I needed something. A moment, brief as it may be, but just some time away. The media, the divided country, phone calls, yard work/bathroom remodel/travel/guide trips/Covid-19/plans for fall- it had me dizzy, spiraling. I took my opportunity and hit the river, solo mission. Zero agenda. No promotional attaché’. Just me and my 3 weight FSG. It was neither great nor disappointing. The trout were there, and played along with every well-placed lime Humpy or Yeager’s purple 309. Nothing miraculous- a few that could stretch and make the 10″ mark but most were in the 7-8″ range, yet spunky and voracious. I also needed a reason to sit down and reflect and share.
The flowers and aromas reminded me of why we need to get out and adjust our mindset. Vibrant purple, yellows and varied hues of green adorn the river along my self-induced defrag session. Around some corners, the Joe Pye and sedum were heavy and strong, weighed down from the morning’s precipitation. The next bend has a nice deep run with a few logs in it. The fresh rain has added the slightest influx to a series of feeder channels along my route and often a trout will wait for fresh appetizers to appear on the evening’s special menu. All I have to do is navigate the dogwood behind me and manage a reach cast around a couple snags and plop my dinner feature in the feeding lane. It takes a minute, but in that time, I sense all that is right in this place- solitude, sounds, smells and trout. Even the brook trout smell fresh, cold and healthy, as if I was some form of piscatorial doctor- they ‘smell healthy’ to me. The froth of fresh rain adding to the watershed reminds me of youthful days, waterfall & beaver dam hopping in Ontario, catching as many trout as we possibly can because the ACR has scheduled to dynamite the dam that is bigger than a football field lest it break in a storm and wash out the railroad trestle on its way to Trout Lake.
The eager trout takes my fly even before it has a chance to test its buoyancy. Not a monster, but a delight to see a juvenile steelhead pounce and display his acrobatics at the end my fiberglass rod. This isn’t “client” water, not saying I haven’t brought certain individuals in to share these sacred spots, but more often than not, it doesn’t fish well with more than one angler and most clients who call are either looking for fish that measure in pounds rather than in inches. That’s ok. I have had good days with clients on Tricos and BWOs/hoppers- it is always cold and the fish will play. But much has changed. Gone are many deeper runs where a dozen fish could hide from anglers or overhead predation. Silt and sand have replaced many slots.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ~Heraclitus
The peace of my adventure was only momentarily interrupted when I fell into a beaver hole. I recalled that over a year ago there were several beaver dams in this mile stretch of water. A multitude of hiding holes and runs for hundreds of trout. Over 30 beaver dams have been removed by local watershed organization. Right or wrong? Doesn’t matter, the organization claims “Connectivity” for better brook trout spawning, and studies from a private section of water on the other side of the state somehow validate removal without public input or consideration. I get excited when I see a beaver dam old or new. There was a time when I was President of MVWTU and wanted every beaver dam on the Maple River removed, eradicated. Many conversations with Dr. Burroughs from MITU has me thinking on different levels. There is a balance in nature. Trout and beavers have lived for 100’s of years in symbiotic harmony, the structure acts as a sediment catch as well as refuge for a multitude of animals in all seasons- especially summer when water levels are low. The bottom draws offer refuge for trout and fish extremely well. The topside can be a hotel for many trout to reach a respectable size- and often do. I am sure there are a few anglers who come in here with an ultralight & Panther Martin or a long rod and redworm rig to bring home dinner. If I were to measure my day on those standards- I had two keepers, dropped my Therma-Cell and had a decent time. But- if I were to measure my day on Catch & Release angling standards- I had the opportunity to dance and tangle with well over a dozen trout, the biggest at 10.5″, reset my internal tolerance for the less fortunate, and inhaled the beauty of a late summer day in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It was a great afternoon in the valley.
This summer has been crazy. Hex season, Big fish lost, a few days with Janis from MeatEater, catching up with many clients, meeting new ones, new Adipose this fall. Stay tuned. Share. Stay Positive. Live happy, everyday.
Why is it on the first day of the season I get out on the river, I somehow manage to miss the first several strikes from a trout? Are the lightning responses from an eager brook trout darting out from tannic cover in line with a supercharged Porsche? Doubtful. Are my senses still dormant from a winter of shoveling snow and reflexes more calibrated with the elbow jarring of last falls Streamer trips? More plausible. There is more on my mind on this trip. Seems inevitable, but I begin the internal debate: could it be the fly? Am I getting short strikes? Are the char fat and full like they have been in past early seasons? Pay attention- anticipate the strike. What should I switch to? An immediate survey in the sleepy dogwood and tag alders show little sign of bug activity, so I decide to stay subsurface. A quick switch out of my #8 Black Ghost to a bead head Zirdle Bug, and roll cast down the seam and yet another quick drive by on the decent. Miss. Totally asleep at the wheel on that take. Roll it out and mend, jig, drop- BAM!! Finally. There are few that know the relief an angler feels when he either a) figures out his/her miscues b) finally aligns reflexes with literary knowledge or c) cracks the code and eliminates ‘monkey on the back’.
