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!

 

TROUT OPENER IS HERE!  We are entering the dragon of possibility when it comes to engaging our favorite species… THE BROWN TROUT!  Though we target and fish browns throughout the year, it’s the trout opener that allows many bodies of water to be fished that are closed the other half of the year here in the great state of Michigan, and then again, those techniques that would lie dormant till the windows of hatching bugs and terrestrials offer the dry fly options we are so fond of.  Here on the PM we have so much going on right now in as far as venues of potential fishing… So much so, it’s hard to believe I’m here at the house writing this.  We have some great openings still available this May & June for our finest Mayfly hatches, which do include the Gray Drakes & Hex Hatch… Also, mouse fishing for many has already started up and has taken over as my highest addiction while angling for copper, and will last till early October as of now.  Hendrickson, Black Caddis, Olive Stone, and even Olives on the cloudy days are all in play right now… Nymphing pays when nothing else will, but streamers still own the river till the clarity is ginned out a bit, especially when factoring in the Salmon Fry Hatch going on strong right now.  Steelhead are still about and giving up the last of the spring caviar; and in those areas where they are getting it on, there will be quite the audience of gold following that protein roll as the fewer the count of eggs in the stream, the more value each one is worth.  No matter what your fancy of fly fishing, its all in play right now and I would encourage all of you to give us a call and get some good summer dates in the book for the up and coming 2017 Trout Season here in northern Michigan, including the Dark Side options that are a GO as of now!

Streamers right now are running the show, in such an array of size, color, and swim… But all seem to get some attention per the Salmon Fry Hatch that is in FULL swing right now. Arguably the spring streamer season is our finest for not only numbers of fish brought into play via all the fry keeping the chase motivation strong, but also our bigger fish streamer season as it applies to the overall size potential of our fisheries since the water color keeps so many recluse and larger fish out on the prowl with the lights on versus off.  Best colors going right now are “SHAT”, black, and white… Though when the clouds are deep enough, the yellow plays well.  Olive has it’s moments, but is more of a clear water option for me… With ginger showing its teeth very nicely early on in March through the first week of April.  Lead headed anythings, (as they seemingly all move the same), are loosing the cool water traction they had with the warming of spring; now it seems as if the swim flies will own the show till winter shows itself again.  Steelhead are frequently being caught right now via the stripped fly; and it truly is the better avenue for engaging the late season migratory versus snagging them off their beds with Chuck & Dork gear.  The fish chase the fly and actually EAT IT versus being impaled by it…  Seeing this type of protection or predation allows an angler to see what a steelhead looks like when it truly wants your well tied presentation.  We’ve had days where moving up to a dozen of them is common, and we’ve landed up to seven in one pass this spring thanks to the wet towel battles offered by the more or less, spent fish.  Most never get pictured since the start of my trout season is the 1st of April and therefore my clients target isn’t the deteriorating chrome, so much as the fired up, and well winter rested, brown trout.  Drunk & Disorderly Streamers do run the show in my boat… Not because it’s my fly, but more because there is no fly that moves like a D… With moves like jagger all the way back to the boat provoking more steelhead and brown trout day to day than anything I like to pull out and test it against; This and it’s terribly fun to watch work as is Zarro Spooks!  That said, if quality comes second to quantity right now for you, or you’re not able to fish from a moving boat which is how swimming streamers are fished best… Two small fry fished in the eddies right now will pay HUGE numbers of fish as the salmon fry are littered throughout the creek right now and the fish are popping them like Cheeze-Its…  Not kidding when I say there are HUNDREDS right now in every slow pinch all the way to the lake and the browns really dig it!  Been fishing the Upper Manistee allot in recent weeks, and doing well to GREAT pending the pesky barometric and trout mood swings.  The Muskegon, Manistee, & PM are all in rotation this time of year, and it’s nice to see the green on the hillsides again while driving to these other great watersheds to sample the strip and rip possibilities of each… Streamer fishing will last for another few weeks before really backing off, but the highlight of the season is usually pre hatches, and those have already begun, so get up here soon if you are down with the stripped fly!

