What color are Damsel Flies?

Had a pretty impressive damsel fly hatch yesterday, when you slow down and watch these are pretty amazing bugs. Have you have watched a damsel destroy a sulphur, eating the helpless yellow mayfly whole! Usually leaving just the wings of the yellow mayfly behind.

See hundreds lined up on the shore line in the tall grass, looking and waiting for the next helpless mayfly. And what color is damsel? That blueish green armor they wear is so cool. But so hard to match on the vise, new colors of flashabou are helping, but still mother nature creates such cool color combo’s.

Anyway the damsel is one of the secondary bugs on a river, when you slow your day down and watch that bring life to the shore line. It is a fly that you don’t find in every catalog or fly shop, but if you throw one long enough the trout takes on a damsel are veracious. I never can have enough of the big fly take from a trout. And with so many lining the banks, and so many other anglers just throwing the mayfly. Think and fish differently!

Myth or Legand? The Hex Hatch

The michigan hex hatch is like so many great things, it’s so hard to predict and just when you think you have it figured out. She will throw you a curve ball. Knowing different hex flats, and understanding which ones hex should pop from first is part of the game, and the information that we hold dear.

I do find it funny that like so many different hatches in michigan when hunting big trout, we are so dependent on the “bug”. When the bug hatches and the big fish are feeding you look like a hero. But when no “bugs” fly (for whatever reason, even though it’s the right temp, the right night, the right everything) and no fish feed, this myth of a hatch creeps into your mind. The power one bug has over so many of us as we try to hunt her down, and use her power to catch the biggest trout of the season on a dry fly.
Just like all things that are good, there is over hype. I would put the hex hatch in the over hyped category as everybody wants a shot at the title of biggest trout caught. As each bend in the river can hold an angler with a rod, a headlamp, and the hope that the hex will fly tonight. Then when the hex don’t show, there is always the reasons, too cold, too early, dew point came too fast, and/or must be the wrong spot tonight.
But like all these that are good, they keep us coming back for more. No matter the hype.

Grand Traverse Bay Carp


Had the opportunity to film and photograph Ed McCoy today on the Grand Traverse Bay for the big boy carp that swim the waters of the great lakes. Working with Chuck Hawkins and Ed we are trying to put together a short 2-3 minute carp fishing video. So I shot a couple hundred pictures and minutes of film so that we can develop a carp video for the hawkins website. Look for it soon. Hope it turns out, if not I guess I’ll have to go shoot more footage, the things I must do!

Fishing crayfish patterns and other fresh water patterns very similar to bonefish flies used in the salt. There is something special about wading the flats of Grand Traverse that reminds me of fishing in the Caribbean . The crystal clear waters with three shades of blueish green water are a nice break from the river shorelines that I’m spoiled by.

Carp fishing this year is off to a great start, as the beasts from the deep have crashed the shallows after last weeks warm up. The first part of June should be prime to hunt these golden bones.

Trout fishing with Dry Flies

Warmer days have really kicked in the dry fly fishing the past three or four days! Is there a better way to catch a trout than with a Dry Fly? Watching a trout no matter what size come up and taking a dry fly is such a special part of fly fishing. With May and June being the prime time months here in the state of Michigan to get your full enjoyment of the dry fly season.

Last night Ed McCoy and I enjoyed a section of the Manistee River were we had Caddis, Yellow Sallies, Mahogany’s, Hendrickson spinners, Medium Brown Stones, and a couple unidentified bugs in the air. While May understanding what the fish are actually eating can be difficult the reward of catching a couple fish on top is worth the couple fly changes for success.

For the next 6 weeks look for the best dry fly fishing of the season. I am working on trying to get that perfect shot of a trout eating a bug. Never did relize how much work it was going to be. Almost had it last night on video, working with zoomed in shots with a tripod in low light, and a unstable platform (by boat) is not that easy. But I love the challenge an I look forward to the next evenings spinner fall.

Now that May is here..


May is here and mother nature and trout fishing are rolling around nicely. Morels will be popping with warm temperatures and this past weekends thunderstorms. Most trees have buds popping, almost looks like fall in some spots with the multi-colors. Bright days have the sky line screaming insane colors of blue. Hard for me to choose which season I really do like more spring or fall? I’ll have to say spring for now, as the amount of additional life forms running around. Wish I could just carry my camera everywhere!

Upper picture is a shot of the Manistee River below Tippy. I so do love this river, especially outside the months of April and September. With nobody else on the river today, trout fishing was pretty epic. One can choose from skating caddis, to swinging wet-flies, to ripping streamers. Today our weapon of choice was the 2/0 streamer. With many nice trout coming to hand, and couple “oh my god, look at that” butter balls showing their sides, we had a great day on the river.


