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I wanted to be the first. I had such great intent, all the people all the feedback, so much talent. Then I read one, and another, and finally, after about a half dozen or so of other great posts regarding who met ‘who’ and how ‘Blitzed & Schnockered’ we got Saturday night after the sponsored dinner, I figured there really wasn’t much I could contribute. Personally, I hope to not be the last to report on the Mid-West Fly Fishing Expo of 2014; so please, if you have yet to hit publish, do so, now. It wasn’t that there weren’t some amazing guys and gals at the show, there truly were. I got a chance to chat with fellow swamp donkey hunter and fly fishing guru Landon Mayer, which was really cool. I wish I would have met and seen Joe Humphries’ casting presentation, what a wealth of fly fishing knowledge. We heard the opera-etic talents of the phenomenal fly tier Oscar Feliu during our dessert course at the reception. Chatted with a host of other much admired fly fishing/tying talents from across the country. We happened to have dinner with Judy Fuller from Fullers NBOC and the father/son duo from Rite Bobbin and tales from their 800 acre ranch in Montana. It was good to hear we were not the only ones to be inundated with an exuberant amount of that now depleting white stuff- won’t mention that four letter word right now- it is in the forecast for trout opener this Saturday.
This Expo was very special to me in many ways. I didn’t get a chance to run around and muck it up with some of the old timers and the new kids on the block, but, rather, I had the privilege of meeting one of the owners of Adipose Boatworks- Mike Ward, and re-acquainting myself with one of the gentleman who not only fished with me and his father last summer, but also had direct involvement in making the very boat I float in, fellow Michigan boy- Justin Waayenberg. The very reason I didn’t get the opportunity to spend as much time catching up with Ray Schmidt with TFO or Dr. Bryan Burroughs from MITU is the reason I was so excited. The Adipose Booth was ‘abuzz’ nonstop from a half hour prior to the opening to the very last guest left at closing. We were very fortunate to be sandwiched in between Becca Schlaff, whose artwork is becoming even more well known, and the Good Guys from Nomad Anglers, who have the best in Reppin’ Your State Color T-shirts, fly tying gear and all your other in river needs. To say I was blown away at the overall enthusiasm from fellow anglers across the midwest at finally seeing a boat of this design close up and in person would be an understatement. Besides the usual barrage of “How much does it weigh/draft/cost?” most people were impressed by the fact it was only 15′4″.
“It appears much larger than what most people expect, mostly due to the open floor plan. There isn’t a whole lot of ’stuff’ in the way, which gives you the impression of space.” explains production manager Justin W to a serious inquiry.
“The larger footprint also gives this drift boat an unparalleled level of stability. A guide and a client can be leaning over the edge to net a fish without flipping the aft angler out of the back of the boat. We kept the profile low so that when we were floating the Missouri in any kind of headwind, we wouldn’t be blown around like a hopper on a leaf. ” added Mike W.
“There is enough storage for what you need, and no room for stuff you don’t. My fear of not having a bench seat to store (3)extra raincoats/hoodies/dry bag of long lost goodies that will only be forgotten or mildewy quickly disappeared when my first dozen clients exclaimed what a comfortable boat to ride in.” I interjected to another inquisitive couple who regularly fish Alaska and like the design. “The open-floor plan also makes it a fun boat to take my wife, daughters and two labs for a float down the Jordan River. The stability coupled with low profile and shallow draft make it the optimum guide boat for my needs.”
“Corey Haselhuhn over at Schultz Outfitters just took delivery of his boat earlier in the week, now Koz isn’t the ONLY Adipose in Michigan.” explains JW.
After a weekend of many eyes and a few fly shop owners salivating over how well this boat appears on skids, I am sure it won’t be long before there are others with regular homes on the Au Sable or Manistee Rivers.
Thank you to all the wonderful attendees who came up and introduced themselves, fans of True North Trout. I was flabbergasted at how many people appreciate a decent post now and again. Some individuals who go by either Andrew or Robert on Facebook, I apologize for not putting two and two together when you said ‘Hi, I’m Andy/John”- I got it now. Funny how we have an image of someone we regularly see on Social Media holding massive steelhead in our more recognizable Simms Rubber pants uniforms, then we meet in real person with street attire on, I just get another opportunity to laugh at myself.
Great to talk to the guys at Scientific Anglers. I got my hands on the new Sharkwave line and in the couple of times I have had a chance to fling a fly with it, I am more than impressed. It has a little whizzing sound, but you will quickly get over that when you see how quietly it lifts off the water, lays out nicely and floats like nothing I have ever seen in a fly line before. I can honestly say, when matched with the right rod, loading is amazing and casting distance is greatly improved. I can’t wait to take it on my favorite slow water this weekend.
