The rollercoaster ride that is spring Up North has been nothing short of eventful. Two weeks ago, the mercury danced near 70 degrees, and two days later, cold rain, more of a deluge of water and plummeting temperatures in the 40’s that would deter most anglers who have a date set for the river. We were not that easily diverted. The river had crested around 1840 cfs and was beginning to recede. The boat launch was at least a foot above normal flow and the current readily noticed as we eased the Costa Blue Adipose in the side seam.
We managed a few decent ‘Tweeners’ early in the float, and even saw a bigger flash and swirl from the depths but nothing above the 18″ mark. Water pushed us faster than normal float time, but this was to our advantage. We have intentions of doing a second leg after lunch.
We were on a mission to compare a few rods. The Temple Fork Outfitters line in particular. Recently being turned on to the Mini Mag by Ray and Kate after I inquired last fall about the best all around northern Michigan daytime streamer/night-mousing rod available, TFO Mini-Mag totally makes sense. This compact rod design was originally aimed at B.A.S.S. anglers, being just under 8′ regulation for tournament competition, but equally perfect for tight cedar corridors and throwing heavy water-logged streamers and deer hair mouse patterns. The power in lifting articulated flies is attributed to the high modulus graphite and unidirectional S-glass and equally translates into a phenomenal rod for roll casting these heavier patterns as well. Matt and I are very impressed. We have both put more than a few hours working our rotator cuff while frothing delicious looking water and can honestly say after consecutive days of casting the 6/8 weight rod is more of a pleasure than a workout. The durable TiCr coating adds to the seductive blue marble finish that is reminiscent of a 70’s Camaro while the feel of the Flor-grade cork grip feels like you are behind the wheel of a muscle car. Give this rod a go this year, I can’t wait to see how well it does for Hex and midnight Mousing.
Randy was working the bend of the 8 weight IMPACT which comes in at 4.6 ounces, a few ounces heavier than the BVK, but it has a sensitive feel unlike many rods of this caliber. I took it for a few casts and could not believe how well it hit targets with pin point accuracy. The smooth feel of this slim rod design coupled with Tactical Series stripping guides and ultra-light weight chromium impregnated stainless snake guides delivers flies right on the mark. WOW! the pure adrenaline and feel of this rod is worthy of praise. It is sexy AND it produces. The rod loads with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, perfect for tossing streamers all day. But then I got thinking, ‘I really love my BVK, what about the Impact 5 weight for trout?’ It was an epiphany. Holy wah~ YES! This would be a dynamite rod in a 4 or 5 weight for delicate presentations and accurate casts often required of my beloved BVK. Expect to see a 5 weight Impact in my arsenal in the near future.
We reached the take out in record time, just as a small trout came out after Randy’s deceiver, and then a big boy came out of the wood work to seal the deal. I was on the oars testing out the new Pro-Loks when Randy muttered something under his breath, and then got a little more animated. “It’s a BIG one!” I quickly slid in the slack water and jumped for the net, perfect timing for a beautiful fish. Quick couple of shots for the camera and off to the depths from which he came. Now the debate- should we do the same float again? or head off to other water?
We saw a few BWO’s coming off, nothing worthy of switching to a dry fly game, but a couple of sporadic risers. The Hendrickson hatch will wait for warmer days ahead and promises to be a great Trout Opener next weekend. We made our way through a few newly uprooted trees and caught a couple more wth twice as many ‘hopeful’ chases out of the wood debris. Randy came through again in the end with a beast that charged halfway across the river and annihilated his streamer.
Next weekend will be packed on the rivers, we hope to see some of you out there enjoying the promise spring weather can afford. Be sure to stop and say hello if you see us on the road or at the gas station. We will most likely be near the Lovells Historical Museum Leaky Wader Run at 10 am. There will be plenty of people at Fuller’s NBOC exchanging stories and plans for the weekend on the water. We will have TRUE NORTH TROUT T-shirts on hand, also available in our store. Then headed to Anglers of The Au Sable Banquet, hope to see you there!!