Phew. Time to relax. Shoulders are now in a more comfortable position. Nothing is tense. I actually begin to realize there must be a pinhole in my left leg in my waders because my wool sock is taking on a rather sloshy feel- not unlike that nasty spit of white slushy mix Mother Nature threw at us last weekend after a 6 day 50+ degree tease. For the record, I missed at least four times on two, maybe three different fish before I finally connected and had a decent ten inch brook trout in the net. These times, these unprecedented days we face, are much like fly fishing. Perhaps I am the only one who can surmise. Every time we head out, we are faced with a new set of parameters, and we must assimilate our approach based on past experiences and the writings of others who may have blazed this path prior to our time on this river. When we pay close attention to all the details, read the water properly, assess current situation with knowledge of experts both near & far, and predict a favorable outcome, we can be rewarded with either a gorgeous trout with a crimson flank and blue haloed dots or a larger silver-sided steelhead. The teachings of the river has many parallels- we just need to listen to them. I am one of the fortunate. I am knee deep and working a delicately orchestrated trout stream with habitat that provides more shelter and ample snags than the average trout stream. I am lucky not only because this is not only a quick day trip for me, but one of a dozen streams like this in northern Michigan. My escape is relatively quick and easy, if I assist with kids and home chores. Just then, another sudden jar from a trout I had not anticipated, as a pair of F-14 fighter jets roar overhead, and I miss my opportunity. I was slacking and not on point. Shake it off. It happens, and I can hear the increased throttle of the jets as they make another pass on my backside, northbound and lower- they want to know what they are biting on.
Never take for granted that soft, froggy water. Sometimes, brown and brook trout alike will set up in that ominous mucky bottom water because of the relative ease they can slide out and into a feeding lane or cover. So I work some soft water before I move across into the darker rocky bottom midsection. Just as I was deep in reflection regarding my place here, in the river, northern Michigan, my thoughts were brought back to focus by the 11″ trout that seemed to take the fly in slow-motion- allowing my dormant reflexes to react. The trout didn’t believe he was hooked just as much as I could believe he was attached to the end of my line. Then he went into ‘Fight or Flight’ mode- darting and dashing across the stream and hiding under some bank structure. I was happy at this moment I chose the 8’6″ 5 weight BVK instead of my 3 weight Finesse Glass. The river is not pushing serious amounts of water, not like it did two seasons ago when it crested two feet above the banks, but there is evidence from sand and pebble deposits on the island behind it did occur at first snow melt. The larger TFO rod allows me to throw some of the small streamers and bead head Girdle bugs that a 7′ fiberglass rod doesn’t execute as well. It also helps when these fish put on the afterburners- and soon into my net. A quick appreciation of the beauty this fish and these places afford me and I release the trout to play again, perhaps when drakes are hatching. A few brown stoneflies make their awkward fumbling aerial appearance, some skate for a moment on the waters surface and I watch with eager anticipation, but no rises. As much as I want it to happen, to the point where I have a small olive stimulator picked out of my box, I cannot will the trout to rise to a surface take at this moment. It is quite alright, they seem to be indulging just fine on #10-12 two toned Coffee Pat’s Rubber legs. Go with what works.
I saw a white 2 1/2 gallon bucket a short distance in the bush upstream. Now is a good time to head back, grab that bucket and pick up some trash along the river. It is amazing. Some of the most beautiful places in the country, and people are often the laziest when the beer can is empty. I find several old cans tucked up under dried cattails from last season and freshly consumed Shock Top bottles on an island in front of a deep run. I can only surmise they were recent because the three were neatly placed in some grass that otherwise would have been swept away a week or so ago, but why bring glass? Back at the truck, there is a campsite with cans of Two-Hearted Ales and White Claws among small CO2 chargers I recognize from making real Whipped Cream at the restaurant. What kind of party did I miss here? At first I get irate and disgusted at the irreverence of people and these pristine places, then I quickly clean up the site and disperse these resentments recalling I once was immature and irresponsible, perhaps it is now my turn to take care of the places we value and lead by doing- not just preaching. This isn’t a self admiration pat on the back moment, most of us bring a small trash bag and carry out seasons worth of others debris, but more of an Embrace the Suck moment. All of our experiences can be highlighted by one or two selective moments- if I let this part of my day absorb deeply, I will forget lessons learned by slowing down and fishing to the tempo of the river, and the glorious trout that I shared with my time on the river.
The Stay at Home order has us all feeling a bit lost, out of place. Our biorhythm and natural process of our day has been out of whack. Many of us out of work, or working from home, while homeschooling and balancing something that resembles a family life- without going to see family. March was a pivotal point- we had to make decisions to save lives. The Midwest Fly Expo in Detroit was cancelled. Beyond unfortunate for fly dealers, vendors and sales representatives as well as the rest of our fly family who eagerly looks forward to the annual family reunion in Macomb County. April proved this to be a good call. What if we had the show? How many people would be infected or even worse? So I wanted to reach out to a few buddies and see if we could get a message on the issue out there. Jeff Troutman from Remote. No Pressure. was intrigued by the concept of getting some varied viewpoints on the state and fly fishing industry together for an informal Podcast. On board were Allen Crater, co-owner of Stevens Advertising and formerly State President of BHA , Jon Osborn, author and Public Safety Officer in Holland, along with Jeff Troutman and myself were set to discuss the pros and cons of this pandemic. Look for it this week on RNP. I am sure I will share it. We discussed many aspects of this day and age. But, to my surprise, much was on the positive. Fishing will still be there(could even be better), Morels are soon to pop, families are spending more time together. Business has evolved, much like people. We are finding a way.
