I have been putting off on adding something here. Life changed in a great way. First big one and adds to the fun and stress. We bought a house and love the change. Got a place on the Flat River in Belding. Added some time to my drive to work. Today actually had to take car in for new struts. Really don’t want to spend money on the car.
I have been fishing and it started off slow. Don’t know why? My idea was fish were spawning up stream at the dam. Or fish were still in there winter spots. All guesses, but a few years will tell me exactly what and why. Finally got into some big smallmouths.
Hope to get after them some more in a day or so. Been tying some more.
Bad hair day was my go to fly for years. First few trips to the river I passed on them. I started using them again and it works again.
Gonna cut it short with some photos of what will be my fly studio.
Today I had my usual day off and really needed some outdoors time. So last night I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do? The 2 things that I have been thinking about was small game hunting and fishing. Bow season is happening so I hate the idea of messing up other hunters, public land. The weather has turned kind of into fall. We had some rain last weekend and the river was up. I saw some pics on Instagram of steelhead near Lansing. So things were pointing towards fishing. The night before is probably one of my favorite happenings. You set a goal or activity and get ready for it. I haven’t needed to tie any flies because I got a good stock pile of them. I gather all my stuff set it aside and mentally prepare. The one thing that I forgot was my Bripe. We just got them in at GRBC
I have been dying to go out fishing and spark up my Bripe. But where I spent most of my time was assembling my fly boxes. I have a few and always reorganize them before a outing. Its the fun part of guessing what might work and what I will not use. everything in my fly box I have made or purchased and then tied myself. I try not to buy many flies, usually 1 or 2 to see if I like it or I catch some fish. Pretty sure everyone else does the same, I heard the saying is to buy 3 or more for loss to nature. I never have, usually 1. I have a carp ton of tying supplies and get a bunch of fur, hair, and feathers from friends. When I find a fly to tie and go to the fly shop for materials they almost always don’t have the exact materials I am looking for. They usually say well this material will work just as good. So they have taught me to not go there as often, smart. I use what I have! Lately I have been thinking most of my boxes are to natural. Not enough blacks or flashy stuff. I like the more natural stuff to catch fish on, it gives me a sense of greater satisfaction. So I unload all of my fly boxes and look for anything that I wanna eat. Think of the past years and check my notebook to see what worked around this time.
I felt good about these flies. I never use everything but these boxes might not get changed until the next year. I usually carry 3 boxes but wanted to downsize to 2. 1 box for my tube flies and the other for normal. I was all done going thru the boxes and this is where I keep thinking and thinking, oh the sleepless night of hooking that sliver chrome. I watched a little more TV but kept thinking of the morning hunt for chrome. The Flat River doesn’t see a ton of Steelhead but they are there. It’s shallow with not a ton of cover, some for sure spots when they are in the river. I generally fish 1 location but cover a bunch of ground. I use a Cabalas switch TLR 7wt rod, Lamson G3.5 reel and rio short scandi, it does the job well. I do wish I just had a 2 hander 13ft rod, don’t care for the switch characteristics. I decided to not take a net, most of my steelies are landed by beaching. I hop in the river at a good location of not spooking to many fish. I use to hop in at another spot and walked all the way across and around to start. This entry spot gives me some quiet time to sit and get ready. choose which fly I am gonna start with and maybe think about when I do change again. Able to sit and just take in the beauty of the flowing river. Its a urban spot next to a dam but I fish facing south so all I see is woods and river. Second cast I got hooked up in a tree right above my head, wasn’t spot on with my spey cast. I started to get in the groove and take a few steps after 1 or 2 cast. First felt tug of the morning wasn’t strong but wasn’t tiny.