Enjoying our lunch riverside we had one of my favorite bugs join us, the Giant Stone fly. Or
Pteronarcys dorsata , better wise known as the Salmon Fly. I think most people only think this is a western bug, but here in Michigan we do have a pretty big hatch, you just have to know where to look. Also you have to know how to fish the bugger. But when you figure it out, as I’ve mentioned before, be ready. The strikes are some of the best in the game for dry fly fishing. The Salmon fly will continue to hatch sporadically over the next month. Triggering some of the best dry fly fishing of the year!


Beaver Ponds

Spring is a great time of year to reconnect with the outdoors, after spending most of Oct – April on the same sections of water looking for my friendly little steelhead, I am now on the hunt for the mighty brown trout. This past Saturday marked the opening of all waters in Michigan to trout fishing, giving me the chance to see some of best water Michigan has to offer. While floating down the river of the Manistee, I saw a small stream that I did not remember flowing from the bank. The countless times I had floated by this area, I never knew the beavers had been working so hard. The little pond I was about to find, would give this float even more intrigue. The question’s I had to ask, are there brook trout or brown trout already in this pond? Why did the beavers build a pond here? How many people do I share this information with? How long will it take for the pond to hold trout? How many people already know about his little gem? I totally have to come back in the evening to see if trout are rising!

What is so great about the outdoors is that all my questions will be answered with time. This little pond I hope to watch grow, I hope to find a couple trout cruising around in it one day. And the best part for me, as I enjoy the journey of the great outdoors, is how many more little presents are around the next corner?

Trillium and Black Caddis are early this year!

I do find it interesting the relationship between aquatic insects and wild flowers. How certain bugs and certain flowers appear at the same time year in and year out. The Black Caddis and the Trillium share this relationship. Trillium grandiflorum is often the first wildflower noticed by casual walkers; other spring wildflowers are much less apparent. ie the Trout Lilly (a very small yellow wildflower that is one of the first to bloom). Black caddis on the other hand are a smaller aquatic insect, and get far less coverage than the bigger Hendrickson. Black caddis usually range from size 16 to 18. With the females being the larger and also carrying around a little green egg sack.

Up to yesterday not having seen either a Trillium in bloom or a Black Caddis in the air. As I rounded the second or third bend in our float I noticed on the bank a blooming Trillium. Just as the first robin of the year brings memories of spring to mind, so do these three-petaled flowers. No more than a couple hours later I saw the tantalizing dance that all caddis share, as three or four caddis did there thing just above the riffling water. Now how does mother nature do that? The trillium and the black caddis are both known to share this time of year, but how do they plan their arrival for the very same day.
Thank you Ann Miller for sharing one of your amazing images, thank you for the use of your black caddis.

Catch and Release


There is something special about holding onto a very big fish and feeling the power of the fish as it swims away. Working with Chuck Hawkins today, on a two boat streamer trip on the Manistee River. I had the chance to photograph Chuck as he let this 21″ brown go. The experience of catching and then releasing these magnificent fish is something that I hold dear. As I spend close to 200 days guiding individuals through out the state of Michigan, one of my favorite every day experiences is to hold and watch our catch swim away to be caught again another day. The couple seconds that I take to look over steelhead, trout, or salmon before release is my personal “QT”, the quick bond before they swim to the depths.

Chuck Hawkins holding the prize catch today before release. As spring steelhead continues to give us questions marks, brown trout fishing shows every positive sign for an amazing season ahead of us. Streamer fishing on many rivers and at many sections is thumbs up. I can’t wait as steelhead gear begins to stay home and trout gears takes the front seat, to capture more images of big Michigan brown trout. Dry fly fishing this season I think is going to be special.

Hendrickson’s have started

With my first ever Mangled Fly Media (MFM) post I talked about the big bad stone-fly that will start showing in early May until mid June. I talked about the stone-fly being the first real big bug of the year. Big meaning size wise.

But for traditional trout anglers the start of the trout season starts with the Hendrickson dun. Well ring the alarm, you can officially start the beginning of trout season now, because the Hendrickson are popping. I had heard they had started on traditionally early starting sections of the Au Sable but to see them on the Upper Manistee and other smaller rivers on the west side, i.e. the Platte River. You know water temps through-out the state will all have Hendrickson popping. Look for mid morning spinner falls, say around 10am, with the emergence from mid morning until late afternoon. Then clouds of spinners will form on warmer than average evenings in early spring. This is a wonderful time of year for trout anglers. Let dry fly season beginning!