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.
A guest from the Beardsley House on the river called me the other day~ he had a fish question.
“I was casting a spoon and a decent trout came out to inspect it but turned away. Was I reeling too fast or too slow?” he inquired.
Difficult to have a definitive answer, but I believe it would be temperature related. It has been one of the most pleasant summers I can recall, especially after the cold wet spring that didn’t seem to end. August has not been a record breaking heat spell, but steady daytime temperatures coupled with higher lake levels and relatively little precipitation to cool the rivers make the lower Boyne River near bathwater climate.
Species of trout, especially brook trout will seek pockets of cold water usually fed by springs for thermal refuge. Browns and Rainbow Trout will migrate upstream to find riffle zones that have higher dissolved oxygen levels to help them get through the heat of summer. This is a great time to take the 70 Degree Pledge.
As an Angler- I explained to the house guest that he should probably leave the trout alone, or his catch could prove fatal for the fish. When water temperature nears the 70 degree range, a fish will exert too much energy fighting and ATP will build up in their muscles, even if released, the fish will most likely not survive. We would rather leave these fish and type of water alone. My best guide advice is to seek warm water species like bass and bluegill or go find a thin blue line on a map. Some of my best and most enjoyable fishing is at the end of the year on this type of small stream, be it upper Jordan or Manistee River near Deward. These areas are riddled with feeder creeks that rarely get above 62 degrees and have plenty of trout will to dance with a 3 weight and Chernobyl Ant or Hippie Stomper.
Friday evening March 15, 2019, after Thursdays daytime high of 57º, coupled with snowmelt and rain, a dam located behind Weiss Acres along 131 gave way and washed out. The site was an old grist mill from many decades ago. The dam had been on the radar of local MVWTU and CRA for a few years. Property owners were hesitant to do anything about the possibility of an aged dam but now wish they had. There are cabin rentals along the river bank where vacationers could kayak up a couple hundred yards in slack water before they ran into two undersized culverts on the former entrance to Boyne Mountain, opposite Cherry Hill Road. This site was also looked at by Tip of the Mitt Watershed but complications and funding delayed removal because of buried utilities.
The amount of sediment washed down stream is yet undetermined. Fish kill and macro invertebrate collateral damage is unknown. Biggest concern is young of the year brown and brook trout that may have little recourse in escaping plume of silt or heavy flows. The DNR, DEQ, and Tip of the Mitt have visited site along with Little Traverse Bay Tribe- who took water samples on Tuesday. A crew of surveyors from Ehlmer’s Construction- general contractors on Maple River and Boardman River dam removals, were also on hand and forecast an involved remediation of river and hope for a quick recovery. The portion upstream is high quality trout stream, below former dam site is the Boyne Falls Mill Pond, which may have acted as a large sand trap. There is also evidence that when the dam broke free, the amount of water and sediment going downstream would have stirred and flushed the still water in the pond- pushing a larger plume of silt downstream. The turbid and murky water was visible for 4-5 days in Boyne City.
The river has been through this before. In October of 2016, while performing routine maintenance on the Boyne Property Dam at Kircher’s pond, a log became lodged in the floodgate and most of impounded water was released downstream. Anglers who were in the river fishing for salmon noticed the river suddenly rush from knee deep to over their waist’s and became very murky. Some actually caught pike and large browns that were residents from the impoundment. Some property owners had to retrieve kayaks that were along their shoreline to be found in the mouth of Boyne at Lake Charlevoix.
There are over 2,500 dams in Michigan, many of which are outdated and approaching the end of their lifespan. These dams can have adverse effects on wildlife and fish populations. Not only to dams prevent fish form reaching cooler water in times of thermal stress, they also deter migration of spawning salmonids and increasing surface temperature to detrimental climates for many sensitive macro-invertebrates. Huron Pines has a list of dams they have been working on. MDOT and DEQ recently evaluated the dam in Boyne Falls at M-75 and it was marked ‘satisfactory’. Neither parties felt there was strong public support for removal of dam at the time, perhaps with this incident, a new conversation can begin.
Property owners at Weiss Acres are very concerned about liability and possible fines from DEQ and would like to cooperate in any way possible- hopeful for a better river in the future. It is going to take a lot of combined efforts and money from various parties. My hope in writing this is to gain public attention to many aged and failing dams across the state. Also, to see if this reaches other news publications to gain some traction and possible sources for funding repair of this beautiful trout stream. Let’s share this and get the word out- we need more rivers to flow freely.