smallmouth bass

The Midsummer Bass Shift

When you spend a lot of time on a river, you eventually learn some of the subtle changes that over the course of a season.   These small changes can have a big impact on the fishing.

Through the late spring and early summer, I spend a lot of time fishing along rocky banks with crayfish patterns or poppers depending on the activity levels.   This type of  fishing becomes inconsistent in the middle of the summer on my home river, the Muskegon.

The target species in the summer is smallmouth bass and any other warm water fish that will bite.    Smallmouth are built to eat crayfish, but they are glutonous fish, gorging on whatever is most available to them.

You would think that this would be obvious but it was not always clear to me–during the summer the slower edges of the river become weedy, and in many places smallmouth simply shift over to the weeds.  They cruise these weedbeds in search of mature minnows that have become super abundant.  Often these weedbeds are directly opposite of the rocky, classic smallmouth spots.   On a large river, this makes such spots easy to overlook.

These  baitfish are the  shiny type minnows such as shiners, chubs, and daces.   They permeate the water column.   I do a bit of snorkeling in my free time.   It is enjoyable and very educational.   Typically the biggest species of baitfish are toward the bottom of the water column.   They can be quite large and there are silly amounts of them in the tailwater rivers.    It is not uncommon to see common shiners and chubs that are over 6-8 inches in length.  Because of the large size of many of the baitfish, large attractor patterns can work very well around the weeds.   Utilize colors such as yellow and white for best success.

Hornyhead Chubs are a classic example of a large baitfish living in the weeds

I used to be fixated on the bottom of the river when snorkeling, until one day I happened to look up agains the surface.   There, in the top few inches of the water column, I was shocked to see a large number of colorful shiner minnows.  These minnows move very quickly!    I came to know these fish as rosy face shiners and they are a very abundant food source among the weedbeds.    These small and quick fish are typically 2-4 inches in length, and this size is often preferred by smallies.  A good imitation of these can be tied simply:  bead chain eyes, wing of gray-olive craft fur, flashabou, and a head of cinnamon ice dub (or red foam if you want a sly and deadly popper).   This fly should be fished stripped quickly with a pause.


Rosyface shiners are common along weeds in the upper part of the water column

If you are fishing rocky smallmouth habitat and have a hard time finding fish, don’t hesitate to fish a shiner pattern above the weeds or a big baitfish pattern a little deeper.    A lot of times a change of fly selection and  habitat is all it takes to find fish.

-Kevin Feenstra

 

migratory fish

12 pounds on 6 weight

steelhead

Small Creek Image – Pic of the Day

muskegon river brown trout

Muskegon Brown Trout – Pic of the Day

This big brown had quite a kype #flyfishing #browntrout #speyfishing #thirdcoast @scientificanglers @mangledfly

A photo posted by Kevin Feenstra (@kevinfeenstra) on

steelhead

Happy New Year!

2016 was a good year to be an angler in Michigan.    I was going through some of my fishing images and found a few that liked.   I thought I would share them in this post:

This image was a foggy morning on a lake rumored to have muskies in it.    Although I caught a lot of pike and bass, the muskies proved to be elusive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is one of my favorite lakes in Michigan.    I fished it in September for a couple of days.    It never fails to rain when I fish here, and soon after this very scenic moment, I was drenched.

Steelhead are so beautiful, and so majestic.    This one put up a tremendous fight in early November!

I hope you enjoyed the photos!   Good fishing to you in 2017!

Kevin Feenstra

 

sculpins kevin Feenstra

Scuplins and Steelhead – by Kevin Feenstra

Love fishing sculpins in the winter #speyfishing #flyfishing #steelhead @scientificanglers

A photo posted by Kevin Feenstra (@kevinfeenstra) on

muskegon river steelhead

Muskegon River Steelhead Underwater – Pic of the Day

Amazing image by Kevin Fenestra, of a Muskegon River Steelhead.  Hand model is Erik Rambo, great fish guys!

 

river otter

My Encounter with a River Otter

One of the hidden benefits of being a fishing guide is the opportunity to witness cool moments in nature.    Wildlife photography is a side hobby of mine, and for years I have been hoping to capture a good photograph a river otter.

A lot of times you see otters on TV and they appear to be social, gregarious animals that are friendly and curious.   On the contrary, our local river otters are reclusive.   Though they are always present, I only see them a few times of the year if I am lucky.   Not only are they reclusive, but they are fast.   They are as much land animals as water animals.  Often when I see them they are running off onto dry land after catching a juicy trout.

Recently, I saw such an otter running down the bank.    I had my camera handy and snapped a couple shots as the otter galloped by.

This was a typical otter encounter, and soon the otter disappeared into the brush.    They are extremely fast!

I took the boat upriver and started to wade and spey cast, hoping for an early October steelhead.    As I waded down the run, I heard a strange crackling noise.    I looked upriver into some tangled brush to see the otter.   He was crunching on a salmon carcass.

I was amazed to see the brutal efficiency of the animal.    Otters are fierce animals.    The otter had bright white teeth, and fed undisturbed for about ten minutes.   I was able to get fairly close but did not want to ruin the animal’s dinner.

A lot of the wildlife that I see on the river is  easily overlooked while fishing.    It is often only when you look at the small details that some of the coolest things you can see on the river appear.   Soon after they appear, they are gone.

Thanks for looking!

Kevin Feenstra

Amazing Otter picture

Kevin Feenstra continues to take amazing pictures along the Muskegon River  this Otter picture feasting on a dead Chinook Salmon is a once in a lifetime experience and Kevin captured it perfectly with this image.

One of those unforgettable moments–a young otter feasting on salmon #naturephotography #riverotter #muskegonriver

A photo posted by Kevin Feenstra (@kevinfeenstra) on