The weather forecast seems to be playing Jekyll & Hyde with our emotions and biorhythms trying to find a window of opportunity to hit some favorite water. You just have to go, simply because you won’t catch anything watching re-runs of The Andy Griffith Show. April is next week, spring break for many students and a perfect opportunity to bring your kids on a trail hike along a favorite stream to check on steelhead movement, perhaps wet a line as well. We look forward to April for all the promise of a new season, spring rains wash away all the dirty snow and begin the process of awaking Mother Nature as she shows glimpses of her soft side with crocus and iris blooms in between the harshness of freezing rain tantrums.
Trout Opener is April 29 and events across northern Michigan to celebrate another season chasing secluded trout in beaver dams and skinny water are on the books. Hotel Walloon is hosting the second annual Hemingway Weekend, a great package at a premier hotel on the shores of Walloon Lake in Walloon Village which includes a two days packed with local historians, a boat tour, Wine dinner, presentations from Hemingway Society president Chris Storable. True North Trout is honored to be doing a fly tying presentation Sunday morning. Last year, I searched for flies of Hemingway era, and found very little, so I tied large nymphs like the Tellico and Pheasant Tail and a few ‘Hemingway Caddis’ simply for nostalgia and namesake. I would guess bucktail streamers and Wulff style dries may have been the order of the day. I am fairly certain these were not flies found in his creel, since their inventors came after 1910, and seriously doubt Papa was an early advocate for C&R , since most stories recollect the bounty and harvest of his younger days in The Last Good Country. If anyone has any suggestions for flies he may have used, please send me some intel.
The Fly Swap in Birch Run promises to be not only a tremendous gathering of anglers looking to pass on some gently used fly fishing equipment, but also a well attended garage sale for anglers looking to score on some unique and hard to find fly fishing gear. The event is held from 10-3pm at Birch Run Expo Center. I will make no predictions on how many will be on hand, but early reports tell me there will be plenty of local guides and fly shops looking to swap or sell some quality gear. If interested in a table, contact Jeff Johnson at 313-510-0928 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. True North Trout will be on hand will a limited run of our new T-Shirts, long sleeve in Sport Grey and short sleeve Compass Design in Blue. These can be found on our new Merchandise page and we are currently working with Mr. Williams from Green Bus Design for a Brook trout inspired design and limited run of Hex fishing shirts. First we would like to find how much interest there would be in a Rivers of the North T-shirt design. There is much at stake right now with the debate of Fish Farming not only in Grayling but also the Great Lakes. We have collaborated with Line-45 for a pretty cool design which will go to print in the coming month. Look for it.
Trout opener at Fullers North Branch Outing Club is always a festive and nostalgic event. This year promises to be exciting and special. Lovell Museum will be hosting events of the day, which will include the Leaky Wader 1K and Art Neuman Dedication. This should draw few Trout Unlimited members from across the region.
True North Trout will be offering a place to stay after those early season drake hatches or the late night mouse adventures. Check out TroutBum Lodge on the North Branch while you are in Lovells for Trout Opener, we would love to have you stay for a weekend or a full week.
Guest Post By Travis White.
There’s no way around it: Staying active is absolutely necessary for a healthy life. Most people struggle to get enough exercise due to time constraints and motivation, but people with disabilities face an extra challenge. In a world where sports seem to be designed for the non-disabled, where do people with disabilities fit in? Thankfully, as we learn more about the importance of physical activity to physical, mental, and emotional health, opportunities for all people to get involved in sports are increasing. Here are ways you can participate in athletics at every stage of life.
Besides the positive health impact, children who are involved in sports benefit from an increased sense of belonging and accomplishment. This can be especially important for youths with disabilities, who are susceptible to feeling alienated from their peers.
Primary school is the ideal time to start in sports thanks to the focus on participation, rather than competition, for young athletes. Since youth sport leagues tend to be grouped by age rather than ability, kids with disabilities can often play on teams with their non-disabled friends. While they may need adaptations like a baseball that beeps, special needs probably won’t disqualify them as long as they can participate.