Dry fly season is here now already… Mother’s Day Caddis are about, Hendrickson pop just after lunch most days, with olives offering opportunity for those brown looking up anytime the clouds keep the sun out of it.   Larger Olive stones are coming off with frequency, this just following a solid rotation of the tiny blacks that are still about… Golden stone should start up here in just a couple weeks, and the Gray Drakes will likely be here before that, with this mild and early spring in place.  Hex Hatch Dates should be gathered as they always end up filling, and I personally like to take a few days off for myself as I too enjoy the shopping spree of hatches when it arrives.  For those looking for a great overall hatch experience, Gray Drakes comes highly recommended as it allows the angler the better part of the afternoon to gather a cast and presentation suitable, allows a window of munch pre hatch, giving the angler a break, then a grand finale of sorts when the hatch goes off and offers such bounty in shortened order; this without the mass of people descending on smaller areas that get choked like the HEX.  Last year our biggest on the drakes was 24″, but we broke off a half dozen fish that like to test the tippets as they retreat to the wood… But each night we fished Drakes last year, the fishing was great and we never had shady hatches, this and the lights are on a bit more for my clients that don’t do as well in the dark fishing dries.  Offering potential up and down the river, the PM’s entire corridor is game on for Gray Drakes where Hex’s seem to be local to areas instead of river wide.  Again, those looking for a great option of fishing beyond nymphs and streamers…. Drakes are a great way to start up your dry fly hatch career!  Stones will be in play as soon as the water drops I’m guessing as we had an 80 degree day already and that river heat up will have the ball rolling.  Fishing them like hoppers almost, skating LARGE stones in the PM is a great way to get a daytime dandy without falling to the low light spinner falls… Much like the Hendrickson emergences, which I think fish better than the spinners, daytime dry fly fishing is best in MI right now as July & August are more of a terrestrial season.  With grass just making it’s 2017 debut, it’ll be a few weeks till the terrestrial game starts showing its potential.  Hopper/Terrestrial season is without question the best way for one to improve casting skills and even presentation per the moving boat, rapid fire casting, varied casting angles and types just to suit our tightened corridor… If you’ve been looking to improve your fly fishing cast, all day casting with a terrestrial is that engagement… Better casters will actually tear up the terrestrial scene if they can move the line beyond 35′ from a seated position, but the casting improvements are the real bonus to fishing the terrestrial game since the gear isn’t as strict, and allows a person to cast all day without becoming fatigued.  No matter what your dry fly fancy, the next 5 months have you covered for all possible engagements here in Northern Michigan.

Nymph & Egg fishing is still very much in play for the trout, and those willing to watch the bob are typically granted a few more fish each day.  Right now behind what’s left of the spawning steelhead there are still caviar windows, and those are higher pay off with fewer casts; keeping in mind as the water clears, the game needs to be played.  Early on when the water is dirty, high, and tannic, one can almost park on top of the spawners to fish stones and eggs just behind… But now the water is beginning to clear and we are watching the trout spook further and further away.  Needed approach and noticing the trout before the first cast is key to converting instead of spooking or allowing an awareness to yourself.  Blind spots on fish should be taken into consideration, much like the fall when fishing the salmon eggs behind the fresh water tuna, or each a hatch… Like walking on egg shells, clothing colors factored in, make the first cast the right cast since the water clearing doesn’t allow as many presentations before the fish is savvy.  Each time you make a cast that isn’t taken, its like showing your opponent another one of your held cards in poker.  You’re only gonna get a few shots before he’s on to your angle and turns away, or just flat ignores you.  Whenever possible, approach with caution and stealth so that the first cast you make shows him a set of eggs while he is drunk in the feed; your conversion rate with baffle you if you take these precautions before the first cast, especially when fishing to fish of age and wariness that is often coupled with a sizable reason to drop the anchor quietly, or just walk on those egg shells while on foot.  Monitor those lower light windows to better your happenstance, and don’t forget to size down the leader and tippets to sell it.  Not only is the water clearing, but the sun is getting higher and when those fish are feeding in a foot or two of water, which is where the late season steelhead will spawn for needed O2 found in the chop… THEY CAN SEE EVERYTHING!  5x won’t be out of the question, and #16 eggs to hide that hook and ensure less potential for lining steelhead as the foam/yarn acts a speed bump for the hook to limit grab save a fish that actually bites down on the pattern.  When egging, there are tricks that help keep the fish bumping to a minimum and enhance potential grabs from the brown trout gollies located just behind the happening.  Tippets should be short, short when fishing the shallow stuff to better the shot, (which should be blackbird), sink rate, and to actually get your eggs down to the rim of the gravel.  Short tippets limit lining steelhead that are bedded and could care less about whatever you’re drifting by; but then again, bring the flies down to shot level quickly instead of floating higher in the column which is less natural considering the brown is looking right at the steelheads caboose.  Again, be patient, and look for gravels that are not only holding a spawning pair, but also those gravels that have males teaming behind… This allows the angler to identify that not only is there a hen in place, but she is actively dropping roe since so many males are looking to get in on the action.  When there is simply a pair, she is just poised to spawn, or even clearing a spot, but not actually dropping.  Once the gravel is hot, she will naturally chum in whatever browns get a whiff of that caviar goodness.  These are just a few tips for the egging game that might push you in the right direction… This and by a pair of Costa 580 Silver Mirrors… It truly is like looking up the skirt versus allot of the other glass I own.

