Tag Archives: Michigan

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.

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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?

Ice Dam Caution (DNR Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 7, 2015

Contact: Kyle Kruger, 989-826-3211 (ext. 7073); Gary Whelan, 517-284-5840
or Ed Golder517-284-5815

DNR cautions anglers about ice dams, sudden changes in river flow during wintertime fishing

The Department of Natural Resources urges anglers to use caution when planning trips on Michigan’s rivers and streams this winter. Winter fishing for trout and steelhead can be challenging and rewarding, but cold air temperatures can cause sudden and significant changes in flows in rivers and streams.

According to DNR fisheries biologist Kyle Kruger, temperature effects are most pronounced at times of very cold air temperatures, particularly below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if areas with extreme nighttime cold temperatures alternate with warmer days.

“When nights are very cold and clear, rivers can see extensive freezing and often ice dams form,” Kruger said. “These dams cause water to back up the streams, reducing flow downstream, and can be quickly released if temperatures rise above freezing during the daytime hours. This can cause unpredictable and often sudden flow changes.”

Kruger said this phenomenon is noticeable on the middle to lower Au Sable River in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. “The middle Au Sable River is particularly susceptible to the influences of cold weather, more so than some of the state’s other winter steelhead streams,” he added.

Extensive ice damming and anchor ice formation can occur below Mio Dam (Oscoda County), particularly in the area around McKinley, during periods when air temperatures are below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, these ice-damming events cause unusually low flows to be seen below Foote Dam (Iosco County).

“We want anglers to remember that the colder the weather, the more unpredictable flows will be in some of Michigan’s rivers,” Kruger said. “Please use appropriate caution if you’re planning fishing trips during these periods.”

DNR fisheries staff strongly recommends that when planning for a winter fishing trip to one of the state’s streams, anglers should check on river conditions and weather forecasts locally. Air temperatures below 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit are likely to create conditions for more difficult fishing, particularly from a boat.

Flow and water temperature data for many of Michigan’s larger steelhead streams have real-time gauges which can be checked online through the U.S. Geological Survey. There also are many weather-related websites that can provide forecasts for anticipated air temperatures that can help you better plan for expected conditions.

Take advantage of Michigan’s world-class fishing opportunities – even in winter! Start planning a trip atwww.michigan.gov/fishing.

 

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?

Volunteering Outside

If you are reading this, you have some interest in the outdoors. My question to you is “How are you improving your favorite area?”

Paint Creek Trail Access Point just down from Tienken. Jason C Davis Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited
Paint Creek Stair Project in February 2014

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.

Paint Creek Stairs
Stairs and streambank improvement on the Paint Creek

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.

Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited
Vanguard Chapter Trout Unlimited
Challenge Chapter Trout Unlimited
Paul Young Chapter Trout Unlimited
Clinton River Watershed Council
Friends of the Paint Creek Trail
Michigan Steelheaders
International Federation of Fly Fishers

Anglers of the Au Sable
Michigan Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited