and then needing to change based on his awareness of those windows. As a trout fisherman, this time of year is a plethora of technique and timing, all suiting for a fish that is happy in the bounty allowed, this following the stale of winter that kept the feed at bay, but then enhances the foraging of spring/early summer. Go get you some folks… It really is a great time to be a trout angler in this great state of Michigan!

With all the dry fly, nymphing, and even nighttime approaches all open and allowing… This year, unlike most by this time of May… The water still runs high and cool, and this has kept the BIG FLY BITE, strong these last couple weeks where normally we are on the fade of the strip & rip games of late winter and spring.  Lately, with the rains of April, more landing in May; the rivers are allowing for a great late season streamer game, which as you know… I’m All About!  Watching a fly, and fishing in with the trout mindset in check, then the surprise of the campaign of pain the browns offer to the spun chicken and deer representations of fish or leeches is consuming and for some reason, never gets old.  Unlike nymphing where you need to verify the blind takes with smaller flies near the bottom, or the half opened birthday present of dry fly fishing where the fish is known and gorging, and the technique needed to convert is limited… Streamers, and namely those that swim instead of jigged variations, is something that brings all your game to the table.  Fishing a varied cast each and every, to the mild depth, structure, and even water speed adjustments to the casts delivered in a timely and very deliberate manner… This all while the boat is moving to the fishes whereabouts which can only be forecasted, but never known.  Verifying a streamer bite needs little clarification, and is brown trout eye candy at it’s best.  Being vicious over reserved in their sacking, or considering of you presentations is more in play with a streamer than any other… It’s not the dead drift, or the feeding of a fish, so much as it’s the offensive tones you may or may not deliver to tip that fish into a state of predation and anger. Streamers, and the anticipation of the hit always possible, and somewhat expected, falls second only to mouse fishing where the trout is the same kind of evil, but more in his element of the dark side as he is a nocturnal by natural trout.  If you haven’t dove into the deep end of the pool with streamers yet, let me tell you that after fishing as long with all the techs… Streamers, much like mousing… WILL CONSUME YOU IN THE FINEST WAYS! 

Streamer season will be lasting into June this year with all the extra water and lower water temps for the season at hand, and is a great way to mix up the day while setting up for the dry fly options towards the evening.  Salmon fry hatch was later this year too, (with the water warming later), and will be a great way to engage the trout on foot as we clear up and drop. If fishing from the boats, The Drunk & Disorderly still runs the show in my boat, but the presentations that I’m teaching are waaaaaaay ahead of the normal guide curve, and it shows in the productivity of my trips, (even with newer folks), versus the local taxi services, where shining a client on is more their baseline for a good tip potential.  In my boat, I can make you better than you already are, no matter what your skill level, as many of my clients angle better than 90% of the guide community around here. If you just want a nice boat ride with some bird watching, mild casting efforts, and conversation we can do that too… But many who frequent my boat are doing so to improve their game so they can have a better awareness of the sport and allow themselves to become more creative with it.  You will never have fun with fly fishing until there is some understanding of it, since not grasping at least some of it leaves you fighting your cast and technique to a point of low pay off.  Fly fishing allows for an angler to see the dividends of his efforts by the audience of fish he is afforded no matter what bite condition or situation is thrown at him.  There are some really second rate guides up here that are decent fisherman, but there are few great guides up here that know how to instruct better or more efficiently… You need only ask around! Still have some solid openings for this late season, which I will post below, and the dry fly mix up is a great way to get that variation on a guide trip… Maybe a bit of a finale too!

Dry fly fishing so far has been good, but not great.  Sulfurs are strong right now, and we have already cycled the early black stones, Hendricksons, and even most of the black caddis, which showed with a decent force this year. Calendar says drakes should be flying, and we’ve seen them as early as the end of April, but this year it was snowing then!  With the slower start to the Mayflies, there will be a back up in the numbers popping as they try and catch up.  Expect some great dry fly fishing starting up here next week as we really warm the water for the first time.  Both the Manistee and PM are still fighting their way out of the 40’s on water temps, but again, this is a good thing for the late streamer game, and may concentrate the hatches for a couple stronger weeks instead of spreading the same count of mayflies over a three week period.  Hex Hatch will be later this year, and I’ve got a bunch of good openings for the hatch but they are slipping quickly as June & November are my more peak months these days since I don’t snag steelhead and salmon like most outfitters up here.  Hex Hatch, though a bit of a Gong Show these days with the amount of people doing it versus yesteryear… It is still possibly the most likely way to size up and square a large brown trout on this river, and even break that two-foot mark.  Basic dry fly skills in check, it’s not tough to convert on the binging trout during this giant, lasting hatch.  That all said, June always books later for the Hex, and most overlook the Grey Drake Hatch, just before the Hex, and it occurs, (unlike the Hex), river wide and is generally far more predictable with the spinner flies and windows.  Fewer people and plenty of very large fish to be had away from the carnival of the Hex… Or Michigan Caddis, depending on the age of the angler discussing! Really pushing for the Drake trips this year as they are more client friendly and for that matter more visual as the hatch occurs before dark instead after dark and lets the client see where to cast.  For all you trophy hunters that don’t mind the carnival, book your Hex Dates and fill that calendar, because as soon as I get 21 dates for it, I’m going to just take the rest off and try and avoid the weekends.  DRAKES ARE GOOD TO GO FROM NOW TILL MIDDLE JUNE and come highly recommended. 

Bigger Golden Stones will be in the mix here this week as well, or maybe next… And usually the higher the water, the better that hatch.  Fishing them all day blind feels much like hopper fishing, without needing the bank disciplines as much.  Larger Olive Stones have been coming off for a week now and I suspect they will slow into next before the golden show, which really is a good time to fish the midday games up here this time of year.  Nymphing will play a role whenever you need it to, and though you may be sorting through allot of smaller fish while you fish the smaller nymphs, the likely hood that sooner or later one of those fish turns into a dandy or a donkey is very much there, especially if you’re picking the right spots to coerce one into the lighter tippet/subsurface game!  Again, don’t forget those Salmon fry patterns as they are hot to trot right now, and you can see why each time you look into ANY eddy on this watershed, as they are all littered with the tiny minnow hors d’oeuvres them browns are fattening on; and lets face it, as good as the hatches are, it’s tough to trump the fry bite when those minnows outnumber the bugs about a thousand to one! 

As we dip into June you will notice some larger midday, sporadic hatches of ISO and other assorted mayflies, stones and even smaller tan and micro caddis.  Black caddis are still around, but finishing, and I’m just excited to have the bigger stones in play from now till the end of summer as they are a favorite to fish in my boat.  Hex Hatch is something that has to be noticed, but it’s not the same trip I was offering years back where solitude came with the nights hatch.  With as many rookie guides just jumping on the backs of those who showed/taught them, or even the heroes that just know how to read a car spot sheet… It’s become tougher to feel like I’m offering that quality experience, but again, with the productiveness of the hatch; it’s still worth showing up for.  Just giving everyone a heads up on the happening, as it has become crowded in these areas in recent years with all the sheep that never found their own programs and the happening that is so very localized.  Can’t pitch too much of a bitch though… I still get to fish for a living, and they will never know the fishing that was going on before all the pressures that came over the fish the last decade… This makes me feel very lucky that I was able to corner a place for as long as I did and never wonder if I was going to see another boat.  All that aside, and timing this year very much considered, there really is no better time to call out an absolute PM Donkey then when those big flies drop to the water.  If you have been trying to get that bigger fish of a lifetime, whether here on the PM, or even going up to the Manistee… Get your dates in the book and ting that bell with some forecast of the happening this hatch allows. 

Moving into summer this year, and following the buzz of the bigger hatches, the river quiets and begs for attention. Terrestrial persuasions trump the aquatics, and the night game comes on step in full force.  Hopper fishing fills in very nicely for all the business hour attempts, or for those more lit moon cycles when the light dowses the night bite a bit.  This August I’m planning on taking the boys and babe down to Arkansas for some fun, and to fish Hoppers & Night Fish with John Holsten and crew. Looking to put together a smaller group of guys looking to take a BIG swing, and fish the darkness down there in very nice conditions.  Will be taking the boys to Dry Run Creek to get them a fix on a fly they may never forget, and likely hit a few water parks on the way.  Looking for 5 more guys out of 8, for a 4-day fishing, two sessions, 5 nights lodged… $1,500 per head.  Spey talents come highly recommended for this, as does a good line carry for 5/6wt rods and larger hoppers.  Distance is big on the White when the water is low and clear, which is when that is a killer technique.  While down there I’ll be doing a couple seminars with a couple local shops, and even a brewery… Covering allot of Big Fish Approaches that can be implemented on any trout stream, and give you a primer on how to vary you rigs, tech, and presentations to each and every.  Fly Line Discussions, and uses… And the where of it all!  If you think this fits for you, give me a shout, and we can get you on step.  We are more or less all set on bookings for Arkansas 2020, and on that note our outlook is much clearer this year.  There will be weekend dates included this year so to better the potential of the night game, which last year proved as good as any year we’ve ever been down there, save maybe the flood year where everything worked during the day.  Really was my favorite year to date this past with John Holsten and his hungry crew, and refreshing for that matter.  We learned from each other, and I expect this next run in February of 2020 is going to set a new precedent on that river’s potential in any condition.  Again, we always strive for the better streamer conditions so to better our chances with a nocturnal trout during the day… But my crew no longer needs that incentive to fish The White… There are better options!  Again, right now, I believe we are booked with all that came returning, and another group that is on step for the 4thsession now up for 2020. If openings occur, do get yourself on the short list of people to call if there is a cancelation.  This is not a beginner trip… This is for advanced streamer anglers looking to gain some real knowledge within a group of SERIOUS brown trout anglers that have been going down there each winter for almost a decade now.  We have the MI program down to a rough science, which really is a recent download down there. Exciting doesn’t cover the incoming year with last year offering neither good streamers, nor good night options, but we capitalized on both very well.  Thanks to John Holsten and crew for getting the ducks in a row the 2019 Unicorn Hunt.  Again, if you think you can make it work… We have some spots for the August run down there this year… So get with us on that availability and I’m beyond siked!

Thanks for a great spring folks… It was really cool spending as much time as I did on the Manistee this spring.  It was also nice fishing more of my two person trips in the middle section of the PM this year as there was much more casting opportunity for the backseat angler with the room allowed down there. Fish committed better than the fly water fish that are becoming savvy with as much pressure, and unless you have an A Game, the Flies Only has become tougher by comparison to the middle river, which might I add gets some additional planting unlike the upper waters.  Three fish over 23” below Mac this spring, with allot of respectable, too smaller fish to hand was great. 4 fish of the two foot class also came from the Manistee, with allot of action overall.  Again, this passing spring has been the best strip season, (even when the water was colder), than I can remember in awhile, though size wise picture worthy fish have been lighter.  Hatches so far could have been bigger and better, but the streamers have kept us plenty occupied.  Right now the fishing pressure is limited, but will spike for the Hex Hatch, yet not as much for the Drakes, which I’m going to recommend with the forecasted concentrations of them.  If you’re looking to gain some great casting skills without the weight of those bigger sink-tips and bigger streamers, fishing larger stone fly patterns on dry lines is a great way to learn the disciplines without throwing allot of excess rod or line weights.  For the little ones… I really like the nymphing early on as it’s forgiving and visual as what kid doesn’t like watching a bobber.  At about 11, the dry fly will be their favorite, but till then, the little float dropping, keeps them puckering… And that’s what’s important!  Wondering what dates to consider for your mouse trips this year…  DARKER MOONS ARE THE BEST FISHING!!!  If you are a beginner, or novice and looking to improve your dark side skills, then allow for a little moon so to see a bit what your doing.  My darker moon phases book up first, but the brighter moon phases last… They are still very productive by daytime standards, and allow you to learn your presentation speeds and get some sense of your surroundings.  Early on the fishing is best for the mousing as far as action and numbers of fish in play, but the trophy fish typically come later in the summer from late July till early October… Book accordingly!  If your already down with down the dark of it all, doing the darker nights is far less visual, but very productive, and I’ve got the river memorized so you don’t need to see a thing… Like hunting with Ray Charles!  No matter your flavor of fly fishing, right now is such a great time to be up here fishing.  Early trips will be fading away unless you want to throw some daytime meat, outside of that, the bugs get more active as the water warms midday and beyond.  Call a couple days out for your start times, plan of attack, and lunch requests; we got you covered here at The Fish Whisperer Guide Servise… Thanks Much Folks!

May Openings:::26-28

June Openings:::3-6,9-11,14,20-21,25-27

July:::1,2,19-23,26-30   

   

Spring has in fact sprung a few days so far, but we are still waiting for some days of snowless ground.  It has been a longer winter this year, and it was a cold one… All this cold in the water is keeping the trout bite held just a bit, but the avenues of engagement for the golden awesomeness is still broad and consuming thankfully.  Egging for browns behind the SPAWNING, not feeding, steelhead has been go for about a week now, with windows improving as the water temps rise.  Salmon fry are just starting up, which is also behind thanks to the limited heat to date, but I suspect it will carry well into May this year to enhance our home waters streamer bite well into the hatch season, which at this point really isn’t that far away believe it or not. For myself, I’ve been trying to avoid the “GONG SHOW” of the Flies Only so far and been heading north, west, and even a little east and south of it just to wait for the gravel army to back off a bit.  Upper Manistee has been treating us great so far with the big fly approaches, and even up to double digits of butter to hand in a pass.  Biggest fish of the spring is still out there, but any fly taking 5-9” of chicken is worth taking a look at.  Presentations are a huge piece of the puzzle this time of year in the snowmelt practice; but productive if the faith is kept.  Contrary to popular belief, the swim flies do work very well in the colder water, and the patterns can actually be fished slower than jig ones as they will float, or go neutral in buoyancy, so the retrieve is then limited in speed or need to stay off the bottom versus the more nymphed/jigged leaded variations of streamers… Besides, watching a fly come through the water, then something that would start hunting it, is far better than jigging the deep and waiting for a stop to affirm itself as a fish instead of the bottom or wood, which it could as well be, unless the head starts to shake for verification. Planning on staying north allot this spring, just south, and a little bit east when I can to avoid my backyard PM till the smoke of the gravel fire is put out in a month.  Big fly streamers is my thing year round these days with the bulk of my cliental, as I can make even the most advanced angler/caster…. BETTER!    Stone flies are already on the water, and I’ve seen just a couple get eaten, this likely because the fry balls aren’t fully on step yet.  Sulfers this year I’m guessing will be rough with the peak of salmon fry being about the same time, but Grey Drakes should land perfectly to play some of those spring fattened browns in a shopping spree like manner. We still have some killer streamer/egging/nymphing, even Dry Fly dates left this spring, both in April and May before I get really busy for Hex again in June.  If you are coming for the Hex Hatch… I have 7 dates left over a month a half!  Mouse fishing is a go as soon as the water temp is… Which will likely be around the first or second week of May at this late winter pace… It’s snowed a couple inches while I wrote this today!  Kind of fired up for a little extra time north this year, especially for some better overall quality sized fish.  Egging will be firing up really well here this week and will last till the first week of May this year, and don’t neglect that summer hopper during the brighter moons phases folks; been getting some great daytime programs in check with a roster of addresses learned like nobody else on this creek via all the year round streamer venues I’m engaging and learning from.  I’ll be it a later start to spring, we are hoping for a good one.  Looking like an extended streamer window, with early hatches all being pushed back a week or two. Too soon to call the Hex, but I’m starting to like the higher water seasons of dry fly as the fish are safer in those water temps and higher O2 doesn’t leave you nursing them back. Last year I had to cancel a dozen Hex trips via water temps, while local stewards were taking death sentence trout trips with no thought of the fishery!  Looking forward to seeing many of you really soon after such a winter of cabin fever, save our February pilgrimage to Arkansas.  This is my 27thspring as a Northern Michigan Fly Fishing, Catch & Release Only/Brown Trout & Steelhead, Guide, thanks to you folks… And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!  The last decade, with as many of you regulars that have been in the boat for as long, it’s been especially great being a guide, and watching you all come into your own angles in the great understanding of the game. Hat’s off for all the hard work and great progression in your angling skills folks… And thanks for the show!

Report for this winter was COLD, COLD following a very mild and semi productive December we were allowed to push through this fall.  Following the 1stof the year, we were put in the ICE BOX for the never-ending winter we are still enduring.  Water temps are still cold for this time of year, and though we saw the allot of the ground this past week for the first time, there is still plenty of snow to melt and the frost in the ground hasn’t even started to let go yet! Steelhead run 2018/2019 will go down as a great early start, with semi good numbers holding through Christmas, with an overall very impressive size of fish, and an inability to even engage the back half of due to temps and water conditions.  There was allot of 20lb class fish caught in the area this year; including my boats biggest swing fish of all time and over 18lbs! Spring pushes haven’t yet arrived in full force, but they are spring fish, and the best steelhead bite of the year has come and gone all in all.  Streamer fishing was OK on the strip, but not great last fall, but still there more than the last.  December was the strip month this year, with plenty of potential for the strip game when the angler’s prowess was there, and the post spawn bite with the snow on the ground was fabulous for the browns this December strangely! For steelhead, it was surely the year of the swing… So many big fish taking the swung fly, this was based in part by a couple of things…  First was the ice in the guides that came hard in November, which made for tough strip techs, so the swung fly fit conditions much better.  Also was the water conditions that stayed low and clear and limited migration of the fish which would keep them in those stripping, and secondary waters where the offense of the strip fly is felt and dealt with more frequently than the big deep pools where they can just avoid, or move around the offense of flash and awe.  They were parked on the insides and tails, and occasionally the tops of the runs and pools and could be called out like pigeons about every three or four spots daily on eggs and swung.  Egging was incredible early on for the steelhead, but the swung fly was keeping up with it if you had that arrow in your quiver by the middle of November. It’s been two bummer years for the strip so far, this following three great ones… We are due for another fall of strip & rip for the chrome!  January & February weren’t really worth talking about much as the engagement was limited via the cold of the vortex, and I was in Arkansas thankfully trashing butter too enth degree.  March hasn’t been bad considering the conditions still being very winter like, but most of the guides are already bumping gravels, and the “People’s Army of Gravel Hounds” has officially arrived to sweep that rock, and many of them have new boats; so the traffic is up to 60 boats a day through 7.47 miles of river, with a few hundred walk-ins mixing it up… I’m guessing there are actually more flies in the water at any one time, then steelhead in the same section; where you’re the hero of the day “IF YOU GET WADELS”…. Ahhahhahahh  What a Gong Show, and where you won’t find me for at least a month!  But that’s spring these days, and its kind of cool when you know right where 60 boats are on any given day here in MI, makes it easy to know where you shouldn’t be!  It’ll be over soon enough, this as soon as the steelhead are done spawning and can’t be seen in a few feet of water to be played hockey with… Then we will see the anglers return to the finest piece of trout stream in the state, that gets ram shackled for a few months of the rear, I mean year. 

