Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One Good Fish

I'm not much into trip reports, but why let Facebook get all the traffic? So I'm posting today's success here.

It was a gorgeous afternoon, about 40 degrees, which set the snowbanks to melting. With all the fresh run off I knew there would be fish to be found. Now that the sun doesn't set until 8 PM there's plenty of time to drive to a river and get some fishing in. Long story short, I hooked up on this fish in the first five minutes and that was all, but it was a beautiful evening and I had the place to myself. I've gotten blanked a lot lately while fishing and so it was nice to finally get a good fish. Not huge, but a hard fighter, and it lifted my mood immeasurably. JT

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Morning Coffee- March 25

Uuuuurrrrrggggghhhhhh. . . . auph! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat. Is it Monday already? Durn. Time to put on some coffee I guess.

Well, the story this last week was the three day storm and lake effect blow we had that dumped 20 more inches of snow and made life feel like an episode from Ice Road Truckers. This winter has been tenaciously hanging on, and all I can do is repeat what I've said before about it being good for the rivers, orchards and morels. We usually have some snow left at this time, but this year we pretty much have 100% of our snow pack going into April, which should make for a pretty interesting spring run-off.

The good news is that the steelhead are in the rivers if you're willing to make some tracks in the snow. The run is still building, but so is pressure, and the next week could be the best fishing of the year, but the opportunity to have the river to yourself is pretty much gone. Spring fever and warming temperatures are starting to drive fishermen outdoors, and the failing ice will be driving them off of the lakes soon. I got out yesterday with my friend Tom Menas again. I got blanked on an early hook-up, and Tom hooked up on a decent fish a little while later. There were a lot of tracks in the snow, and I think the elbows are just going to get sharper over the next few weeks.

Tom with a good fish

What else? I've been working on improving my tying lately. I cranked out a bunch of conehead Madonnas last week in order to work on my deer hair spinning and proportion techniques. They're a very effective streamer that is super simple to tie, meaning that I can repeatedly spin and shave hair. I'm not there yet, but better. Zach Ginop showed me how to hold my razor in place and rotate the vise. It gives a much more consistent shave than I can do by hand. I still can't get the collars uniform, and some of the heads are monstrous, but the fun thing about tying for myself is I know they don't have to be perfect to catch fish. It's a brown trout's mission in life to eat all the freaks and deformed and crippled fish, so I figure my bad tying only ups my odds of success. I pity guys like Mike Schmidt, Dave Hosler and Matt Erny who can tie such perfect baitfish imitations and have them be consistent tie after tie. Brown trout look at those perfect flies and pass instinctively on such healthy and fit specimens. When they see my odd colored, big-headed lurching critters spinning through the water like a propeller blade they not only know that it's an easy meal, but that it's their job to do the right thing and put it out of its misery- The Law of the Jungle. It's for this very reason that I have no intention of improving my tying too rapidly.

Matt Erny's Grizzly Archer

Dave Hosler's Chewee
my unshaven Madonna. So accurate.

What's to look forward to this week? Rumor has it that Brandon Robinson (OneBugIsFake) will be making his way north for a little fishing and kayak sledding on the weekend. Whether this leads to fish or to the intensive care unit remains to be seen.

Well, I'm almost finished with my coffee and it's time to go to work. Have a great week!

Let's get after it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Madness

As we all know, Punxsutawney Phil has turned out to be a terrible, filthy fraud whose grifting has been fully exposed by the continued snow and cold. Good riddance to bad rubbish I say. We've had a total of 3 warmish days this month, and the rest has been cold hard winter with no real break in sight until the very end of the month. While March is statistically the second snowiest month of the year here, normally by this time we're starting to see some balmier temps and receding snow banks. Instead we've experienced single digit lows, 20 degree highs, and are currently in the midst of a 3 day blow that piled a 3 foot drift in my driveway yesterday.

The general mood here verges on venomous.

Now, I always hate the general griping that goes on about the weather here. It's the local sport. In February I was hearing people complain about how sick they were of winter- February! But at this point I'm starting to sympathize. We should have at least had maple syrup weather by now. You know, frosty nights but with warming sunny days in the forties that makes the sap run like mad. It makes the steelhead run like mad also.

Instead of complaining myself, I wish to share some fish porn and a little preview of what's to come. Buck up little camper.

Tom Menas mit hen
I fished with friends Tom Menas and Zach Ginop Sunday and we came up with this fish. It was a bitterly cold day, and the bluebird skies had shut down the bite. We got this one at dusk. There are fish to be had if you are willing to put in the work.

Here's a little spring preview to warm you up. This will all be here before you know it. The good news is that this extended cold will make for excellent spring fishing and morel hunting, and it should help stave off the drought we experienced last year.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Morning Coffee- March 18 2013

Aaaauuuuuchhhhh! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat.

What the what? Monday Morning Coffee? Is it back?

Well, it never really went away- I didn't officially retire it or anything, I just decided I wasn't going to do it every week if I had nothing of note to share. I'm not sure this one makes the cut either, but here goes.

Well, I've accepted a job as a guide for Boyne Outfitters starting this spring. I've worked fall and winter in the shop and as a fly tying "instructor". I add the quotes to acknowledge that I am only instructing rank beginners- my tying is still rudimentary. While we offer float trips and even private water, I will try to focus on walk and wade trips. We will also be guiding at Hidden River Golf and Casting Club which has some premier Northern Michigan fishing, and the waters I learned to fly fish on. My grandparents place still sits on the edge of the golf course, there for 25 years before the golf course came into being. Needless to say, this water holds a lot of memories for me, and I'm looking forward to guiding it. This now means that if you want to fish with that Fontinalis guy, you can book me through our shop and I have NO CHOICE but to fish with you. If you're seeking to settle a score then don't tip me.