Just tickled the last week or so not having to dress in layers anymore as those 4 were getting pretty old by the end of March.  Fishing pressure is backing off nicely with the dwindling steelhead run, and those still around are more looking for a bite with streamers which is great too see.  Fry Bite will remain strong for a solid month before backing off and flipping to nocturnal agendas, and for those looking for the better mouse fishing dates… Remember, the darkest nights are the best for fishing, but for learning game and still having some fun… Anything shy of a full moon offers all kinds of after-hours potential with varied practice for the light levels in question.  During the higher moon phases, I love running hopper trips well into dark, and early on I love the BIG STONES sometimes till dawn as they love those flying Big Macs.  HEX HATCH isn’t to be taken lightly, and though I can get beginners on big ones with mice and drakes, the after-hours dry fly presentation is a force to be reckon with!  If you are good with a dry fly, and want to try those talents with the Ray Charles approach… I’M GAME… But if this is you first choice for your first hatch, I would say NOT SO MUCH!  If you have fished flies of any kind in the dark, and want to try the dry fly approach, this is a good consideration… Even still, if your have never fished in the dark before and want to just go and see a really neat hatch and all the potential around you, without the expectations of landing or even hooking, the event itself is one to see and experience.  What I’m trying to say here folks is this… As productive as the hatch can be, since the popularity has grown to what it has, wising up the fish to next level feeding disciplines… YOU HAVE TO BE ICEMAN TO GET IT DONE RIGHT!  The earlier you book for the Hex, the less savvy those fish are, don’t wait till the first week of July to get in the book as many of those fish are well and wised up by that point, and even when feeding at an alarming rate, you will see them be as selective as a 8 year old boy at dinner… Trust me… I KNOW BOTH ENDS OF THAT!  Last year we had some novice folks get some very nice fish based on incredible windows, so I’m not trying to deter anyone from booking the hatch as it is such a cool event, I just want our expectations lowered a bit more than we have had to in years passed when there was nobody fishing my beats with a boat, and fishing was truly silly by comparison to these days where you really earn your take.  Gray Drakes is something I love to push because it’s a comparable hatch where I’m fishing as far as potential fish and you get to do it with lower light, but far from dark conditions.  Fishing feed hard, consistently, and there are far more nights of good fishing throughout the whole river to be considered instead of getting stuck in a couple/few beats with everyone else.  For my ELITE regulars… You’re always talking about stepping up for conditions as they land and getting a true shot a PM DONKEY… Well buck up and book The Hex!  I’ve already put you guys through the grinder and could do things with that streamer/bobber/mouse cast with Hex I can do no other time of the year save knocking on the doors of the residents blindly… That’s putting you on a true trophy ON CUE!  If you can’t tell folks… I’m a little pumped for the opener and all the water and fishing that comes with it.  I’ve fished 5 rivers in the last week, and plan on a couple others this next week with the opener, and I really hope to get you folks out in the near future… Conditions are favorable this year for some of the best dry fly fishing we have as we are the third year from last lamprey treatment making for great bug counts in theory.  Streamers till 21st of May sounds forecastable, Drakes by the 11th I’m guessing.  Bigger stones just following with the Mother’s Day Hatch just already in play.  Drakes should last till 2nd week of June, Hex Hatch usually starts about that same time and MOUSE FISHING IS GOOD TO GO FROM HERE ON OUT!  Look for other Terrestrial & Trophy Mouse Fishing to start up around the end of the Hex in early to middle July, with the best in numbers during the dark side found early on, with the bigger fish often coming later in the season when food and water is scarce and the daytime feeding potential is down to poor with hunting almost impossible in the clear daytime waters.  If you are bringing the younger generations up for their first experience with a fly, do consider the nymphing which is optional year round.  They love watching the bobber, the cast is less strict, and if they do it long enough each day, there is always a handful of gold by the end of the day.  Mixing up with a good drake finish is a great way to spend a day in May, and have productive fishing while learning.  Watch your moons and peak weekends of summer when booking and do consider a Gray Drake trip this year.  I’ve got the river dialed nicely over a dozen floats that offer great options with very few anglers around.  … Give a call… Love to have you up… Posting my openings below….  Call for timing and techniques… Thanks Again Folks… See You Soon!

TROUT FISHING OPENINGS…

May:::3-5,10,12-18,20-22,28-30

June:::3,4-7,11,13-17,20,22,24-27,30

It’s surely early, but spring has sprung a bit ahead of schedule around here, this after a very mild winter finishes up.  Couple sick days are letting me get to the report, which hasn’t been spun since DEC ’16.  Steelhead count is plenty, and allot are still taking flies deep in the pool and runs, and even in some very cool transitional areas…  Longer tail-outs and off, to secondary water, all holding some hope per cast with the spring migrations in higher gear.  Brown trout bite is consistent with the mild winter, and it looks to warm up here a bit earlier than normal which should make the salmon fry hatch kick in pretty good really soon here.  “Eggin” behind spawning steelhead is the best way to keep the rod busy with biters, this instead of all the mouth hockey and snagging taking place right now via poor guiding and fishing ethics; plus streamers are starting to show their teeth nicely as snow disappears and the ground warms.  It was nice not having to use 4X4 to get into the driveway after returning from a so, so run to Arkansas; and if you are coming for Spring Steelhead, I would push for what’s left in the first couple weeks of April, as by the start of the third week everything not brown trout will be spawning in our rivers, or on their way out due to the lack of snow pack this winter.

2016/2017 Steelhead run is almost behind us and it wasn’t a bad one at all.  Few unique ends of the push were the early and awesome pushes in October, which are rare and thanks to all the rain in September… Early November, typically fishes great for us, but this year we dried up in between the main events of fall steelhead, so it wasn’t till around the gun opener that we started kicking ass again.  Winter fishing was fantastic all around, and the river was very accessible throughout that season, yet we will end the steelhead run this spring a little earlier than normal, but with a fantastic climax that likely already has come and gone depending on how many fish will move in this spring.  If you are coming next fall for the steelhead in November, get those dates booked as it books sooner than any other month in the book save the June HEX HATCH; think I’m already down to about 11 open days for the peak month next fall… CALL SOON or we will have to find you another guide to take you down.