If you are a Holy Man in an unholy land of the fly water right now, there are some killer options if you are looking to better yourself as an angler that are very much in play right now.  First and foremost is the stone fly nymphing on TROUT GEAR occurring on the insides of most “eddied” dimmed pools or runs. Located on the interior of the main, you will find grazers of any and all proteins as the water temps rise and the clarity allows hunt with visibility.  Floating line with a 45 degree or even a straight up vertical gets it done, SON… Variations of stonefly are limitless, and all to some level find a home.  Drop it with some copper, or even caviar… Either way makes the big black, THE BIG MAC!  Even though the visual of the stone fly game is prominent and easy by comparison to the summer Olympics with a nymph and drop in X… The head games you can play with the caviar crusaders right now is stellar, even by comparison to the higher visuals allowed in the fall behind the Kings.  During the fall months you have to play a huge amount of stealth and game to get the job done to such a scholar of clear water awareness… Such is not the case in the spring months, even with the same band of butters that engaged the salmon a couple seasons before.  Instead now, the water is colored up and up, increasing the flow, and limiting the time of critique while the roe and bug travels by faster, naturally. With added flow, and being winter starved from the temps and anchor ice that limits their resolve; the warming water, even if just in the lower 40’s, still instigates bite window for them as the calorie burn needs to be fended off.  Feeding bravely, and without reservation right behind, and even within the spawners… BROWNS ARE ON THE BITE!  Targeting them without spooking the bait pile values allot of presentation skill, but never bows to the raking of the fish while cleaning up on the VERY aggressive spring biting trout.  Again, you can waste your time trying to get those spawning steelhead to eat, but the most likely way to get their attention when bedded, both steelhead and salmon alike, is to have them chase a fleeting, but invading baitfish, higher action fly, that would have them move to you and away from the bed while never actually presenting within that same nest… i.e.. THE DRUNK & DISORDERLY that really owns any would be predator or protector and is prominent is most big fly anglers box in recent years.  Drop back steelhead on streamers is the most probable steelhead grab during the spring months, contrary to local sales pitch of drifting whatever BS isn’t being eaten, but instead impaled, or “legally” lined with the same bump fishing/conventional/Chuck & Duck rigs.  Drop backs don’t look like much, and don’t fight much better, but they are eating again as soon as they are done spawning and headed back to the big lake.  Without being able to forecast the whereabouts of a downstream migrating fish on the retreat, streamers becomes the only viable tech to engage the best spring biting version with a fly.  If you are a die hard swing or indicator fisherman still actually looking to get a bite versus a bump in likelihood, just go low in the system, to where there is NO gravel anywhere and while they are still feeding and migrating instead of spawning or pre spawning.  They will still be shouldered and bright and willing to bite over the bulk of upper river versions simply looking to spawn and leave as quickly as possible, with limited harassment as it were.  Salmon fry hatches, coming off like popcorn, is one of the finest streamer bites in all of the land, this without begging for a fish already in a state of chase.  Often mistaken for a dry fly take, the salmon fry hatch bite has the browns looking up like dries, but more in the eddies at the clouds of salmon fry and par that offer easy protein resulting from the naïve newborns.  Two minnows on a 5wt and you are in the game… Maybe one if you casting needs work!  Also in play are all the bigger patterns as “THE HUNT IS ON” once the fry pop, and the Smoltz drop.  Water stained, and critiques limited… BIG FISH will fall more victim to the spring water flows than any other time of the year, even when we see the same fish consider in the fall and early winter.  This or you can line steelhead?!?!?  Following the gong show of steelhead season, and following any promise of seeing a migratory, the hatches of spring and early summer will consume you.  Gray Drakes, Stones, and Sulfurs will start you off… But the Hex Hatch is the finale.  With so many other things on step during the spring months, it’s always strange to me that the only time parking is an issue on this river is when there are fish on their beds with almost no intensions of feeding???  It seems apparent that the bulk of the PM traffic to date, is still based on the promise of the Fly Water’s ease in allowing a less than skilled, or even ethical angler, a chance to hold a big fish at only the fisheries expense… Does that sound as wrong to you as it does to me?!?!?!  GROW UP AND GET A BITE… If you spent as much time learning the cornerstones of the sport as you did spending money on all the toys that went with it, you would likely never fish spring steelhead on their beds ever again, much less fish any WILD REPRODUCING FISH THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BETTER YOUR FISHING IN YEARS TO COME!  Fishing is the compromise of having a fish warm to your presentation, AND THEN TAKE IT!  If you are simply impaling fish with pretty flies and lies, it’s more fish mouth hockey than fishing.  I know, I did it for years and took money just like all the freshmen and veteran still doing so!  Fishing is the better option folks, and I would encourage all of you to do so!   

  Arkansas UNICORN HUNT 2019 was likely the best fishing we’ve seen yet on that river, since we were allowed to fish as much as we did at night.  Faith is now built in my veteran crew, and 2020 is already just about booked with everyone from last year already on board, and a few of our older veterans getting back on step.  Suspect there will be a 3rdsession for 2020, as the first two groups are already spoken for with 14 fellow BIG BROWN diehards.  Weekend dates will be a go for 2020 as we aren’t putting as much stock on the Streamer savvy browns that aren’t being as suicidal as they were the first 4 years we were going down there; this likely to overfishing of the technique on such a finite piece of water.  For myself this past run, 3 fish over 27” was the best I’ve done in total in a couple weeks of fishing down there… EVER; and though we managed a few 24” class fish the few times we went streamer fishing, it was a ton of work without a ton of payoff, with a carnival like atmosphere during the daylight hours.  After being able to fish as much as I was allowed on the darkside, without the help of guides or local directions, the darkside approach was enhanced and tweaked to better serve too that watershed.  All in all, such a blast as Arkansas always is, or at least should be.  My guys got to fish with guides John Holsten, Mike Winkler, Dave Hudson, and even Ted Pitch for the bulk of their stay, and all have been enlightened to the darkside approach and it’s overall potential on such a body; to such a point that it’s not something we consider a fall back approach anymore, so much as a go to.  My finest ONE night down there personally was 34 browns, at or over 18”, with two of those 24” or better, inside of 7 hours of angling, this without a motor boat or covering a vast amount of water so much covering water better; which really is butter sorting at it’s finest…  My worst night of fishing on the surface, with assorted bigger flies, or any sign of fishing pressure in any engagement was still almost twice as good as all the best streamer reports I was hearing from around the river. To say we got our fun cards punched would be an understatement; and though we didn’t have the best streamer water to fish most of the trip, darkside approaches were seemingly always somewhat in check.  Planning a short run down there in September for some Hopper/Mouse fishing, which both are just terrestrials fished at different times of the day. This won’t be as big of a crew as the Unicorn Hunt, as that’s a busy time for me back here in MI, but I’m planning on doing some Spey/Night/Streamer Seminars while there, this and bring my kids to fish Dry Run Creek with Straight Out Of Cotter Guys, who proved too us just how hungry they are as guides buy keeping us in the very best windows of fishing ALL AROUND THE CLOCK, and often even splitting the days trip just to keep my guys in the very best windows.  A VERY HUGE THANKS TO JOHN HOLSTEN, MIKE WINKLER, TED PITCH & DAVE HUDSON for the very quality service you guys provided for my crew… That said, there would be almost no changes in our guide line up next year, as they were all ELITE!  If you think this is up your alley, and are down with the big fly, give us a call for this upcoming, or even following 2021 dates… As well as this shortened trip this September for the darkside and other terrestrial approaches without all the clothing, which will be a welcome change while angling the White!

Back here at home now, after doing several tying shows, and speaking engagements, and even some expo action… Been guiding more than I would like in the cooler than normal start to spring, and I’m filling some fly orders long overdue, and well paid for, as my price changes haven’t hindered any of my orders coming in too date.  Drunk & Disorderly Mini & Standard D is $23 a piece, Full D & Shad Rap D is $25 a piece; smaller, too medium Triple Ds are $27… All Bigger Triples are $29.  Am doing some supplement tying this year to get the boys to Disney and I may start doing more as long as the pay is the same as guiding just so I can hang with my boys a bit more these days, as they like tying too.  As the wife jumps into her nursing here in a month or so, I’m going to start limiting how many dates I book annually so I can take the boys fishing more and get some more fishing time even for myself as I’ve been rowing a few years now pretty hard and want to be able to do so as long as Jac Ford, but as a full time job.  As long as I pace myself, I can row another 27 years really well I’m hoping… Beyond that I should be good and retired with 55 years as a full time fishing guide.  It’ll be great to have the second income again so it’s not all on the rowing shoulders, but I would encourage of you regulars that like certain seasons and windows of fishing, to start booking WAY ahead, because when I get to a certain number of trips each month, I’m just going to mark the rest off so and can get the boys and babe out fishing more, which we haven’t done allot in the last 4 years with nursing school and me having to row as much for money.  Don’t mistake my intentions here as a fall back and away from fishing, but instead the opposite.  I’m planning on going back to my original plan as a guide and that’s to fish as much as I’m guiding, and still have some family time on the water.  Many want to just make money from guiding; myself, I enjoy the sport as much as I like to share it with others… And with Andrea going back to work, I’ll be allowed to do just that, plus get some much needed fishing time with the boys and babe as it’s been crazy around here the last few years.  Almost giving myself a promotion if you will, with more fun time, instead of grinding weeks on end… Which in turn will keep me fresh and interested each and every trip I’m being paid for, and ensures zero burn out as I keep going.  We enjoy the instruction these days, and have so many different speeds based on each person’s individual need day to day.  From watching woodpeckers and deer, while keeping religion and politics out of the boat on a nice ride down with some casting and lunch break… Too in your grill instruction on the shortest order to better casting and presentation skills under boot camp learning curves… And everything in between… We aim, and do cater to all fishermen and women these days, as everybody’s need from each day is so very different.  That said, it’s so great having built some of the area guides better, but I can still say, there are a dozen of my clients that are better anglers than 99% of the guide pool in this town… THAT’S A GREAT SHOW TO WATCH AS A FISHING GUIDE, so it really is our pleasure making you a better angler, and making you more aware of all these fine angles to the dangle here @ The Fish Whisperer Guide Service.  I’ll post some openings just below that you can still grab before I shut down spring… And for all of you still needing a freshen up on THE REAL of spring steelhead season as a whole, and maybe some of the changes that need to be made, I’ve gone on my spring rants below.  If your just into the reports, do skip the headache, but if you are still under the cape of disillusion of the spring steelhead happening, and what is actually going on out there, I would encourage you to page below and check out these find points on a hot stick.  Awareness and acknowledgement are the only things we have going for us, but soon there will be allot of people, or should I say anglers, looking to improve the fishery for everyone, and not just those looking for less sport, but instead more hero shots.  And again thanks folks for evolving with me here in Upper MI and away from some of the older practices.  As I’m sure you can agree, it’s not always about catching fish when fly-fishing; it has become the how of it.  Difference between anglers and fisherman is fairly evident… One needs fish, and as many to hand to make the day a success, where the angler betters himself so to gain more sport from each encounter for more meaning, skill improvement, and journey.  If we are out there for the sport of it, you will never find more sport in between you and a fish than you will when angling a fly for A TAKE.  Fly-fishing was never supposed to be easier or more productive, and though it may be the worst way to catch fish, it can still be the best way to do so!   

April Openings…4-6,17,18,23,24,29,30

May Openings…7-11,13-20,22-24,27,28       

  Steelhead run is what it is this time of year… And its seems very sad to me that the finest piece of trout water in the state, is raped biannually by a bunch of split shot heathens looking to play mouth hockey with a wild reproducing stock of PM Steelhead or Salmon for their hero shot at the fisheries expense; that said, there are those looking for clean biters down deep up there in the carnival, and across the system where newer fish are in fact entering the system for the annual spring push of spawning… This unlike the fall biters we have come to favor.  Though the spring fish are a shortened window of engagement versus the fall/winter stocks that stay in play, and deep in the pools, and feeding for some time… They still feed for several days on their way up, and especially on their way back.  Drop Back Steelhead on streamers is arguably your most likely window of strip potential on our migratory fish… And though it’s a flat tire version of its lake like self, it still bites; which is more than most of those rip trips can offer while they peel shot and hooks across bedded fish that are trying to make more steelhead, and tell you those fish are biting… WHICH IS A LIE!  Good friend and SENIOR GUIDE, and all our veteran Canobie of the water, WALT GRAU agreed that The Fly Water is WAAAAAAAY overdue for a regulation change, so to cope with the army of googans that simply show up to fin snatch anything that gets in the way during the months of March, April, September, and October, and they know who they are!  Petition is already started to change regulations in the “Flies Only Section”, to a “FLY FISHING ONLY SECTION” to limit the pressures on those same spawning fish that are harassed all daylight hours, spread traffic downriver, and allow trout fisherman to engage the finest piece of water that was approachable years back during this same time, but steelhead traffic has since swelled to a point of “REAL” anglers having to look elsewhere to get a bite since so many personal boats and walk’-ins, that really have no interest in fishing anything but bedded steelhead or salmon, have choked off those options for fly fisherman actually looking for a bite.  When ethical anglers looking for a bite are coming second to an army of low ethics and bad form under a clouded bait and switch guide community… Something is WAY OFF!  Middle and lower sections of the PM are always great corridors to engage the migratory fish, but most are ignored because the bedded fish can’t be seen or waded too as easy to line and snag… Which is to say that if you would prefer a non tapered line approach, there is plenty of water left for those that still like fishing to bedded fish THAT AREN”T EATING… Down River!  That is also to say that you CAN fish to bedded fish in the “FLY FISHING ONLY SECTION”, but you would have to learn how to use a tapered fly line, and then an actual fly fishing cast when presenting the fly… Something Zimmy was pushing for from the word go, back when!!!  Regulation would move all those fishing spinning gear with hooks and lead, which yes, does include all the “CHUCK & DUCK” fishermen, as let’s face it, there is no fly fishing when doing so.  So many birds could be accomplished with this one stone… First and foremost, you would spread the traffic, which has increased by 30 fold the last decade, on a river and resource that hasn’t changed one bit, and if anything has depleted some what.  Second, you would allow those REAL anglers, looking for trout biting behind spawning fish, nymphing the runs, and finally just enough water to run a streamer trip during these peak months, (which really hasn’t been a viable option for upwards of about 5 years now with as many wade fisherman that are now in there playing hockey); an authentic shot at some incredible Midwestern trout fishing that has since otherwise been ignored because of it’s limited potential water with so much of the rivers pressure all descending on that shortened beat.  Third, and arguably the most important resolve that would come with the regulation change is an awareness many MI anglers are not savvy too as we have been sold the fibs of spring bedded steelhead biting… Truth is THEY AREN”T BITING, THEY ARE SPAWNING… They feed the better part of their lives so they don’t have to for a week while they procreate!  Too many guides are still telling people those fish are biting flies that are swept by at high water speeds, and then impaling fish in the mouth and/or sides in just a couple feet of water while they are clustered together getting laid, and whatever else offers a “fishy” bump.  “Cast Without A Hook-Set Is A Wasted Cast” they are told… They are lying to simply keep themselves in business as most wouldn’t make it through the year without the cushion of snagging fish 4 months of year, which have simply made the run up river to spawn and leave or die. It would be one thing if these same guides were spreading the truth while that had you doing something they might likely kick your ass for on the west coast, but they aren’t… They are selling a bait and switch idea of the fishery, and they are perfectly aware the fish aren’t biting, but then selling you on the idea that they are; which you as a beginner or novice may not yet see the difference between, but as an accomplished tapered line caster or angler, would notice quickly and then be appalled by.  Our fisheries and fishermen are so much further ahead than years passed, and the number of those looking for a bite these days in MI, over the ones that could care less so long as they get their picture, are much larger than ever and this is the platform we need to jump from on this issue.  As it stands right now, I have 10x the respect for a fellow fishing spawn to bedded steelhead, or a plugger fishing with 6 hooks on a bait, and then killing it for more bait, and some fine MI table-fair, THAT GOT A BITE; then I do for the guy dressed to the nines in all this high end fly fishing gear, even sporting the boats being held together by their fish stickers, out there yelling at his buddy across the field, of other would be hero’s ripping & stressing our wild returns of steelhead in ankle deep water, “IS HE IN THE MOUTH?!?!?!”, referring to the fish being chased down stream with the tail noticeably out of the water, and the fish being dragged and drown backwards up the river… Only to be scooped up anyways and photographed as if the angler had climbed some big mountain of accomplishment, when in fact he didn’t… He never even got a bite, (no matter how much money he spent before he showed up), He never made a fly fishing cast, (which he tells many in his circle he is proficient at), nor did he learn the primary reasons why we fly fish… It was never to catch a bunch, or catch them in an easy, unsporting way, nor was it the picture which so many seemingly need to validate themselves, (and I’m guilty of too), with each and every fish that finds the net, NO MATTER HOW IT GOT THERE… FLY FISHING is a way to add more sport to each and every happening, as we only cater to one sense when we cast our offering, not all FOUR as we would do if we were bait fishing.  If catching fish at any cost with a fly is still up your alley… There will still be plenty of PM to engage with these less than ethical strategies, but one day, what you won’t be able to do is simply trash the finest piece of trout water in the state by hanging mono in each tree like tinsel off a Christmas tree, wear down the banks with your lunch/beer parties while calling yourself a steward of the watershed, nor will you be able to abuse such a treasure as a fishery that boasts one of the finest returns of wild steelhead anywhere in the lower 48 by any means necessary and still call yourself an angler… You will have to move downstream with the rest of the “TERMINAL TACKLE TECHS”; but again, my respect is more with those looking for a bite by any means via a spawn bag or lure… Versus “THE FLY SNAGGER” who never got a bite and spent 10x the money in not getting one, just to get that picture and be a hero at the fisheries expense.

Sorry for that folks, but my only means of engagement without any laws in place, or even shops that are looking forward to push better practice, (save Schultz Outfitters), is to take the pay cut and afford all of you some truth for free.  Selling lies for the price of guides and flies is the standard issue, and I’ve made no friends in my stance against these practices, which I once participated in when the client pool was a mud puddle and nobody would say anything against something we all knew was, and is, quite a bite off in so many ways.  Every Spring & Fall I’ll leave my two cents to all those that still take money doing the nasty and told me I would go out of business if I didn’t snag steelhead and salmon several months of the year.  Happy to say, this is my 12th year off the “SNAGGING/LINING NIPPLE”, and I run more trips than I need, yet never as many as I would like, but I am still waaaay in business and I don’t need two showers a day to do my job and all my clients leave better fly fishermen and women each and every visit, which you cannot say.  You’re not setting a good example for this fishery, nor are you taking people fly fishing when you hand them a “CHUCK & DORK” set up… You are simply dumbing down something these people paid good money to not only learn the techniques you never teach, but then also leading them astray by showing them this tech, you yourself don’t even fish or believe in, but as long as the rebooking is there, and the tip is big, who cares if they booked a quality fly fishing experience and got anything but!  Shame on you all for not setting better examples as this state grows in anglers and overall skills of each that would otherwise be wowed by the other fisheries at hand and that could be in fact FLY FISHED TOO, if you were so inclined to get off the nipple. Scotch & Cigars can’t mask the tragedy enough, and I’ll just giggle a little to myself each and every time I see a hero of the gravel, in his belief in Easter Bunnies and biting bedded fish. 

 

 

Man it’s been a cooler back nine of fall this year… This past November being one of the coldest I can ever remember. Numbers of fish are here and there, but constantly shuffling as we are not awarded a huge run in fish numbers so much as some very sizable fish overall.  My boat already has 5 fish at, or over the 15lb mark, making this year the best in overall size.  Water temps have dropped out, but the brown trout bite is still strangely there, and remaining.  Arkansas Unicorn Hunt is up and running… Streamer focus, with nighttime options is the agenda for the few weeks we will be there.  Still need three more spots in the last two sessions, as 1stSession is booked and now bulging with 8 guys.  $1,300, per head gets you five nights lodging and 4 days/nights guided.  This is a serious streamer trip where we are looking to fill the spots with seasoned streamer anglers that mingle well with the group all into the same things… FISH, FISH MORE… FISH HARDER… Then fall over.  It’s all about seeing that next evolution of trout, which has been done many times in as many migrations to the White River for this group.  If you think you have the skills and the drive, and can play well with others into the same things… Mount up, and give us a ring.  There will not be a 4th Session this year, so when these three spots fill… That’s it!

