Hex Hatch a test of your patience

Cold weather, multiple days of overcast and rain, and no bugs in sight will test the will of any die hard hex fisherman!  Well this years start to the season is testing the patience of all those that love the chase and enjoy watching the midnight sky.  As I talked about last year is it a Hex Hatch or a Hoax Hatch  , this year it’s living up to it’s billing of a Hoax.  Not to say the bugs are not going to come, and the trout are not going to feed heavily one them.  But as headlamps droop and the patience wanes when will the hex finally come to the Manistee?

Carp on the Flats

B&W of a Grand Traverse Bay Carp

It’s that time of year again, time for the Golden Bones of Grand Traverse Bay.  Carp fishing on the flats is one of the most unique sight fishing adventures that a Michigan fisherman can experience.  While hundreds to thousands of carp can be seen in a days adventure, the secret to the adventure is finding the player in the schools that you are hunting.   Getting the correct angle for presentation and making the cast so the carp can find your meal that you are offering.  Just as my belief in all fishing its the presentation that matters most, not the fly!  One must learn how to present your offering properly.  While carp give us almost endless opportunities to practice our cast and our presentation.  Carp fishing is another great fishery in our outstanding state.  

Video link to a video from last year if you have not watched it yet.  Enjoy!

Citrus Month – Sulphurs and Orioles

Seems like the month of May has a Citrus Flavor to it.  Orange is the theme with Baltimore Orioles and Sulphurs filling the rivers banks and shores.  Baltimore Orioles have made there migratory return and you can hear there calls along most of our northern michigan rivers.  Their tear drop shaped nests are not hard to spot, but if you ever try to photography a Baltimore you have your hands full.  They are not the biggest fans of the long lens.  Make sure to pay attention to the trees next time you float down the river, as their voice gives out a clear and flute-like whistle.  Notes are short and distinct.  At least try to listen in between the trout that are rising to the emerging sulphurs. 

Sulphur’s and Brown Trout

You almost have to feel sorry for the bright yellow red eyed size 16 Sulphur Dun, they are almost like bright neon signs on top of the water. That Michigan browns can’t help it and pick them off one by one as they float along.  May dry fly fishing is picking up and the Sulphur hatch is one of the best for early season dry fly enthusiast.

Stoneflies and Michigan Trout

Stoneflies make easy meals for Michigan brown trout

One of the bugs that I’m falling more and more in love with for Michigan trout is the stone-fly.  With so many species of stone-flies in Michigan rivers, trout are very accustom to seeing and feeding on stones.  While michigan does not get the notoriety of having a “salmon stone-fly hatch” like some of western rivers.  Here in Michigan we do have plenty of stones, and as an angler we need to have a little understanding of the what’s, where’s, and when’s of this big morsel.
One of the biggest misperception of stone-fly nymphs is that they are not very active swimmers.  Actually the only stone-fly that curls up in the fetal position is the Pteronarcys.  The Pteronarcys is the big boy that we have all read about.  But unlike the Pteronarcys all other stone-fly nymphs are great swimmers, their wiggle like swimming motion pulsates them threw the current.  Letting them move around and feed and find shelter.  Now they do not dart around like sculpins or black nosed dace.  But there is no need to dead drift most stone-flies.
Most definitely my favorite stone is the Golden Stones or Paragetina, which run size #6-8, and are very common in the Upper Manistee river.  These yellow to olive colored stones can be found in gravel runs, on downed wood, and are found in a variety of water conditions.  Making them very easy to target in the nymph or dry fly phase.
Understanding that stones are always in our rivers lets us know that trout are used to feeding on them, but May and June you should really take notice as they stones start to crawl around even more and become active, as it’s time for them to emerge.  Stones are crawlers, you will find them on random stumps and logs near river banks.  When you don’t see fish rising in early season to Hendrickson’s or Black Caddis don’t be afraid to put on a stone!

A big meal that is easy to fish


Indoor vs Outdoor Photography

South Bound Trucker on display

I find indoor photography much harder to do than outdoor photography.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s all the prep work.  Setting up the tripod, finding the correct amount of lighting, getting the proper backdrop, and de-terming the proper depth of field.  Most of my indoor photography is step-by-step fly patterns.  Like the Russ Maddin South Bound Trucker that is on display above.  Where I shoot most my outdoor photography  free hand, and the mistakes that I make outside I can blame on mother nature, moving boat, or unhappy fish.  Where I find I have less excuses with indoor.  When a photo goes bad it’s on me.  I’m also more critical of my indoor photography.  Are the colors coming out, did I capture what the fly tier was creating.  As I continue to build my studio and purchase additional products to help with backdrops and lighting, I know I will capture better images.  Until then, enjoy some of the patterns, and hope they help you catch more fish.  Additional patterns can be found at the Hawkins Outfitters Articles page.