Brown trout fishing has been great considering the dates, and though most of the best action right now can be found right behind the spawning steelhead since the water is still cooler, the streamer bite is definitely ahead of schedule and producing for those that have those special skills.  Nymphing smaller eggs trumps any fly going right now, but there will be days during the early spring that the stone fly nymphs start doing very well, even against the eggs and keeping up.  Those that like to run weighted streamers, this is the time of year they would work best… Black & Red, or even some copper in there will pay the bills with some of the more aggressive cool water browns…  Most of those being of better size since they have more body size and therefore an earlier need for calories coming out of winter.  Typically every spring, when streamer brown trout fishing is starting up, you will often find some of the larger fish of the entire spring since the cooler water doesn’t affect the larger browns as much as the smaller ones that are so susceptible to the snow melt water temps and less body to fend it off…  Often needing calories, the take will be slower, but full commitment and the “jig” flies work great to fish that don’t want to move as hard to chase down their prey.  Jig flies keep some proximity to them and offer a bit longer, where the swim flies beg for the players or bullies and need the trout to come out swinging; typically that kind of bite starts right after the first warm thunderstorm resets the temperature of the water table post melt.  Best flies going right now are without question Eggs, the steelhead have been spitting them for a couple months or better now, so the system is rolling with them.  Stones are a great option for a second fly… Think smaller and black as the early stones are not the giant salmon flies so much as #14 flying ants.

Not too long since coming back from Arkansas where we did as much as we could do in the daylight, but the dark-side would be the stage for any real good fishing that would warrant such a drive, this without any of our guides.  That said, we fended for ourselves this year when the lights were out and paid for some boat rides via some silly politics being pushed that are discriminating at best; even when we were sold the nocturnal options when booking and up to the first clients arrival.  It is what it is I suppose, and it’s always a great learning experience in the Deep South; and yes, we are already setting up for next years run.  If you are serious about next level brown trout fishing, and are FULLY DOWN with the Dark-side approach, and can play well with others… There may be a spot for the Unicorn Hunt 2018.  We are still trying to nail down the hungriest guides we can before committing to this, or some other southern watershed to beat the winter blues here in Michigan around that time, but there are already 13 of the 21 possible seats filled…  Let us know if you want on the list and we can go from there…

It was a drought year this year in Arkansas, the guides & clients worked very hard in adverse conditions for streamers to work; yet it was apparent to me, like anywhere else in the world, the best brown trout fishing in any watershed when the water is low and clear… IS AT NIGHT!  We fended for ourselves as a result of opinions and politics on the after-hours scene, and did VERY WELL considering what few hours we could invest, having to stay on a daylight schedule to appease the streamer gods and guides.  A few of our guys, out of 24, with 36 guided boat days, managed three 24” fish per our guides instructions and unique bodies of water during daylight engagements… But I feel as if we missed a golden opportunity between the weather and water conditions to really engage the Dark Side; which is a shame because I managed, in the short time I was able to fish after hours, just a couple blocks from where I sleep, covering very little water ON FOOT, 7 different fish in the two foot or better class, which was more than twice what the entire group did as a whole for a two week period with the lights on; this including a nice 27” male that had monofilament hanging from it’s mouth from a minnow fisherman that broke off the baited hook in its gut!

Those that love to fish Arkansas on the Dark Side should be made aware of the possible consideration of banning any nighttime approaches to a fish, which by definition is nocturnal… The Brown Trout!  Catering to only one sense to bring such a brown worth driving so far for, we as fly fisherman pride ourselves on being in the right place at the right time to award that audience.  Barking conservation while they break off hooks in fish bellies via bait, chumming, and terminal tactics used… Local conventional and even some streamer purists & guides are calling for a halt to after-hours practices, which is discrimination at best.   Agreeing with a few of the points they posted, I believe there should be a ban on use of motor boats and even spotlights after-hours, (which a few of the MI guides were doing down there before realizing the WRONG of it), for safety and consideration of other anglers… But to tell a man or woman that they can’t fish a fly at night because the resource needs a break for the daytime bait or streamer & nymph fishermen is absurd… NO KILL ON BROWN TROUT is long overdue on that body of water as there are some gear/gut fisherman at night exploiting the window and taking brute stock fish that cannot be replaced; but I can’t remember the last time bait fishermen were trying to limit a fly fisherman’s approach & resolve as a result of their productivity…  Not having the luxury or need of throwing brown trout, (which conventional anglers are looking right at while casting during the day), something that smells real, looks real, feels real… Hell, it is real… We As Fly Fishermen Fish The Conditions as we cater to only the visual sense!  Conditions this year, unlike last year, were PERFECT for nighttime approaches and the proof is the in the daylight pudding, or lack thereof… When trout don’t have the cover of higher, to flood like waters to hunt and snatch up food, they will wait for the cover of night to give that possible sneak, and for us to ask them to do any different isn’t making good decisions as fly anglers or guides… Conditions set the pace, not the technique… I’m not a snob to any one approach that is an ethical attempt… We are not snagging or lining fish, nor are we bumping them… We are fishing on the surface, or just below with streamers and mice.  Used to be that bait fishermen and fly fishermen had issues with each others approach, (though I personally have never discriminated against any type of angling that offers an ethical take, conventional or otherwise), but now it seems as if within the fly fishing community there are discriminations based on some peoples egos, or the need to attack others that have more sand and drive than they might ever muster.  Do yourselves a favor and make sure you let Arkansas Fish & Game know your opinion on the affair; because who knows, maybe one day they will discriminate streamers because the size of the hooks are too large or because the nymph & bait fishermen feel as if the streamer fishermen are screwing up their daytime fishing too much!  Too each their own I say, and shame on any guide, fisherman, shop owner, or even TU Chapter that would try and tell another man how or when he can or can’t fish a fly that would be eaten; then mock a mans sand to wade and fish the black ink in hopes of a better shot at fish normally caught, and sometimes killed by more terminal approaches that are being considered in front of fly fishermen WHOM ALMOST ALWAYS PRACTICE CATCH & RELEASE and more often than not, practice what they preach in the name of conservation.

