Kayak Bassin'

I had what was easily one of my best days of Largemouth Bass fishing today.  I think there was some sort of Damselfly hatch going on that was putting these guys on a topwater bite, big time.  Lots of fish landed, a couple lost. Watched my fly pop out of one big guy during a beautiful classic acrobatic display - wish I could have gotten a shot of that - great memories. Only used one fly, my pale yellow gurgler w/ chartreuse crystal flash - Brigid picked out this color scheme.
Pure Michigan


Start of the 2013 King Salmon Season

Made my way to the Little Manistee to check out all the rumors about the river being packed full of early Kings. I left the Interlochen area around 5:15AM and morning was already breaking.  Thought for sure I knew how to get to the access spot I was looking for, but I couldn't find it at first and didn't get on the water until almost 7AM.
Dave's Bad Hair Day in royal dress with a stinger.

Besides this guy, I only saw one other fish and it was a lot fresher.  Not a single bump, grab or hook-up, so I chalked it up to a recon trip. After I got off the water, I stopped by Schmidt Outfitters and talked to the new owner.  He gave me some suggestions as to where to go on the Little. He said the section I was fishing only had 1 or 2 good holes, which is pretty much what I observed.

In any case it was a nice day even without any fish.


Stray Skamania Steelhead

Saw a group of steelhead trying to ascend the dam this morning.  Assuming they're stray Skamania from Indiana.   The DNR fishing report says that steelhead have been caught at Sixth Street dam on the Grand.


I'm not a hater

Rockbass aren't my favorite fish, but when it comes to top-water poppers in summer they are true playas....


Foam Wake'rs

I tied up some more gurglers, wakers, walkers or whatever you want to call them to continue experimenting with tight-line top water swinging for smallies


Summer Topwater

Tied up some topwater flies today. First off was Scott Howell's Ska-opper (brown/orange above) this fly is awesome, but it took me at least 20 minutes to tie. Looking for something with similar action, but easier and faster to tie I whipped up a good ol' Gartside Gurgler (yellow above). The Gurgler took me about 2 minutes. I had my wife randomly choose the color.  She picked yellow, and it worked out pretty good (see below).

Both flies had really great action on the water, but the Ska-opper is just sick. They both wake great and chug when pulled hard.  The deer hair on the Ska-opper adds some great bubbles and bobbing that reminds me of exactly what a dying sunfish would do when I was a kid and let one go after hooking it too deep.  Although, both the fish I caught came on the Gurgler, I'm planning on still messing around the Ska-opper because it just looks so good in the water.

The weather has been hot and muggy, we are well into summer now.  The rivers are low and clear.  I think big streamer fishing is over (unless we get a ton of rain) until the end of next month when the kings start to run.  We did have a nice afternoon storm today.  This bucket mouth (large mouth) was tight up against the shore when we went out today at around 8:30pm.


Morning on the Big M

I hit the Manistee this morning.  Spent some time driving around trying to find the river access point that had been recommended to me a few years ago, all the while trying to talk myself out of just fishing below the dam for "easy" fish.  The few times I've been there, Tippy has never been a real pleasant place fish.

I figured a variety of water types in a more wilderness setting is a better way to spend my time, besides I don't really even need to catch fish, right?

Finally, found the right road, parked, rigged up and made my way through the overgrown trails to the river.

This spot seems to be the area where the river transitions from more classic fly water with bigger runs down to a corrugated bottom, compound currents and "micro-buckets".  No fish hooked, but I did get a number of  bumps and a few repeat grabs in a couple runs.  Also made some great two handed casting progress.

At one point I was looking across the river, when I saw what was likely the biggest freshwater fish I've ever seen, jump out of the water. It was about 80 feet straight across the river from me and came about 3/4 of the way out of the river.  What I saw of the fish was easily 4-5 feet.  After my initial shock my thought was that it was a sturgeon.  Looking around online I found a few pictures that seem to confirm this.  The following isn't my picture, but is almost exactly what I saw
Here are some other random shots from the morning.


Hex - First Time

A few years ago I read a story about Hex fishing behind a particular drive-in movie theater up north. I still think about this story every time we pass by the place.  So the other night we were up north at Brigid's parents for the 4th of July holiday and decided to take the kids to see a movie.  With a little time to spare before dark, we stopped at a road crossing to do a some recon.  I made my way to the river and almost immediately I saw a few bugs.  I ran back to the van and asked Brigid to give me a little time on the water, grabbed my rod and headed back out. Right as dark set in, I ended up stumbling upon a huge spinner fall of bugs .  First cast and a big dude flushed the toilet on me, but nothing stuck.  With the splashes of fish crushing the surface all around me and bugs filling the air, I started casting pretty hectically. Every few drifts I was getting some serious tugs, taking my fly underwater but nothing was sticking.  After fishing longer than I should have with Brigid and the kids in the car, I reeled it in and head back up the bank.  Right away I saw my problem.  I'd tied the loop on my fly so big that it had fouled around the bend of the hook, essentially making the contact point with leader the rear end of the fly.  Come to find out, I only really have confidence in one knot for big fish - a non-slip mono loop.  Because of this mess, any sort of hook set would just be yanking the fly directly out of a fishes mouth - suck!

The next day I had that fishy feeling all day long.  I nervously arrived back at the river about an hour before dusk. Once I got down to the water, I rigged up, sharpened my hooks and mentally mapped out the piece of river I'd be fishing - log jams, bushes, shallow bank (a good landing spot), deep slots. I set up all my back-casting options for when the fly got too water logged from my single-handed snap-t.  I made a few practice casts and drifts.  Rather than moving around a bunch and risk spooking fish, I took up position and waited like Qui-Gon Jinn during the pauses in his lightsaber battle with Darth Maul.
Eventually dark came and so did the bugs.  There were a lot less bugs than the night before, but it was still game on. It's amazing how far you can cast an 8-weight bass line on a 4-weight rod and I sent a few casts flying towards some of the rises that I saw - no takers.   I was standing pretty close to where Walter had flushed on me the day before.  Then there was a splash about 10 feet straight across the river from my knees, was he was back?    I instinctively  dropped my fly into position using my hybrid high-stick dry fly dead drift approach that necessity had evolved a few weeks back while fishing the nighttime Gray Drakes on the Muskegon.  Again, I swing streamers I'm not much of a dry fly guy.  The fly drifted into place and smash he took the fly and pulled it back underwater with him.  Then in a Matrix zen type moment that seemed to last a really long time, I set the hook and....tug! The line went tight, we had made contact.  This guy pulled HARD!  Right away I thought Steelhead - no way this was a brown.  I pulled him away from where I remembered the logs being and he yanked back.  We danced like this for a few minutes.  I got him in close and scooped him.  A Coho!  Makes sense based on where I was fishing, but  he was a few months earlier than I would have expected - but what do I know.  He was bright chrome and likely fresh in from the lake.  Did he have the hex hatch marked on his calendar from when he was a fingerling?  In any case, he came in hot.  I got him near shore snapped a few photos the best I could in the dark and set him back in the water.  He was still fired up and took off none the worse for wear.
I knew Brigid needed me back at her parents place, she was solo with the kids.  I launched a few more casts as I walked out of the river and then headed back up the bank towards the road.