I would like to introduce you to Don. Don is a Vietnam Veteran. He became a Ranger at the age of 17. He did a 34 month tour of Vietnam, something that is an accomplishment by itself. He left and came back to Special Forces and served until 1986.
I met Don today at an event put on by KFGL and Camp Liberty. The KFGL leadership got a bunch of us kayak anglers to bring extra kayaks and gear with us to spend some time on the water with other veterans. Don is a good fisherman (landed several bluegill and a perch when a lot of the crew wasn’t catching much), but had never fished in a kayak. I got the opportunity to put him in one of my Hobies.
It is a small gesture of thanks on our part for the service these veterans have done for us, our liberties, and our country. Getting the opportunity to listen to Don talk about his time serving, his time working outside the Army, his wife and kids, and the plans for when his wife retires at the end of this year.
I don’t have much else to say except thank you to guys like Don, Mark, Brian, and Mitch for serving us, and to their families who give up so much in letting them go.
Thank you Camp Liberty for providing us an opportunity to spend a beautiful day on the water with these veterans!
With it being Fathers Day Weekend, I thought this would be apropos…
I love to see parents who get their children out on the water at an early age. My son has been fishing with me since he was probably 4, fly fishing since 7, and paddling since about the same age. If he is free, he will go out with me, with other friends, or by himself. Here is how I developed that.
Start simple.If you are fishing, do it in a park setting where the child can quickly catch bluegill, and when they get bored, head over to the slides. When you catch a fish, let the child reel it in. Take pictures. Get them to touch the fish. Cheer them on. If you take your non-fishing spouse with you, they can then watch the child while you continue to fish more seriously. Do NOT abuse that though!
Plan trips carefully. When Josh started going on weekend trips with me, we would not fish for 10-12 hours a day. I would know what else is around such as museums, hiking, horse back riding, and ice cream. It is time with your son or daughter, so use it wisely. Do not frustrate them. Plan the more adventurous trips without them, and make sure to give your spouse a chance to take a trip that they want to enjoy. Oh yeah, bring lots of snacks and juice boxes!
Focus on safety. If you are in a boat, make sure that the child wears his/her PFD at all times (you should have yours on as well – set the example). Take the time to get one that fits well and is comfortable – the orange horse collars will just irritate them. If you are wading, make sure that she has waders that fit, a belt that is snug, and if necessary, attach a rope leash to them, and a PFD in water that you are not sure about. I have never used that, but know other dads who have<
Teach as you go. The Bible has a passage that says to teach them as you sit, walk, lie down, and rise (Deuteronomy 6:7). The same goes for life. As you rig your rod, teach the knots and the fly or lure that you are putting on. Explain the different types of fish. Talk about water safety. Pick up trash that you find and tell them about how to be a good steward of the environment.
Let them be kids! This means that you will be skipping rocks, looking for turtles, crayfish, getting wet and dirty (an extra set of clothes and a towel in the car is advisable). Don’t expect them to be able to pay attention for hours. When you go to the big box outdoor store or local bait shop, let them explore the fish tank, animal mounts, and bait sinks.
What you will discover is that as the years progress, you will be able to fish longer with them. The child will develop more confidence in the water and you will be able to let them venture out on their own. Do not force them. If they do not enjoy it, find other areas of interest to spend time with them.
I floated from Mio to McKinley on the Au Sable RIver just before Memorial Day with my 13 year old daughter. While she enjoys fishing with me, she enjoys the kayaking more. We fished the first half of the trip, wading at different points. Note that an inexperienced angler flyfishing from a kayak is not advisable. After our stop at Comins, she wanted to just paddle, so that is what we did. I had to put away the rod (passing up some beautiful streamer water!), and we talked and laughed as we paddled and explored.
The Michigan Trout Opener is almost as sacred as the opening day of deer season. Guides are booked, lodges are filled, fly lines are checked and cleaned, early season flies are tied and boxes are stocked, waders are patched, license is purchased, and weather is checked.
This is the first Michigan Trout Opener I have been able to fish in several years. Our church has a Men’s retreat on this weekend, and it has not been close enough to a river to fish for trout. This year we were in Lake City, so close to the Manistee River. With a couple other friends from the church, we planned our free time on the river.
We were over by the Sharon Bridges area, and decided to try the North Manistee Tributary just around the corner. We headed up stream and met the owner of that area rather quickly. This is where respect comes in handy.
There were no signs on the land around the bridge, so we were hiking up stream. JP came by and informed us we were on his land. I quickly apologized and said that we would stay in the river, though he said he owned both sides. As we talked, we found out why he was so anxious.