For one, I’m writing a letter to Ark Fish & Game to let them know that this consideration is only a discrimination thanks to some folks either trying to corner the fishery to better suit their lifestyle, or simply don’t have enough passion or drive to engage a better venue of potential and would like to level the playing field so that nobody else can.  It would be one thing if this was about snagging fish off their beds, or something else that didn’t beg for a take; but this is about a few peoples opinions, well up on the ladder, setting the tone for others that carry a little more step in seeing that next evolution of brown trout, or simply like fishing different styles under far less fishing pressure to a fish that is more willing to consider a fly while in a state of predation.  FISH THE CONDITIONS… NOT THE TECHNIQUE… GET INVOLVED if it means anything too you!  Strangely there seems to be more politics and discrimination in Arkansas than Michigan these days; and that’s scary considering that fishery is still in its infancy of Big Brown Trout Streamer/Night Fishing practices; it’s even saddening!

Back from St. John, via my father & brothers invite to join them in paradise with my beautiful wife… Andrea & I are back on step for the spring season and are looking forward to seeing all you regulars, and even some new folks.  We are planning on an early trout streamer game and hatch season as the conditions set our pace, not the technique… Cause let’s face it… You wouldn’t go and fish the morning if you knew there was an afternoon hatch… Would You?!?!  Right place, right time, set by the conditions day to day, week to week, or even season to season.  Water rises, fish streamers… Water clears and drops… Fish after hours or be fine with catching fewer and/or smaller fish on smaller flies and gear.  As a guide, I want what you do, on any given day… This is your paid day in the boat, and for that matter, it’s supposed to be YOUR good time… NOT MINE, though you could argue that I can count on one hand how many bad days I’ve had on the water over a 30 year period no matter who’s in the boat, or what conditions are thrown at us.  As guides, our job is to determine what each client wants to get out of that particular day he is paying for a guide service, as we aren’t selling products here, we are selling a service/experience that starts with a guide asking you how you would prefer to angle and at what time of day you might be available or interested in doing so.  As guides, if you haven’t figured out how good you have it, being able to take people fishing for your livelihood… Here’s your heads up!  What most have to do to get through a given day to make enough money to pay for your service is far worse than any bad day or night on the water you’ve had.  Priding ourselves on clients first, we push and encourage our guides and clients to explore better venues to keep the angler in the better potential bite windows.  “Dry Or Die” mentalities, or “Streamer Purists” have little place in a service orientated business, as that is the angler or guides motivation, and maybe not the fellow or lady paying…  Lunches are not something that need too much attention, but again, the bars are lower in allot of boats.  Personally I like a clean boat, updated rods, top-notch instruction or not, and take pride when I hand a good plate of food to my client for the day, with a nice linen napkin & wear plus several sides.  Guide service is just that, a better way to spend a day on the water where someone else deals with the logistics and decision making to better your shot at fishing worth paying for.  Myself, I would prefer watching a streamer come through the water, or listening for a gulp from a brown trout taking notice of a well tied rodent in the dark, but I also understand that the day someone has me booked, what I prefer comes a WAAAAAAAAY distant second to what my clients prefers and can handle.  In the same respect, if someone wants me to take them streamer fishing or mouse fishing and it’s their first time fly fishing… As a guide, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I sold you the happening when I knew it was out of your league, even when I prefer to fish like that.  Guides these days are a dime a dozen, and I would encourage all of you to make your guides step up, or miss out on the good money you are spending to be in our boat for the day.  If your not learning, or fishing the way YOU want to, or forced to swallow what the guide tells you to do, even when its set up to fail, instead of being asked what YOU would like to do… Ask around and book another.  For me, I know why I’m still in business after 25 years of guiding full time… It’s because I do prefer to put my client in front of my personal preferences, politics, and persuasions and ask them each and every trip… “What Do You Want To Take From This Guide Trip Sir or Maam?”  Realizing long ago who signs the check at the end of the day, and therein who’s good time it’s supposed to be on that booked/guided trip.  Don’t let your guide tell you how or when to fish unless you believe his interests are aligned with yours… But instead, tell him how you would prefer to fish, with or without productivity.  You may have to sort through a few guides to find the hungry and service orientated professionals, but they are out there, and really do want to allow the day YOU prefer on the water.