Unprecedented. Dire. Bleak. Gloomy. So many adjectives that people are using to describe the place we are in right now. The State of Society, it truly is unfortunate. Instead- we should embrace the positive. The ‘Golden Opportunity’. Spend some better actual quality time with family. Take that nature hike on a trail or conservancy property you have been putting off. Get crazy and learn a language, workout, change your diet, plant a garden, start a blog- not all of course, but really, I am building a deck. The Corona Deck. We will undoubtedly see a few less restaurants this year, fewer fly shops and ice cream shops. Perhaps we are setting up for a new society. This summer will be different, in ways we have yet to comprehend. Not all of it will be bad. Now is a perfect opportunity for growth and change. The business that doesn’t have any social media outlet would benefit from this time to connect to a waiting or untapped audience. Reading a cereal box this morning- Cap’n Crunch has [Twitter] [Facebook] and [Instagram]- really? Check it out. If you are a business and don’t have one of these media outlets, someone else is getting your clients. This is changing how manufacturers will do business, how schools will have class. Two months ago, I never heard of ZOOM, now, weekly have at least 1/2 dozen meetings with clients and business partners. Once a person or society practices something for over two weeks, it becomes habit, a new normal. We are living the new change. Coincidence? You think McDonalds had the drive-up App curbside in the past year by accident? We were headed this way.
Regardless of how you’re handling the current situation, take the time to just sit still and enjoy the quiet. Turn off the television and enjoy a moment on the verge of a new world. Smile, be kind, and if you can, get on a river and throw some flies.
Check on my buddy Paul Beel at FRANKEN FLY with a write up on local tyer Tim Neal.
WOW. We have never seen times like this. My children can’t even begin to comprehend the worldwide impact this virus has on our future. Many people, many businesses, all of our lives will be forever changed. I have seen a lot of ugliness on the social media outlets- some directed at State level officials, others at POTUS, and I can’t speak to being on one side or another, but I would not wish to be in any political position at these incredible times. I have been on the phone calling a lot of our fly shops to check in and see how things are going. I won’t give out names, but I have heard a host of responses and want to relay what the next couple weeks might hold for us in the Fly Industry. These are merely opinions. Nobody knows for certain what will happen in the next month or two, but I wanted to reach out and connect with you, my readers and say thank you for always reading and being diligent and being trouty.
Now, perhaps more than ever, fly fishing is relevant. I see virtual fly tying groups pop up on my feed from Trout Unlimited groups and local fly shops hosting tying nights on Facebook and other outlets. This is beyond great!! We need to have this interaction, for our sanity and for our families. Fly shops are dying for your business- they need to you keep them afloat and pay the bills until this passes. We can still go out and practice social distancing while hiking back in the woods to a favorite stretch of water. Call and check what your local fly shop is doing regarding online purchasing or curb-side delivery for call ahead orders. Being from the service industry, I realize and see how more restaurants and fly shops are better situated for this, but time will certainly show who can evolve and work out the kinks. Some fly shops have long understood and utilized the social media aspect of business in this day and age. Others are starting to see that there is some relevance in having a ‘following’ on Instagram/Facebook. Having a web presence and getting clicks also translates to sales of actual products and materials that don’t sit on a shelf and expire. I can only encourage dealers to get online and connect with their clients in this global marketplace that operates 24 hour a day. This is a great time to look at a business plan that includes social media/online sales for the next 5 years.
We are also fortunate that most of us have all the things it takes to go out and get lost on a river or stream for an afternoon. Others might not be so lucky. Invite that person who is Fly Curious and show them the glorious world fly fishing can offer (from a socially acceptable distance, of course), the reward might be more than just a 12″ brown in the net. Let them borrow that steelhead rod or 5 weight for a short time, until they get the bug and purchase their own. It can turn into a lasting relationship for many adventures on the water that include river clean-ups, camping. cook-outs and travel to many other fishy destinations. We have a golden opportunity to share a treasure that can have a deep and lasting meaning.
Give a buddy a call and see what his/her plans are for the coming year. Make some rough draft for a camping/fishing trip. I made a promise to a few anglers earlier this year to fish with them because too many years have passed with flippant promises made-“We should fish this year!” often heard at the Midwest Fly Expo. Sadly, it was not this year. Called merely days prior to event, the State made the right call to prevent gatherings over 250 people. Many fly shops stock up on various Show Specials. Give your shop a call and see what they might have in store for you. Make that promise to FISH this year become a reality. Pull out your Google Calendar and lock your buddy down for a date, or two. I know I have had a couple of May/June Guide dates call and cancel. I am keeping them open to shuffle other clients who were looking for better hatches and still reserve one or two for personal time on the river.