As of 2013, high school athletics are required to provide reasonable accommodation to teens with disabilities who want to participate in extracurricular sports. For example, a swim team may provide tactile cues for a swimmer with vision impairment or a track program may have a student in a wheelchair racing alongside teammates.
If a student wants to play a fully adaptive sport, look for adaptive sports clubs or centers that offer recreational and competitive leagues. If there’s not an existing program, networking to start a club and fundraising for equipment can be a great opportunity for a high schooler to develop leadership skills.
Students with disabilities can participate in collegiate sports as long as accommodations don’t fundamentally alter the game or provide an unfair advantage. Since many athletes need adaptations that go beyond those limits, the NCAA is starting championship leagues for students active in adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and sled hockey.
This program offers a welcome change for students who have previously been limited to local adaptive sports clubs. While local leagues can still be a great option, many students want to tie their sport to their college experience.
For a college student who wants to get involved but doesn’t know where to start, talk to student services or disability services to learn about what’s already available or how you can start something new.
Staying active throughout adulthood is challenging for anyone, and it can be especially so for people with disabilities. While team athletics tend to be less popular with adults, there are recreational clubs for people seeking the camaraderie of team sports. While you may be more likely to find an amputee soccer team or wheelchair rugby league in a large city than a small town, adults who need low-level accommodations can find a place on integrated recreational teams or in solo sports like golf.
For adults who are looking to stay active minus the competitive bent, biking and swimming offer great low-impact ways to maintain a healthy heart and a strong body. While most people with disabilities can swim without much adaptation, there’s a chance you’ll need to purchase an adaptive bicycle before hitting the road or trail. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of adaptive bikes on the market, so nearly anyone can find one that meets their needs.
When you stay active, you’re not only maintaining your health and preventing secondary conditions. You’re also building a life with a higher level of independence, from developing community networks to building the stamina to master everyday life with a disability.
Image #1 via Wikimedia Commons
Image #2 via Wikimedia Commons
Travis White is a foodie and loves to cook healthy dishes. At LearnFit.org, he enjoys writing about how to live a healthy lifestyle while focusing on mind, body, and soul.
Last year, I was in my vehicle, Thursday night all loaded up and making a wine run for my wife when as I drove down the approach, my brakes went to the floor. Besides the usual flood of colorful metaphors that exuded softly from my lips, my mind was racing about my travels in the morning to local car garage instead of southbound on I-75 to attend the Midwest Fly Expo. I admit it. I was defeated, a small part of me was severed with a dull serrated knife. Why? What is so special about a weekend with a bunch of scruffy fishing guides and industry leaders? For one thing, it is the largest in the Midwest, and not very often you can have a collective of that many highly talented individuals in one room. For another, it is a second family. Aunts, Uncles, long lost twice removed cousins from the other side of the tracks whom we get to share our passion, stories and a beverage with but once a year. I was crushed. Stranded in Boyne. After making a call to Justin at Adipose, I posted online about my dilemma. Within an hour, amid many fellow condolences empathizing my situation, was an offer from fellow TU member nearby. “I can pick you up after lunch.” For real? How do I make this happen? Call the wife, scramble the troops and re-organize my packing so that I can be more efficient. Done. Awesome. Thank you Chad from Homewaters Real Estate.
I meant to write this last year, but after our carpool ride down this year, it seemed to make more sense. We have the ability to chat about local projects on our rivers, dam removal on the Boardman River, bridge on the Jordan, how Hex season was for each of us and solve all the little quandaries we see in the dynamic world of fly fishing.