I've also been invited to join the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association or MOWA, an invitation I'm very happy to accept. Their next get together is in May in the Algoma District of Canada, very close to me and home to one of the highest concentrations of brook trout anywhere, so I'm hoping to attend and pursue my favorite fish.

You may have noticed that it has been relatively quiet here at FR lately, but don't worry, I'm not going anywhere soon. If you look to the right at the Jealousy Counter you'll see I haven't been fishing much this winter either, and thus don't have many fish pics and stories to share. This has been a cold snowy winter unlike last year, and so the fishing has been slow and difficult. I've established here that I'm not hardcore. I did manage to hook up on a 5 pound steelhead last week when it warmed up for a day, but it came unpinned after a rookie mistake on my part. My friend Tom Menas picked up a nice hen last night, so there's definitely fish around if you're willing to put up with the cold. The near forecast is for continued snow and cold, but we will definitely warm up by the end of the month, and the steelhead fishing will be off the charts for a few weeks after that until the first of May. Even later if I want to hit the UP or Ontario.

Tom's fish

Another reason for the quiet is that I've started work on a book, most of which will be material from Fontinalis Rising, but with some original stories and content as well as some of the posts edited or re-written. At the current rate I'm going at it will be several months before it's finished, but I will of course let you know when it's out.

I have managed to get a couple of posts up over the weekend, so be sure and check them out.

Well, I promised myself I was going to keep this short. Coffee is almost done and it's time to get to work.

Let's get after it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Trout Magee Cinema

I am here sharing a video of one Trout Magee doing some early season fishing in Wisconsin's Driftless area, his home waters. I don't know why but I really enjoyed this. He catches some very nice rainbows and browns, and it's all set to a very pleasant soundtrack. Mr. Magee demonstrates some mean chops and his love of fishing definitely comes through in the video. (For one thing he's doing this in the snow.)

A lot of you know him from his blog The Catching Chronicles, but if you don't, you can read his original post here. He is a great fisherman and photographer, and his site is well worth spending some time on.

Share and enjoy!

"Winter is Just Not Over"

So says the guy in the video on The Weather Channel website, and it's true. Today's highs were in the 20's despite the intense sunshine. The overnight lows were much colder.

One thing that must be accepted without question, is that March is a winter month. I don't know why, but northern Michiganders just can't seem to accept this.

Maybe it's the snowbird tradition, all those Michigan people who head to Florida for the winter, but I don't think so, since its still such a small minority who actually do this. Don't get me wrong- snowbirding is a strong Michigan tradition but most of us have real lives with jobs, kids in school, and TV shows to watch.

Maybe we get spoiled from time to time, like last year when temps this time were in the 80's. Global warming I say, but what do I know. This year the warming has cooled off. Despite warm temps and heavy rain early in the week, our snow and ice pack are firmly in place, and Arctic air has again firmly clamped its fist down on Northern Michigan.

Here's what I know- that the continued cold, snow and bluster is good for our trout streams, good for our fisheries, good for our Great Lakes. Warm spring weather with a sudden runoff is bad- that stockpile of snow rushes into the rivers and is gone quickly, leaving the ground dry and the rivers low. A slow gradual melt like we are having this year keeps the rivers high but not flooded, and allows the snowmelt to sink gradually deep into the ground, feeding the aquifers and keeping the rivers full and cold well into June, and in some years into July. After last years record setting heat, in which many of our trout streams were unfishable because of warm water by the end of June, I am secretly pleased that this year March is very firmly a winter month

So while everyone else is complaining about winter and the continued snow and cold, I'm not.

Bring on the cold.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

10 Ways to Know You've Gouged an Eye Out

There are times when you really need to know the answer to the question "Have I gouged out one of my eyes?"

The answer may not be as apparent as it seems- we all lead busy lives. Sometimes it's helpful to have a checklist. Some people have gone many years without realizing they were one-eyed. Some people can't figure out that the gaping, angry, seeping hole in their skull isn't their mouth or nose.

So I'd like to help out a little with a mere ten ways to know you've gouged an eye out.

1. If you're looking straight ahead but can still see the ground at your feet you've probably got a dangler.

2. If you're walking through the woods and then come across an eyeball on a tree limb, and then after counting your eyes several times you still only get to 1, it's probably yours. Unless you knew about this condition for several years. If the eye is human you had better dial 911.

3. If you've just put your contact lenses in but still have one left over, you had better check the floor.

4. If the tennis ball your dog is licking, all too vigorously, lacks the usual scruff but has some tendrils off the back end. And if it happens to be your eye color.

5. If your friends can look you in the eye. Literally.

6. If you've sat through lunch with Sarah Jessica Parker, and despite cleaning up your plate something is staring back at you. And it's not SJP if you know what I mean.

7. If you got a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Technically you didn't gouge it out, but the result was the same. I want to thank Matt Svoboda personally for this one. Pssst- kids- it's time to sue your parents.

8. You're watching the closing credits of a Twilight movie with eyes half-closed, only to realize that half your eyes are closed.

9. Britney Spears. Disney. Sequestration. I know, that's three things, and you had better start counting your ocular options. If you have a particularly strong constitution it goes like this: grit your teeth, grab a spoon; use it.

10. If you have seamlessly roll-cast your dry fly and it sinks with a plop and something that is not your crotch starts to burn.

There are other ways to tell if you've gouged an eye out, but I haven't spent enough time here in Guantanamo.