Look at the positive side of this. This is the slow time. Really. At least this wasn’t middle of June. I know viruses tend to become extinguished in warmer climates, but that doesn’t rule out a pandemic in June because of our Global economy and travel. It gives us the opportunity to regroup, organize and clean things up. We are still tying flies, organizing boxes, mailing out ‘CoVid Care Packages’ to friends who will appreciate and keeping positive. Having a global event happen in the fall would devastate winter travel to saltwater fishing destinations as well. There are multiple silver linings in this pandemic. Many ‘would be’ summer travelling anglers are going to be likely staying close to home and keeping their dollars in state or near a favorite river with family cabin on it. Big ticket items may take a small hit, but all the small necessities of fly fishing are essential- flies, leader/tippet, fly boxes, Dry Magic and streamside accessories.
Talking to Corey H. at Schultz Outfitters said it best- “we are selling little bits of Happiness.” How true. Leader/Tippet, hooks, tying materials, riverside accessories – all small packages that offer hope. To the Angler and Fly shop. The shop that sells ‘happiness’ has return customers and exponential growth.
The rivers are still flowing. Every day, 24 hours a day, whether you voted Democrat or Republican. The river keeps moving. The trout are still thriving. Looking for their next morsel. This is here for you. To relax, enjoy and lose yourself for a day. I encourage you to practice some ‘Social Distancing’ today on a river that you can access, perhaps you forget about things for a few minutes while that fish has you tight to your reel. I am headed out to find a fish that can help me focus on June, and hatches that will blow your mind…
2019 flew by like a tornado through a trailer park in Mancelona. Fast and furious. Did it feel like that for you as well? What does 2020 hold in store for you? Care to make any resolutions or promises? Here is a quick recap from northern Michigan guiding and playing in our water wonderland.
Last year started off like any other year, running the show circuit, seeing and talking to many other fervent anglers eager to get out on the river and test out new rods and fly patterns only to be met with one of the coldest and wettest April’s on record. Hatches were deferred for weeks and fish were sated from all the rain and snow melt when spring finally decided to make her arrival. The fish caught, although few, were beefy and had wintered well, strong and healthy. The Hex hatch hopefuls booked their trips months in advance only to be met with decent drake hatches- not a mega Hexagenia limbata to be found until closer to July. Record high water on the Great Lakes has backed up many lower river sections and slowing the flows to some extent. We made the best of it and had some great evenings. We floated some new water, sometimes out of necessity- bridges were being replaced or car spotters had gone on vacation, and look forward to exploring more with fellow guides on our days off. August came with some intensity, putting some of our bug schedules back on track and heaving a healthy dose of much needed terrestrial time for those who sought to bang tall grassy banks with foam imitations.
Being able to attend IFTD in Denver was a high point for me personally. Repping for Umpqua and TFO has allowed me to finally meet and shake hands with many of the industry giants in person. Which also brings up one of my resolutions for 2020. We often make casual promises to one another- “We need to fish sometime.” casually interjected over morning coffee at an Expo or at a Fly Fishing Film Festival. I intend to make those empty promises more legit. I have two or three dates in my black book already reserved for anglers who have complied with ending the ‘False Promises’ and we shall actually fish together in 2020.
Here are a few other Resolutions from anglers across the HOOK SHOTS crowd. I made far too many trips to Colorado for sales meetings without bringing a fly rod- that will hopefully change in 2020. Same goes for sales meetings in Dallas, Texas- there are a few fisheries down there I need to explore with fellow TFO anglers. I was fortunate enough to fish salt with Captain Rick Worman of Flatline Guide Service and connect with a few Drum and Redfish near Melbourne Florida. Check out the Banana/Indian River if you get to visit the Great Space Coast.
We had good start to show season a few weeks back in Grand Rapids with decent attendance at the Delta Plex. I hope the Great Lakes Council of Fly Fishers keeps this venue and date in order for it to grow with success in the coming years. In the coming months, I will be busy on the road for Temple Fork Outfitters and Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cincinnati Fly show is February 1, Columbus Fishing Expo February 7,8, & 9. I will tying at Jays in Gaylord January 25 and at Cabelas in Dundee on January 18, 2020. The Midwest Fly Fishing Expo is March 14 & 15– be sure to stop by and check out the latest in fly gear from TFO and UFM.
We will be watching our rivers and keeping a close eye on developments as we all eagerly await possible Grayling re-introduction. Whether you are for or against, it is a noble concept and could be a great resource for a few of our cold rivers in northern Michigan.
Another goal in 2020- spend more time with my girls on the river. Not merely making empty promises, we need to engage our children in the outdoors so we can have the next generation care about the resources we work so hard to preserve. If you are looking for potential projects, The Mayfly Project is expanding all over Michigan and the Great Lakes Region. The Mayfly Project introduces Foster children to the beauty and serenity of our rivers through Fly fishing. This is a great opportunity for passing on our passion for the resources. Even if you can only volunteer to do a fly tying session or streamside bug sampling, these kids truly appreciate and enjoy time in the outdoors without counselors or Social Workers asking questions that may bring up hurtful memories. Make a difference and volunteer.
