Weekend Update

5 06 2017

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

This past Friday evening started off pretty much the same as the prior one.  I was back walleye fishing in my usual spot at 9:30 pm.  Conditions were pretty good, partly cloudy skies with a slight NW breeze.  Boat traffic was a little higher than normal and in about 30 minutes I was about to find out why.  No matter though, I got set up and started my usual routine for night fishing when the other fish are in.  About 5 minutes in I had my first fish on and it turned out to be a 23 inch male walleye.  That was soon followed up by a second 21 inch male.  I was beginning to think that maybe the other fish had left.  That things would get back to normal.  That I wouldn’t have to constantly be pulling lines in to remove unwanted accidental catches.  I was wrong.

1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16…..

Around 10 pm I sensed a flash of light behind me and then a resounding boom.  Grosse Isle was shooting off fireworks, thus the reason for the increased boat traffic.  Shortly after the start of the show I picked up a third walleye and it would turn out to be my last one for the night.  Once the show was over all the boats headed for the docks and after that it was nothing but the other fish for the next few hours.  My last fish of the night turned out to be a white perch that had a brush with a muskie.  When I flipped it in the boat it had teeth marks across both sides.  Lucky little bugger.

 

Hope I never lose that Blue & White PP. It’s the only one I have.

 

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Chores.  I did find another Blue & White Pencil Plug while I was cleaning out the garage.  Day wasn’t a total waste of time after all.

 

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Sunday started off with me attending Demo Days at Schultz’s Outfitter’s.  This is an annual event full of fly fishing, tying classes and demonstrations.  I signed up for the Micro Spey – Trout and Smallmouth class presented by Tom Larimer.  When spey fishing first arrived in Michigan it was all about Steelhead.  Lately though there has been an interest in scaling things down for the resident Brown & Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth bass.  Tom has been heavily involved with this, working with both G. Loomis in developing fly rods specifically for this and lines from Airflo to go with them.  Since I enjoy spey casting so much I wanted to learn how to incorporate what I have learned so far into catching the aforementioned species.  Class started off indoors at first with discussion about presentation, reading water and fly selection.  After that we wadered up and were standing in the water casting.  Tom brought along two prototype rods from G. Loomis and worked with each of us on our spey casting.  I like to think that I am getting better but after watching Tom I quickly realized I have a long way to go.  He did point out a couple of small items that I need to work on.  A couple of the finer points of setting “the anchor” that when done properly make a huge difference.  When I don’t do it things get ugly.  Just like anything else that is new I need to practice more.  I figure I’ll go down to the river a few times a week with my spey and switch rods and do just that.

Later that evening I grabbed my 5wt fly rod and headed to Washago Pond in Willow Metropark to play around with the bluegills.  Susan and I used to go to the park about once a month in the Spring and Summer.  She would read and take pictures while I fished.  Afterwards we would drive around and look at the deer or whatever other critter might be out and about.  Now it’s just me and the fish.  When I arrived around 8:00 pm it was dead calm and no sign of any surface activity.  Usually the swallows are skimming the surface trying to pick off newly hatched bugs, not tonight.  Undeterred from the lack activity I walked over to the edge of the pond, tied on a #14 Elk Hair Caddis dry fly and went at it.  The fly wasn’t on the surface for a second when the first bull gill smacked it.  About a minute later he was in hand.

The first of about 2 dozen.

This continued on for the next hour.  Every other cast resulted in another nice gill.  Eventually my dry fly started to turn into an emerger/sub surface fly and then a slow sinking fly.  I could of changed flies but it was still working so I didn’t bother.  The last few caught were strip sets.  I would see a subtle swirl where I thought my fly was and once I gave a tug I could feel the weight.  I must admit though, I tied that fly right.  It never fell apart, even after being almost swallowed by most of the fish.  Around 9:00 pm fishing started to slow down so after one more fish I packed it up and went home.  My elbows and wrists were getting sore from all the fly casting today anyways.  I can always come back.

In the immortal words of Porky Pig….”That’s All Folks“.

 

Afterwards I drove around the park to watch the deer, just like Susan and I used to do.  There were about a dozen of them out, most with their summer cinnamon tan already.  No fawns yet, they are probably hunkered down somewhere safe from the resident coyotes.

Perfect way to end the weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Carp Flies? Seriously?