This year was well attended, cooler temperatures seemed to bring in a few more anglers than last year. I had the elite honor to see it through the eyes of the Temple Fork Outfitters booth. Bear Andrews, Kate & Ray Schmidt and myself were nonstop busy either meeting new fans of the TFO line, chatting with old friends and clients from around the Great Lakes or introducing a few excited individuals to the new EDGE rods from Gary Loomis. It would be a disservice to try to mention all of the great people we get to hang out with for fear of leaving someone out. So I will post up a few pictures and ask if you have any to post on our Facebook page. Look forward to seeing many of you on the river this season and throughout the year at a river clean up near the 45th parallel. This is why we do what we do…
Special thank you is well deserved to the members of Michigan Fly Fishing Club for organizing and executing another well planned Expo. I would like to especially thank all the tyers and presenters who made the time and travelled to help this be one of the best shows in the Midwest. The Anglers who came to present- Landon Mayer, Craig Mathews, Rick Kustich and George M. Daniel– Thank you. It was a pleasure to connect and chat about the future of industry and share stories of time on the water. Look forward to seeing you again, perhaps on the river.
Last evening, while waiting on a couple at the casual restaurant I work at in the off season, I had the pleasure of talking about our salmon on the menu. It is Norwegian, and although farmed, one of the best farmed salmon table offerings we can provide. Most guests are not in the habit of dropping $30-50 per pound for Copper River Wild caught salmon, and thus we can’t offer it on our menu. We went on to discuss the potential development of Fish Farming in the Great Lakes as well as on one of our most famous trout rivers nearby. My clients spend a fair amount of time traveling the globe and reside in Chicago, they found it ironic that we would purposefully degrade a habitat that is rich with natural beauty all for the mighty dollar. I had to agree, after all, the pristine rivers and lakes are what draw many suburbanites to the North to breath our fresh air and swim in our freshwater seas.
But I also see the other side of the equation. Our establishment alone sells 60-100 pounds of salmon & whitefish weekly, multiply that by 52 weeks and a couple hundred restaurants across the 45th parallel and the number grows exponentially larger. Do we risk the healthy ecosystem of the Au Sable River to meet a demand for rainbow trout? Can we substantiate the negative impact(s) of open Pen Net farms in the Great Lakes? It seems absurd to me, as a Fly Fishing Guide and hospitality professional, that we could entertain the possibility of introducing new diseases and parasites from thousands of salmon living in confined space. This goes without mentioning the herbicides used to control algae blooms and fungi on the nets, coupled with potential escapement and intermingling with other native species, either to outcompete for food or diminish genetic purity of some salmonids that migrate up our orders to spawn. The concentration of feces in both scenarios depletes oxygen and feeds growth of various green algaes, detrimental to the survival of sensitive trout that need cold and clean water to survive.
The Great Lakes are under attack from multiple facets. Whether it is the impending introduction of the voracious plankton filter feeding Asian Carp in Chicago’s Calumet River, or the selling of our spring water on the upper Muskegon River aquifers via NESTLE corporation to ship 20 oz. bottles around the world. Enbridge Line 5 in the straights of Mackinaw has many people concerned its age and degradation will someday lead to total devastation to the largest freshwater system on the green planet if there were a leak. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and current administration deems it necessary to cut Great Lakes funding from $300 million to $30, absolutely not the right time to be faced a critical situation which cannot be undone. Our family has made small steps to be more conscientious of our habits, buying local, eating more homemade pastas and fresh grown vegetables from the farmers market, and less top level consumer proteins. I will eat a fish once in a while, when I catch a walleye or a mess of bluegills with my girls. That is precisely why we are advocates for the resource, and why we need to protect them. For my daughters generation, and hopefully my grandchildren as well. We should Farm Dirt, not Our Water.
Listen to Dr Bryan Burroughs from MITU in his interview with WKAR.
It’s not that I haven’t been busy, nor am I slacking. Just seems that there are so many projects going on, literally my head is spinning from all the fires we have going on around conservation issues. There is also the issue of ‘staying fresh’ and not just being another fly blog that re-hashes yesterdays news. I am always looking for new ideas and any suggestions are welcome. Writing and editing for 50 Best Places to Fly Fish Midwest has occupied much time and contributing articles for a variety of other media outlets has left True North on the back burner. But it is all for the better. I am still looking for a few contributors for the Stonefly Press publication, mostly in states that are focused on walleye, North & South Dakota, Missouri and Kansas are difficult to find validated fly fishing services. Please send me any suggestions if you think of any.