Here is to wishing you a very prosperous and Fishy 2020!!
We have all stuffed the Turkey and gorged to our hearts content. Thankful. Let the shopping BEGIN!! My wife often asks me for a list of ideas for Christmas, which is difficult, because we acquire the things we need as we need them. But- I make small lists with things like bird feeders and warm wading socks so my Aunt Carol, or whomever drew my name for the Koz Christmas party can surprise me. It is really tricky. I don’t really ‘Need’ anything for fly fishing- but, every year, industry R&D professional produce something that will cast further, faster, stronger and better. We must have it. So here we go. Remember, THIS is a WISH LIST, if you don’t want to read about the latest in the fishing industry, or hope to find a cool fly box in your stocking, then please pass this along to a friend and save yourself the turmoil of plowing through this post like the 13″ of snow we are about to get.
SANDILL COFFEE– I don’t drink, but I truly enjoy a great cup of coffee. I met Phil Wingo a few years back at a BHA event. He was kind enough to send me blind samples of beans and we chose a roast I liked. He then made up a small batch of True North Trout Camp Coffee, which I serve on all my guided trips. Great Coffee, flavor profiles to match any mood. I really Like the San Miguel, Papau New Guinea and the Kula Peaberry. Give them a try and host a coffee party. They are dedicated to the environment and giving back to conservation. I applaud and support these small businesses. Roasted coffee $14-17 Gift packages $25.00
FISHEWEAR– If you have not noticed, 2019 was the YEAR of WOMEN. Really, in a cool way. Orvis 50/50 on the water campaign and clothing lines are starting to take notice, the rivers are not ‘Men Only’. It is AWESOME. Enter Linda Leary, who a few years back wanted to make a comfortable, yet colorful line of apparel for female anglers. From legging, belts, jackets, hats, neckwear and lately boots- Fishewear has taken the Fly industry by storm. and for good reason. Her goal was to instill confidence, and many agree, the colors and patterns are perfect for this otherwise multi-shaded khaki fly community. This line of clothing appeals to many outdoor activities, from yoga, hiking, biking and even mountain climbing. Check out their entire line on Facebook or Instagram. Leggings $110.00 Groovy Legacy Grayling Boots $145.00
GRAPLRZ– made in Michigan by a young couple who is making a mark in the eyewear retainer game. What sets them apart? First of all, the silicone break away attachment to the lanyard is secure and long lasting. The Wire attaches to a multi barbed insert(think stingray tail) which securely fits inside the silicone tubing. They have also begun the re-purposed fly line series of lanyards, which are perfect for anglers who wear Hoodies that seem to inevitably push sunglasses forward while rowing or moving about. They have a great line of outdoor apparel and lifestyle hats and t-shirts. Be sure to check out the full line of colors(9 in wire and 3 in fly line) and hope one finds its way into a stocking near you. Price $12.95-15.95
RIVERSMITH RodQuiver~ What is better than a 3 rod carrier? 4 banger rod carrier from RIVERSMITH. But WHY? I can have 2 five weights & 2 eight weights set up and ready to roll, or 2 fours & 2 seven weights, whatever, makes sense. I have had mine for about a year and personally applaud all improvements made on the other version of Rod carriers. Riversmith has 2 & 4 rod versions, stronger plastic reel housing with a inner lip that closes more securely than competitor version. Mounting is a breeze and the lack of a bracket across the top of tubes makes for a more solid mount. The reel door opens to the side, which is a beneficial move. Opening reel carrier to top caused the housing to crack and prematurely deteriorate on the other version. Customer service has been top notch and the variety of key sets used in locking the Rod Quiver makes me feel better when I leave my rods in the tubes. Other guides have reported that their version of rod carrier were broken into simply by prying at the latch with a flathead screwdriver. Don’t jeopardize your most valued possession while you are attending a Fly Expo this spring, get the security and solid design features from Riversmith USA. Available in Matte Black or Silver in 10’4″ or 11’4″ lengths. Check them out at a dealer near you. Price $400-719.
FLYVINES– Repurpose your used fly line for some second life. Bracelets, lanyards, key fobs, coasters and so much more. Erin has been busy collecting line from anglers across the country and finding a great use for gently used line that also makes a fashion statement. Based in Missoula MT, Flyvines is at the heart of fly fishing and also support The MAYFLY Project. She showed off some really cool items at IFTD, ornaments for decorating your Holiday Tree and the Fly shop along with some good looking dog collars. Shop here Price $6.99-29.99
ADIPOSE BOATWORKS– Hey, while perhaps you may have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, I have visions of ripples and seams cutting along the chine of a sparkling new Adipose Flow. One night it may be the Charcoal gray with Simms Orange accents and the next it might be the drab Olive with silver highlights. Anyway you choose, Adipose can customize you next drift boat to your desired color combo. Both the FLOW and the RUNOFF are designed by anglers and it becomes readily noticed how well they handle when you begin to cast from the bow. I have had many clients comment on how well set up the storage is, ease of getting in and out, how stable the boat is, and how comfortable the boat is for full day trips for some anglers who may have hip or knee issues. The layout makes sense to me, the ease of maneuverability and control while posting up on feeding fish has always been impressive. Price will vary depending on how many add-ons, upgrades on trailer, and other small details- but I would heavily consider the Teflon* coating for the hull on my next boat. Price $9500-$13500.