I just couldn’t tell exactly what it was but then it had no major jolt of a tug. It was wishful thinking. It put up a real nice fight on the 7wt and just kept shaking its head. I snapped a quick pic and released the smallmouth back in the water. I couldn’t tell if it followed my fly from the faster water or was sitting in the calmer water. It hit my line at the end of the swing. A few more cast and steps down stream I hooked into another one. This one put up a bigger fight but it was slightly smaller. Just a riot on the swing. I text my fishing buddy with a pic to have a celebration with someone. I had to tell him I started to tie my flies to my line the way he does, give a fist bump. Non slip mono loop I have always watched him use it or he would share a fly with me. They would always have a tag still on, it’s a good way to attach a fly to your line if you are looking for a active fly. So after 2 runs along the spot and using 2 different flies I went to check out the Honey hole. That side of the river had less flow and the Honey hole doesn’t work well with little flow. Actually the biggest problem is me. When I use my switch rod the head on it is a little to long for stripping. I always wish I had brought my other rod for those moments but truly love swinging with that switch. Yes I could run across the street and grab it but it was time for lunch and get ready for the day. A wonderful day on the water, sun was out. Fish were biting and just Pure Michigan.
I am still putting together my hunt for out west. I have found some different locations for research. Im close to just giving up on trying to find the perfect location and go for a spot that I see as the perfect location. I feel with some time and walking I can find deer where ever I choose. The spots I am drawn to are hard to reach spots. Lots of elevation and steep canyon walls. Its what I picture is sitting with my binos and just glassing for hours. Growing up in Michigan you don’t have that. Viewing this open country and taking it all in. Not just for a giant trophy deer but a lifetime of memories in one swoop. I do feel I need to find a hunting buddy. I have a few that are open to the idea but no true takers yet. I usually do all of my activities by myself and enjoy it but love the chatter about the experience with someone else. I just keep thinking about Idaho. Anytime I google somewhere else I am right back to Idaho and checking another unit. It’s my calling to see Idaho for the first time in all its beauty!
A little rant. So I have been listening to a podcast called The Meat Eater and the last podcast of this week really pissed me off. I have read 3 books by Steven Rinella and met him at a dinner about his book American Buffalo, one of my favorite all time reads. The dinner was in Grand Rapids, MI with some of his ideas of cooking and recipes. We tasted the buffalo that he killed and prepared in a way that was, ok. It was like dried ground beef that he handed around the room for everyone to try. I left the dinner thinking he was a dick! Still really enjoy his writings and thoughts on conservation and hunting. I lost some interest in him after the dinner.
I was notified about the Meat Eater show, podcast etc from my fishing buddy. I have read the American Buffalo and The Scavengers Guide To Haute Cuisine before of hearing about Meat Eaters. I recently picked up The Complete Guide to hunting, butchering and cooking wild game volume 1, its more of a reference book than a read. So I have been enjoying the podcast and on Netflix and would recommend any of his writings, podcast, and shows to anyone who hunts or just loves the outdoors. It’s close to a nature show with sometimes a dead animal being butchered.
So the latest podcast ended in a way that Steven was so honest and direct that he would punch a guy if he did this to him. But he does it anyway. I don’t get if you believe in something deeply but still do it? Im leaving it really blank and unfinished but you should listen to the podcast just to see what he does.
This weekend I was supposed to head up north and hunt some small game and swing some flies for steelies. Family got in the way so I canceled the trip and switched the Monday day off. It ended up being perfect for getting Thursday off for my beautiful girlfriend. It’s her graduation for a leadership program she has been taking all summer. So overall things worked out.
As I sit here with some windows open, no need for heat or air conditioning. I hear the rain and keep thinking about the steelhead and salmon that have been waiting for the fall push. I don’t travel far for fall fishing. I put my waders on and walk across the street to the Flat river, which flows into the mighty Grand river. Salmon and steelhead leave Lake Michigan to make there way to the Flat river for some spawning. Is it a spot to come across the United States for? NO! But for me to go and wet some lines in, it is perfect! I don’t fish for salmon but for the fresh silver bullets they call steelhead. Last 2 years I have had good success with catching a few on the swing. I don’t chuck n duck or use a classic nymphing style for them. I find those ways really boring. Yes I do believe they are the best ways to catch dinner. I just can’t stop swinging flies, hoping for that angry bullet. I’ve hooked a couple King salmon but never landed them. They have taken me for a ride that would make a awesome movie.
