Friday, April 30, 2010

Fishing Memories

While this week's column dealt with the school of birding at Nettie Bay Lodge, son Matt and I were enjoying bird watching while throwing flies to small trout.
Fishing the South Branch of the AuSable River, we waded in thin water after equally thin fish. Bugs were hatching all over the place. Could they be hendricksons, caddis or something else? I'm at a loss with bug ID and equally at a loss with fly selection.
I'm one of those that ties on something that looks good to me and start fishing it. Matt picked right up where he left off over ten years ago.
He learned wading and fly casting at the hand of the late Frank Love, guide, but more importantly, a great friend. The two would spend hours talking about fishing, life, and more fishing.
The good thing for Matt was they got in the river and practiced a lot of what Frank tried to impart. The lessons were well placed.
How good was this trip? Matt wants to come back next year and bring his wife along to fish. Being German, she's not fished as that country has strict rules about who fishes.
Here's looking forward to another year on the stream with Matt.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A special homecoming

Last Saturday my son Matt, his wife Petra and mother-in-law Lore arrived for a visit from Germany. It was Lore's first trip to the US. And she speaks no English. Matt and Petra have been home several times.
Matt hasn't fly fished since 2002 when we floated the Manistee River with Sam Surre. He caught several nice browns during the trip. It's a time that he always remembers.
So it didn't take much arm twisting to get him interested in another trip north. This time we are staying in Roscommon along the South Branch of the AuSable River.
So far, the weather hasn't been cooperative. It's been cold which translates into no bugs hatching or trout feeding.
Not to worry though. There are fish taking those bugs they find underwater. That will be our plan today after a late breakfast.
Surre tied us up some pheasant tail and bead head nymphs, size 14. If the hennies aren't around, we'll go underwater and start dredging.
One thing in our favor is that the South Branch typically heats up sooner than the mainstream or North Branch. This could produce a hatch, allowing us to fish some dry flies.
We're headed to the river with a cooler to make sandwiches from, plenty of flies, and a healthy dose of optimism.
After all, it isn't every day I can fish with one of my boys who came all the way from Germany. In this case, it's been years.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reflective Trout Opener

This past weekend and the annual trout opener was a tad subdued around Bob Ward's cabin near the banks of the Manistee River.
That was no doubt due to a couple of reasons. First, our group, one that has been together for many years, was missing several stalwart members.
During the past year we lost Mike Caparon and Fred Roeser. Caparon from Midland was active right up until he passed from cancer on the state level with Trout Unlimited.
Roeser, who passed away suddenly was a character in every sense of the word, enjoying himself no matter what he was doing.
The third member, John Long, all ninety some odd years of him, just physically couldn't make the trip anymore. "My legs and hips won't let me," he said joking that "I have fished my share over these years."
While these three were missed they weren't forgotten. References were made to the trio throughout the week.
And Todd Roeser, one of Fred's sons, made the trip not only to be with us, but in a certain, very personal way, be closer to his dad.
Todd and I were suiting up to fish when he showed me a rod that had been under construction for his dad. Learning his dad had died the builder completed it with the admonition that Todd get it.
"Do you think I should use this rod," Todd asked me? "You bet you should. Go out there and catch a trout with it. Your dad will be right there with you all the time," I replied.
Whether Todd caught a trout on it I can't say. But I'm sure his dad was right there on the stream with him.
Memories like these are all good and are part of what keep us coming back year after year.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trout opening remembrances

GRAYLING-The annual trout opener group is in the process of gathering for another year of friendship, good food, stories-some good, many oft repeated-a nd memories of those no longer with us.
I think it's this last group that has put our group in a quieter frame of mind this year. While many "regulars" will drift in throughout the day, several of us arrived a day early for the chance to compare notes since we were together last year.
Sometime this afternoon, during lunch, we'll pause for a moment to remember Brooke Bennett, Mike Caparon, Fred Roeser, and John Long.
It was the 92-year-old Long that turned over hosting the opening lunch to Clarkston resident Bob Ward with a simple request: Please carry on the lunch.
Long said via phone this winter that he had definitely fished his share and that his tired legs would no longer allow him to get in or out of the river.
So with the sun's warmth, the river close by and the rest of our gang ready to hear the old stories again, along with some new ones, the opening day tradition lives on.
A little later, we'll get in the river one more time to continue the season that means so much to us.
As the fly drifts silently by, each will pause in his own way to remember a time when life was different and this special time was shared by those no longer with us.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whether (weather) or not

With forecasts for the weather over the next few days being all over the place your best bet is to get out when it's nice and take the spring in.
Whether that means getting the garden ready, or digging the fly tackle out for the opener on Saturday, take advantage of conditions when they are favorable. Or as they say, "Make haste when the sun shines."
At our house we have been doing just that for several weeks now in preparation for our son, daughter-in-law and her mom's arrival this Saturday from Germany.
My son Matt hasn't had a fly rod in his hand in a long time. Now with the volcano eruption in Europe, we both hope it won't be much longer, that they will be able to make their flight and have a safe trip.
To further compound things, yesterday I took a big chunk out of one finger, cutting it nearly to the bone. It's going to make for difficult fly fishing, not to mention typing and the chores I have left to do before heading north.
In any event, it no doubt will all work out. Like I mentioned earlier, take advantage of the weather this weekend when you can and get outside.
I'll give you a report from the Grayling/Frederic area on Friday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stream etiquette or leave some