Steelhead run as mentioned has been standard issue in as far as the runs number size, when factoring in how good October & early November were with the water, and now recently a bright little push since cooling off.  Swing bite this year has been great, eggs per usual get it done, and the strip bite is there for those with the faith and skills to sell that bug like a hooker on the boulevard!  Fishing pressure is still semi there, but fading with the holiday and temps… But I suspect following the holiday there will be some new toys for the boys that need to get tested on the water, so there will be some fisherman this new year, especially with some of those fish running silly big on the overall size of the 18/19 RUN!  Again, 5 over 15lbs, isn’t something I’ve ever said, in any one fall or winter mixed… BIG, BIG!  We just fell the water from a solid three day rain 10 days back, which reshuffled the deck and had us scratching our heads for about 5 days, but the pushes have entered the river, I’ll be it, slower with the water temps having been affected by the overall cold of November.  That said, December Temps have been improving almost daily, and there are even some 40’s in the cast, so make sure you come get yourself some while the getting is good… Again, when temps drop, the odds of you landing the steelhead of your Midwestern career is quite high, plus with the white backdrops, the photos really make the colors pop on the giant migratory rainbows.  As it stands right now, we may have a brown Christmas this year even with the little snow on the ground now, things are going to melt this week, leaving us with ease and access to the water.

Brown trout fishing a couple weeks back was silly good, and the lack of commitment witnessed during most of the “FALL GRRRRR” season, has been replaced with a GRRRRRReat bite following the spawning they are now finishing up with.  Killing over kissing has been the norm with any trout moved as of late, this after a clear water interval where the bite weakened a bit while they were getting it on.  Don’t neglect the winter nymph bite either… There are some very respectable trout laid up, and maybe no so willing to chase down and kill a streamer so much as forage sparingly deep in a hole, or even just in between around aggressive chops in a shallower run.  Favor either western 45degree with a Thill, or go vertical with some 2 grams if the water is deep enough where engaged.  If the water is too shallow, you don’t want that float going over their heads, which is why you vary the Thill “angle”, or just fish deep with the vertical floats.  Trapped air floats are terribly hinging on the leader and cast, and don’t give you a hemisphere perspective on the presentation.  Use the rubber band over the pick… Adjustments are easier and noticed. 4-6wt rods fit the bill, and if you think you want to be ready for a steelhead on the smaller trout candy patterns, then allow for a bit more tippet strength and up to a softer 7wt to keep the play on the smaller stuff, but at least be able to steer a bit if a steelhead takes.  There is no such thing as too long a nymph stick, so to protect tippets and absorb the battle… There is however too short of a rod… Winter trout fishing will take the place of streamers for the primary way to mine butter as soon as the post spawn slips deep into January. 

Best patterns right now are smaller eggs and even nymphs when clarity is high, and naturalized in size and color so to keep the “troutier” steelhead off their guards.  Don’t feel as if you need lighter tippet till it gins, and when threading an egg or nymph, the tippet should complement the size of hook and pattern select.  As you drop to the lower sections of the PM, beef up the tippets, flies, and rods, as you will need the attitude adjustment potential where fish are newer to the river and have all that lake pepper.  Swing fly leaders and tippets should be comparable to the ditches you swing… Big water, longer leaders… Smaller water, shorter. Keep one thing in mind when whipping them up… Rarely will I go any shorter than 4’ as the sink tip gets too close to the stationed fly, and though they get tunnel vision on the flash quickly, their ability in the cooler water to suck it up, versus the October/November train wrecks, fails as the tension doesn’t allow for the fall back of the fly when taken, giving you a bump or tug, but not a hook-up.  Not out of the question to run a 9’ swing leader on the Muskegon, or a very clear PM, to improve the track and the take potential, where here on the PM, even in the lower river, 7’ is max when the waters got color, and the upper river beats around 5 or 6’.  Strip rigs follow the same religions, but vary again not only on the watershed, but the style of cast primarily used in the beat. Next report I’ll go over some better nymphing options with leaders that will improve not only the roll over, but also the presentation, and hook up enhancements…

Best patterns going right now are eggs per usual, as they sort the most fishing to the lethargic fish of the late fall that are ditched up… But with last weeks surge in water, we have plenty of new fish out and about that will be more than willing to take a swung or stripped fly. One could argue the best time of year to fish the swing or strip is in the deep of winter when the waters go sterile & clear, and fish get bored… CUE THE MOVING DISCO BALL!!!  When seen it’s almost a reason to be a fish again, to hunt down and assassinate; and with less fishing pressures, the fish tend to be more playful.  Though we all have our favorite patterns for swing and strip, to say that one wouldn’t have gotten the same fish to go over another is all speculation.  Confidence again catches the most fish, as you will fish the pattern differently if you believe it’s being noticed and considerd.  Myself, I believe more in the individual fish, and it’s disposition before the cast is made… As a player can be made, but often is present pre presentation.  In that same idea, if you were to argue color, your data is bias in your confidence in any one pattern at the moment you got a tug or take; which is also to say why ever color in the spectrum gets taken at some point or another.  Only its availableness allows for the opportunity based of the percentage of players out and about; which, again is readied by the weather layouts, both in and outbound barometric pressures, and then again in water conditions and temp.  Speculation is pretty much all we have to go on when we choose color or style of pattern, as they are seeing these patterns at different spectrums and angles, all paged through bubbling currents and a plethora of structures. Understanding two finer points between the brown trout and the steelhead is this and only this when considering the technique, fly, or angle to engage any one body of water, whether high or low in flow, or low in color, to straight up mud… “STEELHEAD ARE WILLING AND BORED” whereas “THE BROWN TROUT IS CRITIQUING AND ALMOST ALWAYS… RESERVED!” Approaching both fish, with conditions and season always in fluctuation, and then your perspective on adversaries general motivations during that period based on those points… Your direction is almost written on the wall with this general overview.  Hardest part is then just identifying the situation as it based on your awareness and knowing of the selected watershed.  Too many beg a technique to work, instead of insisting with the right one!!!

Normally I quit booking past the 15thof December, but with the forecast and conditions, and these TROPHY STEELHEAD about, it’s tough to not leave the lights on.  Fishing is steady, and yesterday’s trip went great, and we shared our beat with NOBODY!  Streamer trout game is still strangely STRONG, and though the steel numbers aren’t “super run status” like we’ve seen a few times the last 7 years or so, they are still very solid, and now improving after this last push, even in the clearer waters.  Fishing pressure has slipped to almost nothing, and I’ve been peppering a couple different rivers for steelhead, and a few for brown trout as the conditions are still favorable on all fronts.  If you looking to bump your big fish bar, be it Gold or Chrome, book a couple of 28 or better degree high temps and get up here… The fishing is still very worth it!  Little T got his first steelhead on the swing a week or so back, which really is one of the finer points in my life to date, and there’s a cool video of it even!!  If the weather is a little chilly, we can call it a half day, or better still, come up for a couple of half day trips to fish the finer half of the day with the warmth.  Half-day trips are very recommended for the winter season as the best windows are later when the water bumps in temp, and you don’t have to freeze as long to get it done.  If you need a little work, or are a beginner and want to build some game, book the full day so we can get those skills up for the second half. Swing & Indicator fishing come recommend to all, and if you’re pretty savvy with the cast, we should try some Strip & Rip as the browns are still fully engaged, and the steelhead grab will knock your socks off!  Fishing will remain pretty solid all winter with the numbers we have, and are getting, if you see good weather… CALL IF YOU HAVE THE WINDOW and we will get you into some good Strip, Swing, or Bob action with some very sizable fish this year.  GET ON ARKANSAS if you think you got the skills… If you think you are close, book a day for the download here in MI and we will get you on step for some big water BIG FLY applications in the world series waters of the White River.  Again, three spots, and then its filled and there isn’t another add on for lodging reasons!!!  It’s been a great year, and congrats to Scott Woodard for landing the largest steelhead on the swing my boats ever seen… 18lb GIANT, that took The Greg Senyo Green Goblin.  Hope to see you folks up for the great winter fishery, and if you have the itch to take a swing for any post spawn brown trout on our local tail-waters, winter is that time when they quiet and settle… Headed to one at dawn come to think of it… Big Flies, Big Casts, and some Bigger Potential and great practice for Arkansas bombing!  It’s a tough old life, and I thank you folks for affording it… Family Thanks You Too!

Happy Holidays From All Of Us…

Too All Of You!  Again, Thanks Folks! 

 

It’s been a great fall so far, and even September had some bright spots amongst the Salmon Army that invaded the river for the easy impalements.  Steelhead Run 2018 is off to a STELLAR start as of yet, and though up till recently we have been battling a little more in the clearer waters, our watersheds were just given a huge chunk of moisture that should ensure several more pushes of chrome in the weeks to come.  Water temps are dropping, fishing numbers increasing, (at least ones that bite), and the fishing pressure is all but gone thanks to no more fish spawning on their beds. These rivers, will be almost vacant of any anglers come the Gun Opener, just a week out; and that leaves allot of great fishing to be had all the way too, and through the Holidays.  Steelhead are running very large overall this year and my boat has already scored several middle teen fish, and there looks to be another push entering the system following this big low pressure.  We are headed to Arkansas in just 3 months, we need THREE SPOTS filled before we are booked up for the 3 week stay on The White River.  Base line trip rate for 4 days fishing and 5 nights lodging will be $1,300 per angler… And I’ll drop a few more details below, but this is all but booked up, and the wife is nailing down the very best accommodations this year, and bit more upstream for strategic and dramatic reasons.  It’s shaping up to be a great Fall/Winter here for us, and the books are all but booked.  Once I get down to a few open dates for this fall, I’m going to take the rest off so I don’t go nuts…  Bookings following the 15th of December will all be based on conditions date to date and really won’t be booked more than a week in advance.  Folks… Thanks for a very awesome year, and sorry to some of you that had Hex Dates this year we had to cancel, on what was likely the very best Hatch in years, but if I’m to set a good example on all fronts, one of those first and foremost is to never take your fisheries for granted, and to respect the resource on it’s terms, and not mine or yours.  My family took a 6K pay cut this year to ensure that we weren’t killing trout to simply fish them for sport, even when other Lodges & Outfitters were doing just that by taking trips in water temps well over 70 degrees; which is a death sentence for any trout that would be hooked!  Looking to the future, with some of the newer Trout Unlimited, CRA, and even now the MDNR efforts and organizations, all getting more instep to make sure these fisheries are here long after we are gone is encouraging, but it starts also with us guides too, by setting better examples instead of keeping with the caveman practices that guarantee a few months of guide business, lodging fees, and fly sales.  The Pere Marquette River is far to precious a resource to jeopardize it all for a few pay checks, but I just hope nothing has to bottom out before they see these truths.  With all the recent rains this past couple months it’s no wonder why the resource is so well off right now with a strengthening chrome count, and the brown trout even have a nice vail of water color to get their business done.  Encourage all of you to get involved if you love the PM and push for better ethics for such a Midwest Gem, and maybe one day a trout angler might actually be able to find a spot in The BLUE RIBBON, Catch & Release, Flies Only, Nationally Scenic… etc… Section of The Pere Marquette during the migratory fish runs without having to watch a salmon or steelhead being dragged upstream by it’s ass by some fellow who cares NOTHING about the resource, and would call it sporting and still pull off a hero shot with a fish that never ate.  Too me it seems sad that a river with so many hood ornaments on it, one that is loved by so many, can still be raped for revenues 4 months of the year… Just Sayin! Took a pay cut to have this opinion as I’ve done the nasty, and none of the guides would even argue my facts, but they would argue NOT taking a pay check to do the right thing and set a better example; but instead just the opposite where most of them would say, (yet never in front of their clients), “None of those fish are taking those flies, but it pays the bills so you, (the clients), don’t need to be any the wiser!”  If they will sell you lies for guides and flies… I’LL GIVE YOU THE TRUTH FOR FREE & EVEN TAKE A PAY CUT TO SET A BETTER EXAMPLE!

Steelhead fishing lately has been the talk of the town, and for good reason… They are running big and are willing to take streamer flies with extreme prejudice lately!  Both stripped and swung, the oversized rainbows are taking it personally when the flashy mess picks a fight.  Fishing pressure has been dropping when it comes to salmon anglers, but the real anglers have been showing up in some numbers for the better biting fish and it’s really great to see so many these days into THE BITE vs. THE BUMP!  Best colors have been anything with green or gold for me on the swing, and on the strip, it’s all had it moments at some point… But ginger & white this fall are some stand outs.  Buck Rodgers was hot early in pre spawn back in September with the browns when the Egg Bite was stupid good, but slacked off with the egg bite in the first week of October.  Yellow is always tough to get off of, but if I were stripping one color only the next few days… Chartreuse, (as it has been for a week now), is paying the bills.  Indicator fly fishing simply gets it done when you need it too… Eggs always trump the nymph when fishing to steelhead, as when a nymph pattern is doing well, save a couple key stone fly happenings late winter, they are only keeping up with the caviar patterns if you have enough variety to choose from.  Don’t just fish the day with a couple flavors, have a couple dozen in size and variety to spark the round interest, as they fancy them more than anything else save maybe a sculpin.  Swing patterns, and even strip patterns, need to be fished better to more water to provoke that smaller percentage of steelhead willing to not just take a fly, BUT KILL IT.  When fishing more naturally to the hourly forage, with eggs and nymphs, the patterns should be considered as much as the presentation in that you want them to critique and still take, unlike the presentation of fleeting or fleeing opportunity a streamer ensues.  Another way to think of it is when nymphing, hatch fishing, or even soft hackle swing, you are fishing the fly to the fish for it’s consideration and then take… Which is unlike the swing or stripping of streamers where you beg the fish too the fly and encourage chase and assassination of the pattern.  Steelhead are bored and willing, this versus the brown trout that are reserved and critiquing; fish to them like they are more interested than not and you will be surprised what the migratory rainbow is willing to give you audience for.

 

 

Eggin for the browns late September was epic with all the rains that brought the Kings way up, really early, and in strong numbers… Then they got fat!!!  Brown trout bite was tough the first ten days of last month, and it slowly came back online into Halloween, and for the last week has been very good as far as fish moved and pricked, but the spring shark attacks are limited so handling a small percentage has been par, yet terribly fun in seeing so much Grrrrrrr…  Fishing pressure for the trout is all but nonexistent lately with the failing king numbers lending fewer eggs to the roll of protein that would bring them out for the easier egg fair; however, with the spawn, pre spawn and even post spawn events unfolding the last couple weeks now, the time for protection over predation is hear.  Fishing streamers right now will out fish most applications considered only because you can fish them everywhere, which is very needed right now as the fish are too.  Variation of fish mood amongst the gold is creepy this time of year, where some are considering spawning, others are socializing with ones that are; or are in fact actively spawning, and even the few that never spawn that year at all and are just looking for a bite to eat while watching all the “fish porn” in the act.  When considering the protection over predation presentation angle, try and localize your presentation to a single area instead across a long period of sale looking for the suicide swing of a brown.  Typically if you are seeing him chase, it’s harder to close the deal, but you instead would prefer a fish simply roll and kill the pattern before you even noticed he was there.  Provoke the sack of the fly, not the chase, and in that frame of mine you should vary your presentation till the scabs are being picked.  Until you see the fish sharking the patterns, instead of just taking notice and coming up to the boat to say hi, keeping changing your presentation… Not the pattern!  Too many fish are caught on too many different colors over the course of any one day to assume that color means much at all; in the same breath one could also say that those that are presenting the fly with the idea that it’s being watched are the ones that are seeing 99% of the fish!  Whenever someone sees a trout come up behind a fly on the retrieve, they begin to fish the fly with all this twitch and directional change, even pause and kill to allow the fish the time for set up; all this following the angler noticing the fish in chase… My Argument Is This////Why the $(&*$# didn’t the angler fish that pattern each and every cast the same way he did when he noticed the fish!?!?!?  Too many out there are simply pulling color, and not enough people are selling a fly, and there is a difference!  Don’t be in a hurry to make another cast, but more so, be in a hurry to fish the cast that is already in the water… BETTER.

 

 

Looks like a great winter in store for all of us here in MI as all rivers on the West Side of Michigan are seeing some incredible early starts the 2018/2019… Fall/Winter Steelhead Season, and with the current forecast in place the fishing looks to hold all the way into Christmas, and even beyond if you have the cold weather sand… Again, we will be booking a few more openings this Autumn, but following December 15th, we will book based on weekly or daily conditions till I leave for the southern fronts in middle February.   Arkansas is fueled and ready… Just adding some finishing touches so we need it packed tight.  Arkansas isn’t for the beginner anglers, and where streamers of size are thrown by many here in MI, throwing them far enough, over the course of as many days is a very advanced approach, as a few of you already know, so there will be no beginner streamer fisherman this year, and all of those going will also be needing to be ready for some night fishing options if they present themselves.  Spey Rod veterans are beyond welcome for the 2nd & 3rd sessions, (though the 3rd session is booked and goes for a whole week), as we are implementing some really cool techs a night with the two handed plain tickets we can send with those big sticks runways in such a cool watershed; again, adding those techniques of Michigan to the White River scenario continues to play well.  All in all, the groups are loose, fun and into the fishing, and we act like a team while down there.  If they are running water, we fish streamers; if they are not, we regroup, then also welcome the dark side of trophy hunting.  Begging for a technique in tough conditions is no different, than say asking for a Hex hatch in the dead of winter; and it doesn’t make you smarter or a better fisherman, it just makes you a clueless one.  Fish the conditions, never beg the technique… Especially in a watershed you would drive so far to engage in a shortened time period.  Amount of knowledge one gains from being on this crew is worth a dozen clinics, and likely even twice as many trips as all guys on squads are down with the BIG FLY tactics as issued here in MI.  If you want to get your skills up to speed for this event, MI is a great way to gain experience and techniques needed for engaging those fish down there.  Contact us directly if you think you would like to be on one of the first two sessions… 1st Session will be from the 13th of February-16th, with 5 nights lodging…. 2nd Session will be the 19-24 fishing for 5 full days/nights pending conditions as we are planning on some night options by that time.  3rd Session is booked, and is a full week of fishing for those hard core streamer guys that are holding their breath for some good night options.  As always, White River Unicorn Hunt is always a blast with fellows down for THE BIG FLY STRIP & RIP, and a real need and desire to see those next level fish no matter what conditions are thrown at us; as it is such a drive to get down there, especially when considering the great trout fishing we have right here in the Midwest!

 

Fishing pressure around here will drop to almost nothing following the Gun Opener in just a week, and following that you could argue the best fall/winter fishing for wild steelhead anywhere in the lower 48 occurs into Santa Time.  We strive to make you a better angler here at The Fish Whisperer Guide Service, and that’s to say there are no shortcuts in good fly fishing practice.  WE DO NOT PUT CHUCK & DUCK GEAR IN YOUR HANDS, as we are fly fishing guides who actually know how to instruct & teach, and to put it frankly… IN NO WAY IS CHUCK & DUCK A TYPE OF FLY FISHING, as it is simply conventional drift techniques done so with a fly reel attached.  Tapered fly lines, casting, mending, and even presentations skills are all cornerstones of this fine sport of angling with a fly rod… And to shortcut or abominate it with lead and hook sets as a means of indication or probing a hole is more of a bait & switch used by some of the local, far less talented guides that would take your money non the less.  Having guided allot of the local guides into proper strategies over the last 26 years of guiding, it’s apparent to me that there are plenty of great fisherman these days in town, with only a few great guides, no matter how pretty the lunch, or how much sunshine they can blow… You should ask yourself when you book a “fly fishing guide”, should that guide know how to instruct someone on how too fly cast!?!?!…  If you answer is yes, you could also void 90% of the existing guide pool up here; and you could also say that if that person, whom is providing the guide trip, were too put that type of Chuck & Dork gear in your hands, was in fact pulling a Bait & Switch by selling you on a “Guided Fly Fishing Trip”, but then dumbing it down with conventional techs because they aren’t confident in their skills as instructors… And that’s a fact!  Ask around, and don’t follow “endorsements” as these days they are often handed out before they even take their first guide trips; make sure and ask your guide for techniques he’s good at teaching, or can teach… Or will!  As soon as you start getting steered towards the C & D, you kinda know your getting the Walmart version of a fly fishing guide up here.  Too many clients get in my boat after being in others and realize why it’s hard to get a date in my book even without a lodge, company, or shop pumping me with new business each week or season… It’s because I can make you a better fisherman or woman all around.  No matter your skill set, from beginner to advanced… I can improve your game, perspective, and productivity.  Think of The Fish Whisperer Guide Service as THE TOP GUN of fly fishing knowledge, presentations, and awareness to this fine sport, as we do nothing but… And look forward to always making you a better angler, instead of NOT and still taking your money.