One day around 5 pm I was throwing flies and started to lift up my rod to do a snap-t and cast again. All of sudden my line ripped completely straight across the current about 30 yards, throwing a rooster tail off the line. I tugged a couple of times with the weight of a giant at the end of my line. It quickly turned and headed straight back following the same line it just dragged raced from. Moved about 30 yards and then headed down stream at a alarming rate. My reel was singing like angry bees, ( King hubs ). I started shifting my feet just in case it was going to split the beams in the river. It did and I moved fast to keep tension and try to pull it back thru the beams of a building that protrudes out from King Mill. I kept reeling, moved to help, maintained tension. Then the line went limp and my jaw dropped. I reeled the line in thinking I lost the fly. I didn’t, kind of a win. The fly just happened to fall out and I lost a freaking fast fish. I’ve got a better story but that’s later.
One reason I don’t go for King salmon is by the time they finally reach the Flat river they start to get zombie like. It’s a killer fish to catch but I would rather see it spawn and die than me pull it out of the water for half dead meat. The steelhead I catch in the fall I keep, love me some fresh steelhead! Spring steelies need to lay eggs so I really don’t target them and it’s a time the river deserves some respect with the flowing madness of high waters.
I might try to get out Sunday for some fun in the water. Haven’t had the switch rod out in a few months. I swing for smallies thru the summer on the Flat. After steelhead leave and the water gets lower in the spring the smallies come up for spawning. That’s one of my favorite times for smallmouth. Bass season isn’t open yet so no keepers but let the good times roll. So hopefully we get rain here n there and the temps drop lower at night. Water needs to come up a little.
It’s a good fly that has landed good smallies and steelhead in the fall. I don’t have every step but you get the idea. I don’t claim to invent it. Just tying what I see in the river and use patterns from others. Let’s see if I get out for some tight lines?
Just got a call back from a wildlife biologists that works unit 48 in Idaho. He gave me some good insight on the land. I’m looking at a area that doesn’t see a lot of hunters but a lot of recreational use. I’m not sure to take it as a positive or a negative. One piece of info is hunt it early in the season, high altitude and snow comes around November. So far the information he gave me was a positive. Need to call on some units in Colorado, got a tip from a friend about some areas.
I struggle with giving to much info on public land. While learning how to fly fish and where to. Dudes were dicks on helping me. They would give all sorts of techniques but where is a big no. Mostly fishing shop and fly shops, a place that makes money on me catching fish. I work at a bike shop and people ask me all the time where to ride? I’m happy to help them. A fly shop wants to keep the sweet spot to himself. When customers ask me where do I fish? I am damn happy to tell them where and the exact location and what to use. My idea is get them out and enjoying life to the fullest. None of my spots are blown up and not usable anymore.
One spring day around 10 or so. I hit a spot I call the honey hole. Every cast I was catching a keeper size of smallmouth. Hearing people on land saying oh he caught another one. Seeing them getting frustrated with me catching awesome smallies and they were kind of catching fish. I’ve stayed in that spot for 2hours or so and began to get hungry. I watched a younger adult stroll over to me and ask me if I care if he fishes here? I said no and I’m getting bored of catching all the fish and need to eat. I told him to stand right in the exact location and cast right at the 2 rocks, let it swing for about 5-10 seconds and the strip in. Even gave him a few flies. I left to get a snack roamed around town to check on a few carp spots. I came back as the kid was leaving and asked how he did. He said it was a riot and he was done and satisfied for the day. He told me thanks and we parted ways. The honey hole is still there people know about it, I still fish it. It’s a river I or we don’t own spots or locations. I know I’m out of the norm on this but let’s all play nice and teach all to everyone.
This was a smallmouth I caught almost every day of a week in the same spot with the same fly. I named that spot smallville. The day I didn’t catch it and I noticed some caddis being taken off the top I switched to a muddler style fly and caught my first steelhead.