Here is the Facebook Link Photo Album.
I can recall the day as if it were just last week. We had assembled a small army on the banks of a local favorite trout river to help get all parties vested to collaborate on one common goal. All the Heads of State from various departments were on hand to help lend their support: representing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources was Don from Forestry Division, Tim Cwalinski and Neal Godby both from Fisheries Division, from the Fish and Wildlife Services was Heather Rawlings , Matt from the Little Traverse Bay of Odawa Indian Tribe, Chris Pierce and Eric Ellis from the Conservation Resource Alliance, Valerie Damstra and Kevin Cronk from the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Dave Smethurst from the Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited and myself from the Miller-VanWinkle Chapter of TU.
We began the day’s journey at the only local gas station so everyone could refill coffee and fuel up on a Johan’s donut. Sitting in a small semi-circle on the guardrail of the parking lot, Dave began to spin one of his magnificent tales about a local Yoga Retreat. If any of you have had the pleasure of sitting foreside with Mr. Smethurst, you know his captivating, yet very soft spoken way with words is not unlike that of James Earl Jones when telling a fable. This story didn’t seem unlike some sort of fairy tale. He began with how a fellow angler, and President of Headwaters TU and his wife were heading out to fly fish a treasured trout stream in their region. Upon arrival, they noticed something that was more than shocking and disturbing. Their favorite stretch of the Pigeon River was black with muck and the white bellies of trout and a myriad of other river species dotted along the sludgy shoreline. They quickly retreated through the tag alders and cedars along the path back to their truck and drove further upstream to check another access point, and another and yet again, all with varying degrees of total devastation and death lying belly up in pools and eddy’s of this once productive Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.
Much like a convoy headed to Camp Grayling for training, we packed in our Trout Vehicles and headed for our first assessment site along a long and winding two track. The dusty trail left a chalky residue on the back of my tongue very similar to that of a bold, well-aged cabernet of European descent. After Chris from the CRA talked about how this particular culvert was choking the flow of the river and impeding the fish passage for trout to find thermal refuge, Dave continued with his mythological story of the death of a trout stream. The couple whom discovered the catastrophe determined the source must have been from the release of sediment from a small impoundment located at the Golden Lotus Yoga Retreat just a few clicks upstream.
At the next road crossing, we admired a newly replaced road crossing, free of any barriers and natural in appearance. The Emmet County Road Commission and CRA collaborated to make this once failing bridge a wonderful 40ft wooden free span bridge. As we sit along the newly stabilized streambank and admire the beauty and simplicity of the bridge, Dave continues on his story of the decimation of a river. Apparently, someone opened the floodgates on the dam release and left it open for several hours, turning a normally tranquil 70 cfs stream into a raging almost 400 cfs river. When someone noticed that the ‘reflection pond’ was strangely shrinking, they went to the dam and shut it off completely. Sounds like the sort of thing you see in a Three Stooges reel to reel. As I listened closer, the details, the descriptions, I realized this actually took place. The amount of sediment released not only clogs the gills of fish, it also does the same for macro-invertebrates, the base of the food chain. All the freshly introduced organic material within the sediment also engulfs all the readily available dissolved oxygen, so whatever organism survived the initial apocalypse, would certainly see it’s demise.
That was June of 2008, and the third incident of this magnitude on the same property. After many court hearings, appeals, judgements, appeal again, death of the judge who ordered the dam to be removed and moving from Appellate to the State Supreme Court, this was a long fought battle. In the early rounds, Michigan Trout Unlimited and The Pigeon River Country Association had many allies. For whatever reason, the Michigan State Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Equality both pulled out of the court case against the Golden Lotus/Song of the Morning Ranch. I can say without a doubt there were many heated debates among representatives from various TU chapters in the Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited whether we should pursue this court case with the best of hopes for the silent victims of the Pigeon River. It took many hours and many attorneys from across the state, namely Pete Gustafson who took on the task early and wrote off countless billable hours.
After all this dust settles, we shall see a positive resolution. The dam has been ordered to be removed, and an agreement has been reached as of last week between MITU/PRCA and Golden Lotus Association. Nearly 6 years after the fact, the river and the animals that make up The Big Wild will see protection from an event like this ever happening again. The details are listed on many websites, like MITU and the Headwaters Chapter of TU. Headwaters is having their annual TU Spring Banquet on April 12, if there are any tickets available, I highly recommend you get one, this will be a celebration to remember for decades. They are also starting a fund to Remove The Dam DAM!!!