 

 

Again, thanks for all the work this year folks, and following the hottest summer I can ever remember, with at best so, so mousing that followed an incredible Hex, but a short lived one with the water temps… Our fall as been ahead of the curve save a ten day stretch in early October when the browns were as round as pumpkins.  Lately the steelhead have the clients grinning and with the conditions in place, I don’t see any reason for you not to fill the last of these few dates I have open this fall, and even into this winter pending those weather conditions.  If you are local, that’s within a few/four hours from the local, watch the weather and your holiday plans, but don’t wonder if there will be fish this year… All these rains have the runs looking great for at least another month, and likely longer so long as the weather keeps coming.  Pictures in the snow with the winter colored steelhead and browns really draw out the colors of the fish, and coupled with the lack of fishing pressure, and incredible numbers of steelhead in the system by Christmas, their might not be a wrong time to be here for a few months, especially with some of them looking like Orca…  Drive Safe one the way up, and especially the next few weeks while deer are in rut.  Drive during higher light, and mind the roads in the morning as things have been starting to get a little frosting in the AM.  If you need to get the right gear and clothing to get in the game this fall & winter for the da bob, strip or swing game… Make sure to get with Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti MI for all your up to date clothing from SIMMS, and every other piece of fly fishing what have you that may be needed.  They are FULLY AWARE of my programs, and how to outfit you for a better, more pleasurable, and certainly more productive day of winter fishing here in Michigan for the high pay off of Great Lakes WILD Steelhead here on the PM, and many other westside streams.  Ask for Sled Dog, or “Ike” himself and they can get you squared away in short order.  If getting there is an issue, those guys can have anything drop shipped to your lap within a day or two in most cases and unlike other shops, are excited for your business and are all quality anglers in their own right, so they know they products they push.  Schultz Outfitters is comes highly recommended from The Fish Whisperer Guide Service!  See ya soon folks…

 

NOVEMBER OPENINGS::: 20,21,25-27….

DECEMBER OPENINGS::: 1-4,9-11,12,14…

Following the 15th of December,

Weather Based Bookings Till Winter Loosens…

 

 

Feels like there really is never enough Michigan Summer it’s blowing by so fast, even this year with the lasting conditions….Fleeting!  Our weather, this summer, has been the most beautiful I can ever remember; I mean all of it, and the conditions are still holding on to nothing shy of gorgeous!  Water temps allowed to rebound nightly now with the longer, and better dark.  Water levels are still holding lower than normal, which is rare over the past few years, and the Terrestrial Audience has been very strong in the daylight with lower flows keeping the fish looking up instead of down for their daytime forage.  Not saying this year has been the mouse season of all time by any means, but this has certainly been the lasting summer of engagements without the higher water events shutting us down. Consistent fishing on all fronts, with a few killer nights and days mixed in has been more the normal. Foam is home on all fronts right now, from placement, to pattern selection… Action and accuracy being the corner stones of any good day on the water, which I’m going for as soon as I get this report posted, presentations have been setting the pace in the long summer of clarity and critique.  Hairballs & Hoppers are the talk of the town, but there are a few already casting gear for Kings in lower sections and getting a couple to actually bite, but there are even fewer still already snagging them deep in the few pools they would stage in… Fricken Savages.  Fishing pressure for trout will slack off as we deepen into the migratory seasons, but that just means fewer people targeting the buttery beauties. With Steelhead Season just a month or so out, we still have a solid month of golden goodness before mixing our fancies day to day. Hopper fishing right now is as good as it gets for this river with the fish needing the bank bugs just to keep pace with the clarity allowing for so little hunt with the lights on, that said, on those darker nights and or corners, there is still plenty of killing going on with the lights out.  Fishing pressure all but slipping for the terrestrial scene, I suppose, the final months of summer are always my favorite because of the pause in pressures.  Come on up this next month or so folks, you won’t regret any part of the day or night you would choose to engage our wary, but needy, brown trout…  Tailings of Summer are the Best of the Whole! 

It really has been the summer of surface fishing compared to so many years passed; and yes a drought of sorts, even with water levels dipping slightly off the normal for our watershed.  Without higher water, infused with rolling protein by the hour, the fish are forced to look up, but with the clarity comes the need for presentation in the highest order, even when hunting one up with a hopper or ant. Distance being the discipline most needed to seal the deal, the boat’s shadow, or leg wakes and angler adds when engaging any one spot are huge variables when the lights are up and high.  Even in a river as large as the PM, fishing upstream on foot in such conditions shows you just how aware the fish are when looking upstream for impending targets, or incoming predators such as ourselves, canoes, or herons; and your ability to fish further away from those stations are key to converting with the lights on.  Pink, Brown, Olive, Tan, and even some dirty Yellow, are good considerations in all your foam or furry offerings this late in the summer, but the way you fish it is even more key than the choice of pattern. Movement is key when fishing bank bugs, as they are not a dead drift kind of bug.  They cannot swim, yet they are terribly uncomfortable being on the water’s surface, so your actions should convey those ideas of prey to the predator.  No such thing as too big or too small, and the range of terrestrial potential variation coming in this time of year is greater than any other time of year as the summer is in it’s full and later cycle.  Strongest element of late summer, clear water terrestrial fishing, is the idea of placement relative to fishes window of looking up.  With aquatic hatches slipping, save some random stone and mayfly action, with some ignored scattered Millers in the evening, it’s all about the proximity to the bank and what may fall in.  Your cast should complement these ideas of fish not expecting grasshoppers to land in the middle of such a large creek, and therefore the closer to the grassy overhangs, undercuts still not exposed, and the deeper rollaway into the jam, become the money shots.  Don’t just make another cast… Make a smarter one to get on step with the browns of late summer; you will be pleased with your resolve.

Night fishing right now is my favorite way to play and milk all there is from the failing summer.  With nights lengthening, and darkening, the opportunity for night engagements enhances with the same needs that would bring them to the surface as frequently as they do even when the lights are high and penetrating.  Frogs, Mice, Snakes, Voles… etc., are all types of terrestrials in the fact that they are a protein that would slip, jump, fall, or commit suicide from the banks edge.  Fishing our night patterns we engage, our programs vary little relative to the day scene, and our presentations and gear only vary based on the preys movement, and otherwise the size and quality of a fish that would consider the mammal terrestrial prey!  By this stage of the summer, don’t limit yourself to the mouse, or even the larger night time practices, diversify and fall back on more daytime sized morsels they might still consider with such low and clear water; especially if the moon is present in any way.  Directional situations will also enhance presentations by throwing a fish a curve ball after being chumming into the idea of protein on the move. All the while, be aware that as summer waters clear and leg wakes are more evident at a distance, that much like the day program, your night programs should continue to evolve with the conditions, so play some distance in those late season hair ball engagements. Your payoff in the late season, though less in quantity, will improve with quality.  Trophy Mouse Season isn’t the best mouse fishing of the summer; it just yields the better quality, pre spawn initiative fish, needing to stack it on early.  We have entered my favorite month of the year; the very back of summer is the most pleasant and potential filled time of year in my opinion.  Grab summer by the tail and get up here folks… There is no better time to be a Terrestrial Angler in this state!

We are locking down Arkansas this next month so I don’t have to deal with it this fall, this because I’m working everyday when the steelhead start to push.  We are still looking for three people, for the last part of February, and the first week of March, as we have already filled the 3rdand final session.  Streamers during the day if they are running water, and Nighttime practices if they are not; all based on conditions instead of politics and opinions.  We are potentially switching to a better rental home, right on the water, upstream of the Cotter drama, and closer to nighttime engagements post day trips, or even with the guides pending Bull Shoals ever changing flows.  Five guys for 3 different sessions, with 3 local guides down there who are into the fishing as much as we are, and looking to jump on whatever grenade we get day to day.  $1,300 per person, per session, with a couple of guys now doing more than the 4 days of fishing, and we can adjust your rates according to how many days you want.  That said, we still need 1, maybe two spots filled in first session, and 2 spots need filling in second session.  Pending the need for more days of fishing, we may extend the sessions to maximize more time for any of you, but the baseline price is for 4 days or nights of guided fishing, with 5 nights lodging.  All post day guide trips, we all have the option of walking around and doing some night fishing as our lodging is right up top with the better walk and wade waters when the flows are shut off.  Outside of that, we will be strip and rip fishing whenever the flows are over 8K, which is when fishing starts improving on the day scene with the bigger flies we run on sink-tips.  This is a loose fun group all about the fish that would offer up in such a great fishery.  We are NOT streamer purists, so if you are interested in this run, you should be ready for some nighttime engagements as our timing is just following the bum rush of superstars that like to show up as soon as they open the upper sections of the river.  If you need some updates in your big fly game with the sink tips, do give a ring anytime this fall or winter and we can get you up to speed; as well as the night practices needed which we can still get you warmed up with for the next couple months here in MI.  Spey fishermen are beyond welcome on this trip as we found the absolute best way to tango with the in the dark is with the two handed practices helping ease the cast, save some flies, and land the larger fish that are often about there when the traffic is light and the night is right.  If you think you have the skills, and are looking for a trophy trip, with a group of guys to bring your game up to a better speed… This is just a good time with a great group of guys all down with the Big Fly for the Brown Trout. This isn’t the best arena in which to learn how to throw streamers as the wind and size of the watershed beg for some game, so if your new to the big streamers, book a couple/few trips here in MI if you want to get downloaded correctly for The Show.  Give us a shout if you think you might be one or two of the last few spots… Arkansas always gives up the dandies, especially when you meet the brown trout on his terms!

So fall is booking nicely, and November seems to take care of itself these days… But December fishes as good or better with less fishing pressure and more sections open to the migrating fish in transit.  If you want to see a steelhead, be all he can be, don’t wait till November to fight them in water temps that dowse their fire, shoot for middle to late October when the 7lb fish will show you your backing knot a few times!!!  Leaping is something they all do, but they way they do it in October is an absolute spazz attack and the battles are ruthless and lasting.  Later you come all the way into Christmas, the more fish there are in the system, but a couple Octobers ago was incredible with the rains in September and November ended up being a little slower with less water flow.  Brown trout on streamers & eggs will last till Halloween or just beyond, and the streamer potential all winter long for the post spawn browns is always there, but I often see so many targetable steelhead in October, and all my chrome clients wait till November.  If you want to get your knuckles busted, try October some years. Swing fishing gets hot around the early/middle part of November, but the stripping for steelhead blends with the trout game, so we will get several on the strip before the first two handed swing.  Eggin with switch rods in the middle and the lower river is something I haven’t done as much of in recent years, but it the most productive way to produce steelhead on a fly. Any of you looking for numbers should favor the caviar, but the crowd favorite in recent years has been the strip.  Plenty of die hard swing guys still frequent my Hyde, and after as much back rowing as I do these days, it’s nice to fish on anchor from time to time…hhahahha.  If you are coming in October and November, get it booked soon as those dates are slipping… December should hold openings for another month, and they come highly recommended, especially for those of you that like to strip as the populations build up in the upper sections later, and those bodies are perfect for streamer intrusion.  For the egging behind the kings for the early steelhead, and better still, the larger browns, think middle next month through middle October. There are already Kings in the system, and they will be spawning in a couple weeks time.  Once the moss is off the rocks with the fading light, the egging will go boom, and the early end of the caviar roll catches them when they aren’t savvy yet.  Get it booked as we have been mastering the caviar game over the last decade with great success.  Those of you that want some more summer, like myself, the Terrestrial Daytimes are a gem of a window to learn good casting etiquette; and surface takes in the gin water are burnt into your memory more so than most takes. The best mouse fishing of the year for the bigger fish we reside here in the PM and the Manistee, (where last week we had a couple great nights with the dark moon), is between now and middle October!  If you don’t mind rolling fewer fish, with better commitment and quality, this is the time of year to throw the surface stuff in the dark.  Call me soon for the next dark moon, because I’m going to be fishing any day I’m not working, as this really is my favorite month of the year!

Folks, enjoy the last of the summer, and as always we look forward to seeing most all of you this fall for some great brown trout and steelhead fishing.  This summer though, as hot as it was back in early parts of July and even a few days in June this year, I had to cancel allot of trips due to water temps being too high, and potentially killing any trout we would have caught.  After sending several of you home, or simply canceling trips due to the heat in the stream, I lost a good nugget of summer funds, and could use some business in the near future to rebound a bit.  Many outfitters and lodges were running trips that were death sentences to the trout that were caught, and though many call themselves stewards of the fishery, allot of true colors were shown.  Sticking to my guns, I decided to give the fish a break to respect the fishery instead of rape it, but again, we lost thousands in trips to the heat this year.  Any late summer trips taken will be very well received by me and the family as we had ourselves a great summer with Andrea not having to be in school, but we missed out on allot of trips due to the conditions, which are beautiful now, but back in July was redlining our trout.  We really hope to see you soon, but if not, we will see you this fall.  Thanks again for all the support folks, this is the first time the bank account has been low in many years thanks to your continued fishing and casting improvements.

 

August Openings:::26-29,31
September Openings:::1-7,9,10,14-17,19-21,25,26,30
October:::2,5,6,9,19-22,26-30
November:::1-4,8,9,15-17,20,24-26

                                                  Again… Thank You!  Drive Safe Coming Up…  

What a June it has been, and as predicted, we are seeing our finest Hex Hatch in likely seven or more years! Fishing pressure each year steadily grows with the ease of big fish bounty offered by the floating proteins, but still begs for the most elementary disciplines needed to call ones self a dry fly angler on the darkside.  All things considered, it has been some time since my boat has done as many fish over 24” in one hatch as this one passing, water temps being way too high, the last couple of days, I chose to call off my trips unlike some outfits that guide at the fisheries expense!  With Da Hex Hatch slipping now, we begin focusing on “THE HUNT” for a goodie, where not only ones cast and mend needs to be in check, but also his prowess in not needing a fish feeding off the oar locks to get the job done… MOUSIN & Terrestrials will take center stage for the next few months, and it couldn’t come soon enough as my boat is stinking of dead Hex.  Watch your water temps before fishing… Any temperatures at or over 69 degrees and your killing trout, which is just fine if your planning on eating it, but if you’re a catch and release fisherman or woman… Just stay in the AC till the river rebounds.  This has been a very hot June by all standards, and the cool offs on the incoming aren’t that cool.  Those browns can live way too long to chance killing them for a single encounter!

Hex Hatch 2018 was a dandy… 6 fish at or over 24” in my ship this season last couple/few weeks with almost a few dozen over 20”, makes it the best big fish season on hatch flies in likely as many years!  Last years hatch was a bust with the water flows being HUGE, and the year before the cool held back allot of the bugs, but this year, everything was just right… Hex Hatch is a time for someone with little time or skill to put themselves in a higher probability of catching a real trout without the expense of several trips to the river, or even a better skill set to “HUNT ONE UP”.  Holding a dead drift up to 15’, with a cast just beyond that, with just a basic hook-set in check are the only prerequisites for success.  When a fishes position is known, and even his forage being painfully obvious, with a drunk like feeding campaign, it’s not hard to convert on a fish who’s skirt is so far over it’s head, it becomes almost “Hexementary” in the ease of presenting to a fish of such caliber.  Knowing where the big ones feed comes in real handy, but the thing I’ve noticed most in the boat for better success with folks not used to hearing such a fish rise, is to simply curve the Buck Fever an angler fights while waiting for his bug to be chosen over the thousands floating down.  Hook-sets are the end game of presentation, and I feel as if too many people pucker at that moment when a fish has found your pattern; I mean I can actually see their but cheeks tighten up when the shoe drops!  Calm down and gather yourself before that first cast… Finesse & Timing are the core disciplines in this great sport, and there is nothing finessed about a hook-set that winds up 20’ in a tree behind us; or a wiffle ball bat like swing that would otherwise have broken the fish off, or if nothing else startled the fish so much it would just assume quit feeding.  Much like a shopping spree, one can get caught up in the frenzy of fishing the high pay off, shortened windows, and darkened arena the HEX HATCH offers.  If you have a bad heart… Hex Fishing may not be for you as it is quite exciting hearing such a fish rise with frequency so very close… Which reclusive and larger brown trout are not known to do ANY OTHER TIME! This years’ success has the book already filling for next June… If you would like to participate next year, do give a jingle and we’ll get you in the book for the World Series of Dry Fly Hatches… Hex Hatch 2019!  Thanks for a fantastic Hatch folks… Gonna start flipping to the Terrestrial Scene, which includes a mouse, for the next few months.  Hex 2018 Is A Wrap!!!

Fishing all over the river right now you can find some level of the Hex Hatch as it has now migrated into the far upper reaches of the system.  Eric Filton got our largest fish on a Hex in the Flies Only section at 25.5” this year.  Though lighter in fly densities, the audience that would consider it as fine dining is much higher; so when a Hex Fly hits the water midday, morning, or dark… Trout in those sections don’t let too many pass them by.  Even when few are present, the pattern is potent!  Stone fly patterns have been knocking the cover off the ball for me this May and June, and where The Darkside is my real cup of tea, the daytimes are a favorite for the clients with normal schedules. Giant goldens are just about everywhere, and when fished correctly with the lights on, and much further from the boat, with leaders that exceed rod lengths… Things get very productive and fun.  Save the early mornings and sunset hours, few capitalize on the distance needed to really pick locks when the lack of shadows and reclusive nature of the brown are working against you.  Casting a line will always be better than trying to shoot one, and if your fishing as much leader as fly line, you may prefer night fishing more as their window of awareness is cut in half.  If you are looking to improve your daytime game with dries, simply fish them further.  Between Iso, Stone, Terrestrial, and assorted nymphing strategies, there is some real opportunity out there right now, but with the water not being of spring flow or clarity, ones ability to fish away from station is very needed to present a fly before the fish is aware of your presence.  Casting is a huge piece of the puzzle when putting together the day game, and you would be hard pressed to find a better fishing/casting instructor in this state.  Ask around if you need some reassurance, but I don’t want your check as much as I want to see you get better at it… If you learn how to fly fish, you may actually have fun with it, and that leads to an addiction far beyond the two days a year too the river fighting your presentations, instead of becoming creative with them. Front row seat to all kinds of casting and angling instruction is what we offer, or we can go down and cast any which way and look for woodpeckers… or even a nice mix of both… It’s your day on the water… Not mine.  With as many rookie guides around these days, who may be able to take you through the same sections, picking a guide that not only wants you to excel, but has the know how to convert you into a better angler will always outweigh the one who simply wants a pay day while they shine you on.  Expertise is the only service we offer as guides; and to be honest, most of my clients have allot more expertise than most of the kid guides around here, (which is just public knowledge); save a couple I know coming out very soon who will reset the rookie bar to what it should be. Terrestrial season is a fantastic time to learn the basics and still have a great time in great weather… We can always save a few hours each run to keep you out of the canoe hatch and allow for some lower light into dark approaches for a sampler package… I’ll bring dinner too…

Following our bigger hatch season here on the PM… Sulfurs, Grays, & Hex all but in the rear view, we beg for a take without knowing the when and where of it; but cast with the faith needed to convert when it does.  ISO are a great way to develop dead drift skills and still keep smaller to average browns looking up all day long right now.  Fattened and light in color, the emerger is a kryptonite for the daytime feed, but should be fished on tippets matched to the pattern itself, but be mindful of the white gloves if the populations shift.  One can get pretty heavy when fishing some of the bigger stones we are, and will be fishing all the way into August, yet fishing the impending Trico is total about face in tippet.  Same with terrestrials… Each bug should have a recommended tippet based on the clarity, levels, time of year, and even the size of the bug being fished.  We fish goat rope at night because the light is lower, in the same respect we fish much lighter tippets when the sun is up, but one also needs to consider wind drag when fishing the midday; this because too light of a tippet, on a bigger bug, will cause allot of twist and hassle.  Casting and mending are all fine and good, and very much needed, but your rigging should be considered as much about the presentation as the mend itself.