March 11 & 12 are quickly approaching, and we are excited to see many fellow anglers of the fly at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo in Warren Michigan. There is an All-Star lineup of fly celebrities including Landon Mayer, Rick Kustich, George Daniel and last but not least, Craig Matthews. I personally look forward to meeting all of these guys. Be sure to stop by the Temple Fork Outfitters booth, see Ray, Kate, Bear and myself who will be eagerly awaiting to show you some amazing new gear from one of the areas leading values in quality fly fishing rods and reels. Edge Rods by Gary Loomis.
For a few years, Adipose Boatworks has been diligently reworking the layout of their website. They sent out an e-mail asking some of the industry professionals who row the Flow if they would like to contribute a little inside info for a Guide Page. As the first owner of an Adipose in Michigan, I was more than happy to comply. There are now nearly two dozen Adipose Flow’s in the Great Lakes State, with good reason. Read here WHY ADIPOSE is the best Boat for Michigan Rivers.
Just worked up a small piece for Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine on the History of Flies in the Mitten State. Obvious are the famous flies like the Adams that put Mayfield Pond on the map, but there are other, lesser known flies that may deserve our attention, especially in this articulated streamer driven industry. Oldies but goodies are classic flies that still catch fish and there may even be a large generation gap that doesn’t realize how effective they can be.
Also had a great little highlight in Michigan Fly for the less than serious Fly Guide Profile. Working on a few other projects- keep your ears to the ground and I will be sure to share. Spring issue of aTightLoop will have some great material, heads up.
Currently, we are enjoying unseasonable warm weather, melting away most of our snow. Temps in the mid fifties have our 7 weight trigger finger itching to throw some Great Lakes Double Deceivers.With that, I would like to leave you with a rather enjoyable New Year Day on a nearby river. Client Andrew Benjamin was up for Holiday, we stay in contact, weather looked favorable to do a coffee fueled trip down the icy banks searching for gold. The river returned the favor, making our efforts well worth the time put in trimming trees and freezing our fingers and stripping streamers.
After cradling the gorgeous resident brown and letting her go, we both pondered the moment. It all happened so fast, surreal actually. The magnitude of that beautiful fish took a minute to sink in. Right about the time we hooked a decent scrappy little 16″ brownie, we realized that the previous fish not only dwarfed the fish in hand, but may do the same for many fish the rest of the year. It was a good day. See you on the water.
Recently, I was introduced to the not so new style of Euro-Nymphing. It has been around for years. Commonly known as either French-, Polish-, Czech-, or Spanish Style Nymphing, the Europeans have had a way with getting the flies down to where the fish are for decades. Until recently, the US Fly Fishing Team has been on the receiving end of most Fly Fishing Competitions, that is until Lance Egan and Devin Olsen got together and comprised a few theories and applied them to a functioning system and modernized technique. This is what we now know as ‘Euro-Nymphing’. Take away the variable leader length and number of dropper and point flies and we have a more simplified approach.
The Set Up*
Basic set up is a long rod, 10-12′ in length, usually in sizes 2-4 weights, counterbalanced with an oversized large arbor reel. I have found the 4 weight BVK in 10 foot length to be perfect. I have it matched with a BVK I reel, which is plenty large, but you can up-size to the II if you feel the need.
Leader length is where we see the biggest difference. Most of our Midwest leaders run the in the 9′ range with a 12′ leader for spooky or tailwater trout. The Euro set up will more than double that length. Not uncommon to be anywhere from 18-25 feet in length, the leader will serve as your running line, making your fly line choice not as significant. Chameleon Maxima in 20# for the majority of length, 8- 10 feet, for Devin’s rig and then attaching a 3′ section of Suffix Elite, followed by the sighter. The sighter is 18″ of .012-.014 Cortland Bicolor that enables the angler to see the drift and detect any change in the fly. We then use a tippet ring and add 2- 4′ tippet, with 4x to 7x down to the fly. This gets fly down and allows the drift to be more natural with little drag from a surface indicator other than the sighter.