Again folks, look for fishing to improve with the water temps and flows still keeping those steelhead in a biting mood; but as the water warms, and most all the steelhead are spawning or leaving, take a moment to consider the other possibilities with a fly this year, this versus mouth hockey with bedded fish, which is quite unethical.  Salmon fry hatch is already tuning up, and is such a great way to grab tremendous numbers of trout without having to throw a bobber or giant streamer.  That said, the indicator/bobber/nymphing techniques occurring in the deeper pools, tail-outs, or even directly BEHIND the spawning migratory steelhead is off the hook so long as the conditions set the pace.  Eggs should be considered on the orange versus pink spectrum, as the steelhead egg is just that instead of the salmon roe that is a bit pinker.  Smaller black stones as the water really clears and warms, is a one two punch when fished with a size 12-16 egg pattern.  Double dot eggs, bead flies spun with foam, and other assorted flavors in nuke & glo are always deadly… And if your trying to fish the chrome lower in the river as they move up, clown eggs out fish most all other flies; and don’t be small in those spring waters as I have been known to fish #6 eggs down there when the water is colored and up as it can be this time of year.  Streamers seemingly always produce something if you give it long enough since you’re fishing so much of any beat you frequent, and often a better overall average size fish.  Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away as there are some larger browns out there right now trying to fill that winter void and don’t mind chasing swim flies already.   Be open to the idea of throwing some of those leaded leeches when the water is cool, and yes it’s fun watching the swim flies come through the water, but fish the conditions which are cooler and beg for a little more proximity to the fish versus drawing them from a distance.  Dry flies aren’t out of the question right now either, and I suspect that if you fish those warming, sunny days… You will have some good stones landing on the water.  Hard part about fishing the surface when those bugs are dropping is having enough out there to out sell the protein sub-surface like Salmon fry, Steelhead eggs and smolt, or even nymphing all the stones that might be more prolific sub surface than flying… Again, we will fish the condition as we see it arriving.  Swimming streamers right now in “Shat”, white, and ginger are doing great but the smaller black leeches or lead headed anything moved into the wood will provoke fish not fully invested in the chase yet.  Chuck & Duck isn’t fly fishing, nor is it a good approach to nymphing as your flies simply sweep across the river instead of nymphing down like any other natural protein rolling down the river… Again, that technique was designed as much to bump and line fish as it was to actually get a bite, and lets a person believe they are fly fishing even when fishing colored mono or level running lines overloaded with too much lead to compensate for the bow swing of the line in such spring flows.  If you guide tells you to fish it, and you would prefer to fly fish, let him know so he can make the adjustment; or row you to a launch with a refund as you booked a FLY FISHING TRIP…  If you want to fish nymphs and eggs correctly, fish down the seams and foam lines via indicator floating line techniques, versus sweeping them in hopes of facial or body impalements.  If you’re setting the hook too much, ask yourself why… Then don’t!  Nice thing about the indicator fishing, when fished correctly, it’s likely a fish and not the bottom when there is indication, as you shouldn’t be on the bottom and underneath fish, so much as presenting the fly at their eye level with suspended patterns.  Believing there is some light at the end of the tunnel, there are other guides lately giving up on the caveman practices of Chuck & Dork and all the foul hooked fish that come with it.  If your stripping your swim flies, consider doing it slower in the cooler water… If fishing the “jiggy” streamers, find lonely structures and bank edges where fry are gathering for that possible predation.

