Category Archives: Fish

Fishing with Veterans

Dan - Vietnam VeteranI 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!

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Kayaking and Fishing with Kids and Teens

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.

Rachel on the Au Sable
Rachel on the Au Sable
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.

Guess what, she’ll go with me again.

Trout Opener 2015

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.

Jeff Nymphing
Jeff Nymphing

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.

Lessons learned:

  • 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.

Hobie Pro Angler Launched

I have been itching to get on the water since March. I love winter here in Michigan, but come March 1, it is time for spring. Alas, this year was not the case.

2015 Hobie Pro Angler 12 Launch
2015 Hobie Pro Angler 12 Launch

Even after picking up my Pro Angler, I could do little but work on it in the garage – unless I could use it as an ice cutter.

Today, it was in the 60’s, I was home, and I cut out of work at 5pm. I hit one of my go-to lakes – Lake Sixteen in Orion Township. Quick launch, and I was on the water.

First Bass in the Hobie PA
First Bass in the Hobie PA

I headed out to the east side of the island, cast out a dark clouser along the drop off, and caught a 9″ large mouth. It would turn out to be the only catch of the evening,

but it was nice to be on the water.

Other discoveries:

  • neoprene socks with the wading boots are perfect for launching in cold water. Even water that gets inside the sock is quickly warmed up.
  • the addition of the skeg on the 2015 PA really does change the tracking.
  • rudder controls on both sides makes fly line control much easier.
  • added a Magnetic Gear Grabbar Mini  on the box holder on the mid-hatch – perfect for flies to dry and keep from losing them!

Trout season opens next weekend! Make sure you have your new fishing license and check out the new regulations (bass season is now catch and release all year in most places!)

2015 Resolution #2: Fish New Water

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.
First bluegill caught on Sage Lake
First bluegill caught on Sage Lake

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.

Josh's Brookie
Josh’s Brookie

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?

2015 Resolution #1: Go Ice Fishing

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.
Josh Jigging on the ice
Josh Jigging on the ice

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.

My daughter and a friend sledding on the ice
My daughter and a friend sledding on the ice

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.

Lessons:
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.
Any ice fishing tips for me?

Michigan 2014 Fishing License

The trout opener is this weekend!

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!

See you on the water!

Michigan Fishing Season Dates 2014
Chart from Michigan DNR