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.

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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

Life Cycle Midwest Steelhead

Life Cycle of a Midwest Steelhead

I was thinking about steelhead this weekend–they are still quite a ways off but it is hard not to think about them from time to time.    Things look optimistic for this fall; the reports from the big lake are pretty good and the fish are abundant and healthy.     Another indicator that we have about steelhead is by looking at the summer steelhead.   I spend most of my time on the Muskegon, and though we don’t have a sustained summer run, we do get stragglers.   This year  stragglers have been big–this is another indicator of health of the steelhead in the lake.

This spring, we had a period of high water, and I spent my time when the river was flooded photographing steelhead that had moved up into tiny springs that were now swollen.    The photos of these fish can be found here.      You think that steelhead are an awesome fish and then you watch them go through water that seems impassable and realize they are even more amazing than you once thought.

Eventually their mission is complete, fry hatches, and the life cycle continues.    Those fish that were hatched in these tiny streams have a better chance of survival.  The water in these small streams  is cold all year.

Thanks for looking and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Kevin Feenstra

 

anchored podcast

April Volley Anchored Podcast – Kevin Feenstra

anchored podcast

Make sure to check out Kevin Feenstra on April Vokey’s Podcast – Anchored.  Kevin Feenstra who is a great friend, an incredible guide on the Muskegon River, and a Mangled Fly Contributor.  Was Interview by April Vokey at his home in November.  April and Kevin discuss Midwest Steelhead, you will enjoy this episode click this link to go to iTunes – or go to April Website and find the episode as well.

migratory fish

Respect for Migratory Fish

Fighting the Current

Each spring, the river floods, and at some point I have a few days off.   It is not that steelhead can’t be caught on those days.     Fly fishing, however, requires that the fish see the fly and if I don’t feel that this minimum requirement can be met, cancellations are the likely  result.     Steelhead are of course a great gamefish.   They are my favorite fish.     I also have a tremendous respect for steelhead and other salmonids as they migrate.     They really do amazing things as they traverse rivers big and small.     When I had some cancellations last week, I visited several small streams and witnessed these marvels of nature working their way up river.

Steelhead take advantage of small creeks when they are flooded.      As soon as this tiny, tiny creek became high enough for travel, up came the fish in droves.

In any creek, steelhead take advantage of breaks in the current.    In fishing terms, these are snags.   Steelhead love structure just like any other fish.     They need the structure for protection in small places but they also need the break in current that these provide.

In this stream,  a series of tiny water falls existed.    I did not see the steelhead leaping over them, but they had definitely been clearing them, most likely at night.

The fact that there was little water in the stream was not an issue to these fish at all.   I saw some fish temporarily stranded as they worked their way through the shallows.

Steelhead are a precious commodity, this year more than ever.   The Great Lakes fisheries are in a period of change, with the decline in baitfish populations and the subsequent increased pressure on other species, such as steelhead.    Now more than ever, they need a little respect.     This means protecting the fish while they are in the rivers, and protecting them on the small scale even as we fish and handle them.    They deserve it!

Kevin Feenstra

 

 

streamer colors

My Favorite Colors from January-May

I have no affiliation with the people who make a certain product, but I have to say that some of their stuff is  brilliant.    The product that I am speaking of is ice dub, and between ice dub and the various colors of flashabou, I could guide every day with little else than thread and hook (though I do like some feathers and fur too:)).        During the months of January-March, I rely very heavily on one color family of ice dub.    The colors are olive, peacock-eye, peacock, and black peacock.     These colors seem to imitate the same things to the fish.     It could be that the sheen on this color scheme is just plain appealing to fish (it is an attractor color).   On the other hand, it could be that many of the bait fish in the river take on a peacockish tint during the winter months.

When I started looking underwater in the winter, I was surprised at just how many creatures had a bluish/green tint in the winter months.    The darter above is just one example of this color scheme in nature during the winter and spring.    Crayfish, scuds, gobies, and other fish also have this peacock overtone to their colors.

Whether it is just naturally attractive, or whether it is due to the colors occurring in nature, or some combination of the two, I am not entirely certain.    At the end of the day, these colors of ice dub just work great for catching predator fish.

Through the first half of the year, flies with this color scheme can be fished in several different ways.    They can be swung on sink tips through flat runs during the winter months for steelhead.      Another option is to fish the soft edges of the stream for resident trout with smaller olive or peacock based flies.     I really enjoy swinging wet flies for trout and this is a great extension of wet fly fishing through the winter months.   Yet another option is to tie weighted sculpins and fish them below an indicator for trout.    Often times a nymph pattern is fished on a dropper between the indicator and the weighted sculpin.

This post mentions the months of January through May.  However, as a guide, these colors are in my box year around, no matter what species I am guiding for.     Give this color family a shot on your local stream.    I am pretty sure that it will work!

Thanks for reading this!

Kevin Feenstra