When we came out that morning, somebody had left a string of eight nice sized brookies on the bridge right there. Additionally, he and his neighbors have seen two deer carcasses in the past week hanging, stripped of meat. As he realized we were fly fishing, we struck up a good conversation, and by the end, we had permission to fish upstream from him as long as we respected the fish and his land. He even gave us a few tips for that area. Will moved one fish in that stretch.
We also fished the main river downstream of Sharon Bridge. Great scenery, but no fish. We talked with the fishermen in a couple drift boats which confirmed that it had been a tough day fishing, but all were happy that trout season was here.
We saw some caddis and a few hendricksons. Jeff is a new fly fisherman, and we had him nymphing and understanding his bugs.
Teaching a friend to fish on a beautiful spring Michigan day makes a fishless day
Seeing hendricksons still is exciting
Check out who owns the land around where you will fish
Be respectful of anyone you meet
A day on the water is always beautiful
Trout season is here! Plan some time to get on the water. If you want somebody to fish with or want to learn more, let me know! You can find me on the Paint Creek in southeastern Michigan or somewhere on the Au Sable in northern Michigan.
Aaron Rubel and I discussed the need for constantly looking for new water to fish last year. It challenges you to see how good of a fisherman you really are, exploring new water, trying new techniques, and often meeting new people. I didn’t make it an official resolution for 2014, though I did fish several new areas.
Sage Lake – this is about 8 miles east of Lewiston off 612. It is a remote lake with a boat launch, but you won’t be launching much bigger than a jon boat or rowboat with a trolling motor. My son discovered this in May with some friends, and I took my kayaks out several times between Memorial Day and the end of September. The first fish I took was a bluegill that slammed harder than most bass. Throughout the summer I caught lots of panfish and several bass. There is a lot of fallen timber, shallow weed beds teeming with bass, and a large dropoff area. It extends quite a ways in both directions, and I have more exploring to do here.
South Branch of the Au Sable – this is new water in the sense that Josh and I took our kayaks from Chase Bridge to Smith Bridge on an all day float in September. This is the famous Mason Tract area that is very primitive. I have only ever waded this stretch before, and only select parts. While wadeable in summer, there are stretches that are really only safe by boat. Josh I both took nice brook trout. While not a fast river, especially later in the season, this river is not for a beginner kayaker, mostly because of the narrow stretches and numerous log jams. Beautiful water that is a trout fisherman’s dream.
Lake Huron – I don’t think I chose a great point to go in, and it was a windy day. Kayaking was tough, and it is amazing how motor boat drivers can be inconsiderate, even when they see you. I threw a variety of clouser minnows at various depths, while Josh had his spin rod with spoons and other jigs. It was also July 4th weekend, so we did not see any fish activity.
This year I have McCormick Lake on my to-fish list (this is north of Lewiston and where the neighbor caught rainbow trout while ice fishing) and am looking to branch out to a few other rivers with the kayak. Likely the Huron in southeast Michigan for smallmouth. I am also looking at going to the UP to fish musky on the fly with Jon Ray of Hawkins Outfitters in September.
Any other recommendations? Where do you want to fish this year?
As many others did, I spent some time over the holidays thinking about this past year and what I want to do differently in the next. I like to apply my resolutions to more than just losing weight and cleaning my house. In that spirit, I will put some down in the next few weeks here in the blog related to fishing.
Recently my son expressed an interest in ice fishing. In over 20 years of being in Michigan, I have never engaged in this type of fishing. How can anybody call himself a Michigan angler and never have ice fished?
So on January 1 and 2, we respooled my father-in-law’s old rods, rigged a tip up, put everything in a sled, and walked down to Moon Lake. We chose it because it is close, easy to walk around on, and having fished it frequently, we know where the many drop offs are.
January 1 was cloudy and 25 F, with winds of 20 MPH gusting to around 30, causing a windchill of -10 to -20 F. The ice was around 6-8” thick. January 2 was partly sunny with some lake effect snow, minimal winds, and a temperature around 25 F.
If you know me, the cold doesn’t bother me anyway. I have done my share of steelheading, including in the heavy snow (see Aaron Rubel’s 23” brown story). But I will be honest, I am an active fisherman, so ice fishing with tip ups, even jigging, reminded me of why I got into fly fishing. It felt like bobber fishing with a night crawler, and to me, is about as much fun as watching paint dry. I would rather stand in a river in a blizzard swinging streamers.
We tried several different holes around the lake, and only had one tipup go, but the minnow at the end didn’t seem to have been touched. Other than that, no action. My daughter and her friend had a sled with them on the ice that they slid around with and had a great time. I even took a few slides.
