Category Archives: Water Type

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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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?

Coosa Maiden Voyage

IMG_2347
Jackson Coosa hits the water

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.

Any good reports from anybody else?