14 02 2017

Not to long ago a fellow fly tier and fisherman was putting together a carp fly swap.  At first I had no intention of signing up.  The only carp fishing I had ever done before was with an arrow.  I did take a class once on how to tie carp flies but that was over a year ago and haven’t tied one since.  He was coming up short by a few participants so I signed up.  I figured it would give me something to do while I was at the Columbus Fishing Expo.  So after a quick stop at Schultz’s Outfitters  , to pick up some hooks, I was set to tie.  Little did I know how popular this type of fishing has become.  As I was tying at the show, people kept buying the flies.  At one point I had to stop selling them because I was going to run out of enough material to tie the necessary 20 for the swap.  Eventually I got all 20 done and was even able to tie up a few more for myself.  The person in charge of the swap promised to take me out and show me what fly fishing for carp is all about.  If so, I’ll be sure to let everyone here know about it.

carp-flies

4 of 20

carp-fly-ii

Olive Version





Ribbet, Squeak.

31 05 2015

This weekend I had 3 goals to accomplish.   The first one was to smoke a pork shoulder.  I have never done this before so I was going to babysit my smoker while the pork shoulder was cooking.  Fortunately I have a remote thermometer so I wouldn’t have to literally watch the smoker 24/7.  This would allow me enough free time to tie up a bunch of Zudweg Zudbubblers and a foam version of a Moorish Mouse.

First up on the tying agenda would be the Zudbubblers.  I attended a Bar Fly night sponsored by Schultz’s Outfitters back in February. The guest tier for the evening was Matt Zudweg and he showed us how to tie his Zudbubbler.  This is a very simple pattern and the color schemes are endless.  As a matter of fact, Matt states that to get creative with the color scheme’s.  I plan on using these for top water bass both on The Huron and up at Sanford Lake.  I had ordered a bunch of the foam heads from Matt a few months ago now all I needed to do was tie them up.  I think they will work.

 

A Butt Load of Bubblers.

A Butt Load of Bubblers.

Next up were the mice.  Years ago I used to tie up deer hair mice for a fly fisherman to use up on the AuSable for big browns.  Foam flies were pretty much nonexistent back then but now the different patterns seem to be endless. Earlier this year I came across a video by the guys at Hook Shots on Facebook. The author showed a quick and easy recipe made with foam and rabbit strips that resembled a Moorish Mouse.  I was all for it since it met my requirements and a bonus feature.  It was cheap, easy, looked cool and it didn’t involve trimming deer hair, something I try to avoid whenever I can.  I tied a bunch up in different colors figuring I could use them for bass as well.  They should really shine though on a river where they can imitate a mouse that has fallen in and is trying to swim across, against the current.  I should be able to swing these as well.  We shall see.

Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Speedy, Jerry and that French one that was always outsmarting Klondyke Kat.

Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Speedy, Jerry and that French one that was always outsmarting Klondyke Kat.

 





The Tug is the Drug.

1 03 2015

6 Degrees

Brrrrrrr

Brrrrrrr

Sometimes I really have to question my sanity.  One of the reasons why I don’t like to ice fish is because of the cold and a fear of falling through the ice and getting wet.  So what do I decide to do?  Stand in a boat on an open river where the water temp was 32 degrees and my chance of falling in was even greater.  To top it off I was even paying for it.  To be fair though the guide did give me the option to reschedule.  I thought long and hard about it considering the area hadn’t seen a day above freezing all month.  I was surprised so much of the Muskegon river was even open.  The temp was supposed to get above 20 and I figured that since it had been so cold that the fish hadn’t seen a lot of pressure.  I was right about that but it also meant they were very lethargic and I would have to bounce that fly right off their nose.  Pretty tall task for someone who has yet to even hook into a Steelhead with a fly.

I met my guide Drew Rosema of Feenstra Guide Service at the Pine Street launch west of Croton Dam on the Muskegon River.  He already had the boat in the water and was letting the engine warm up.  I got my gear together and we were on our way downstream.  While we motored down he told me that he and Kevin Feenstra were out the day before and that they had some good opportunities.  Didn’t exactly know what that meant but after talking with him throughout the day I got the feeling they didn’t catch anything.  That wasn’t giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling and today I needed a few warm feelings.

Drew rigged up my rod for me and changed my leader around to allow for a better presentation.  He said the fish were kind of skittish and a lighter 8 pound leader would be better.  I wasn’t about to question him, what did I know?  After the leader was done he tied on a small olive colored darter pattern.  He told me that during the cold winter months a small natural fly works best.  So much for all those big gaudy flashy things I tied up.