Terrestrials have been fishing very well already, and I’m not sure really what doesn’t work if presented far enough away from station, and then fished with proper presentations; because at some point or another, it’s all gotten smacked.  Yellow bellied anythings will last until the passing of the Stones, but still pass nicely as a hopper later on with some nice Dave’s Hopper. Spider count on the river this year is impressive, and the damsel fly count is even higher.  Though considered an aquatic, the damsel is as much or more a terrestrial in its holding pattern, and that point should be factored in once a rising trout has keyed on them.  Fun to watch a brown take damsels, and if you do notice one, take the time to watch the acrobatics it will offer in hopes of the smaller looking dragon.  Of course oak hoppers are doing very well, and the bigger red legs will be around I’m guessing very soon with all the heat we’ve been enduring this past week.  Ants will fish today after a nice popcorn shower we got, and beetles always have their moments. Water temps are terribly high right now, but look to stabilize this week… Till then, give’em a break and let them get through this sketchy period of low O2, this, the hottest summer in sometime.  It’s been really great working with all of you in daylight this past couple months, focusing presentation and casting skills.  Lately, I’ve had a strong number of my newer clients coming into their groove, and it’s almost like taking the bridal off some of these guys and gals and watching them adapt, with different angles of cast and considerations, to each and every spot.  Both on the cross body present, and the forward… It’s been a pleasure watching the lights come on for you folks; it’s what really makes my job so enjoyable!

So yeah, the hatch has been so good I’ve been seeing the sun come up plenty with some of the spinner flights lasting as long… But we are coming up on my favorite time of year to be a trout fisherman in this state… Night fishing for canoe battered, light exhausted, clear water hating… brown trout.  Normally this time of year will yield the very biggest of trout, though the passing Hex tried real hard to be that guy this year!  Hunting waters anything but busy with fishermen or watercraft, we fish to a savvy trout, one that chooses his windows of aggression wisely… And so should we!  Following the hatches, typically there is a minor pause and passing of protein before the need to feed takes over again.  Sometime around the next dark moon, larger fish will go into debt of calorie and need to make it back anyway they can.  Sneaking up on minnows, crawdads, or other smaller trout becomes exhausting for the larger trout when the lights are on, so naturally they choose a window in which they can hunt… That being the dark of night! Seems to me many that frown on the nighttime practices we engage to better ourselves as anglers, (fishing without as much sight or sense of our presentations, but still delivering a more thought out cast than any could muster in the light of day, where even the smallest lies are well lit and depth perception allows for flawless factoring), would in the same sentence tell you their best windows of chance are at the lowest lights of the day…  As an angler, noticing such behavior in the brown trout, known to be a nocturnal hunter, should be jumped on like a grenade.  Consider myself more of an evolving angler instead of a stuck in the mud “dry or die”, or the new one, “streamer purist”, angler.  If you are keeping up with your adversary, you would know, that not only the light, but the aluminum hatches, which are so very noisy and disturbing, make for very little foraging potential for a predator. It will lie away and wait for things to calm and darken… Much like a recluse wolf, it will choose to hunt at night over the daylight, because his data, like yours, should say that the hunt is possible when the lower lights allow for the fish to gain position off a feeding lane, or ambush point.  If you choose to fish daylight, and don’t mind less action, and need to stay on a normal schedule and just love the cast of it… Power to you, I do the same from time to time just to stretch the cast.  However, if you are a trout angler, much like a hatch fisherman choosing to be in the right place at the right time, and your not fishing the darker ends of the 24 hour with assorted larger terrestrials… You’re not fishing your data so much as holding yourself to a dry or die mentality.  Stretch your comfort zone a bit, and go wade a well known to you section in the dark; I kid you not when I say you will be beyond pleased when fishing to fish that are set up to feed long after the dry or die or streamer purists are fast asleep.  Encourage all types of fishing, as I myself angle all types of fly fishing… Don’t let anyone curve your approach with a fly based simply on the time of day you would fish it.  As long as your getting a bite, there is no wrong time of day to have a trout take your fly!  If your guide hesitates when you ask for night trip, or adds some politics on why he chooses not too… Give us a shout; we’d love to get you out! By the way, if they need a light, (on the boat or on their head), to get down the river, you’re likely with the wrong guide as that typically spooks allot of older, wiser trout, and really shows you how little they know the watershed.

Presentations are a huge part of terrestrial and mouse fishing, and really the only difference in the two is the time of day you might implement them.  Even fishing a bigger stone fly or smaller caddis could be fished with the same ideals in mind.  A blind approach to where a fish might be, with presentation in check for each potential hold, with only a forecasted position of predator versus the reassurance of an actual rise.  When there is a hatch, the trout’s lane is predictable and very easy to present too, as you are aware of right where it needs to be dead drift.  Mice, hoppers, stoneflies, and assorted terrestrials need to in fact be presented correctly over a much larger band. Though egg laying, water walking or skipping, or even the doggy paddle of a mouse are all based on giving life to the pattern; it’s often the moment of dead drift that opens the window for an attack.  Much like streamer fishing, where the pause of the higher paced retrieve is sacked, it’s the allowance of STOP that sells a brown enough to really set up and kill the presentation.  Stone flies out west can be worked non stop thanks to the trout count and perpetual chop that hides most high sticking maneuvers, where on flattened and slower Midwestern streams you need to give some sense of stealth following the walk or skip to sell the rest of farm.  With smaller pockets and ambush points that are tinier, allowing for less chase room, but than longer dead drifts, is the key to converting.  With mice the same ideas are in check, but based on the prey and the way it would trek or float down the river.  Even when we night fish, it’s not always a mouse when we say mousin… It’s often frogs, muddlers, divers, pushers, and even some smaller ducklings if you are so bold.  Fly selection is still in play, but much like terrestrials you could argue, what doesn’t work when the presentation is ahead of the curve?!?! Leaders for daylight and dark are just that… Night and day… Tapering the right rigs gives roll over ease and presentation accuracy that too limp, or to stiff of a leader cannot.  Neat thing about fly fishing, is if your evolving with the fishes awareness, you can stay ahead of the curve as a better guide, this instead of monitoring car spot sheets and cut and pasting another mans program, which is more the norm with the younger crews coming up. 

We are looking forward to the streamer season this fall, and strangely, October is booking way out this year, as November books even sooner these days.  For some better steelhead dates, favor the December thing as the fall dates are thinning.  We have some great openings this July & August still out there, and September shouldn’t be overlooked for hoppers and mice.  Also in September we are putting a crew together for a Montana run to see Brad Turner for some streamer fishing on pre spawn browns following grass out… Very easy on the wallet, as we are just looking to bring some better talent to Brad to get his streamer programs over there appropriated.  Also, need three more guys for Arkansas Unicorn Hunt 2019.  One spot first session… Two spots in second session… Third & Fourth all booked up.  If you are interested in either away trips, they are beyond well priced, and keep you in a click of guys all down with the big fly approaches, who like myself, like to test those skills in fisheries that offer allot of payoff, or just mega versions of it!  Below I will post my openings for the July, August, & September.  Dark moons come recommended for all you veterans to the darkside, and all half moon, too newer should be for those looking more vision while fishing the patterns so you have some idea of presentation.  Full moons are great midday terrestrial and sporadic hatch action, along with nymphing programs, as the fish can’t hunt efficiently in the full moon light, so they turn to daylight as a means of hunting the bank bugs and unsuspecting fish that would come too close.  Full moons also have been more productive this year thanks to the lower waters keeping them from over fattening on the crawlers that bleed from the bank when it rains, which is customary for June normally; but we are even seeing some pretty good night bites even when the lights are high. I’ll be taking a couple weeks off this summer to go north, and then maybe another to go west because I miss my buddy Brad.  Will start up “Eggin” season as soon as the roe flies, but till then, it’ll be on the darkside, and for that matter, my favorite side.  My family and I thank you folks so very much for a great summer to date, and I can’t remember the last time I thought about my shoulder it feels so good doing as much rowing as you folks have had me doing… Think I’m gonna call the bone doctor and take him fishing!  Been coming home with smiles since the first part of May thanks to a banner finish to a shortened streamer season, a hatch season that seemingly has no weak points on three different massive flights of Mayfly, with the Hex still holding on by it’s finger nails.  Though I will be fishing allot a night, I envy some of you that will find daytime justice with a big Iso or Stone in the near future as the lower waters this summer are promoting for allot of looking up, instead of level and down like they would if there was higher O2, more color in the water for hunting, and flushes of rain keeping the protein rolling. Having a killer opening on the mouse back in May, we retracted and catered to the fantastic dry fly scene that presented itself, bowing to the conditions, it was productive across the board.  If mouse season holds any consistency with the passing months, we could forecast some great full moon feeding, with assorted patterns as a result of the warmer waters and evening favor to the night bite.  Pros to fishing at night far outweigh the daytime approach when waters run hot… First and foremost, the water cools all night long, and heats all day long… Nuff said!  Second, we use goat rope tippets and rarely have a fish on long enough to weaken it like we would if having to use the lighter tippets of the midday approach…  Even the rods we use are of higher weight for quick attitude adjusting.  If you look at it from this summers point of view as of yet, you could argue the most ethical approach to fishing brown trout isn’t in daylight, so much as the dark!  Myself, I’ll be engaging the mouse & hex season on other rivers for the couple weeks I’m scheduled to play.  But again, the dates are spread out, so there is plenty of dark moon and half moon dates available, and I’m fired up.  As the crowds lesson with the ease of angling the hatches, the anglers will start to show up and hunt it up… Mid July through Mid September are without question my two favorite months of the year to angle a fly in the black, or to angle outright… I love the darkside, and what it has taught me about brown trout I could have never learned in the middle of the day.  Learning what they will and won’t tolerate based on light levels and prowess has given me some insights to what they could, or why they would, consider with the lights on.  This sport has no ceiling or 300 round, and there are no savants… You’re as good as the time you have into the game, and it really does show with as many tails I have grown.  All the great anglers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, all never put it down, or ever got bored of it, their hobbies were their job, and getting better at it was it’s own reward.  Too many are just doing it for a paycheck these days, instead of doing it for the right reasons.  Guiding was never about the money, if it was I’d be a Funeral Director! It was about the sport of it…

 

Speaking of which, we had a great finality to a slower evening of bug, with one of my more productive friends/client… Tom Mcgraw has been fishing with me for some time, and to say he has giving it his all might be an understatement.  Birthing PMTU, constantly involved in conservation, both here on The PM, but also now Nationally; to say he’s into it is surely and understatement. After countless runs on rivers out west, and here in MI, (save a mutant that he scored in Arkansas, which all others on a streamer will be measured against for sometime at 36”), Tom had a big old gap in his Trophy Stepping.  Going from very nice to larger trout, he skipped the trophy parts, and tinged the bell as high as you can on a fly… Only to be left high and dry on the Two Foot Barrier, versus the three footer!  So many fish landed over 23” with me, and several out west, along with some return runs to Arkansas for the possible repeat of lightning striking him twice, but all for not on his quest since… It’s been a real project getting Tom his due and proper.  One slower night of Hex this season, where the bugs were weak, and the bite was scarce, Tom got his Two Footer, and a thick one at that.  Skills in check for sometime, the fish really didn’t stand much of a chance with such a seasoned angler, but it just goes to show, you never know which night you have to be ready for the happening. Hugs were dealt, and cigars were smoked… T. McGraw broke 24”, this after setting a bar we must all follow with the mutant on the southern front.  Good On Ya T… Way To Keep The Faith!

On a personal note… And if you just like fishing reports, pass on this next couple paragraphs, as I’m gonna vent a bit here, publicly!  It seems apparent to me that local outfitters and lodges are not doing that well in either bookings, or ego, or maybe a little of both.  Not to say as fishing guides we all don’t carry inflated heads, but it’s like they like poking the bear, or justifying their need to follow me like a lost dog or maybe they are just mad that I told people the truth about snagging wild salmon and steelhead off their beds, which many still promote as fishing.  When I was younger, I fished so many different rivers for the hatch it wasn’t funny… Living out of a pick up truck, and making sure I had enough gas money to get to the next hatch arena, it was fun exploring and visiting other bodies of water to diversify my avenues of engagement on “Da Hex Tour”; all this without interwebs showing me where to go and when to be there!  These days, guides are just a cut and paste version of the older, veteran guides up here… And in a way, I do feel sorry for them, as there really are so many more trying to make their mark in a saturated market. Having the identity of a Kleenex, they like to believe they can keep up, so they would bash any that would like to keep a spot from pluming into a Ausable nightmare where possibly up too a few hundred people might fish the same 8 miles of river each night. Somewhere between wanting to be a guide, and actually becoming a successful one, they have no sense of adventure or individuality so they do the most dishonorable thing any one angler could do to another in haste of their situation, and that’s publicize and poach another person spots, which is unforgivable, yet almost kind of expected from certain personalities.  Hex Hatch is no big secret, and it goes without saying that these areas will certainly be exploited via the chatty kathys, haters and wanna bes that need to justify why they themselves are just sheep, but that doesn’t mean I have to grin and shake hands with people with such inferiority complexes and lack of respect.  In the future, we will exploit these practices and those that do think they are entitled to do so via the same instruments they use.  Seems comical to me how few guides actually get the job done with such ease as the hatch allows, and it tells me that these so called endorsed guides should spend more time learning a dead drift in daylight before attempting it in the dark, because they must be doing something seriously wrong to come up as short as they often do, even when they themselves can’t convert.  How do you expect to teach others you are being PAID to teach, if you don’t understand most aspects yourself?  Is this your second or third Hatch now? Do you see now why I chose never to fish with you again following just one walk in the dark?  Didn’t I take your dad on a dozen guide trips the year before you became a guide so to give you a better handle on things?  You want some real truth about the hatch… There it is!   

After guiding this hatch for almost two and a half decades, and having ALL clients & buddies promise that such trips wouldn’t be discussed or revisited without booking me for the same affair, (Save ONE SUPER DORK OF AN EX_CLIENT that bought a raft and shoved it up my ass); all of my clients, (and we are talking hundreds here), have been great in regards to being honest and respecting by not returning to waters shown for these very specific events and limited bodies of water I use to keep my family fed; as I don’t take paychecks for snagging fish like you do 4 months of the year. Reading articles in magazines written by guides who don’t even fish the hatch, (which is funny in it’s own right), much less have enough sand to even fish at night is saddening; even when you think these same fellows are friends… It would seem they should all stick with what they are really good at… Waiting for migratory fish to show up so they can throw chuck and duck gear at them when they are spawning too collect the paycheck so they can buy a bike or maybe some identity!  Leave the trout fishing to us… We enjoy what we do and respect the waters we are in, and look forward to days off when we can fish instead of going for a bike ride, so yes you could say we take it more seriously than most here, and we look to keep what little sacredness there still is for bodies of water we fish, versus stab a buddy in the back simply because you choose not to engage the same events… 

Here in Baldwin that the bar for being a guide is much like a limbo stick…  Get’s lower and lower each year!  We would be hard pressed to produce another Zimmy Knoph, Walt Grau, or Jac Ford in the near future… Newer up and coming guides are just cut and paste versions of the posters they had on their wall.  Finding ones own path, or beat isn’t as trendy and just seeing something work, then being shown, then pasting it to their program and screaming “I’m The Best!”  News flash dudes… The Wheel Was Invented Long Before You Or Me, and it’s going round with or without us.  This sport isn’t quite trendy enough yet for you to add the 90210 to the equation, and point of fact, all we are all just a bunch of Tri Lams.  Sit back, and just enjoy the fisheries we’ve shown you, you don’t need to do anymore leg work as that would take a bit of prowess, which you are lacking… But, for the love of Mary, don’t try and justify your intrusion or the impending lights you would bring to the taboo & specific fisheries, it makes you look weak and inferior while being ignorant in your perspective, and there isn’t ONE veteran Hex angler in this state that would agree with your politics over mine.  Just go ahead and ask the next old timer you see standing in the weeds if its OK with him if you exploit the spot you found him in simply because it’s getting a little busier and the river is public, and we should just tell everyone the when, where, and how of it all…  I’ll bet with the lights low enough, and you still being young enough, the punch would still connect!  You have fun out there… I’ll let the veteran Hex fishermen out there know how you feel… They should be real warm and fuzzy with ya in the dark!        

July Openings…3,18-21,24-28,30,31

August Openings…1-3,12,14-18,20-25,28,29,31

September Openings…1-5,7,8,10,14-20… Then headed to see Brad

 

 

Hands down my favorite time of the year is the Trout Season. Rivers clearing and dropping, the big rods of fall, winter, and spring put away and replaced with floating lines and 5wts… Coupled with a forecast that begs for any and all to frolic in the woods of northern Michigan… It’s not hard to reach for a cast this time of year. Spring was good this year, but only that… As great would have been if April warmed like it normally does, but instead had us wearing 4-5 layers of clothing right up to the trout opener. Fishing pressure was high during the migration of mouth hockey maggots that still like believing that Elvis is alive, but that has all been replaced with solitude, fair weather, and anglers all looking for a bite from now till the end of September where catching trout via a bite is necessary to get the fly rod bent. Gray Drakes are the talk of the town, with muffled excitement on the impending HEX HATCH where any and all can be queen for a day, or night, which is more to the point. Sulfur hatches this year on the PM were as good as I’ve ever seen them, and there are giant stones now frequenting the hatch traffic. Borcher now coming off in numbers with a variety of other mayfly, stone and caddis keeping the menu fresh and interesting, making for some very well off dry fly conditions thanks to the dropping water flows and clearing water. Mouse fishing has no bearing on the current moonphase as the water still has some color, but the smaller oak hoppers, beetles, and now ants are bringing the terrestrial options on line nicely for the midday. Living in northern Michigan allows for so many miles of trout streams to engage with a list of ways in which to tango with the brown trout. If you’re a Dry Fly Angler, there really is no better month to consider fishing the aquatic hatchers than mid May through mid June….

