Friday, May 20, 2016

Memorial day and bass fishing

This is the second year I'll be attending the annual get together of the Michigan Virginia Mafia, better known to this group of characters as the MVM.
For the past 10 or 12 years the same guys have been getting together to fish Lake St. Clair and it's smallmouth bass, all catch and release.
Members include Marke Cicero, John "Mini" Maniaci, Bill "Mac" McElroy, Scott Hammer, Carlos "C" Hathcock III and Shawn Dalton.
The late Ken Neeley, owner of KD Outdoors in Waterford is considered a member and throughout the week is honored and well thought of by the group.
This gathering includes lots of good food, plenty to wash it down with, great humor, lots of fishing stories and remembering those that are no longer with us.
It's absolutely held at the right time, right around this countries Memorial Day celebrations where we remember those that have given everything for all of us.
Butch Runyon pictured with his dad's WWII canteen cup.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Magical trout opener

On the Manistee River, about 45 minutes toward late afternoon turned out to be magical. Until then, the wind was blowing upstream or from the south. It blew steady and chilly.
We woke up to temperatures in the low 30-degree range. No one was in a hurry to get dressed for a go with the long rod.
Following breakfast, I head to Frederic to see old friend, fly fishing guide and fly tyer Sam Surre. I was daily confident he would be at home, holding court to friends about all things fly fishing and other subjects.
"The weather has thrown everything off," Surre said. He was referring to warmer weather several weeks earlier that had triggered a good hatch of bugs. Colder weather put a stop to that, driving bugs away and trout that weren't interested in rising for the sake of rising.
Surre feels things should improve later this week. "Warmer weather is supposed to come in later in the week which should turn things on again," he said.
About 3p.m. Rob Ward and his buddy since high school days Andy Gordon began making noises about suiting up to fish.
A few minutes after they got into the river, I walked down to see how they were doing. "There's a hatch right now," Rob said as he set the hook and missed a fish. "I've caught three right here," he said.
I got into waders and rigged up my 3-weight with a tiny olive on it. As soon as I was in the river I noticed fish rising all around me but they didn't want my fly.
I'm not good at insect identification or fly identification. If someone asks what I'm using I usually hold it up for them to see or say, "one of those little ones that's grey and black."
Although I lack in certain areas, I have paid attention and from Surre how to approach feeding fish.
I noticed a lot of bugs in the air, some dipping down to the water surface. I thought those were Hendrickson's or Hennies as the more experienced refer to them.
Taking the fly off that wasn't attracting any hits, I luckily found a small Hendrickson imitation of some kind. No sooner had a begun fishing it than I began getting trout rising to it.
As I was fishing an active trout, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a huge fish, probably over 15-inches clear the water after a bug.
Surre's lessons began paying off. Slowly and carefully I moved downstream stopping above where I had seen the rise.
After a least a dozen casts I finally manage a drift right into the lunch room of the fish I had been watching. He went for it and i set the hook. Feeling a good strong pull I thought for sure I had him.
However, he thought otherwise spitting the hook right back out. So goes the trials of fishing. That's why it's not called catching.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fly fishing-not so mysteriousg

Instead of grabbing your favorite spring or bait casting rig, how about taking one of the long rods along on your next fishing trip?
Granted, it will take experience, the right kind of flies and some luck to get a limit of walleye on a fly rod, but there are other fish that are willing to hit or be caught.
For instance, fly rods and some form of topwater bait were made for panfish, especially in and around weeds.
At the end of your tippet or leader, tie in a small foam-bodied spider or something else that has long, shimmering, rubber legs.
Don't bother with false casting-swinging the fly back and forth in the air before delivering it-rather, make your cast and follow your line and bait to the top of the water with your rod tip.
Matt Beukema looks for a spot to through a bug-by Beukema
Take in any slack and let everything sit still for a moment. Sometimes, the bite happens as soon as the bait hits the surface of the water.
If you haven't had a strike, begin twitching the bait slight by snapping the rod tip a little, very little. There's enough action in a fly rod to really move something as small as a tiny bug without much effort.
Or you can take the line in the opposite hand from the one holding the rod and give it slight tugs. This too will add action.
Watch the bait carefully and be ready to set the hook when it goes under or you see a splash near it. Usually fish won't inhale your bait, rather they get it stuck in the lip or mouth where it's easy to extract.
Once a fish is on, no matter the size, it will put a bend in the rod and make the business end jump around like a five-pound bass had gotten it.
If you worry about fish swallowing the bait, grind the barbs off a few. That will make for a quicker and easier release.
For some "dinking around action" give a fly rod a try. You'll definitely have some action.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Leave wildlife in the wild

Good advice for any of you planning on being outside, especially in fields and woods. Birds are building nests and busy finding mates.
Waterfowl are busy strutting around marsh areas looking for likely nesting spots that will conceal babies but not too far from water for swim lessons.
Young deer, fawns, are animals most likely to be picked up by humans and brought home to be hand-raised.
By trying to do the right thing when it comes to nature, we often wind up doing the exact opposite. Those nests with young birds are fine. Parents are off searching for bugs, worms or seeds to feed the little ones with.
Does leave for most of the day leaving their fawns alone while the mothers feed. By staying away and not going in and out of the nesting place, does aren't likely to leave their scent which attracts predators.
The best advice is to leave that baby bird where you found it and get out of an area where a fawn was left.
You'll be offering them better protection.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Fly-Fishing Expo coming March 12-13