UMPQUA FEATHER MERCHANTS– I would be a fool not to point out a few of the great things Umpqua has put out this season. The UPG LT PAYLOAD fly box- whether for Salt or Freshwater, this is the box for your destination trip or just need one box to carry your Lunch $ and Swim Coaches. The number of anglers I heard ask for a good design on a box to take to Cuba/Bahamas/Belize so they could pack in plenty of Deceivers, Crazy Charlies and Bonefish Bitters and Aphlexo Crabs without bringing a boat sized box was amazing. These are perfect to fit in your small duffle and carry a metric tonne of flies. For Freshwater guys, jam in Midnight Mullets, Clousers, Murdich Minnows on one side and double down with Morrish Mice, Mercer’s Lemming, Waking Wounded and some Bass Poppers on the flip side~ you are ready for whatever the river may throw at you. Price $60.
The much anticipated ZS2 Waterproof Boat Bags Large (17″x 11.5 x 10.5) and Medium (13″ x 9 x 9.5) have been revised and getting great accolades from guides and shops across the country. Solid structured lid with reinforced dry-lock rim keep water out when you simply flip the top over the enclose, Zippered clear and mesh compartments on underside hold tippet and maps while the Velcro internal dividers allow for organization for angler, photographer, and kayaker alike. These are multi-purpose bags that will be used for many outdoor adventures. Get out and explore. #tiedtothewater Price $220-300
BACKCOUNTRY HUNTERS & ANGLERS– There must be someone in your family who has everything, What do you get them? How about a membership to the fastest growing outdoor active sport group on the planet. BHA- uniting Hunters, anglers, campers, hikers, kayakers, birdwatchers, etc. (you get the point) to get involved and save the last WILD places we have left. I have a PUBLIC LAND OWNER sticker on my truck, and a teacher at my child’s school asked me what it was about. I found it interesting because I later found out her son is a CO with the DNR. Public land belongs to all of us, and when the State decides we have a ‘surplus’ of land in the UP and they prepare to auction it of to the highest bid for oil/mineral exploration, BHA can step in and help gain public interest, ultimately saving the land we hunt, hike and recreate on. Access rights for rivers and legislative issues on state level are always a big contention for companies and BHA has the manpower to get in the battle to fight for the people. Join BHA for a Pint night near you and see what they are up to. It only makes sense that we would want to protect where we go to unplug. Michigan has a very active chapter. #keepitpublic #accessourrivers Membership varies depending on Individual/Business one year or three year. $15-100 JOIN HERE
SIGHT LINE PROVISIONS– from the talented hands Edgar Diaz, comes the workmanship he found when he was looking for an accessory to match his passion for the rivers and mountains where he found peace and represent his love for the outdoors. He is always working on developing new ideas and collaborations with outdoor groups and companies that share his passion, evident though the Yeti Tumbler collection and SAVE BRISTOL BAY collection. There is a variety of leather products from key fobs & steel badges for coolers to necklaces/pendants and rings for anyone’s lifestyle. Make someone’s Holiday special with a leather bracelet from Sight Lines in their stocking and receive a free Trout Badge 2.0 hat. Price $25-145.00.
CATCH & RELEASE Print from FISHPRINTSHOP.com A few years back I was attracted to the idea of having an attractive print of one of my Hex browns from the year before on my wall. Coincidentally, my wife was not privy to having dead animals hanging from the living room wall- I then met Michael Emerson through social media channels and was immediately attracted to the idea of a Tomerelli brown in my den. The classic details he adds to each fish with an ID stamp of date, time, place and fly the fish was caught makes for a perfect gift idea for the angler who went on a trip and has only an image of a great catch on his phone. Check out his Saltwater collection of marlin and sharks- very impressive. Prices range on variety of species. $125-155 and up for special orders.
