Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fly Brunch

There's a place in Bayview, Petoskey called Staffords Bayview Inn (I rent a lot from these people truth be told). They have a fabulous Sunday brunch. The bacon is thick cut, the fruit is fresh, the baked goods are hand made, thick and moist. The scrambled eggs never have that dried out crust. Ditto the hollandaise. They make your Belgian waffles while you wait. You walk up to the buffet tables and are lost for a moment. Where do you start? If I eat the eggs benedict will I have room for waffles? What about the Virginia ham and boutique sausage? Still, you have to saddle up and give it your best shot.

And that's how I feel right now about the fishing at home. We are finally in a stretch of steady warm weather with warm nights. The insects are popping all over the place and the trout are finally looking up. The weeds in the lakes are sprouting. And the fish everywhere are on a gluttonous rampage.

One interesting thing about this late spring is that several of the local steelhead runs just took off in the last week. I checked the Boyne River last week and it was full of fish. The downside is that when the run is this late it tends to be compressed, and the fish get very tight lipped. I fished another local stream on Memorial day, and despite seeing large numbers of fish I only  hooked up on a couple and didn't land any.

So here I stand poised at the brunch of fly fishing, surveying the tables. Over here the bluegills are in pre-spawn mode and ready to eat. The pike are in post-spawn mode and still up shallow while the water is still cold. The largemouth bass are also pre-spawn and ravenous.

But then there's the smallmouth bass fishing. Wilderness should be dynamite right now, but so is Grand Traverse Bay. If I go to Wilderness I can have a wild and lonely experience; if I go to GTB I can have a gourmet lunch.

The Hendrickson hatch is in full swing on the Au Sable; something I think I should try, but the brook trout in my local creeks are calling too. All the little pothole trout lakes still have good hatches with rising fish. It's like having to choose between three kinds of bacon.

And now that the nights have warmed up the mouse bite is going to turn on and will be fantastic until the Hex hatch.

Crap. The Hex hatch. Will I have time? What about all those patterns I promised myself I'd tie? I'd better get busy. And I need to wrap up that annoying side job before the hatch starts. I'm not missing a minute of it.

And what about carp? Oh the carp! They should be moving into shallow water any time. And didn't I promise myself I was going to catch a muskie this year? A walleye on the fly wouldn't be bad either. I can go for both on Crooked River right outside my door, at least until the boat traffic gets too bad. If I drop my bike at Mission road I can do an evening float down and pedal home. Or yo-yo the float since the current is quite negligible.

Every year I say I'm going to hit the sand flats on Burt and Mullet lakes for walleye, steelhead and browns- you know- sight fishing. I need to get on that. Wish I had a skiff. I'll check with my friend Brett and see if he is up for that.

And what about the UP? There's a dozen or more rivers there I promised myself I'd fish this year, and time is slipping away. Then there's the secret spots- rivers and lakes talked about in whispers, things I dare not say aloud in my prayers. Here There Be Tygers.

Should I go for big rock bass on the fly? Should I try to strip streamers for channel cats at Cheboygan River? Is there some way to get a Sturgeon to eat a fly? Cripe- the suckers are running. They can be a lot of fun. Of course there's lake trout and steelhead in the surf in Little Traverse Bay. I commute past it every day but I never stop. I guess I take it for granted.

So I stand here at the start of Fly Brunch, slack-jawed, eager and hungry. Everything is fresh and ready. At the end of summer I hope to stretch back and scratch my belly  and yawn, and try to remember what happened, savor every moment, every fish, every sunset, the laughter of my friends, and those moments spent cradling a fish in the water.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Monday Morning Coffee- May 19

Urrrrgggghhh! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat. It's Monday again. It must be time for coffee.

This is going to be a fishing report and forecast, so here goes.

This last weeks saw a return to chilly and unsettled weather, with rain all week and snow on Friday. That's right- snow. Not a lot, and it didn't stick around of course, but enough to be very irritating. Fishing was tough, but if you played your cards right you likely found some Hendricksons and maybe even a rising fish or two. Fish are starting to look up on the Central rivers- the Au Sable, Manistee and Pere Marquette, but not further north where I live.

This coming week looks to be a return to normal temps and steadier weather and should make for some stellar fishing. A lot of the hatches are weeks behind and all it will take is some warm days to start a feeding frenzy. Look for high water from the weeks of continuous rain.

With the late cool spring there are still steelhead throughout Michigan rivers- I see new photos daily in my social media. Some runs further north haven't even begun yet. This means the fishing is wide open. You can fish for steelhead, throw streamers for big browns, fish the Hendrickson hatch also for big browns, or target brook trout. Guys on the lakes are doing well on smallmouth now and this is the hot time for muskie and pike as well. It's a great time of year to be a fly angler in Michigan.

If you're coming up for the Memorial Day weekend definitely bring your rod and schedule some time on a lake or river. With forecast temps in the 70's the fishing should be off the charts.