As I spoke with John Walters the other evening, exchanging congratulations and attaboys he left me with a few words.
“Now the real work begins.”
Probably not something you hear very often around the campfire on your favorite river at salmon/steelhead camp. Immediate thoughts of ‘Brokeback Mountain~ You don\’t go up there to fish…‘ come to mind, not there is anything wrong with that, just saying. This seems to be the time of the year when I am knocking out endless dozens of nuke eggs and my coarse grit 120 fingers seems to shred the McFly Foam before it even has a chance to meet my TMC 105. Why is it every winter, amid tying season our hands get so rough and abused?
In between serving Whitefish Meuniere at Cafe’ Sante and changing baby diapers at home, I wash my hands literally, 70 times a day. It has become a daily regimen, not obsessive, but feel the need to keep clean hands. Add a few days on the river searching for some winter chrome or an aggressive brown on the take and my hands become brutally unpolished. I take a certain amount of pride in the fact that my hands don’t look weathered or resemble that of the lobster claws of a Gloucester Fisherman. My wife appreciates it too.
My younger sister used to be a manager of one of those Bath & Body Shops in the mall and every Christmas, all the Aunts, sisters and nieces received a small cornucopia of lotions for gifts. Not exactly jealous of the Cinnamon Apple Spice nor Warm Vanilla Sugar Body Lotion, but rather felt excluded because of my manliness. Shouldn’t a guy treat his hands with care and respect? So, I threw this question to the ladies over at Fly Fishing Ventures last year regarding what lotion they use and prefer when the many days on the river per year can age your hands decades in a season. I was surprised at the response and have tried a several suggestions and thought it would benefit others to share my experience.
The first grouping of lotions that have always worked for me in the past are fairly obvious. Neutregena Norwegian Formula, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and Eucerin Plus Body Creme are all very good daily use lotions that will help to restore much needed moisture to your depraved hands. Fly Fishing Ventures mentioned O’Keefe’s Working Hands and I can personally say over the past year (wow, just realized it was a little more than a year ago) it has proved worth the $10 at your local hardware store. I recall back in the day using No-Crack Super Hand Cream. After searching my parents arsenal of lotions and creams, I found one. This stuff works and doesn’t leave that greasy oily residue. You used to be able to find it at Restoration Hardware. It is unscented and works quickly to restore much needed exudation to your hands.
Here is where it gets tricky, and you ladies may agree. I found over the years my hands can benefit from giving my wife a much needed foot massage. Don’t go with the a cheap lotion that has high percentage of alcohol (Glycol, Glyceryl Stereate), it will barely do anything for her feet nor your hands. Invest in quality foot creme or lotions that contain Rosemary and Peppermint oils. I happened to come across Lanisoh Lanolin for breast feeding mothers, and use it on my hands when they are extremely chapped, give it a try, let it set in over-night when you go to bed. Works miracles on cracked and split fingertips and cuticles. So, gentlemen, give your ladies a surprise foot rub, or make it a weekly occurrence, your benefits may be two-fold.
Don’t have a woman in your life? Shave that Grizzly Adams facial hair you’ve been working on for the next Loon Outdoors Novembeard contest, buy a nice flannel, preferably one that does not reek of salmon spawn, try to resist the temptation of tying flies while drinking Wild Turkey at home this Friday night and put your best foot forward at you local watering hole.
Our baby Camille had a severe dry skin issue on her back, alligator skin. We tried the usual list of baby Eczema Creams, Lotions and A&D ointments along with Coconut oil, but nothing touched the rough skin on her back and shoulders. Our next step was to get a prescription from our pediatrician. She prescribed Desonide .05% and we were amazed how in two days her back was returned to normal and healthy baby softness. I haven’t used the medication yet for my hands but keep it in reserve for dire situations.
So the next time we happen to be at trout Opener Camp in Lovell’s, don’t be afraid to ask for O’keefe’ Working Hands, it is usually in my truck, but I won’t have any Shea Butter…
I need to get back to Brokeback Mountain and tie some clown eggs…
I awoke this morning, earlier than usual. Recent epidermal injection for C-5 bulging disc I suppose, ready for another weekend of colder than usual temps for steelhead scouting. I did my usual routine, putting away dishes and preparing lunches for the day, apparently amplified in my lack of caffeine stupor as my wife came down the stairs and kindly informed me. I opted to postpone doing the lunch/breakfast duties until the rest of the house was awake.