TEMPLE FORK OUTFITTERS– There is a small buzz in the fly industry regarding the TFO AXIOM II-X. Born from the much acclaimed TiCrX predecessor, this rod is carbon fiber with a double helix of Kevlar for fast action and quick recovery. Very light and deadly accurate in the right hands, this rod will deliver flies on target with minimal effort. I cast an eight weight all day throwing streamers and was very impressed at the action and amazing capability of this rod. It packs a lot of punch for a rod in this price range. Check one out at a show near you. Price $359
The BVK SD reel is new and features a completely sealed drag. Noticeable soft pewter in color is a small contrast from the green previous BVK, which will look stunning with the sky blue Axiom II-X. The BVK-SD is machined aluminum and anodized for use in fresh or saltwater. Large arbor design allows for great line capacity and quick line retrieve for the angler. This reel is available in 4 sizes priced from $199-229.95
CODY RICHARDSON’s CREATIONS– Who wouldn’t want a really cool license plate Trout or Permit hanging in the office/den or fly room? Cody Richardson is a Colorado native who grew up exploring the rivers and streams of the Rocky Mountains. He switched gears from a career in fire fighting to pursue a personal passion for fly fishing and unique artwork. Starting out by creating personal designs in his home shop for friends and family, these pieces caught on through local Colorado fly shops, and are now carried sold in shops around the world. Check out his awesome work at local fly shops. Price ranges from $300-850
Guide Trip with TRUE NORTH TROUT– Obviously a day on the water is on everyone’s wish list. Gift certificates available upon request. Next year is already filling up. Limited availability due to sales meetings and dealer visits, but I would love to get you on the river in between and show you some of northern Michigan. Price $275 half day $375 full day
These are obviously not in any particular order- merely to give some good ideas and conversation. Thank you for reading and keeping up with True North Trout. Please enjoy time with your friends & family, treasure the things than mean the most. Happy Holidays!!
This is not a religious post. Unless you choose to read that deep, then you may interpret as you wish. Merely a recap of a great float recently experienced on a blustery cold day with multiple fronts and gales blowing in our faces that seemed to not only stop our boat, but freeze time. Client was a retired Army Sergeant from the Lake St. Clair area who had more to offer me than I had anticipated.
As is often the case, one can determine not only the type of day on the water with a client I can expect, but also what kind of life and personal character an angler possesses after first cup of coffee. This particular guy had been through a few tours in Afghanistan and spent his off duty time making fly rods when the French could not provide any fermented grapes to help relax and slow down his brain. His wife is much like mine and readily notices when he needs to recalibrate and spend some quality time on the river setting his medulla oblongata on track, so she sends him off on a river trip. He chose me after a previous article written a few years back on a totally on related topic, but somehow made it primary goal to meet and spend a day on the water together. After we share and exchanged background, families, history and fishing style, I learned he has two children that he taught how to read a river current by having cricket races to discover where seam lies. He also has a long boat that he has spent a considerable amount of time restoring and bringing back to life. Time on the water spent with kids is more akin to being a class instructor on a firing range, keeping bait in check and safety on, less one child hooks the other. Like any good father, its not about actually fishing for us, more about watching our children grow instead of FLASH- boom, they graduate and we missed all the small things. Spending time on the river with anyone always teaches, you have to be ready and open.
“What color fly should we start with?” I inquire. “Yellow, Olive, ginger? Black can be very effective.”
“Maybe we should let the fish tell us what they like.” in a sage and simple retort he responds. We seem to often Think what we should be doing to attract the bite, we need to pay more attention to the river. I still do the routine color change after first choice doesn’t show any response from likely runs, I know the trout are here, we need to tap into the predator instinct. My client does have some vertebrate damage and we aren’t going to throw 8″ double deceivers, so we keep it in the sculpin realm of zoo cougars, zonkers and rattlesnakes.
“Have an apple, it’s a SweeTango*, they are awesome.” I offer.
“No thanks, those things clean your teeth, my dentist is hot.”
I am sure his wife has heard the line before, but it reminded me of our grandfather’s generation. So many great one liners I have heard from fly tyer’s like Jerry Regan and many others over the years. They grew up listening to the radio, spending time telling and sharing stories, while our kids are consumed in these small 4″ devices that feed YouTube medication directly to the retina. Who/where is our storyteller generation? Will we have one? Who will pass on our legacy? I am sure it will be recorded on someone’s iPhone, but lacking a certain classic narration by Morgan Freeman.
He shares minimal war stories of time spent across the ocean. Seeing and living through terrible things unimaginable by my midwest midlife mid standard experiences. Habits of choosing a seat in a restaurant that has three optimal egresses, not taking a viable open parking spot on the street because it doesn’t allow for immediate evacuation to the point it upsets his wife. I ask if the war will ever be over? Is it about oil? Again, my Midwest lack of global current affairs exposed- “No, Never” he replies, “It’s about drugs- Opium. The parents blow opium smoke in the child’s faces so they aren’t hungry and stop crying. We are the only country where our poor are fat.” WOW. So true. Shocking. Never actually thought about it.
He recounts tales of getting caught up in a mosh pit in some bar in W. Virginia-(Maybe?) and one of his Goliath infantrymen- 6’9″ #370 grabs him by the scruff of his neck and lifts him to safety. Nearly getting fired from a civilian job for referring to his manager for riding a short bus and questioning the HR director for finding the least qualified recipient of the job he currently possesses. These and countless other uniquely rich stories, unadorned and raw, but extravagant and delicious nonetheless. Buy a Flannel from Duluth Trading- magnetic buttons, to help make your romantic bedroom activity more exciting. Spend the very first 3 minutes you come home with your canine friend to ensure a lifelong bond- don’t even take your boots off, show him how much he means to you. Make connections with other countries, the French & Germans have good wine. There is nothing to fear in this world, except Mom & God. Everything else is in your head. Make a decision. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
We exchange a handshake on a great day in the river, nobody was shooting at us. chili was perfect & promise to do this again. We have had our tribulations, our worse days are behind us.