1. Do more research to know where and how to fish through the ice.
2. Better yet, find somebody who really knows how to do it. Our neighbor caught a couple of rainbows on another lake the same day we were out, but even those surprised him.
3. Don’t forget the dipper. We made due with the auger blade protector the first day, and made sure to remember it the second.
We did enjoy our time together outside, so it was definitely not wasted. I need some help to understand the allure of the sport.
Have you bought your 2014 Michigan Fishing License? Your 2013 license was only good until March 31, 2014.
Many changes have occurred for the 2014 license year that began March 2014. You can read about them on the Michigan DNR website.
The biggest change for residents is the removal of the restricted fishing license. All licensing is now all-species, meaning you can fish for trout or salmon.
Another change I discovered is the removal of the voluntary youth fishing license. The cost was minimal – $2 plus a Michigan Sportsman license if they did not already have one. The great thing was that the state would receive around $8 back from the federal government for each of those licenses, so it was a great way to raise funds for the resource.
So head out to your favorite retailer or do it online. I like the online offer – I print 3 copies – 1 for my trout pack, 1 for my kayak pack, and 1 in case I lose one of the other two. Sign, laminate, and go.
Without a license, you can only fish June 7, 8 this summer for free!
I finally got a chance to get the Jackson Coosa in the water! At least in the lower part of the state, the ice is gone (Lake Superior is still 63% iced). It was in the 70’s today and I couldn’t pass it up.
I grabbed a fly rod and headed over to Lake Sixteen, a local lake in Lake Orion. It is usually only used by kayaks, canoes, and rowboats – no gas motors.
My report: my kayak stroke is weak, my fly casting was abysmal, I didn’t find any fish, but I was glad for the opportunity to be on the water again.
Sometimes the fishing is hard. You use all your skills, favorite lures, hit the best holes, everything that has worked before, and you catch nothing.
Last summer was that way. I had a great spring trout fishing and early season bass was productive, but by mid-June, not much was being caught by anybody I knew. The weather had cooled down and the patterns were crazy.
The last week of June, we rented a pontoon boat with extended family, 9 people tooling about East Twin Lake in Lewiston. It was a beautiful day, albeit cool. We had spin rods and my fly rod, night-crawlers, jigs, poppers and Clouser minnow patterns. Beyond a couple of perch, nothing much was happening anywhere – not deep, shallow, docks, or shore cover.
Towards dinner time, we just let the boat drift and it headed into the shallows. I had seen some fish tailing up in the shallows, but not regularly. There was not much cover, algae, or a major drop off.
I saw one tail about 50′ off the bow. I started my false casts and let it drop – 10′ short. But from experience I have learned that you strip anyway – you never know what may hit. Two strips in and something hit.
As he flew out of the water on a jump, everybody in the boat sat up to watch. Fishing my 6 wt, I could not horse him in, which made for a fun fight. Lipped him to the deck so we could get this photo.
21″ of beauty on a slow day. I can’t complain about that.
And my wife’s comment? “Wow, you really do catch big fish!”
But even without that fish, I spent time with family relaxing on the water. Sometimes it really is more about the fishing than the actual catching.
If you are reading this, you have some interest in the outdoors. My question to you is “How are you improving your favorite area?”
Here in Michigan, it has not been above freezing many days since Christmas. There is an 18″ snow base in my back yard. Paint Creek is completely frozen over. What good can I do outside beyond sledding, skiing, or snowmobiling?
While many scheduled winter projects have been rescheduled or cancelled this year, that has not stopped the planning.
Last night my wife and I attended a Clinton River Watershed Council volunteer dinner for an ongoing project called the Clinton River Coldwater Conservation Project. Over the past 10 years volunteers have mapped out sections of the Paint Creek and Clinton River, assisting the DNR in their studies and promoting fishing and kayaking on the resources. It has also done stream restoration and access points for fishermen, kayaking, and trail enthusiasts. The presentations last night showed the work done in Rochester Park last year and highlighted the upcoming projects being planned.
This weekend is the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo here in southeastern Michigan. Along with all of the vendors, many conservation groups will be there promoting awareness of the various watersheds throughout Michigan.
I would encourage you to find a conservation group in your area and volunteer your time with them. Many of them have different types of fundraisers. Money is always welcome, but there is a joy in seeing something that your sweat helped clean up.
Here are some southeastern Michigan groups. Many of them are fishing related, but there are many trails and watershed councils throughout the state. If you cannot find something in your area, leave a comment below and I will help you out.