Flies for Nymphing
The benefit of Euro-style nymphing is getting to where the fish are, the flies are integral to the set up. Most are thin profiled with a tungsten or oversized bead head to get to the target zone. Flies you may already know and use, Walt’s Sexy Worm, Egans Red Dart, Surveyor, Rainbow Warrior, and Hare’s Ear all are used, just tweaked a bit. There are a few secret weapons in the video as well.
This should be enough to have your interest. Without giving away everything the video has to offer, I would recommend picking up the video from TACTICAL FLY FISHER on MODERN NYMPHING to improve your next season on the water.
Teaching your Kids about Fly Fishing
As any experienced fly fisherman knows, fly fishing is a skill that takes time, dedication and lots of practice to master. For kids, this can be a trying skill to learn. Frustration and boredom might ensue with some children, no matter how even-tempered they usually are. So before you set out to teach your kids how to fly fish, take these next tips into consideration.
Kids have short attention spans. Be patient with them. Try short fishing trips the first few times, and make it about having fun rather than catching fish. The main goal, after all, isn’t about fishing but developing a love for being on the water and connecting with nature. Over time, they will become more proficient, and the real fishing can begin.
Teach the Basics
Don’t dive off the deep end with all of the fly fishing odds and ends. Start with the basics: rod, reel, line and fly. Teach them the proper ways to hold and cast the rod, straight over the shoulder. They don’t have to know everything all at once; overloading them with too much information may overwhelm them and lead to a poor experience.
Get the Gear
One of the great things about teaching your kids to fly fish is that they get new gear. It’s part of the whole experience, so outfit your kids with good boots and a quality vest (We suggest Carhartt’s line of fishing gear). A decent rod and reel that won’t break the bank is instrumental. Temple Fork Outfitters has combo pack for youngsters at less that $160- The Bug Launcher Kit will have you ready for the water in no time. This will help them feel more connected to the sport.
Kids work well with clearly defined and achievable goals. This can include casting skills or knot tying. If you start with casting practice, we recommend challenging the kids to aim at larger objects, slowly working down to smaller ones. Learning these crucial skills early on will make your kids expert fishermen later in life.
Kids need feedback when learning a new skill. Let them know when they are doing something right. It can be as simple as a “good job!” or “great cast!” This affirmation will feed their confidence and encourage them to keep working to get better.
Keep It Fun
Remember, your kids are just kids. They won’t master this skill for months, weeks or even years. And that is okay! You are laying the groundwork for a great life skill. Keep it fun so they will continue to enjoy the sport for years to come.
Make it Short
Far too often we want to make an afternoon or day outing. Most kids have an attention span lasting no more than 20-30 minutes. Better to keep it short, allow the kids to break up the monotony and catch frogs & turtles or look for snakes. Grab a submerged log and a few rocks, turn them over. I have yet to meet a child who was not amazed at all the little bugs who live in the underwater world we are enthralled with. This should open a page for life long passion of natural sciences.
Don’t forget that you are not the first to try to get your child to love the river or lake as much as you do. Find your local Trout Unlimited Chapter & Federation of Fly Fishing, attend a meeting and get involved. Both groups are eager for younger and new members and often have an annual children’s event aimed at exactly what you may be trying to do. When other kids see friends who are getting involved and active in river clean-ups or fly tying events, they are more likely to stay interested.
Don’t Forget the Fish
What is fishing without the fish? Don’t forget to teach your kids about the different types of fish they might be catching. From trout and panfish to salmon and bass, rivers and lakes are full of interesting creatures. You can even include the best flies to use when fishing for the different types of fish. Just don’t get too technical. For instance, smaller flies are used for smaller fish because their mouths are smaller. You could also talk about using specifically colored flies because of the surroundings. These are all crucial parts of fishing that often get overlooked for the more fun things, like casting.
We hope you and your kiddos have a great time learning to fly fish. Don’t forget the gear for your kids as well as yourself. It might be time for a new vest!