Checking my e-mail, I found a pleasant surprise and new found motivation to do what we do. This winter has been longer and colder than recent decades, our rivers have been locked up and the lakes have 3+ feet of ice. It is amazing how a simple message from a project that has been on hold can revitalize the soul.
“We’ve got the storyline and narrative built.
We’ve got our soundtrack selected.
We’ve got all our video assets organized and ready to flow with the words and music.
And now we’ve got our deadline.
A Deliberate Life will be released by the end of May.
Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the finish line.”
~ From SILO4
Very good news indeed. More strength. A fresh pot of coffee brewing, diaper changed, baby Camille is happy again. I shall tie another batch of #8 Sexy Hexy Emergers, and organize my fly line and fly boxes once again, hopes of warming temperatures and rising fish in the not too distant future.
I am very happy to see A Deliberate Life come to fruition. If you haven’t heard anything of the project, here is a sneak peak. It follows a few guides across the west and how they came to this wonderful life, they found their passion. The project had a delay in production and lay dormant on the cutting room floor. I did a review over a year ago and cannot express how overwhelmed with joy I am to see it happen. I hope you take the time to check it out and support the project. Get on their mailing list and stay up to date.
“What was your favorite part?”
“I really liked the part where the guys had a tie a fly contest and one used a Chee-To and then he cut some from his mustache and then they all caught fish on their fly, and that one guy, Really REALLY liked dancing after he caught a fish. I think he really likes to fly fish.” remarked Simone.
Pretty powerful and accurate observations from my nine year daughter. She is kind of a fish porn buff, whether she knows it or not. This would be her third F3T and Daddy has a small collection of fly DVD’s.
“What about you Jason?” we had stopped long enough to refill our coffee mugs at McD’s and let the car warm up before the long and frigid ride home to our corner of the tip of the Mitt.
“I wish they woulda shown some more of those big Grayling they were catching on mice patterns, that was some epic fishing.” Mr Fontinalis Rising was right, some major surface action with hefty Arctic Grayling gorging on hemorrhoidal mice patterns were featured in “Alaska: la Frontera Nor“. RA Beattie and crew do not disappoint with fun and enthusiasm, even after Mike Dawes goes in to detail on how much he really doesn’t like flying in puddle jumpers and the trek in to the land where they shall help Sandflea catch all that Alaska has to offer- even a sockeye on the surface.
“320” revisits Capt. Jako Lukas guiding a remarkable 320 days a year. From GT’s in the Seychelles, to Mongolia for Taimen, Norway for Atlantics, and then off to chase sailfish in some remote island where it ‘didn’t suck’. I found it hard to hear him speak. We were in the front and the speakers seemed to be a little heavy on the bass, but my eyes were filled with explosive chases from monster Trevally and duck eating hucho Taimen. I wonder how many days a year he spends in the air traveling to all these destinations? Maybe we will see that next year.
“What was the other film, the one that was a lot of guys talking about back in the day, Tom Rosenbauer and others reflect on how fly fishing has changed today…?”
None of us could recall. “A Kinetic Loop“, sponsored by Orvis and Scientific Anglers looks worthy of purchase, a little heavy on the self promotion, but they lost us on the title. I get it, nothing stays still, always in motion, ya, but they could have named it ‘Five Fly Anglers talk about the Past’ or ‘REFLECTIONS’- probably taken, I know.
“Long Live the King” was good, although aptly could be called Red Gold II, it had much of the same tone we were introduced to years ago with the issue of Bristol Bay and the threat of losing a great resource. Understand, the battle is far from over and we shall see and hear more about this one of a kind resource.
“Blood Knot” has a great story about twins Brian and Colby who do everything together, include owning a Fly Shop in the Shenandoah Valley near Mossy Creek. They will chase anything that swims, from musky, carp, browns, rainbows, brook trout to grass carp. This area of the country needs further investigation, by me.
“50″ went on about the history and the challenges one must face to acquire the ever coveted Gold Cup Invitational Tarpon Fly Tournament in Islamorada, FL. Much like Wimbledon or The Masters, these competitions, although great for the economy, are a little out of my price range and social status. This is fine with me, most of the cold water brookies I deal with don’t require an esquire behind my name.
“Tributaries” had me interested initially but the trailer left me satisfied with the fact I haven’t purchased the film. The connection between a Scotsman who angles for Atlantic Salmon, an Argentina guide riding horseback for browns and the son of bonefish Charlie in the Bahamas feeshun for dem boneys failed to actually tie the connection that we all come from the same waters. Maybe I need to take a closer look. The footage was stellar, amazing and beautiful places are only half of a story, perhaps I shall review it again in the future.