New Michigan Trout Regulations

Russ Maddin enjoying open water on April 1st

When the news came out that new regulations from the State of Michigan were coming out in 2011, I was very supportive of the changes made to opening additional sections to help spread out the angling pressure.  On April 1st, 2011 from M-72 to Lake Michigan on the Manistee River will now remain open year round.  Providing anglers with the opportunity to fish these waters whenever the calling comes.
Yesterday when the day finally arrived.  First time since 1910 that the Manistee has been open in these sections.  Russ Maddin and I jumped in the boat with Erik Crissman from the DNRE and floated a section of water that just opened.  Russ as he usually does showed Erik and I how to do it, with a nice fully grown female brown trout. If you have not fished with Russ or tried to tie some of his innovative streamers, you owe it to yourself.  One of Russ’s signature patterns is the Mad Pup, check out at the Hawkins Outfitters page and tie some up.

For additional information about the new trout regulations go to the State website or pick up the new regulations when you buy your 2011 fishing license at your local fishing tackle locations.

Love how they Eat the Fly!

Is there a more aggressive fish than a pike?  I’m not sure, but this photo is why I named my website Mangled Fly.  I love it when a fish destroys a fly that took me 15 minutes to tie!  Ice out pike fishing is game on right now, if you want to try something different go hunt these toothy creators.  8″ Dalhberg Diver will never be the same!

Michigan Barracuda 

Spring Time Fishing, Trout, Pike, and Steelhead

Spring Time Brings so many different Fly-Fishing Opportunities!
Brad W. early season brown trout fishing

After spending the past 3 plus months under mounds of snow and inches of ice, spring time has officially started!  Now some of the hardest decisions await the fly-fishing angler.  What to fish for?  Spring time brings us many different opportunities and currently most are in full steam!

  • Early Season Brown Trout Fishing, after a long winter brown trout are looking to put on the feed bag.  Streamer fishing is the most talked about way, as the hunt for the big boyz with big streamers gets allot of the attention.  But dry fly fishing early black stones, hendricksons, and midges on the right day can be fun early season. Nymphing egg patterns or fry patterns can yield plenty of results as well, both on rivers with or without steelhead present.
  • Ice Out Pike, first I have to be honest with this one.  I do not have allot of experience hunting early season pike.  But I have found a little jewel and sharing the knowledge that I’m learning with my clients.  If you like these toothy creatures now is the time.  Smaller males are grouped up in packs awaiting the big girls.  I have spent very little time on the Big Manistee looking for these predators, but have been amazed how many I have found so far.  Will share this knowledge after the season, as fly patterns and technique are being formulated.
Jerome S. hunting the toothy creatures
  • Spring Steelhead, while steelhead have been here all fall and winter (and I personally think fish better than spring), the weather has finally broken, water tables rise, and fellow fisherman fill the river.  With all this certain areas are plugged with boats and shoreline anglers.  I have challenged myself to go away from the norm and take my skills else where.  With a mixture of float fishing and streamers, fresh run spring fish and drop backs will keep me plenty busy and way from congestion of spring traffic.  If you have not focused on drop back fish, your missing something special, they are just as aggressive as fall run fish and will crush the first meal they see.  If you have ever fished with me before, you know I love dumb fish.
Capt. Jon Ray with a nice big spring buck

 

Using Ice to Learn more about Trout

Russ Maddin showing me the way on the ice

So January and February are for the most part a michigan fishing guides off season.  Besides breaking down the rivers and learning new spots for the up coming spring run, or tying a couple hundred more flies.  I’ll try to venture out on the ice a few times a season on the vast amount of inland lakes.  Living in northern michigan, more lakes than I previously thought are stocked with trout.  I have to be honest, I am way more adept at reading a river than I am a lake.  But with the use of a couple maps and a Vexliar  getting my bearings on the breaks and drop-offs is not that hard.  Also with the added benefits of having a good friend and ice fishing master in Russ Maddin showing you a couple hot spots helps too.
The key reason for venturing out on the ice this time of year is to have those bearings for when the ice out occurs.  As you can argue my next point all you want, but it’s the honest truth.  If you are a big trout chaser, the biggest brown, rainbow, or laker trout are going to come from a lake.  This light-bulb was turned on after reading Bernie Taylor’s book 5 years ago.  Example is the world record brown trout caught a few years ago from the Manistee River.  This was not a river trout, it was a lake-run brown that ventured up the river.  Big trout meaning trout over 10 pounds, get big in a lake not a river.   Trout that live in a lake can eat and be lazy, while a river trout has to keep battling current.
With so many inland lakes being stocked with trout (browns, rainbows, and lake trout) the fly angler has a great opportunity to target these trout in the spring after ice out.  All three species are going to be looking for that warmer water in the spring, and most days this warmer water is shallow.  Perfect for the fly angler! Thermal warming from the sun brings the bait-fish shallow, and if you can find the bait-fish you will find the predator’s that hunt them.
Now how I use the ice, is when you can’t find these trout shallow, you have to know where to find them when they go deep.  Just like in a river their are certain hunting grounds that hold fish.  Being able to find these hunting grounds with a foot of ice underneath you will give you a head start for the upcoming spring melt.  Michigan anglers have so many opportunities, getting out and finding them is the fun part.

Inland lake brown caught on a smelt pattern