Drew took my rod and gave me a quick instruction on the presentation.  Wouldn’t you know it, as he was letting the line feed out he had a hit.  The fish was only on for a second but it was definitely there.  He handed me the rod and told me what to do.  I only hoped the fish was still willing to hit again.  As luck would have it he wasn’t.  As a matter of fact 5 more hours would pass until I even saw a fish.  By now I was getting discouraged and cold.  Drew was trying every spot he knew, he was determined to get me into a fish.  As we were passing under a Bald Eagle Drew saw two steelhead on the bottom.  He told me we would swing back and take a shot at them after one last hole.  We anchored above the hole and I went through my routine once again.  Cast the fly perpendicular to the boat and let it drift back until it was directly behind the boat.  Drew would then lift the anchor and let the boat drift back a few feet and drop anchor so I could make another cast.  This was the same routing we did for 5 hours all afternoon.  It was 5:00 pm and I was thinking more about dinner and then it happened.

WHAM!!!!

That fish hit like a freight train and it caught me completely by surprise.  Instincts took over and I set that hook and let the fish run.  Drew was just as surprised as I was but soon we got our wits about us and the fight was on.  I had never dealt with a fish this large before on a fly rod and reel and I felt like a total rookie.  I’m used to spinning reels and disc drags, this was a little different.  The bend in the rod was going to control how much line was going to be let out when the fish decided to run and he did just that, run.  I stood there and just watched the fly line and then the backing peel off that reel.  Even worse was that we were at the head of a pool that turned into shallow rapids, an area we didn’t want him to go into.  I lifted back on the rod some more and that slowed him down.  As I was reeling I moved forward into the boat so that Drew could net him from the stern.  After a few more short runs near the boat I finally got him into position and into the net.

Mission Accomplished.  We kept him in the net and in the water while Drew got his camera ready.  A few pics later and he was carefully released to fight another day.

1st Steelhead

Drew asked if I wanted to end the day on a happy note and I agreed.  I wanted to land a fish on the swing and I did.  I was very appreciative of the fact that he was willing to stay out longer if I wanted to.  We were supposed to end at 4 and I was already running over.  Great to have a guide who is more concerned about the client catching a fish instead of the time.  We then pulled anchor and got ready for a very cold boat ride upstream.  We had drifted down several miles and it never really did warm up.  I don’t think it ever got above 20 and for most of the day and we were in the shade where it was even colder.  No matter though, I had my fish and I am hooked.  I asked why this method of fishing is so popular when there are more effective ways to catch a steelhead.  Drew told me the Tug is the Drug and now I know why.  Just like handlining that tug is addicting and I am just that……addicted.

If anyone is interested in fishing for Steelhead on the Swing contact the people at Schultz’s Outfitters for the rod and reel.

If you want to hire a guide to fish the Muskegon River I highly recommend the people at Feenstra Guide Service.  Drew was the best and I am already looking at my calendar for a return trip, sometime before walleye fishing starts back up again.  I’ll never give up my roots.





Flying Tiger of Steelhead Flies

10 02 2015
Flying Tiger

Flying Tiger

I think it needs more orange.

The other day I was in Schultz’s Outfitters and I saw a pack of tiger striped rabbit zonker strips.  I couldn’t help but think of all my Flying Tiger Spike Spoons and I started to wonder if I could make a steelhead equivalent.  I bought some orange guinea hen as well and put them all together.  The design is based on a Zudweg Wicked Leech.  His design is a pretty easy tie and the color combinations are endless.  Now all I have to do is to see if a steelhead will eat it.

 





Back at the Tying Bench Again.

1 02 2015

Well since Super Bowl Sunday turned out to be Super Snow Sunday I decided to sit at the bench again.  Figured it was the best place to be since I could care less about either team playing and the thought of shoveling snow was even less appealing.

This was actually the first day I have been tying in a few weeks.  I have attended a couple of tying nights, one at Sidetracks in Ypsi and another at a gentleman’s house in Rochester Hills.  Learned how to tie some more steelhead flies and a foam popper for bass.  New areas of tying for me but fortunately they are pretty simple patterns so the learning curve isn’t to bad.  Let me know what you think.

 

Still can't believe a Steelhead is going to eat something that small.

Still can’t believe a Steelhead is going to eat something that small.

Ribbit.

Ribbit.

Interesting design for this one.

Interesting design for this one.

Mayfly and stone

Zudweg Wicked Leech modified for the materials I have.

Zudweg Wicked Leech modified for the materials I have.

Zudweg Wicked Leech.

Zudweg Wicked Leech.