Many of you will be heading out in a few days for the annual fly fishing or trout opener. For others, certain designated waters have been designated as "Blue Ribbon" because they are open year round for fly fishing with no bait, along with catch and release.
No kill and artificial baits are no less important than right here in our backyard. Namely Pain Creek and the Clinton River.
While the Huron River around Proud lake gets heavy attention post opener to just afterward, it's draw are the trout planted by the DNR. Because the water is warm on the Huron and not susceptible to supporting trout, a cold water species, anglers are allowed to worm dunk and keep fish after the opener.
But the Paint and Clinton pose other problems. They are small rivers that still depend on plantings of fish.
They receive a lot of pressure because they are close by to a large population. Currently, after this Saturday, Apr. 24 they can be fished with live bait and creel limits are allowed.
I would someday soon, officials would deem it necessary to add these two bodies of water to the "Blue Ribbon" classification.
In the meantime, do your part. If you use live bait, get the hooks out quickly and return the fish to the water.
Those fishing with flies already are aware and should be practicing that drill. The next time you go fishing there will be some left to tease you or if you're lucky, catch.
Scoop em' all up and there won't be anything left.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pigeon River update

There's good news for those that fish the Pigeon River and just in time for the annual trout opener this Saturday, April 24.
It6's news that couldn't be any better. On June 28, 2008, a dam owned and operated by the Sun of the Morning Ranch malfunctioned causing tons of sediment to be released downstream, resulting in a large fish kill.
The good news is the ranch and the state DNR have entered into an agreement in which the Ranch agrees to pay $150,000 in costs to investigate and bring the case, and further agrees to submit plans for the destruction of the dam.
Hopefully these agreements will help maintain and bring back a truly pristine cold water fishery for generations to come.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peace and fishing

For the kind of weather we're now finally experiencing, there are many activities awaiting us, and they don't need to be a far drive to enjoy them.
Fishing Wildwood Lake in the Holly State Recreation Area Sunday I couldn't help but feel good being on flat-calm water, no noise, and fish ready to bite.
It was in this setting I found the time to sit back in the yak and just float. No line in the water, no paddling hard to here or there.
Even if you don't fish, bring a blanket or chair, along with a good book, and hang out by the lake.
Water has that ability to be a calming effect, to lure those close to it into and letting the world go.
Hey, bring a sandwich and some cold water and you're set for a guaranteed peaceful time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Using a GPS

If you have a GPS and haven't figured out how to use it, head to Indian Springs Metropark this Sunday at 11a.m. Just follow the signs that say Hike Michigan and you'll find others who are in the same league.
Hike Michigan, Rob Golda's brainchild, will meet there this Sunday. Persons really new to GPS should try and come at the 11a.m. hour to get some one on one instruction. At noon, participants will hit the trail and try out what they have learned. Mainly finding their way by GPS.
Should be fun and a great learning experience. Besides, all this cold weather we have been having should have cleared out by then making it a great day to be outside.
For more information on hiking in southeast Michigan, go to and sign up for the newsletter
Golda sends them out about twice a month with directions to the next hike. There is no fee other than a park permit.
Once you arrive you'll get a color map of the trail to be hiked that day. It's yours to keep and use should you return at your leisure to hike.
Golda does all of this from the goodness of his heart and a willingness to try and encourage people to get outside and experience our wonderful parks.
I hiked with the group last Saturday at Holly Recreation Area and had a great time despite high winds, cooling temps and even some rain.
Come on out and give it a try. I think you'll be surprised and like me, try to make it a part of your schedule.
Se you on the trails!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No-Mo Kayak Fishing Challenge, Update

This week's column is about the No-Mo Kayak Fishing Challenge set for May 8. Go to for all the pertinent details or call them at 734-285-2925. You can also email Chris LeMessurier at or call him at 248980-6158 for tourney info.
That being said, it was brought to my attention last week that the No-Mo is not the first kayak fishing tournament in the state. There have been other tournaments for kayaks.
I have apologized to Chris Dombrowski owner of The Kayak Store who was thought to have been the site for the first such tournament.
She laughingly informed me earlier in the week that her tournament wasn't the first, and was one for breast cancer research. "I don't even know if this was the first charity tournament," she said.
So, I apologize to those that feel their particular tournament was the first. The words were all mine and written with my limited understanding that there hadn't been any kayak tournaments held in Michigan yet.
In any event, it's the first No-Mo and I encourage any and all of you interested in kayak fishing to come out and give it a try.
In the future, the thinking is to put on other tournaments around the state, and hopefully grow this wonderful sport that is a benefit for paddlers, great activity for families to get involved in, is less expensive than owning a traditional fish boat, good exercise, and is very versatile allowing you to get into water and spots you couldn't with larger water craft.
While you are thinking of kayaks, be sure and get a copy of "Kayak Fishing," by Jon Shein. It's a great book chock full of useful information for the first time kayak owner right on up to the experienced. Hope to see you on the water.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fishing license epiration

Today's column dealt with the expiration of fishing licenses. This is no April fools joke. Each year, new fishing licenses are in effect beginning April 1. Your old one expired yesterday, March 31. With the nice weather we've been having many of you will be hitting the water for the first time during this new license year. Go with a new license and check the guide for changes that may affect your fishing.
Don't forget to check out the new version of "Bassarama" to be held April 18 at KD Outdoors. Bassarama was a premier fishing show that lost it's standing once the larger fishing shows hit the Detroit market. Always a favorite in these parts, lets hope it makes a return.
Holly Recreation Area and the group campsite is the location for Hiking Michigan and it's first ever "general meeting" to discuss future hikes and activities. It will be held this Saturday at noon. Come on out and join the conversation then get in the hiking spirit by walking the nearby campground trail. For information visit or call 586-446-7656.
For those looking to explore a variety of outdoor activities, Pontiac Lake Recreation Area will host the "Pontiac Lake Outdoor Exposition" June 5 beginning at 10a.m. a the park's beach.
Some of the presentations will include mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting, miniature aircraft, and the latest in camping equipment.
I hope to be there to demonstrate a new Hobie fishing kayak and answer questions about the sport.
For information call 248-666-1020.