Streamer fishing was good this spring, but far from great.  Late cool, into this extreme heat left just a little spring in which to Strip & Rip, and though there were some great days, there were some slower ones too.  Nymphing filled in the holes nicely in March and April where stones and eggs kept the rods bend even when the fish were still too chilly to chase the bigger stuff, and even when they did it was at much slower speeds.  As the water warmed and the salmon fry exploded throughout the watershed, the streamer bite did come online nicely, but seemingly for only three weeks instead of two months… April this year was the coldest and snowiest on record, and confused the bite windows save the impending lows on approach.  Egg fishing was stellar in April, but we were almost begging for it later March when it seemed warmer than it did a month later.  Steelhead bite this spring, including some of the biters on the Drunks, was lasting as the fish weren’t allowed to spawn and leave as quickly as the water warmed slowly, but instead kept them deep into the 3rdweek of March with the lasting cold.  Allot of the fall/winter fish did in fact spawn and leave at the end of February this year as we melted most of the winter and held temps in the 40s & 50s for almost two weeks, but then also drew the early pushes of spring chrome.  Overall, the steelhead run of ’17-’18 was a great run of fish, and the windows to engage weren’t bad either.  It will be one of the bigger fish years of all time for sure, this only 4 years from our last BIG STEELHEAD year, which hopefully is a trend with the failing King Salmon fishery, which now may be allowing for other migratory fish feeding with more scale.  We also just had a cancelation for November 13-14 of this year for anybody looking to get in on a good Fall Steelhead Dates!  Spring streamer browns was great here on the PM, and though I made several runs to the Manistee, it was cold up there last month, and there was allot of water, so my resolve was limited to poor, versus on the PM where audience, even on the slower days, was somewhat there every other bend.  This spring will not go down as one of my better springs for the big browns north, but it was just fine here without picturing and posting everything caught.  It led to more fishing time, which you and I seemingly can’t get enough of.  Hopefully we have a few high water opportunities this summer to get a good one on the Strip & Rip as I feel a little shorted this spring!  That said, the salmon fry hatch bite, though shortened this year into a few weeks, had 10 days of EPIC bite window. With two guys one day on the PM, fishing nothing but fry and Drunks, we managed 29 browns to hand in one days fishing.  Though not all were huge with the Fry/Fry, but still up to 20.5” on the smaller streamer, and starting around 8”… The bigger Drunk & Disorderly kept the par around 16” with as many higher teen to lower twenty fish it was managing with the moves like Jagger.  All in all, it was a shortened streamer window, with very hot/cold bite windows, an April water warming that wouldn’t be, followed up recently with a strict warm up shortly after old man winter finally let go… So I’m just gonna look forward to Autumn, then Arkansas to scratch the streamer itch this year it would seem, and maybe a couple big thunderstorms this summer open the big fly window!  

Hatches, Hairballs, and Hoppers will be the agenda for the next 5 months!!!  On the immediate incoming is the Gray Drakes, which have already started up in great numbers.  Daytimes have been stellar with the EPIC Sulfur Hatches this year, and you can now fish giant goldens all day long with those B-2 Bombers now frequenting the same airspace.  HEX HATCH ’18 is only a couple weeks out, and though it will be busier than it ever has, there is always opportunity amongst the largest of all Mayfly Hatches.  Bookings for “Duh Hex” are limited as it really is the easiest way for a guide to put you on the fish of a lifetime.  Like a shopping spree, you have a limited amount of time to choose the high menu fish, but the caliber of trout that the biomass of this hatch allow is second to none in it’s predictability.  Years back, before the sport blossomed, one could expect several fish a night to hand over the 20” mark, and if the night was right, and the angler was in check, double digits of that same bigger butter could find it’s way back to the boat before the sun came up… These days, the game is different!  Fish will now feed closer to the jams versus the mid river suicide slurp, with a critique never issued in yesteryears, to each passing bug.  Many anglers, feeling the need to fish to the trout closer for the ease of presentation, would push the fish to these woodier dining tables, this versus fish that would have otherwise been feeding middle river without reservation.  Pattern selection you never needed, so much as just giving them a good target as I think back then we thought it did matter since we took the time to tie it… Size, color, wing style, all needed consideration during different periods of the hatch, but never so much as rotating up to a half dozen patterns over the spree lasting only a few hours.  Though busier, I’m treating “Duh Hex” as more of a social gathering with a big fish potential, and allowing for other opportunities to abort the migration so many would make to the same places, but instead fish them blind to fish that see far fewer, but are much more willing with less than a few hundred casts witnessed nightly.  What is so great about this state, and all the miles of river to trout fish within it, is that you’re never expected to be anywhere but where the boats floating or your hiking, and you can always direct the level of solitude based on your need to fish away from others by choosing other bodies.  So many unmentionable waters in this state that lack pressure, but you need to explore to find, as they will not be shown, nor discussed or they would loose their worth… Don’t be a “sheep”, and though I may be a bit more of a homebody these days being a family guy as much as a brown trout crazed maniac, only frequenting about a half dozen rivers, with about 50 different sections in which to consider, with three different water crafts so to have the right angle to the dangle, visiting for whatever window might be opening; I used to be young, dumb, and living in a tent here there, or anywhere I had enough gas money to get to.  Mousing here, streamers there, and even being a groupie for The Hex Hatch Tour which one could ride like a surf board across the state for a month or so each year… It wasn’t till I bought a house, after living in an RV for 7 years, here on the PM, and settling down with my wonderful boys and babe, that I fished local to save on migration costs, and maximize time spent fishing versus setting up going here or there.  Put it too all you younger “anglers” coming up to diversify the game and challenge your comfort zone and add some adventure to your game.  Stop following the “White Rino” internet pitches… Only reason The PM, Manistee, Muskegon, and Ausble are so popular is because those are the only rivers most ethical guides are willing to discuss due to size and sustained fishing potential and overall size to dilute the pressures at different times of the year.  Don’t be sheep unless to be social and humorous about the impending traffic in some localized areas, and stop taking it too seriously, it’s just fishing.  If you’re a real angler, you’ll go hunt up two or three goodies on a mouse versus take the easy route of a 15’ dead drift over and over till the fish slips and grabs yours. Hatch fishing is basically natural chumming with insects, and very similar to the egg bite where fish are flat drunk on the protein and get in a rhythm of feeding much like I do with a box of Cheeze Its…  You stop looking at what your eating and just start jamming face with little thought or direction, and before you know it, your fat and happy on the couch or under a log jam.  Mouse bite comes to a man or woman differently, and I’m tickled when I’m fishing behind another boat as they can’t know what I do, so confidence in fishing behind them is there… With Hex’s, anybody can go from zero to hero in the drunk shopping spree of such a mass of protein.  If you have always wanted a shot at “The One”, no matter how it would come to the fly, (time limitations or just overall vendetta for the next level trout), and don’t mind saving your cast the better part of the trip in set up and in wait for the very well presented few you might make for “NEO”… Hex Hatch is for you!  Again it’s popular, and I can’t promise we will be alone, but if you want a shot at a goodie, give me a shout and we can get you in the book.  Call for details and availability, and if I’m booked, I have some buddies that can dial you up good for the same.  If you haven’t seen The Hex Hatch before, it truly is worth seeing and experience, at least once or twice till you “ting” the bell with a donkey, or at least a better dandy… When the smoke clears, maybe even after a few years, throwing mammals by comparison will bring you to tears!  Any and all that would dog a man for hunting up a donkey with as many casts and considerations of where and when with a mouse, would be so hypocritical to fish to a drunk on bugs fish sipping each and every, on the second, and even still in the black of night should reflect on the ethics of the argument.  DARKSIDE RULES… No Matter The How, So Much The When Of It!!! All that said, if you don’t like the crowds, but still love to Hex… Don’t forget about the early morning runs for the lasting spinners as it’s overlooked, and yields good fishing on those dates where the hatch is strongest and have the fish looking up most hours of the day for the mayfly.   

Won’t lie, when that moon was new and erie, we had to dabble in the darkside.  Wading the river at night, I choose not to use a boat unless I’m doing a trip, this to dial the sections down to a T, so to better your chances at getting a real shot at a fish worth hooking on an 8wt when your riding shotgun! Sorting the sounds of fish, pricked or rolled in a certain spot, I can learn those addresses of fish worth your time and money sitting front and center in a skiff without knee braces, and rubber matted floors, so be add the same sneak they would use in their predation.  Frolicking down the river, tossing here and begging there will always produce in the black most nights of the week, even if you don’t know the water that well, but if you want to find a real trout, addresses learned over countless passes with a streamer, dry, mouse, hopper, nymphs, and even eggs gives me a roster of trout to choose from without ever overfishing the whole of them.  My clients are confident these days when the anchor rope slips the cleat, and know that there is a strong likelihood of audience when it does.  Fishing with that confidence shows in the presentation and cast, even when the lights are out. Night fishing streamers and mice allows more anticipation per cast than any other technique I’ve ever engaged brown trout with, this because, by definition, a brown trout is a nocturnal one.  Through the spring months those same fish will feed under the cover of muddied, higher waters that allow for that predation sneak, without being noticed midday; in the same respect, when the water clears and drops, those daytime opportunities are lessened and they are forced to add the cover of darkness to there game of cat and mouse via the dark side of the date.  If you haven’t fished with a fly at night for the constant elusive brown trout, and are wondering why the biggest trout your able to muster is as big as some of the streamers we might throw to lure the same in trophy sizes… It’s because the fish lives under the bank, or under that logjam for the light of the day, only to come out and hunt at night so to add potential to each protein consideration a predator might.  If you meet a brown on his terms, which you do when engaging any forecasted bite window, his audience isn’t just possible, it’s expected… And that’s what it’s all about… Click Click

Lately the lighter moon has dowsed the bite just a bit, but the just still tannic water is keeping the bite alive… But before that moon we were going out a few nights and doing well too great where a “benny” was expected and rolling fish every ten casts was par.  Those of you that want to be “Heros With A Hex” should in fact do a couple dates in the dark fishing mice, stones, and muddlers to get your night play and sense up to speed as Dead Drift in the dark isn’t as easy as you may think, and is very much needed during a hatch!  Hopper & Big Stone Fly Trips will get the game in check for the presentation points, but the dark sided approach, with assorted night critters is great so you can get the fly where it needs to be with the lights off.  Mousing this early in the season will yield the highest potential of trout per cast, per hour, and if you sort through enough respectable to larger trout, you will eventually grab a donkey.  Late summer/ early fall, fewer fish are rolled on a given night, but the quality of those trout is far higher than those fish around this time where numbers are higher, but size is random and as luck would have it.  Even fishing bigger stones after dark can get you instep for the impending GIANT MAYFLY, but mousing makes it more fun while you do. Fishing after dark is still my absolute favorite way to angle to the brown trout as I enjoy casting as much as fishing, and when you hatch fish, there’s too much waiting, and not enough angling… When I wade fish with a mouse, anywhere is a potential rodent sacking stance, and when considered, both banks come into play while wading Johnson deep, (keeping a cool head), so to speak, instead of the hurried intensity of a sipping brown that has to choose your bug over the millions coming down. For me, the idea that a brown would destroy a presentation, versus just sipping it, it worth the couple sets of waders I burn through every summer hiking all over the rivers I would angle a rodent in.  Action is steady, never “spinner” dependant, and has me constantly improving my cast via the sense of load affirmed only when the visual sense of the cast is taken away. Seen many an angler, struggle through days of casting and rubbernecking the conditions of the back loop to forward, only to fall on the same bad habits; then spend just a couple hours in the black, (before ever lighting the lines which do GLOW in the dark for presentation speeds and punctual presentations), come through the woods smelling like flowers in their ability, then confidence in feeling their way through the load of the line.  Would encourage anyone that calls themselves a Michigan Brown Trout Fly Angler to try it once and tell me it isn’t one of the finest ways to angle our favorite of all species; this so to also factor in the impending daytime canoe hatches, sunburns, and reclusive trout that almost seem void when the light is high and the predation is low, as again, he is by definition, a nocturnal predator when the water warms and clears, and one we should cater too…

Hopper/Stone Fly Presentations are a go!!!  Oak hoppers in place, beetles, crickets… You name it… it’s in play!  Big Stones showed about a week or so back, so big stimulators and assorted helicopter patterns will all play till say… AUGUST!!!  Love fishing the bigger stones all day long, and those of you trout fisherman that don’t like the lag action of September on a terrestrial, or the need to pound 45’ to get a hit with the water being so low and clear, should get your asses up here between now and the middle of July to better those big daytime dry fly options, which have been great so far. Still cycling a few medium sized Olive Stones, and nice fat sallies that are coming off; stones are a huge part of the diet the next month or so.  Sulfurs have been MONEY the last week or so, with emergences that seemingly never shut down.  Spinner flights of the smaller yellow mayfly are every other it seems, but again, I would just assume fish the daytime emergence as smaller to medium fish rally too them all day long.  Yellow sally out front, and you got yourself a happy meal you can see at 35’, then you’re in the money.  Assorted daytime Mayfly occurrences are common, and can me mimicked via an assortment of the older favorites, but come evening, the Drake should be the Steak! Lately we’ve had some shady spinner flights, with some of the highest numbers of bugs seen in a couple years. Lower sections reporting better spinner flights, but lower quality fish; upper sections are allowing sulfur spinners to draw up some GREAT fish thanks to the clarity allowing for those dry venues.  Drakes are newer up top, but still working fine.  Andrea my wife did very well on Drakes just a couple nights back, and then I went out on foot and moused by myself till the sun came up.  Stinking of my adversary, after a nights mouse fishing where I almost felt a little guilty in my success of mammal patterns and predators… Summers are just the best time to be alive in Michigan!  It was a busy time after the shoulder allowed me to start rowing as hard as I wanted, and since then I’ve been doing nothing but.  New Rocky Mountain Skiff just got here last week, and it’s dressed up and ready for a long summer. Week old, and it already has 6 trips and one fun run on it… And the first day we had it out, things weren’t looking good with Jim Cook, and highly decorated angler, where we were begging for action, but since then had some very fishy days, so much so it already went back to the quarter wash to get the stink out.  My truck has been overhauled and improved thanks to me wife who has oversimplified my life into hanging out with her and the boys, and otherwise guiding & fishing till the wheels come off, which is no bad thing. With the new boat already set for dry flies and improved seats for seated, relaxed fishing, coupled with ZERO knee braces for added casting window and stealth… Summer has landed with a forecast that would make August blush!  Hatches look better than I’ve seen in many moons, and as forecasted, the later warming, and higher flows are hatching bugs better than the early springs and lower flows.  Gray Drakes will be a staple target for the next two weeks before the Hex Hatch lands, and with that parade the river will get very busy.  Drakes is a far better way to avoid the carnival and still fish a great hatch, and we have caught fish up to 24” on the mayfly of billions, this and there is actually some light on the subject when you fish the Grays versus the Hex which is almost like hunting with Ray Charles. Terrestrials and stones can keep us busy during the days before the hatches, and when that moon goes dark again we can do the same, or even flip to a hatch/hairball run to keep you up till the shortened nights of June have you running to bed like a vampire. Come later in the summer the all night mouse runs are better since you can actually get 9 or 10 hours of darkness.  Next 4 months is my favorite season of the year, with the back half of summer being the very best for larger, but fewer trout.  Get up soon folks, as the fishing right now for GRAYS/Sulfurs/Stones & Mice is about as good as it gets.  June is starting to fill, but plenty of openings still exist for July & August, and I just had three days next week open up for some very recommended Gray Drake runs.

Arkansas Unicorn Hunt 2019 is on the burner and all but situated… House is rented, 11 out of 17 spots filled for the migration, and we are still going for 6 more spots.  $1,300 per head, for 4 days fishing, 5 nights lodging gets you in some sweet lodging, and guided DRIFT BOAT fishing, or even the walk and wade after dark in select areas where covering the water better is better than trying to cover more water as we would be chucking the bigger streamers from a moving boat.  We are gonna try and stay clear of those white river skiff sled boats this year, as seemingly those that own them, REALLY like to use the motors and it ends up cutting into allot of casting time.  If the water is there, the need to fish fast isn’t as potent as fishing thoroughly.  Night options in check, if the water isn’t running, we aren’t fishing daylight, as the night options are way too good to pass up.  Water running, the plan is to fish the daylight strip and rip, which is always a favorite when you can see those giants come to the fly, instead of just hearing, then feeling the cinderblock land on the fly line, which I must say, I kinda dig.  This is an advanced run, with larger streamers and rodents in play, and not smaller jig flies or nymphs.  Spey Rod Anglers are VERY welcome on this run as the nighttime engagements are enhanced by 10 fold with the big sticks; your ability to go long, without chopping hook points, or hauling a half dozen times for the target position, and therein also be able to convert on fish taking the fly so very far away, (which is needed as those trout are sensitive to movement when flows are that low, even in the dark), are real bonuses to the two handed approach on that watershed.  Using no lights, we hunt via casting and wading the Simms brail of the bottom, covering only smaller pieces of water, we draw the fish to the flies.  Boated streamer tactics are all in play, and we often only fish the higher flows with streamers as too many fish simply follow and turn away as the water clears and drops down there and leaves less need to feed when it does. When the fish are pushed to the walls, ledges, and shoals when the flow is increased up to dozen feet, and sometimes up to 30Kcfs… The fish are far more receptive and willing to the daytime approach with the cover of muddied water being the predator mainstay. Looks like the back half of February will be the window this year, with 3 spots in first session, and 3 spots in second session, the more likely streamer sessions when they should be running more water for daytime streamer over nighttimes being more likely. 3rd& 4thSessions are filled for now, but sometimes we get cancelations.  If you think you have some good streamer skills, but aren’t afraid of the dark either, this would be right up your alley as the trout of White River in Arkansas are famously huge, and with that there is allot of politics surrounding that fishery, which I hope to avoid this year as we have lodging away from the Cotter Drama Pool, which seemingly is worse than MI in shortened order.  Call the house for details, and let me know if you think you can make it.  Those looking to freshen up or enhance those streamer skills for this winters southern migration, we still have a week or so of potential this spring, or heavier thunderstorms through the summer months, even this fall/early winter for the streamer freshen up.  Those looking for some mousing prowess, look no further than this summer… For skill building and some semi lights on action via bigger moon phases; but to be very productive, shoot for the dark moons.  Really can’t wait to get back, the shoulder surgery this past winter built some cabin fever that I still haven’t been able to cure… Hopefully I’ll get another shot at THE ONE this next February, early March!

It’s gonna be a different summer this year without my brother Brad “The Hole” Turner, and I can’t say I’m looking forward to hunting alone this year.  With good friends seemingly settling in with the ladies this summer, I’ll be hiking on my own allot this summer with few up to the challenge of commitment that I should seriously seek medical attention for.  Not to say it’s a bad thing, the more alone one is when angling, the more one just does that… ANGLE!  No outside social, no walkie talkie on the sling; just myself and the critters of the night.  Turner will be missed, so much so that I’m gonna go see him this summer with the family with any luck, but then again, I would like to put a group of anglers together, to go and see The Great White Hole this September for some pre spawn streamers on the Missouri when the grass falls outs of there.  Some very big fish frequent that watershed, but the shear numbers of fish is what’s really interesting, and by the time summer is winding down, Brad will have that streamer game there dialed up as he is one fishy dude!  Mike Schutlz is working on the exact pricing we are going to do this with, as it was his idea, and we already have several guys interested without having any solid dates set.  This is sooner than Arkansas, so we would want to speed things up as far as booking up to ensure Brad, and a couple of his buddies are on step for this Motley Crew of the Midwest, but again, this will be a streamer venue, with maybe a little night love mixed in as Brad has those ideas also in place.  Give Andrea or myself a shout and let us know if you think you can muster this and/or the Arkansas beat this year as it’s all just a celebration of brown trout on our more off months here on the Pere Marquette, Manistee, and Muskegon!

Sorry for the long report, but that’s what happens when you don’t do one for months on end… Feel like there’s so much more to discuss, but you’ll have to book a trip this summer as the wife has our vacations and bookings moving all the way into September this year with both her and the boys out of school this summer and allot of fun to be caught up on for us as well.  Below I will post my openings for this summer, which are always changing with cancelations, and rebookings from regulars based on conditions or happenings out of our control, but for the most part you folks could be looking at your date considerations as follows….  Gray Drake should be considered soon as the window slackens around the same time Hex Hatch starts up… Between now and the second week of June is that best Drake potential.  Hex Hatch is likely middle June this year, through the middle of July, with the hatch lessening, but still available following the 4th.  Early is the best, but often the busiest too, so if you are coming…. BOOK LIKE YESTERDAY!  Bigger stones work like Advil… Put’em in, and wait for them to work, as they always do.  Highlight of the daytime/evening Golden Stone is between now and the end of June when bigger browns and Salmon flies start to show, but are fewer in numbers when compared to our fantastic golden count.  Mouse fishing is a go pretty much ALL SUMMER LONG, and though the darkest nights are the finest for fishing potential, often, especially if its your first time or your just getting into the mouse fishing, going with a little moon comes highly recommended and we always get something done on even the brightest of nights after changing the programs to cater to the well moonlit waters. Hopper fishing is always easiest when there is a little color and cool to the summer waters, but not limited to, as the better dry fly casters love to test their resolve with longer casts to the very secure banks that give overhead ease to the canoe battered browns.  Terrestrials will also go the distance, and is a great option to fish during the full moon phases when the dark side bite, slips a bit.  Fishing pressure always least latest in the summer as the summer hatches and vacations pass just a bit, but even when the traffic is highest this trout season, there are always places you can go to avoid the canoes and fishermen alike.