Cheers & Tight Lines!!
Denver Colorado, the return of the International Fly Trade Show was nothing short of the feast set out at the return of lost prodigal son since his last appearance in 2012. A grand Homecoming indeed. The stage was set and many hours were put in by the staff and board of AFFTA, noticeable and appreciated. A variety of seminars from ‘how-to’ improve social media contact for businesses, start a podcast for your marketing, breaking barriers through inclusion and exploring diversity on the water to sustainable business practices, managing travel and open to buy fly programs were just a few of the opportunities many dealers were able to attend. Keynote breakfast with Steven Rinella from MEATEATER started the week off with the same vibe- why do we look at another anglers method as archaic? When we really should embrace the fact that they are out there taking part in outdoor recreation. Period.
It would have been difficult to not notice the lack of plastic water bottles overflowing from various trash receptacles- Costa Sunglasses kicked the #kickplastic campaign in high gear for this show, and it was well received. Might take more than a few nudges and free re-usable water bottles for other markets to grasp the concept, but the reality of our finite water resources and lack of effort to not utilize single use plastics has to begin now. The guide/fly shop is the best place to get the word out. Costa was enlisting as many guide/outfitters as were willing to make the commitment to no single use plastics in their day to day operations. True North has been working in compliance for the passed two seasons, we are looking to spread the word and get more people involved. You can find more information and how to get involved HERE. COSTA #KICKPLASTIC
There were numerous friends and industry professionals from across the country, far too many to name and would fear omitting a few by accident. The following is a sampling of photos from last week in Denver,
First of all, I apologize. For being a slacker. It has been a while since I sat and put pencil to paper, but, reality is, I have been busy. I have been making the transition into Sales Representative Great Lakes for Umpqua Feather Merchants, and soon Temple Fork Outfitters. Be prepared for a few shameless plugs on both product lines. More on that next month. What inspired me today? A few things in recent weeks while on the road in Ohio visiting stores, because in northern Michigan, I don’t see and/or feel the direct impact as much as when I’m on the road. Have you seen Wall-E? Yes, the cartoon from Disney* Pixar.
There is a reoccurring theme, the final destination our race is headed towards, and when I travel, it becomes more apparent. We are getting L A Z Y. We need to be better at everything we do, faster, more efficient, yet along the way, we have become slackers at the same time. How is that you ask?
While sitting at restaurant, Pints & Pies in Worthington, OH- Great wings (sriracha garlic-lime) and friendly bartender, btw; I noticed a few different ‘Hipster’ type dudes come in and pick up To-go orders, they were Door Dash delivery drivers, complete with blue tooth ear bud tunes blaring and lack of deodorant hygiene picking up someone’s dinner for a nominal fee. We don’t have this in my neck of the woods, we either walk down the street for a pie or drive and pick up some BC Pizza. We are light years away from Uber/Lyft, I could be very wrong, Traverse City has a small hub of Lyft drivers, but our 2500 population Mayberry town can’t sustain a part time cab driver. We are so excited to have technology make it easy for us. Take YouTube for example, and I am just as guilty of the crime as the next guy- watching videos on “How-to.” I don’t have to read a manual? I can YouTube how to change a lightbulb on my wife’s 2010 Acadia? Great!! save me the time of doing it, I brought the vehicle in, no way could I get my hands in those spaces.
What about Fly Fishing-Tying videos? YES! There is a wealth of knowledge out there, it’s not all bad, as a matter of fact, through proper channels and background, much of it is legit and helpful for many anglers. Take the video series from Brian Flechsig at Mad River Outfitters, if you aren’t following it yet, I would highly recommend you do and share this advice at your next Fly tying pint night. Not only does he present basics in an informative manner, he also has years of experience, mentors and travel to back up his credentials. Check out his work here and his shop –Mad River Outfitters.
Do the work, it will be all the more rewarding when you get there. Sure, doing some of the legwork to establish your knowledge base is great for any sport or leisure activity, but getting out there and actually hiking some terrain to find that thin blue line and scouting water is beyond priceless. Especially when it fails the first couple times, and then Mother Nature decides you have put the time in and allows you to witness some of her beauty.
“I love fly fishing so much, I wish it would die!” This video from HUGE Fly Fisherman conveys what we feel. Thank you Midcurrent for bringing this to the INternet front screen. The Internet- it can be a love/hate relationship, I would not have readers if you didn’t partially agree. The internet allows individuals to raise awareness for multiple causes, Hurricane relief, saving animals, Amazon rain forest, Alaska, and so much more. We can also let it take advantage of our resources. But we must be vigilant to keep our waters safe and preserved for future seasons. I don’t often give locales in posts found on Facebook page, but with a little leg work, stopping in a fly shop, talking to guides, and purchasing some flies/fly boxes and supporting the businesses that need to exist so you have a source for information goes a LOOONG way.
I look forward to getting back in the mode of writing and contributing, Feel free to send me requests on Facebook and let me know where I can help. Next Month I will headed to IFTD, first time and beyond excited to shake hands with some folks I have been virtual friends with for almost a decade.