The Macomb Community College and Expo Center in Warren hosts the 2016 Midwest Fly-Fishing Expo, the oldest all fly-fishing show east of the Mississippi. The annual event is hosted by the Livonia-based Michigan Fly Fishing Club.  The Macomb Community College Sports & Expo Center is located at 14500 E. 12 Mile Rd. in Warren.  Admission is $10 per person; boys and girls age 16 and under are free. Two-day tickets are $15.  Parking is free.
“Our cast of headliners brings a blend of familiar names and newcomers,” said Expo Chairman Joe Sprys.  “Joe Humphreys leaves us in awe every time we see him.
"Ed Engle knows how to elicit a strike from even the most finicky fish.   Jeff Currier is blessed with the skills of a truly outstanding teacher.  Skip Morris is a walking encyclopedia of fly patterns and insights into how to fish those patterns.
"And Jason Randall brings volumes of knowledge from observing trout in their native habitats and is able to make that knowledge accessible to the rest of us.”
 The show will feature dozens of free seminars about fly fishing techniques, fly tying and fly fishing destinations and bring together more than 100 exhibitors, including dozens of fly tiers, rod builders, artists, guides, outfitters and conservation organizations.   “Many of our exhibitors hail from Michigan and Ohio.
"We’ve also got outfitters, guides, artisans and artists from places like Washington State, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut and Maine, as well as several from Ontario,” he said.
Humphreys has taught fly fishing for more than 40 years and still loves to share his insights.  In fact, he is the subject of a documentary – “Live the Stream” – currently in production.  The film focuses on Humphreys’ lifelong journey to share the sport he loves while inspiring a greater respect for his home waters near Penn State.
In the course of his more than four decades teaching fly fishing, he spent 19 years directing Penn State's angling program, succeeding the legendary George Harvey.  Some high-profile pupils include former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Richard Cheney, and retired basketball coach Bobby Knight. He currently teaches a weekend course at the Yellow Breeches Creek at Boiling Springs, PA, hosted by the Allenberry Resort located directly on the creek.
This is a good opportunity to gain exposure to fly fishing and tying. It's a chance to rub elbows with some of the best in this sport and make plans for the upcoming trout season.

Matt Beukema limbering up the long rod on the Mason Tract, south branch of the AuSable River.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More ice at Houghton Lake

"We've got good ice up here," Team Gunsmoke guide Brandon Stanton said when I called him about ice conditions for the second gathering of Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation School.
Once we got on the ice just before sun up Sunday, I saw what he meant. We had a good 12-inches of solid ice.
Due to the recent warm weather coupled with rain, Oakland County lakes haven't been in any condition to consider fishing them through the ice.
To top it off, a tragic accident involving a dad and his 4-year-old son should have driven the message home to any of you still thinking you know more than Mother Nature.
Ask any dive team, fire department or safety expert when is ice safe. They all will tell you that no ice is safe.
Remember that the next time you strap on the creepers, strap your auger to your sled and begin pulling everything out.
Because continuous cold weather has held in the northern part of the state, Houghton Lake had good, solid ice.
Originally, this school was set for Saginaw Bay going out of Linwood Beach Marina. Once reports were received that the wind had blown what ice there was out into the Bay, plan B was put into affect.
Stanton, from Elkton and very familiar with the workings of the Bay checked things out near Caseville.
The ice seemed good so plans were made to house, feed and get everyone launched from that area. That is until warm winds broke the remaining ice up making it impossible to fish.
Plan C was put into affect and in no time officials at Houghton Lake had come through with a fantastic program, probably one of the best in the 25 years I've been attending this program.
Local businesses; lodging, meals, launch site and storage area for trailers and snowmobiles were ready to go in less than a day.
To say Houghton Lake welcomed the school with open arms is an understatement. Students as well as staff were complimentary of the facilities and services.
If you're interested in attending Martin's third and final school at Little Bay de Noc March 12-15, go to for registration information.
Brandon Stanton preparing to release a short Hougton Lake fish. By Beukema

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stay warm on the ice with Otter fish shacks

Mike Schneider, a pro staffer with Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation Schools is always on the move. Besides driving his snowmobile onto the ice at Lake Cities Lake Missaukee, he's constantly checking his GPS and Navionics lake map to be sure he is on the spot he wants to be.
Once on the spot, he takes no time in setting up his Otter style Cottage fish shack. The Otter line of portable shanties is different from any other I've fished in.
First, they go up easy and quick which means a lot when it's bitter cold and windy. The place you want to be is inside something with walls to block the wind and provide some warmth.
All Otter models provide warmth through a unique blending of seamless stitching and insulation.
If you think a portable shanty can't be insulated you haven't sat in an Otter.
The insulation not only makes it warmer than non-insulated shacks, but the noise of wind blowing and other machines passing by is muffled.
Once holes are cut to fish from or hang electronics, light your propane heater, be sure the door is closed and zipped, then sit down on one of the bucket or bench seats.
In a matter of minutes you'll be looking around for a place to hang your heavy Ice Armor coat because the warm temperature doesn't take long to make the shack comfy.
Because of a unique sewing method, there are no outside seems to leaks or allow wind in. These Otters are tight.
But back to Schneider. Once he has the shack up, holes drilled and cleaned and heater running, he's on to rods, which lure to use and bait selection.
"Keep it just off the bottom," he says, "then jig softly and let it sit for a minute." Constantly observing and offering constructive suggestions, Schneider feels one of his objectives should be putting students on fish.
But sometimes the fish don't cooperate no matter the experience, type of lure or method of presentation. That's another reason it's called fishing.
In my opinion, Mike Schneider is one of the top pro staffers who constantly makes it his business to see  to it that students are comfortable with what they are doing, know why they do it, and correcting any of the mistakes they make.
Martin's net ice fishing school is set for Saginaw Bay, February 7-10. If you go, ask for Schneider to be your guide.  You'll learn a lot and won't be sorry.
Visist www.markmartisicefishingvacation

Mike Schneider pointing out one of Otter's new Dome shacks. by Beukema