AIRFLO IF YOU KNOW GUYS!!!  Not even kidding here, as I have been able to fish so many different lines over as many years, and I’m SOLD!  PVC LINES SUCK!  2016 in Arkansas, with the Elite crew of clients and buddies I flocked with, there were a total of 7 TRASHED FLY LINES LEFT ON THE TABLE that were simply falling apart, stretching too much, cracking, or simply too WF to present, cast, or control with any consistency, yet not one was an Airflo.  This year, most all my guys showed with the right arsenal of fly lines per my request and the cheesy streamer conditions that we were going to fish… This year, NOT ONE line came apart because my guys fished AIRFLO.  It’s not just because it’s PVC Free allowing for very long lasting lines, it’s the motivations of several of the line companies out there that continue to push the parking lot sellers as a person is allowed to shoot line instead of learning to cast it.  Further along in this sport, and the rods that continue to evolve in a faster, versus slower manner, the more Joan W. seems like a genius to me!  WF is good for fishing creeks, or shooting flies of size distance without direction, as there is so little control on a head that is shot, then hoped into a spot, this instead of being casted and controlled with TRIANGLE TAPERING.  Our presentations per fly are almost catered too per line chosen, and it’s great to get behind such a company that offers such a menu of lines with different aggressions and head lengths… Type 5 Airflo 40+ owned most of the situations we were trying to fish as forecasted, where shortened heads in the LOW, TOO NO FLOW conditions simply had to be sped up to compensate for the split shot like drops occurring in those condensed heads; and they still got hung in the dirt!  Casting distance was key this year since allot of the fish were noticing the boat in close thanks to the GIN water I rowed as much as I fished in, so to save my arm for night practices post trip and give the guides some casting time.  Spreading the weight across a longer head was perfect for keeping the patterns fished at your preferred speed, instead of the lines.  Type 3 wouldn’t have been out of the question many days of the week as there were days we fished and there wasn’t a DROP of extra water coming down.  Fishing waters that had as many smallmouth as it did trout, we found the slower water needed less and less weight by comparison to the very quality streamer conditions that existed in 2016 where we actually were fishing the correct technique with streamers based on THAT CONDITION.  In fact, the second largest daytime fish taken was on an intermediate line and a skull head in Jason Loyd’s boat… And against what I would have thought, there were a couple of days where the skulls did well and still out fished the swimming flies… Though one could argue that was based largely on “THE GOLDEN CHILD”… aka Jason Loyd who is one fishy dude, and the Unicorn Hunt 2017 Guide Of The Year!  That said, largest fish of the trip daytime, taken by THE BEAR, aka Sam Wisegamgie, aka Samuel, aka, dirty nympher, aka “My Good Buddy”, while I was riding shotgun and unhooking a nice 22”… A 26”+ Total Specimen of a Male brown trout that had me and the Jason scrambling for nets at all ends of the boat; was in fact on a Triple D of his own spinning, yet again in the Golden Childs Boat!  Tickled didn’t cover it, and there was some man hugging going on that day as it was one of only two days they actually ran some water on The Upper White over a two week period.  Windows were short, but potent, and my personal best on a streamer was a 24” this year, which was a great fish, but a hen that wasn’t in the best condition.  Craig Barber the same day got a nice 24” fish as well… And you guessed it, CONDITIONS SET THE PACE THAT DAY, but changing the lines often was very needed as they would only run water for an hour or two so the water would rise and fall upwards of about 4 or 5 feet in short order!  Other standout lines for the Norfork, which I would prefer never to fish in daylight again if I can help it… The Sniper and Surf sink tips were very cool as the bank cast is very much needed there when both generators are going, but when one was on, the 40+ would then start to play again as the fish would move away from the banks and the flies would fish all the way back to the boat.  Very impressed with the daytime line ups this year as far as AIRFLO lines, and so were my buddies/clients that managed to score them before coming, but again, there wasn’t one line left on the table this year, this and they are being designed by the Raejeffs if that tells you anything.  Encourage all of you to step outside this MI box and look from the outside in on sink tip applications per watershed fished as there really is an AIRFLO line for every situation in their catalog.  From a night fishing standpoint, I’m just going to tell you this.  I WILL NEVER FISH A SINGLE HANDED ROD IN THE DARK ON THE WHITE EVER AGAIN WHEN I’M WADE FISHING!  This year, and last, I have been tinkering with the TWO HANDED OPTIONS that river begs for.  Last year, wasn’t able to do allot of night fishing since the streamer conditions were set up so perfectly, so I only had an hour with the big stick… This year however, I was awarded plenty of opportunity to engage the dark side in lower flows and have since seen the light!  I’ll be doing a write up in a magazine, (coming soon to a shitter near you), that will go in depth on how CORRECT this approach is for the body of water in question, or any other big tailwater such as The Mighty & Massive White River… But here are some of the cornerstones of what I have learned this year per fishing the big sticks in the black… First… Distance has got to be the biggest perk!!!  No longer does it take 3-5 hauls to get the 80’ you need to provoke some chase and sack, this because of how sensitive the trout are at night to surface movements via leg wakes, so fishing away from your person is HUGE!  Instead now, 100’ is done with a Snap T or Double Spey… Fished with a longer leader to compensate for the set-up cast, and D-Loop expansion anchor, the leader then complements the distance of cast to limit bow of the line and allow the fish to gather the fly instead of nipping it with less drag near the bug.  Scandi Compacts are a must versus the WF design of Skagit, and could control the cast at distance where the Skagit, a fine booming line, couldn’t be adjusted once shot out… Second was control of the pattern which was amplified with the help of the 12.5’ XP and allowed some say so in the maneuvering of the Scandi Compacts ranging from 425 on switch rods all the way into the 550 grain with the bigger full Spey, no more than 8wt since there was no sinking/intermediate/or floating tip extentions.  Even if you could get a single-handed rod to push that far into the black, and get fish rolling on the fly, you can do nothing about it without the leverage of the Spey rod.  In the past, one could cast a bomb on single, and hear the fish take at a distance, and may even feel the line bump a little, but setting the hook or buttoning that fish at such distance is a forgone conclusion because there is so much bow on the water that when you lift it up, it literally would prick the fish off when the line relaxes after first tensions… CUE THE BIG STICK!!!  Now, same cast, same fly, different rod… When you hear the fish button up, (since the 12.5’ has so much lift potential versus a little 9’ rod), the line never relaxes post tension and therefore holds the hook in place for the hook-set which is slow and easy thanks to the grains of line resting on the hook point before you get all your ducks in a row for a solid set!  Here in MI, fishing a shooting head would be absurd because the fly line disturbs too much water around the impact of the fly, and you end up waking too much in the shortened area which actually causes missed fish since you can’t feel the fish through the shooting head with a single hand rod and the heavy bow of the line.  You can’t consider using such a big rod in the dark here in MI as you would loose rod tips on trees and limit your openings to cast as a result of tighter quarters YOU CAN”T SEE… All that said… THE WHITE RIVER DARKSIDE APPLICATIONS WITH A SPEY ROD are almost unlimited between presentation speeds, angles, and just overall ability to cover so much more water so easily; added perk is not breaking hook points off behind you in the rocks when hauling as the D-Loops load beside you or out in front.  Third and most likely the biggest reason the big stick is needed from the wading situation is this… WHAT IF YOU REALLY DO HOOK NEO?!?!??!  If you are wading, your ability to chase a double digit pound fish will be limited as even in lower flow, there are some deeper pools those bigger fish will favor too when stuck, (I’ve Lost 3 Fish Down There That Simply Beat The Single Handed 8wts on the Darkside)… Bonus of fishing after-hours is the ability to fish a high pound test, and I do recommend a lower tippet of fluorocarbon even if the top ¾ of the rig is built with higher and lower grade mono to enhance the floatation of such a longer leader, sometimes up to 13’… Reasoning behind the lower tippet upgrade is to limit the stretch at the lower lb test to ensure bigger hook penetration in those wooden jawed mutants down there, and when you do, you better have some attitude adjusting power to turn such a fish, and a single handed rod stretched to 80’ is not going to give you that.  Biggest fish I landed was 27” and it got through about 2/3 of that bigger 8wt full spey… Plugging that data in with fact you may hook a fish that weighs up to 3 times what that 27” fish was, having a Spey rod allows you to steer such a fish while on foot and bring him back instead of chasing him down in the dark, which can be dangerous… When you consider fishing The White @ Night, you would be hard pressed to find a better tactic for walk and wade applications… For one, I may likely never fish that river on foot again after dark without the bigger rods as I was out fishing my buddies and clients, often fishing behind them, 4 or 5 to 1, where I was pricking few and landing most… LEVERAGE becomes the biggest reason to run the bigger sticks… For distance, positions, hook-ups and for overall deal sealing battles as you’re not showing up to a gun fight with a knife, so much as a bazooka!  Spey fishing will be the next evolution in Arkansas as I believe it is terribly underutilized, and for that matter, discriminated per lack of passion in seeing what that river really has too offer.  To quote Mark Sedotti… “90% of the best fishing done on that watershed is done with the lights out, versus lights on”… This coming from one of the TRUE BIG FLY GODFATHERS of that watershed, who was fishing large, trout sized patterns on that watershed before others like myself, jumped the bandwagon…  Mark was fishing BIG STUFF down there in the 20th century, and before it was “cool” to do so…  Been a pleasure knowing him for as many years as he is beyond fishy… If you ask around down there, those that know, know exactly who to thank for opening those southern windows with THE BIG FLY… Whitlock… Sedotti… Wilder…