The mushrooms are popping everywhere now and so that will occupy some of my attention this week as well. Go get you some. 

Well, that's all I have this week and the coffee is done. Have a great week. Let's get after it. 

Schultz Demo Days!

Demo Days are coming to Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti Michigan June 7 and 8.

Now there's demo days and there's demo days but Schultz Outfitters seems to have taken it to a new level. Shop owner Mike Schultz is a rock star of the Michigan fly world, and he's bringing in an all star line-up for this event. Not only will he have reps on site with all your favorite gear for you to try, but he also has a full roster of talent giving demonstrations and presentations.

Who? People like Cameron Mortenson of The Fiberglass Manifesto, Mike Schmidt of Angler's Choice Flies, April Vokey of Flygal Ventures, the Fish Whisperer himself Tommy Lynch, and muskie guru Chris Willen.

First the basics-

What: Schultz Outfitters' Demo Days

Where: Riverside Park in Ypsilanti Michigan

When: June 7,8- Saturday from 10-6 and Sunday from 10-5

This will be a very exciting event. According to owner Mike Schultz, “First and foremost, Demo Days is about sharing knowledge and a passion for the fly fishing lifestyle. We’re thrilled to be bring together some of the most innovative individuals and brands in the sport for two days of fun in Ypsilanti.”

Brands represented include Scientific Anglers, RIO and Far Bank, Temple Fork Outfitters, Orvis, Hatch reels and Simms to name a few. There are also more presenters, so be sure and check out the full line up at the Schultz Outfitters website or Facebook page. There will be special deals on gear and even a gear Trade Up program.

If you'll be in Southern Michigan at all that weekend make sure you head over and check it out.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Morning Coffee- May 5

Alex in action on Bigfoot Creek
Arrrrrrggggghhhhnnnnnppphhhhhh!!! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat- it’s Monday morning. It must be time for some coffee.

Well, the trout season here has been open for just over a week now. I hit Bigfoot Creek with Alex Cerveniak on opening day. We were just exploring really. We beat our way through a mile of the nastiest swamp and actually missed the creek where it joins the mainstream. We found a log hunting shack deep in the swamp before turning back and finding the creek. We didn’t find any fish, but it is still way too early for rising fish up here, and the cold spring is delaying the rise by a few more weeks.

Luckily we did some thinking outside the river and decided to hit a small local trout lake. We were the only ones fishing the lake despite the fact it was Opening Day. Michigan is dotted by little trout lakes that receive little to no fishing pressure. They mostly get hit by campers, cottagers and old duffers trolling cowbell’s. Most of the trout escape unharmed, and ignored by the Michigan fly fishing community in general.
Still life with oars

This is a shame because they offer some really good fishing. While the stream bite is struggling to get going there is a healthy midge hatch on these lakes that is well observed by the trout. We started catching stockers as soon as we launched (snooze) but the longer we fished the more we observed big whorls in the middle of the lake. I fished one of John Sheets' red quills with a black soft-hackle I tie, on a dropper. It was dynamite.

the hot fly

The key it seemed was to watch for steady activity and row toward it, but drift the final feet to within casting distance. Too much commotion would put the fish down. We missed a few fish at first. We were drifting into what looked like a pod of stockers. I was slowly retrieving my two fly rig when the dry dipped under the water. I respectable fish rolled on the surface then spent more than five minutes towing the boat in circles. It wasn’t huge, about 14 or 15 inches, but it was fat and very strong. My glass rod did a great job of protecting my light tippet.

one strong little fish

We got out again in the middle of the week. I raced to meet Alex after work. I didn’t have any gear with me. I landed a 14 and then a 16 inch trout, both fat and healthy and very strong. It was very exciting fishing, watching for pods of activity, rowing as quietly as possible so as not to put the fish down, then hoping against hope that you guessed the right direction the fish was going. Alex calls it carp fishing for trout.

After my second fish I handed the rod to Alex and got on the oars. It wasn’t his best day. He broke off three fish in a row. The bite was at its peak with fish rolling all around the boat. Some were big, doing these big dolphin rolls- first the snout, then the dorsal fin, then the tail slowly rolling out of the surface before sinking slowly back in.  Then it started to rain.

Alex with my big fish of the week

Mind you I had no rain gear and so I rowed for shore. The sky opened up, pouring several buckets of water on our heads, soaking me to the skin, the cold wind fighting every oar stroke. We reached shore and pulled up the boat. Alex stepped out and reached for his keys. The rain stopped. We waited. Nothing. Then small whorls appeared here and there on the surface, followed by bigger ones. We exchanged one glance and Alex pushed the boat back into the lake.

My coffee is gone and it’s time to go to work. Let’s get after it.

another beautiful lake fish

another reason to fish a lake
soft hackle strikes again
You can book a trip with Alex on his website- Northern Michigan Fly Fishing-