Again, sorry for the big lapse in reports, but it should be getting easier to do them now, and for that matter in the future. My wife, now a nurse, but still schooling to be an RN, is going to be a working woman soon and allow me some time with the boys in years to come, and I’ll continue to take my regulars and referrals, but I’m going to be shooting more for 120-130 days guiding on the water instead of 50 more as I’m getting older, but not nearly as fast as my boys are and we are gonna get some more quality time together.  Wouldn’t mind fishing another 100+ days a year with the family and friends, and even my closest clients just to do more fishing, and less rowing, or at least even it out a bit.  Those coming for the darker moon phases, should have fished a bit in the dark with me and are looking to really take a shot at the title with very little light for visual reference which makes it trickier than say those nights with even a little moon where there is some light.  Anybody looking to improve the skills and still find some great action without donating all points of visual aid, should be thinking around the half moons, or close to them.  If you want to just have a great day casting with some action and suntans also taking a priority, the full moons are great for either nighttime learning curves, and even more recommended is the hopper fishing during the same bright moons.  When the fish can’t hunt as well with all the night light, they will differ back to the daytime terrestrial attack as those fish use the bank and the “HOPPERTUNITY” to fill the void of deep summer and light nights.  If you see a couple thunderstorms roll through the area, are up here, or can be in short order, fishing the following day after such storms with skunks and smaller drunks will put a smile on your face midday with the welcomed flow adding food and opportunity to the water menu.  Again, sometime in September I’d like to be in Montana with Brad Turner and a fun group of meat hucking deviants, but we will wait to see how many are on board for this.  Arkansas always takes care of itself, but the sooner I get it booked, the more I can jockey around for the best oarsman we can find down there, versus celebrities in the making.  Summer is here, and we can thank you folks enough for keeping me so busy this spring after a very rough on the wallet winter while healing from shoulder surgery.  Shoulder is about 98% and improving weekly, and should be full step by Hexs, but that’s not to say I haven’t run 43 trips already since the last week in March, which is outstanding, and for that matter, great therapy on the shoulder.  Think I’ve got about a weeks worth of fun fishing in there too… Rest are family days which are becoming more and more fun as the boys grow up, which I’m not in a hurry for!  Be safe coming up… Call soon for Drakes, Hexs, and Dark Moons… Daytime hoppers and brighter moons there is no hurry as I always have openings around those windows. 

Hope you all had a safe Memorial Day Weekend Folks… Good Luck & Good Fishing Out There!

June (HEX HATCH) Openings…8,10,14-16,23,26-28

July (Hex Hatch) Openings…1-6,18-21,24-26,28-31

           

Sure is pretty outside this time of year, lots of snow, plenty of fish, water in Arkansas… Been tough on the mend with such great conditions this winter occurring! Taking stock lately while lying low here recovering from a shoulder “fix it” surgery, wrapped in a blanket of thankful for the life I’ve been allowed. It’s only been a month since the knife, (which was officially the longest intermission from trout in my adult life, this two weeks in), and I can’t tell you in words how much I miss the water and what a part of my life the river is, and then without… I’ve read three books, cleaned my house twice, and organized every piece of equipment and photo I own, down to the small stuff. All in all, cabin fever has set in, and a report is overdue. Keeping up with those who have been frequenting the river lately, I have a great handle on the movements as of lately managing to fish into the second week of January, and boy are those fish running BIG this year. Being laid up with an arm coming back to life, I can’t engage, but by comparison to other winters where bowing out till the weather rebounds is an option; I would put it to you to get up here and “GET SOME” since the fish are as big as they get this year, this and the numbers are above par. Best fishing I’ve been hearing of has been on swing and egg gear, which is typical; but seemingly everyone is passing on the strip options which is a huge mistake as this time of year yields the best strip game for the steelhead. Muskegon fished great on the strip just days before I got cut, so back we went back for seconds with air temps in the teens where Brad Turner scored a 27.5 brown, (his largest ever in MI), just before his April exodus to Montana. There will be no southern watersheds for me this winter as I heal up through the MI slow season, but we’ll be back after it in 2019 for certain as this is the time of year I head down there for several weeks typically and have for the last 6 years. Next year will be great with the improved shoulder, till then, not booking myself till the 1st of April as of now, but we do have guides to get you out that are very skilled and the fishing is worth it. It’s been a good year for steelhead and the spring runs will start in likely about a month. Brown trout fishing lately has been great, especially leading into this month!

Stripping in the winter for steelhead begs a different program versus the warmer waters of October and November; and this year those months weren’t as good as years passed as the fish just came it really fat and happy and didn’t need the calories like they have in Autumns past. By December the stripping game came online nicely with food running low and numbers on the rise, then we were rolling and scoring multiple steelhead on the strip each pass, and mixing it up nicely with the butter on the post spawn bite. Proximity in cooler waters is the offense, not the retreating opportunity afforded in presenting the warmer water. Drunk & Disorderly was designed to maximize action in shortened areas and therein should be considered like a Hot & Tot in the presentation angle; and the amount of wiggle, coupled with float recovery action, can be satisfied in pre determined spots. When fishing brown trout up and down most any trout stream, the strike may come from anywhere, in any depth structure; with migratory fish, being more offended by the light in the shallower river, holding lies are somewhat foreseeable with depth as a consideration. If you size up any one bend or hole you can often identify feeding lanes and present accordingly. Warmer water months have you fishing from the bank to the boat with little downstream angle so there is less decision time for a trout or steelhead to take, forcing a sack like stance from the predator. During the winter/cold water months, present the fly just down and away to provoke the fish by way of invasion, as many will be hanging pretty low key, but certainly bored and easily offended. Many pushes of fall and winter fish already in place, a steelhead needs to be aggressive in collecting his winter calories needed not only to get him through the colder months, but also the act of spawning, and then again returning to the big lake. With the downstream you offer a fish, maybe not willing to chase it into the boat, but one that needs to capitalize on whatever available, when it is. Short strips, with up to a few seconds in pause after a good campaign of sharper strips to really draw the kitty. Rarely the steelhead misses in the winter… Best colors just before surgery were the orange/yellow spectrums… Browns were still on the “SHAT”, but dirty pale yellow did well with them too. Do yourself a favor and pick up that Airflo Surf Line as it plays almost anywhere and doesn’t leave you hurrying to keep you line and fly from grabbing the bottom this time of year. Max Short is still the best all around smaller water in varied grains weights and should be considered each river level variance much like a MOW selection; also works well bank busting big tail-waters in big flow, but diversity in your sink tips is much like have different clubs in your golf bag, and each have there use. Call Schultz Outfitters and give them your watershed target, and they can dial you up with just what the doctor ordered… Their staff is WAY ahead of the curve when it comes to matching rods and varied watershed compliment.

Eggin/Nymphing is always the most productive way to fish to the bulk of the population as it allows for multiple presentations in the sweet spots, even with multiple patterns. That said, if there are enough people doing it in those sweet spots, it might be safe to say it is the worst way to engage as they are just seeing too much of that. Each weekend it gets really nice in the winter, which are those days over 32 degrees, a good number of people show up to fish without ice in the guides, with many of those people fishing the same mileage and it doesn’t pay considering the counts of fish in those areas; this unless you’re the first presentations in each spot that day, be it swing or bob. Presentation is a huge piece of the pie anytime your begging the dead drift, but so is pattern and when it might arrive in a run per daytime heating, fishing pressure, light angles, and even daily water level bumps with snow melt. Pick your battles more strategically and likely your audience will be less aware and then more likely to warm to your presentation. Smaller stones will be in the menu BIG time for the rest of the winter and spring, with wiggle hex and hares ear playing too. Eggs work as good as any nymph might be able too, and then likely better for steelhead. If you favor the browns, eggs work well, scaled way down, but the nymphs own the winter trout! Don’t think for a second that streamers don’t play really well in the winter for trout, they do well thanks to the enhanced post spawn greed needed to push them through the cool months, post nookie sessions. But as the water begins to warm this spring, the chase will be even more enhanced by the warming, wintered trout. Fishing pressure increasing for steelhead, there are so many great trout runs that nymph well in the winter/early spring that are ignored by the steelhead anglers looking for depth over feeding lanes. When fishing a little 9’5wt in the winter, the surprise of not only how productive trout fishing is, but then again, the occasional steelhead that will make that rod look like a snoopy pole in a matter of seconds, is no bad thing… Nymphing is the best way to wade angle our stream, this or swing fishing, which may be less productive but provides far more to the angler per event. To truly mix up the entire watershed, stripping flies begs the predator from most of the miles fished on any given day from the boat, and allows one to not fish water that has been pounded on by all the stationary anglers.

 

This might likely be the best month of strip streamer fishing for steelhead on these western Michigan watersheds, and few are engaging this awesome venue.   When the food is scarce and the population of migratory fish is up, this and gathering higher is the rivers; makes for the right time to add flash and offense to the equation to tip one of the players into protest by means of pummeling. Be it strip or swing, we are begging for the same fish, the one that would not yield or spook, but instead attack with extreme prejudice. Not being an egg, the hit is much more personal and ending for the presented mess of flash. Pure swing falling second to some mending and depth persuasion with slack and slowed present… Providing more taunt time to fish that get a slower step on the pounce or need a little more incentive to move, are best served slower overall in the colder season. Strip begs the same idea, but the varied action in retreat, with slack pauses could almost be fished as slow as a swung fly cast in the winter months. Same fish, with even more need to feed, just a different presentation overall to persuade the movement too, which really is the tip over point in presentation… Simply getting the fish to notice, then too follow. Depth helps, but if the water is clear, I’ve had them come way up to get even the stripped fly retreating faster. There is an idea that you need to be on, or very close to the bottom to present a swung or stripped fly to steelhead and browns… And I’m not sure I’m buying it. Being just below the half way point of the column has shown me that the fish, especially the keyed up feeders or movers, do notice the pattern in all its flash and trek, from a distance, and would in fact prefer, much like a shark, to come up and under their prey. Bottom dwelling hits turn into follows often, as the fish has to set up the kill differently and often trailing the fly, or the quick sack… But rarely allowing for set up from below. If you then fish a fly in a prescribed area of the column you are now fishing in a zone that begs for a trout to not only take notice, but then set up a perfect killing angle. Casting just up stream with a strip fly will bring the fly through this plain in most cases, and with this angle, force the fish to react instead of inspect with the opportunity not holding. With a swung fly, the idea is the same in depth, but instead of the across river position for trout as just mentioned, you will fish to show not the flank and front of the streamer, so much as the underside and the rear… Backing a streamer into the head of treading steelhead encourages the fish to swipe as the fly is off step and now invading the fishes space forcing a spook or kill response. Personally I’ve never seen too much difference in this color or that, but I do have some confidence colors as do many others, but too much variance with both browns and steelhead, with browns chasing more overall and critiquing versus the less wary steelhead that simply crush as soon as the chase is afoot. Streamer fishing may not produce the best fly fishing numbers next to nymphing, but each fish is worth more from the presentation and strike front than say watching the bobber drop… And bouncing the bottom with level lines, aka Chuck & Duck, doesn’t even count as the fly fishing presentation is lost and it becomes more of a conventional approach than a fly fishing one. Once you have caught enough on nymphs and eggs, typically one evolves into streamer game in some respect looking for, there again, more sport from each outing… This and tying streamers is so much more fun! Don’t forget, buy definition, fly fishing is the worst way to catch fish; and in being so, adds a level of sport not found in conventional tactics.

Don’t see any big fluctuations in the bite window between now and the beginning of March. Steelheads are running larger than normal for sure this run; and the push count of fish is average, or just above, for this time of year. Residing top to bottom in the river right now, pending your approach, all sections play in the favorable water flows of winter. Summer run fish are starting to spawn already, so be aware of where your walking in the river from now on so that spawning gravels are left alone and not smashed and trashed. Try and start fishing some of the secondary, pre spawn runs, for those early fall migratory fish as they will be spawning by the middle of next month, if not sooner, pending the warm ups. Plenty of snow dropped last night, just shy of a foot, but we did have a melt already this January so we do have plenty of snow on the ground for now making for some great backdrops, but not so deep to dampen your efforts. Fishing pressure is always there on the weekends above 27 degrees, but any days with highs reaching the 30’s or above, plan on allot of anglers since cabin fever runs heavy this time of year. Often I prefer fishing the middle to upper twenties just because I end up busting as many fish as I do ice from the guides. Fewer people means fish are more willing and unaware… Gear we have these days will allow for decent fishing into the teens, with the 20’s being balmy and better… If your coming up to fish this time of year, and you do have a couple/few days to fish, consider doing the 3 In 1 with steelhead presentations buy getting one on the strip, the swing, and then the egg/nymph presented with a floating line! Personally I’ve only done it 4 times, but when the bite is right, it can be done. Next year I’m getting one taking a dry fly on camera… That’s my next goal with steelhead… Set them, and then move forward… Don’t get stuck in a rut!

Bookings for this spring are already filling, as I will have a shortened spring with most of March not being an option with the shoulder healing up. April will be into the streamer brown trout more than the steelhead as that bite will have peaked and most all will be just spawning by that point in which we shouldn’t be fishing them, which I have done, but haven’t done so in 7 years as it is unethical by fly fishing standards to do so. Salmon fry bite this spring will be stellar following what might have been the last big year of King Salmon this river will see… At least that’s what they are saying, but after last years numbers, there appears to be a rebound in the King counts… Just have to wait and see I guess. Fry counts will be stellar this spring which will enhance the fry bite something fierce; this keeping the streamer bite alive longer and stronger for the PM watershed. Streamer trips in the spring on the Manistee have become more normal than fall runs to the Manistee as the browns feed so well here on the PM in Autumn; but I look forward to fishing the middle to upper sections of the Manistee often this spring. Streamer bite for spring will last into middle May before we start setting our sites on the hatches of Drakes & Hexs, this and start up the night fishing scene. As far as a UNICORN HUNT Already have 11 of the 15 guys needed for nexts years run, this because I’m already freaking out I’m not down there fishing right now! It’ll be The White River, but we are going to roll a little differently next year so to keep everybody in the best fishing based on condition instead of praying for rain. This year I understand the fishing is going very well with the added flows, and it’s under my skin that I’m not down there; that said I’ve gotten some great quality time with the family this winter, as well as organized about a decade worth of gear and computer work… Looking for a change of pace, but missing the dark side of things in Arkansas too; I’m certain I’ll be fishing the White again someday soon, but might sniff around for some less pressured fishing as its getting pretty popular throwing the big fly below Bull Shoals in February these days. We don’t always fish daylight as we fish the condition and we take it semi seriously, our elongated fishing windows, spending sometimes a whole day on the water with the guides, then turning around and “mousin” till you fall over, this or a 30” fish, whichever comes first… Not sure the when and who just yet, but we will be going in ’19, so contact me to get on the list as it will be a little smaller than last years just cause I miss my boys more and more, and a month away each year might be a week or so too much as they get older. Will be doing a Single Shot tying event at Schultz Outfitters February 25, which is booked solid as far as I know, and then I will be at the Midwest Fly Tying Expo in the Schultz Outfitter booth, so stop by and say HI and discuss all things brown trout. Anybody interested in Hex Dates in June, and also November Steelhead, should get ahead this year, as those are my two busiest months with openings in most all other months within a few weeks out besides them. Below I will post my spring openings for streamer brown trout on both here on the Pere Marquette, but also the Manistee and more and more, the Muskegon, as we have been seeing some better brown trout fishing on that river lately with some better tail-water programs in place. Thanks for a great year, and sorry to those that have called this winter for trips with me; a few of you I managed to get out with some other guide friends of mine, but many of you are holding out and I want to say thanks. That said, you should get up here this winter as they are running that big and pending the windows, I’m guessing you have another month of really good steelhead bite window before the spring motivations take over. Drive safe coming up, be careful negotiating the shelf ice this time of year… DON’T TRUST IT ONE BIT! Cover the water better instead of trying to cover more water; and don’t fish on the bottom so much as a foot or so off the bottom to better the dead drift; then the fish notice your presentation better because they themselves aren’t glued to the bottom. Be courteous to the downstream angler, and just know this time of year there is plenty of water for everyone. Again, BEADS ARE ILLEGAL IN THE FLIES ONLY SECTION, as I’ve heard there’s been allot of violation and bead gear hung in the trees. Play by the rules guys, or just take it down stream… There are great numbers of fish throughout the system. Again, thanks for a great year in 2017 folks, and I look forward to rowing with the new shoulder as it was getting pretty rough that last month or so here last fall. Getting older, maybe a little wiser, this my 27 year of being a fly fishing guide here on Upper West Side of this great state of Michigan. Shoulder right now already feels better than it did in December when I was rowing everyday…

  • March Openings::: 27,29
  • April Openings::: 4,5,17-22,24,25
  • Only 7 Bookings in May/Great Streamer & Drake Fishing… Terribly Overlooked Month!

 

It’s been a unique fall and almost exactly flip-flop between September & October last year. All the rains this year fell in October instead of September and the fishing has been consistent when the water has been. Fishing pressure has been steadily falling since the failing of the Kings, yet there is still solid interest in the better biting fall run steelhead as of late even with the passing gun opening. Size of steelhead this year is impressive, including a 24.5lb whale taken up north on the Manistee by a lucky fellow, and we have been seeing solid numbers so far, but fishing has been up and down as most rivers have areas where they are and aren’t still, and we are hoping the gaps will fill in the with this past rain. Stripping bite is off to a slower start this year, yet the swing and egg bite has been on step, with a great swing bite lately. Stripping always seems to shine when the sun doesn’t and the water rebounds little in temperature daily, and in this past week, we are finally seeing that need for speed approach pay off! Could use some rain bad, which was the story in September this year when we were begging for flow with VERY LOW conditions; and the egging, though good early, was tough through the back nine of September before the rains of October rebounded the brown bite too stellar and drew a slue of chrome from the big lake, which we had lots of fun with for a week or so. We do have a couple dates left this fall for some quality fishing, and we will be running winter trips as long as the weather is allowing. South Holsten this year is going to be a short list and a shorter trip since my buddy Brad is leaving next spring for Montana… We are going to fish hard and stay local most of the winter, but will be going for a week or so to the southern watersheds.

“Eggin” out of the gates was great for browns, but moving into September and first week of October, fishing was TOUGH; but once we got the flow, the browns began a serious campaign of caviar carnage and the chrome started to trickle heavier. Lately, the bigger and smaller clowns, pending the section or river fished, are doing well for the steelhead; where up higher in the clearing water the glo-bug, nuke egg, or foam tied bead fly are doing better for both browns and steelhead, yet should be sized down if targeting the trout… This and even some assorted nymphs as the water is clearing. Tippets should shrink with the water table, and fish with some stealth in that mending or you stand to spook the fish before he sees you’re your presenting! Long leaders mend well and subtle where short ones shock the bobber/presentation often… And for goodness sake, stop using WF Titan or shortened heads to indicator fish with, if you can’t mend it at a distance with a buttery adjustment, it doesn’t matter how easy it was to get it into the spot. Presentation is the most critical part of nymphing, not the cast. Triangle tapers, Atlantic Salmon, or some cool Delta Spey II for bigger floats get it done where the WF stuff should be limited to tiny creeks or throwing bass bugs with lots of wind resistance. Bonus to using Triangle tapering is that you have to retrieve less line each cast, mend clean, high stick control better, and all leads to less ice in the guides because less line is traveling through them per cast and present. Egg bite lasts all winter long and allows for bigger fish landed with the cooling temps. Food for thought, talk amongst yourselves… Dogs, Daughters, & Sausages….