Here now in MI we are streamer fishing hard, and with the warming conditions this week, I suppose we will be getting into the fry and smolt bite sooner than normal.  Had a good run on the Manistee river this week, and I’ll be headed back very soon as that fishery isn’t congested with a bunch of want to be anglers all looking for a grip and grin with a fish that didn’t eat, so much as it was stung with a hook.  Dry Fly fishing is already on step for the upper sections where the stones, midges, and even a few select mayflies are already being taken with some frequency, that also means the fish will look up after dark now too.  Mayflies in March is a little off, but with the surface action already starting up, I can’t see a reason why mousing isn’t joy already too.  If they are looking up, they will do so till the later fall of this year… Gray Drakes will run early at this pace, and HEX HATCH always warms to an early spring season.  Nymphing medium to smaller stones has been paying some very nice fish, along with all the other usual nymphing suspects… Yet as good as the nymphs are doing, most days they get hot, they are simply keeping up with the caviar spins.  Look for streamer fishing to improve for about another month or so before the water really clears and has us fishing surface patterns, both at night and daylight based on moon or water CONDITIONS.  Steelhead run will end early this year, and the first couple weeks of April will be the last of the decent fishing for them… But you will find several drop backs all the way into middle to later May while fishing the streamers, especially those with higher amounts of action instead of lead.  Leaders and tippets will be play a huge role in success with the eggs and nymphs, not only in the presentation aspects, but also the casting and hook-sets variations needed when fishing this side of the river or that.  Swing bite is all but dead, but if you give it enough time, sooner or later you may find a newer fish willing, or any one of the thousands of drop backs scattered now all the way to the lake.  If you want to come for Gray Drakes… Get in the book, as it’s the best fishing with the lights on via hatches we have.  Bigger stones, including Olives, Browns, Goldens, and even larger Black stones later in June will be on step very soon as the smaller blacks are cycling and already giving up some great dry fly venues very early on this year.  Have like 5 days open for the best Hex windows… And below I will post what openings I have for the spring streamers that are fishing great already.  For one… I love the mild winters as trout seasons get a better/early start… And the best of the steelhead fishing I believe has come and gone till fall save the occasional summer run on a hopper or at night on the mice.  Respect the fishery, not just the other guys out there… It’s a tragedy when anglers don’t like fishing the best trout water in the state because it’s overrun by fellows not looking for a bite, so much as the easiest way to get that hero shot via fly impalement strategies… Do yourself a favor and EVOLVE, as there is just SOOOOO much great fishing to be had in around the old school caveman practices still being sold and lied about just to appease the need for bookings, fly sales, tippet, and lead.  Michigan is turning the corner on allot of these issues it would appear, and I’ll look forward to the day that the Flies Only Section of The Pere Marquette River, becomes FLY FISHING ONLY!  Good luck and good fishing folks… Drive Safe Coming In!!!