sculpins kevin Feenstra

Gobies–Everything Eats ‘Em

Over a decade ago, zebra mussels invaded our rivers, and left a trail of destruction in our Great Lakes and their tributaries, altering the resource.    In their wake, something that preys on these mussels also arrived, the round goby.    Round gobies are an invasive species, and as such they squeeze out native fish.   However, they have become a food source in any river attached to the Great Lakes.   In some of the bigger rivers, such as the Muskegon and Manistee, they have become a primary food source.

Fly anglers should take advantage of the presence of this bait fish!    They are most commonly a sandy tan, and can be found just about anywhere.  They are most commonly found in areas with high concentrations of the mussels (especially in proximity to dams).    You can fish them with a sink tip or with an indicator, they work well either way.

I most commonly use them for smallmouth bass and for steelhead in a sandy tan.

Don’t hesitate to try them in an inky black, as the males will carry this color through the late winter and through the summer as they breed.    They can naturally be quite large, and can grow up to 10 inches in length.   Check out how big this one is; it is being consumed by a merganser:

Like so many invasive species, gobies have worked their way into our food chain, and will probably be here indefinitely.    Even the snakes eat them!

As far as invasives go, these are useful ones.  Add some gobies to your fly box; big things love to eat them!

Thanks for looking!

Kevin Feenstra

 

 

 

 

Scott fly rods

Review of Two Handed Rods, the Scott Radian 1257 and the Scott Radian 1259

Scott Fly Rod, Two-Hand Review

I just wanted to share my personal experiences with two of Scott’s flagship two handed rods, the Radian 1257 and the Radian 1259.

A while back, we reviewed the 1308 Radian, and were very pleased with it as a great big river rod. The Radian 1257 is a 12’6″ 7 weight rod. Many of the 7 weight two handed rods that you might cast that are on the light side. You would not consider them as a primary rod for big rivers like the Muskegon or the Manistee. However, the 1257 has some nice horsepower, and can elegantly cast a 480 grain skagit head with 8-10 feet of t14 (Note that the recommended Skagit with this rod is 520 but given the tips I use, I prefer 480). This will cover a lot of the scenarios encountered on our river systems.

Because of its light weight and sensitivity, I find myself using this rod to fish the edges of the river in the winter months. Fishing in the winter in this manner requires a rod with a lot of tactile feel because you are mending the line, allowing the fly to get to the bottom, and then engaging it. In a nutshell, this rod is very sensitive and is a pleasure to use for this purpose. Furthermore, because the edges of the river often contain trout as well as steelhead, using the lighter rod keeps things fun for me and my clients. This rod is capable of long casts, but I find myself using it in close. When fighting a fish, it protects tippets well.

Though I have only used it for swinging, I could see this as a good indicator rod. If you do not want the added weight of an 8 or 9 weight, this 7 weight can handle most situations you will encounter on medium to large rivers in the Great Lakes region. It is a very sweet rod indeed.

Scott Radian 1259

Now let’s talk about the Radian 1259. As you can imagine, it is a totally different beast than the 1257. This rod is very stiff and very powerful. This is a new rod in Scott’s Radian lineup, and as such, I have been using it for a couple of months. During those months, I have put it through its paces. For my purposes, this rod is best for down and dirty fishing at short to medium range. This is not a rod for everyone, and does not have the agile feeling of the 1257 or the 1308 Radian. Typically, I use this rod with a 560 or 600 grain Freightliner Intermediate Skagit, and a significant amount of T14 or a short and compressed head of T17 or T20. In this configuration, it makes easy work of casting a heavy line with a heavy fly. If I had to point out one drawback of this rod, it does not inspire as much confidence when fighting a quick moving steelhead. The rod is very stiff and those panicked head shakes are nerve wracking with this stick.

I see the best applications of this rod as specialty rod for big fish, big tips, heavy tippet, and big flies in relatively close quarters–steelhead in timber or big king salmon in coastal regions come to mind. For these applications, this rod is a gem. I could also see an application for this in surf fishing as it could shoot line well into wind and waves.

I hope you enjoyed this review. If you have any questions about Scott rods, please contact Scott pro staffers Kevin Feenstra or Jon Ray.

Thank you for reading! Tight Lines!

Kevin Feenstra

Social Media Takeover

Mangled Fly will be taking over the Social Media Feed for Scientific Anglers Instagram feed make sure to check it out and give us a few likes.  Thank you for the opportunity SA!  I’ll embed a few of the images during the week here so make sure to check back and follow as well if your not on Instagram.

 




spring steelhead

Winter Steelhead – Pic of the Day

Kevin Feenstra shares one of his amazing images from a chilly day on the Muskegon River.

 

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