Streamer Strip bite so far has been good for trout, but marginal for steelbows except for this past week when the water dropped/cooled and became more sterile. Streamer fishing was tough for trout in the low clear late summer/early fall, but when the rains hit, so did the streamer bite. Lately we are finally seeing the steelhead favor the stripped fly with some consistency, but only just this week. As the water cools, and then gets sterile with the frozen ground, I think we will begin to see the hatred for swung and stripped flies increase as they simply run out of protein options. We have moved as many as 13 steelhead in one day on the stripped fly, and landed 11 of those which happen two falls back… When it’s working, it’s not a fluke; it’s a true method of engagement. A good tip for better presentations with your Drunks is this… If the rod bends, you loose action due to the shock of the shortened strip being taken up by the tip of the rod instead of being transmitted to the head of the fly, which creates the chuck & jive of the higher action marriage of fur, feather, and flash. Monitor the amount of slack allowed in between strips, then factor in the depth considered should be at least just below the halfway point of the column. If you fly isn’t digging to those depths, consider using the sink tip you have purchased with a little more slack and time to allow for depth penetration. Consider great pause as a valuable bite trigger as well, and achieve a little depth while doing so. Best colors were “SHAT”, assorted yellow variations, and ginger had a strong following in the clear. Fire tiger did well on the pre spawn browns and have gotten some stripped chrome to date. Drunk & Disorderly flies run the show, this versus another jointed wooly bugger, which let’s face it, is boring to watch… No matter what color or material you follow that hunk of lead with… It all swims the same! Evolve and fish your pattern… “Silly Rabbit, Jigs Are For Kids!” Variation in streamer presentation dictates productivity in predator persuasion. If you make him wonder the next move, then surprise him with another, then give it random/drunk inconsistent transit, you will trigger more than a notice or chase… YOU WILL PROVOKE A HIT! Streamer fishing will be heating up with the cooling water as it does every late fall early winter for the steelhead, and with that so will the swing, but your ability to find more “Players” is crucial to a better chance at finding the one that wants to pick a fight. If you can only fish to ten spots a day with a swung fly, versus a hundred with a stripped fly… Do the math, and you will see why the stripped fly approach is the best of both worlds in watersheds that differ than say wide, gradual descending runs, (that are as long as a school bus or a few), this versus The Pere Marquette that has pocket diversity over a broad range of depth and bottom variation. More so than a slow even track to sell our flash, we need to draw fish from the wood via action and injury mimic. Traditional steelhead lies here in MI are more rare than western fronts, save a few of our southern steelhead fisheries where gradual deepening tail-waters occur. The rest is woody, pocketed, sandy, and DEEP with too much potential holding water to stop and swing it all… First cast is always the best cast, so increase the amount of water that gets “THE FIRST CAST”!

Swing fly-fishing the last ten days has been great, and personally I love a day of sitting on the anchor and waiting for piano wire… I’m not exhausted and the steelhead is still willing to END the fly instead of just take it like and egg, which I love to do as well as it’s a great way to scout numbers of fish and learn to fight bigger fish on smaller tippets. Steelhead have a way of really testing your gear this early in the season when full of piss and vinegar. Some green/gold Goblins tied by good friend Greg Senyo & Pat Turbeville have been doing well for me in tannic waters, where the copper is proper mentality seems to keep me alive on the PM. Heard of some blue/silver love by a few guys in the clearing water… But when swinging, much like stripping, I’m not sure how much the color has to do with it versus the disposition of the steelhead taking notice of whatever variation of a disco ball you show him… That said, there is no fish I know of in coldwater that is more willing to give feedback on this or that pattern than a WILD steelbow! Keep one thing in mind when swinging the PM or other smaller assorted rivers that differ than say the wider, and much more “SWING” friendly Muskegon where covering more of the run trumps covering parts of the run better as we may with the smaller river approach. Position and trigger still occur per a slower, but more involved presentation on the pockets versus the even bottom run consideration. Think from his point of view in the smaller pocket, hole, or shortened run; then position the fly appropriately based on that idea. Mow tips work great for variations in depth, and the Tom Larimer’s RAGE COMPACT is a great compromise between Skagit and Scandi, where the Scandi short RIO is great for close quarters, and the Airflo scandi short is great in the just larger bodies where you can stretch it out just a pinch more. Don’t run too short of a leader to your swung fly or it will be overpowered by the sink-tip and allow for less flash undulation when mending or adding tensions for pulse. Swing fly bite lasts all winter long and into early spring before tapering off, and it a great way to sense a steelheads hatred for flash… Scott Howell once said, “It’s As Close To Reaching Into A Hole And Grabbing One By The Tail As It Gets!”

So… I think I’ll get off my ass and get The South Holsten Unicorn Hunt 2018 going… We are doing a smaller group, and it may be filled already as we aren’t doing a ton of people this year as much as a core group of serious anglers into both day & night fishing strategies. Covering a few different rivers down there, we will be streamer fishing when the water is on, night fishing streamers and mice when it’s not, so to fish the conditions as we discriminate against ZERO TECHNIQUES that beg for a take… That said, we wouldn’t be nymphing on this particular run, as we are targeting next level post spawn giants that move in and out of that system and those typically like the bigger payoff pitch. Same price likely as last year, and there will be some folks that don’t make this years run because I need to stay local longer this winter as I’m loosing my best buddy to the western front of better trout fishing… Which in many ways seems like a neat idea if those carp ever grab a foothold here in the big lakes. Again, we are a go, and if you are interested this year, it’ll be lower key, with far less egos and drama per hungry and willing guides that want to see that next level trout no matter if it’s not bankers hours as much as bar closings and watching the sun rise in January if conditions beg. Call the house if you think you got the skills, and if nothing else we can chat it out and get you on the program for following southern tail-water runs. Sooner or later we’ll go back to The White, but certainly under different circumstances and venues… It’s been 6 years I think now, and we need something fresh and entertaining as we are driving great distances and afforded monies for such experiences… And I for one am looking forward to seeing some newer waters and fishing some fresh guides who know their waters and fish and are excited to have us versus just our booking! It’ll be 4-day fishing blocks, with 5 nights of lodging and quality trout water allowed by a few different sheds… Not doing any tying this year pre-trip, but I do have some buddies that can spin very well and sooner or later I’ll have my signature D patterns plugged into the Web Site to better get the “Good Stuff” for you, wherever you may be fishing them.

Locally we are looking at a pretty standard fall run of steelhead this year with a better than average size overall to each fish. Very few skippers for us so far, with a few scattered summer runs mixed in. Streamer bite begins to head up NOW as we cool down, but water levels could use a kick, which looks to be forecasted middle week. Only have a few openings for the fall window of chrome, but again, fishing is fantastic all winter long and often water temps tame the fire of fall and allow for larger fish to be landed when lately the bigger fish hand you your hat with ease of speed. Those of you not privy to the techniques in question should take the time to visit Schultz Outfitters of Ypsilanti, MI as he has all programs downloaded and even printed out for the better avenues in which to engage… This and they are the most streamer savvy Fly Shop in the Midwest. Crew is beyond knowledgeable, and spend a great deal of time up here in our neck of the woods this time of year keeping themselves up to speed with the coldwater fronts. If on the Northern Front, check out Ethan Winchester from Boyne Outfitters for some smaller water ideas from some of the less discussed rivers of northern MI. Ethan carries a decent stock of only the good stuff, and come winter needs some conversation… So stop by if around Northern MI. Below I will post my late fall openings, and I will be running trips all winter, but based on weekly forecasts allowing for better engagements as fly fishing is hard enough when it’s you against the fish, instead of you against the elements… Ice in the guides every three casts can test the resolve of even the most seasoned angler and becomes a less than good time if your trying to learn the game under the same conditions. It’s been a great year folks, and I’m sorry if I’m not updating as much as I used too, but guiding as much as I do to keep the boys and babe well and good while they are schooling, dialing all the gear up to speed and inline for your visit, tying flies, and then trying to grab a little bow time myself… Let’s just say I’m not sure what I did with all that time Andrea and I had before we had our two lovely boys. Our days are full and at night, we are beat… And I don’t always get to do these reports like I did when I have fewer cares in the world. Wouldn’t change a thing though, as I’m sure many of you can appreciate… Life is grand in the North Woods, even if I’m not making you aware all the time. Been doing far less social networking because it’s like 90210 with a keyboard, and there are just so many negative people out there, I’m just learning to close my circle as I age because it’s way too much work trying to make everyone happy. Only people that matter to me are my family, friends, and many of those friends happen to be my regular clients. For that folks, I want to thank you, and for making this way of life the very best I could hope for, and yes… I’m a trout weenie, but the first step is recognizing we all have that problem! Be safe coming up, as it’s that time of year the tree cattle are moving more that usual! BE WELL…

 

Isn’t summer just so fricken awesome?!?!?!   I mean, the last report I did was on the trout opener and it seems like yesterday, yet it was three months ago.  We’ve had an interesting summer between higher waters, early mouse seasons, lacking mayfly hatches, and even some lampriside in the river to keep things interesting as we go into August.  Fishing pressure is par for the season, and though the Hex Hatch did happen, it was never all that great this year; with that said, I’ve never seen so many golden stones hatch on this river as I have this year and they larger stone fly is still cycling as we lean into my favorite time of the year and the tailings of summer!  Lately the hopper fishing has been coming on line nicely due to the waters cooler temps and flows thanks to recent storms which are typically rare for MI this late into summer.  Mouse fishing seemingly always works to some end as long as you can muster the sand to engage… Varied approaches and sections seem to be the ticket this year with numbers maybe just down for normal, but the overall size of the fish being ahead of the curve since we have been hunting in less populated trout sections.  Sorry for such a lapse in reports, but do to the local wanna be guides climbing up my skirt whenever a spot sheet crosses their path, I’m learning to be more of a reporter instead of a forecaster.  We are sneaking up on what is MI’s trophy season with rodents and other assorted waked protein posers… This really is my favorite time of year when the trout, setting up pre spawn calories, allow themselves to be vulnerable with low and clear conditions and a need to feed that keeps their eyes on the prize… Those being my flies.  Still have a few openings for the trophy season this August and September, and I will be running mouse & hopper trips all September long this year to utilize the longer nights and the lack of people engaging.  As soon the salmon caviar starts to dump late September, we’ll be flipping to more of a daytime schedule with streamers and eggs so to adapt to the condition.  Get out there folks… Michigan summers are not something we should take for granted.  Sleep in the winter, fish till the wheels come off, it’s summertime!

 

 

Following the trout opener we continued some great streamer fishing all the water into the middle of the Gray Drakes around the second week of May.  We had likely a dozen good nights out of 30 that I could say the drake fishing was worth being out, and though the Grays were lacking this year, the giant golden stones were flying like I’ve never seen and picked up the slack nicely.  Hex Hatch 2017 was more or less a high water event that we tried to make into a dry fly scenario, and though we did land 22 fish over 20″ long over a period of a couple weeks, that is sub par by any other years standards on the hex.  Cleaning up with either stones pre hatch or mice post hatch, we worked a bit harder, but got it done nicely.  Blaming the higher water for over fattening the trout pre hatch, and then again keeping the water high and dirty almost throughout the entire hatch, we found the Hex wanting as well and we had that hatch in our rear view mirror by Independence Day.  Strangely this year the mouse fishing was saving our ass early on starting in May with the clearest water of the summer still being of that month.  June was fishing with the rodents early on, but not like May because the fish were spread with the excess water keeping the undercuts available and a daytime bite still feasible.  Running my data from past years, I’m starting to notice a trend between poor mayfly hatches and mild winters, where the they enhance our stones and caddies; but when we have longer and harder winters the mayfly hatches seem to be more prolific.  Might be totally off line here, but the last 30 years of watching them it seems to be semi consistent.  Just before the past rains a week or so back, we spent most of July recovering from the more extreme flows in June with drowned our whatever hex potential we had; yet when the water did clear and drop it was apparent how well the terrestrial fishing was tipping for the better.  We had been fishing giant stones for almost two months straight and we can now stay with the bigger foam all the way through summer thanks to the flows and big stones so prevalent this year.  As of last night, the lampricide is in the water and the fish are fattening, but it’ll be short lived and they’ll need some protein soon enough.  Recapping, this summers fishing has been good without being great, but the folks I’ve been able to fish with this summer make it all worth it… Good nights & bad nights of fishing never kept the good vibes from being the staple of each run.  We had fun, we caught some fish, and we look forward to the next evolution as the seasons change and offer new agendas and techniques to engage our favorite… The Brown Trout…

 

 

Looking ahead, the hopper fishing looks to improve greatly over the next month or so, and even into October in recent years.  Mouse fishing will work whenever you’re willing to engage it, and do yourself a favor and mix things up on the terrestrial fronts… Cause lets face it, a mouse is just another variation of a terrestrial as it leans from the bank and is a common sight and opportunity for the brown trout.  Only difference between chucking hoppers in the daylight versus bigger mice at night is the lighting and canoe traffic. While hopper fishing, always appreciate that they do enter the river from the banks or the trees which tend to be on one side or another and not in the middle.  Considerations are always in play for the middle river wood structures or the eddies that are out a bit, or even under overhanging trees where things tend to fall with some frequency.  Fish terrestrials with allot of action and then several seconds of dead drift to first attract and then to offer the fly to the fish.  They often like to set up the sip or gulp instead of chase down the foam offerings.  If your damsel is in distress, then choose an approach suitable for the prey… Fish directly upstream and same sided to allow for maximum bank time as damsels are abundant and noticed by the trout in those areas… Especially those with hanging grass and less even banks.  Don’t be afraid to be offensive with your size in hopper choice… Fat Alberts, Chubbys, Chernobyl, etc…  Fish them so they are noticed, yet not fleeting to ensure he sees it, but isn’t turned off by its retreat in shortened order.  Fish away from the craft or person as it applies… 20-25′ you’ll see a few, and when the lights get low you may have a shot, but for the most part it’s just casterbation at best with a few dinks to keep you looking. At 30′, fishing the deeper pools out in front could score you something of value even with the lights on, and almost guarantees some good love before its time to put a head lamp on… At 35-40′ away from your person, shit starts coming on line… Fish will blow up the pattern, completely unaware of anything but what might offer above. There are no fry or minnows alerting the aged resident of the incoming leg wakes or vessel, and so to shut down offerings for safety sake.  Even if they don’t spook, they aren’t going to feed either.  If you fish away from your person up to 50′ in such a tiny corridor such as the PM, YOU ARE A HERO, and you will be catching fish so long as your presentation is consistent and you bank proximity is on step.  I’m all about mixing up some patterns over the course of a day, but I’ve noticed it’s more where and how you are fishing a terrestrial, hopper or mouse, that really ends up selling the fish to your presentation.  As you fish more and more, become a better angler each time you engage the river so to improve your overall chances each time you do.  If you are just one of a thousand carbon copy casts in a river that is fished like the PM, your results will be less then if you raised the bar and fished one better cast instead of 3 cheesy ones… Zimmy Knolph once said, “The PM Will Fish As Well As You Fish It”… As I age I’m seeing that logic clearly, even as the bar is raised with so many people angling these days, which really is a great thing… Contrary to the negative Nancy’s out there that all think they invented the wheel.  Nobody wants to fly fish to catch more fish, they do so to add more sport to each event they engage… If you want to catch more fish, grab some crawlers and Rapala and go get it done.  Be an angler as much as a fisherman… Or simply be an angler.  For me, I just like casting these days!

 

 

We’ll be planning a trip to the South Holsten this year for an array of different rivers to engage based on flows and our motivation to either fish in the daylight or at night.  Anyone interested in this should consider that this is a streamer/mouse event and we are all pretty hard core anglers looking to see that next evolution of brown trout instead of just going fishing.  This trip isn’t for everyone, or even other guides, but the fellows we have pinned down for this winter are all VERY on step with angling and are pumped up to not only fish the conditions, but also are hungry doing so.  We are going to limit this run to 3 boats per session instead of 4 because things seemed a little less personal per group last year, and the six man group seems strongest and more mobile.  Three sessions is the goal, and it’s looking like January this year per our guides favored engagement.  This trip isn’t for a beginner or even novice angler looking to learn the ways of the big fly by day or night, this migration is to rally allot of serious anglers, devoted to the brown trout and especially those that are bigger and of higher character at any time of the day or night pending the conditions or our prowess.  Already have most of this filled and haven’t even really got on step to get this done outside of some chatter, so this is just a feeler to see if any of you regulars feel like it might fit and maybe bump it up to 4 sessions instead of 3.  It’ll be later in January, we’ll be renting a house again, and all things are pretty much save the location and the guides… 4 Day fishing blocks, with 5 nights of lodging.  Blane Chocklett & Chris Willen are likely on step for being two of your three swingers and all are very excellent anglers and guides as you know, and again, this is all in the making so bare with.  Excited as always and hungry… Hell, I just guided 6 nights in a row, and tonight’s my first night off… Guess what I’m doing… Going fishing just as soon as I finish this report my wife told me to do since it’s three months old… But again its summer in Michigan, and we feel as if we are always on a clock to have a good time so sleep is optional, much the same way we like to fish when we go away to the southern tail waters looking to beat the winter blues and possibly swing big with the mutants of those watersheds.  Contact me at home if you think your on pace with some serious anglers, and an even better good time with great dudes all into the big fly/big trout approaches…

 

 

Locally we have very limited openings this later trophy season in Michigan’s terrestrial/mouse season.  September still has some solid openings, and October is filling for the brown trout egging, and streamers and even a few early chrome cruise missiles.  November is almost booked, but don’t dismiss those early December dates as I’m seeing the better fishing every fall leading into Christmas.  If you want to fish the mice in a little more light to help the learning curve, we’ve been instituting some great programs on those higher light nights that are paying nicely considering, and during those bright moon phases is a great time to be hopper fishing because the trout can’t hunt at night as well as they would like, and often will feed midday on terrestrials to make up for it.  On those darker moon phases we are seeing our better trout fishing as the darker it is, the more trout are available and out to sack your rodent.  Varieties of stones, muddlers, frogs, and varied mice are all doing well right now as we clear up post a couple inches of rain that gave us some decent streamer fishing a couple days last week and again, as soon as she gins out in a couple of days, the bank bugs will be on step in a good way.  Mouse fishing the last couple evenings, post streamer runs, has been there, but not hot hot… That should change as soon as the water clears and they stop gobbling dead lamprey and crawlers that have been bleeding out of the banks this past week.  Water temps have yet to be an issue on the PM as the entire top end has been very cool this summer.  Lower sections got close to 70, but not quite and weren’t there long thanks to the rains.  August is the very best month of the year in my opinion, even till the middle of September, there is no better time to be a night angler as the nights are longer, the fish are starving and are on a pre spawn bite to click it up a notch.  Water levels make for accessing more water across the state, and the wild flowers add a great whiff to what is already a great time to cast and watch the stars.  No noisy paddlers in canoes and rafts, no beating sun and middle to higher 80’s, but more the quiet end to the day with more noise coming from raccoons and coyotes in the distance then a bunch of drunks with no love for the river dumping beer cans and F bombs.  Your section seemingly your own, and void of the aluminum hatch and all the riff raft that comes with it.  Fishing in the daylight the other 6 months of the year, I live for the 6 I don’t as I have embraced the dark side of trout fishing more so than any other per preference and need to see that next level brown trout that would remain elusive all day under some log jam so not to have to duck and weave the traffic and noise of the midday parade.  Embrace the dark side… It may change your life… And if nothing else allow a perspective on the brown trout you can never know unless you meet him on his terms, that being at night!