North of Wild
My favorite for the evening featured the well established author and angler John Gierach, along with Aimee Eaton, Simon Guay and Robin Reeve, fishing in Labrador for monster brook trout in “North of Wild”. I have seen family photographs of twenty-something inch brook trout that were measured in pounds, not inches from some lake only known as Lost Lake near our cabin in Canada. If I had to choose one of these films as my front runner, this would be the one and worth the money to purchase.
The evening was sponsored by The Northern Angler in Traverse City and the folks at Inside Out Gallery have a perfect venue for showcasing an evening like this. A large enough gathering room with a well stocked bar to lubricate the social mixing and a nice stage with seating up to 120 people.
“Dad, this popcorn is a little salty.”
“So are most of the previews dear.”
That’s why we attend these events, besides getting ourselves out of the house when there is three feet of snow on the ground, we get to catch up with other anglers, meet new ones and enjoy an evening with thoughts of warmer days and bugs hatching. Can’t wait.
It’s a balmy 2 degrees right now, nearly tripled from early morning temps well below zero. Makes it hard to live the life of a troutbum in the mitten, unless you don’t mind drilling holes in 2 feet of ice and staring at blaze orange metal bite indicators. We have been tying a few flies, throwing snow and getting ready for the springtime. One of the best signs that warmer weather should be on its way is the Fly Film Festival. We are headed to Traverse City this weekend to the InSide Out Gallery just east of The Northern Angler for another great installment of fresh and saltwater videos. 320, Long Live the King, Tributaries, Blood Knot and North of Wild are just a few of the many short films I am looking forward to seeing. Be sure to get your tickets before they sell out and check out a few trailers for yourself here. F3T Tickets
I have been eyeing a few new rods and reels. Seems natural. Most of us do it during these months of hibernation. We like to imagine the feel of a new stick in our hand, bugs biting the back of our neck, and hear the whizzing of a drag screaming for mercy when all outside is frozen solid. A guy can dream can’t he? My sights are set on a new reel from Bozeman Reel Co. If you haven’t heard about them, perhaps you just returned from your expedition to Kamchatka, I hear it is warmer there right now, I have the latest buzz from Hatches Magazine lists them as standout gear for 2014.
I recently got to preview their latest promotional video.
Bozeman Reel: Built in the Heart of Fly Country
Made in Bozeman, fished across the Country. Pretty fitting they have a connection to Michigan as well. Check out the video. Give them a Like on Facebook and see what everyone is talking about. You will be seeing more from these guys in the future…
This winter seems to have a firm grip on much of the midwest and not much in the near future promises she may loosen her grasp. Some of the most snowfall and consecutive weeks of highs only reaching the teens has provided for the best skiing and snowmobiling for our region, the local economy appreciates a good old fashioned winter. While most of us have been diligent about tying and refilling our fly boxes for next season, I have only just begun. My tying gear and table have been buried among boxes of higher priority and a lengthy driveway in need of daily devotion. This winter has given me a level of appreciation for the Korkers Icejack Snow Boots that I have been so fortunate to test out this year.
I put together a spontaneous video review of my Korkers Icejack boots the other morning while prepping to snowblow the driveway. It is rudimentary in all aspects, working on one day developing skills similar to other high quality editing videos in the fly fishing industry. It is short, sweet and hits on many of the key reasons I have come to love these winter boots.
- Easy on and off, the BOA Lacing system knocks this out of the park.
- Warm and comfortable, 600 grams of Thinsulate keep my toes happy.
- DRY~ there is nothing worse than wet feet when you are cold.
- Lightweight, at about 3 pounds they are far lighter than comparable boots
- Versatile, with the OMNITRAX sole system, I can switch out from rubber lugged to 32 carbide studded soles which keep me on my feet while digging my Adipose FLOW out from recent accumulations of snow.
It was funny, the other day we were leaving a local sporting goods store and my daughter Simone asked “Dad, why do you take off your boots in the store and show the guys behind the counter what your boots can do?”
She often catches me off guard the way any nine year old would, but my response was easy~
“Because my dear, these are the only boots that can do what they do.”
And it’s true.
This video from Orvis and Trout Unlimited on fish passage and reconnecting rivers caught my eye. The Department of Natural Resources, local watershed councils and Michigan TU have been assessing many road crossings for years and are slowly healing many rivers one bridge at a time.
I am off to tie some hoppers and mice patterns with thoughts of warm, humid, sticky nights and the sound of an ominous glurp at the end of my line…