- Happy February! For those ski bums out there, better get it in before it’s gone. Winter is already on the downhill slide. In the world of unemployed fishing guide (like myself), what February means is only 1 more month until Prime Time starts again. New fishing reports for the Manistee River and the Muskegon River after a great weekend of weather. With a good mix of steelhead around on the west side of the state, and new fish starting to already show up for the Spring push, things are looking good. February has been a long time favorite, with plenty of fish around and less people. Makes for some good fishing.
- Fly Tying Event at Muskegon River Fly Shop , I’ll be tying February 19th and will be focusing on baitfish patterns for Pike / Muskie. Contact Justin to sign up. If you can’t make the 19th, check out Drew Rosema on February 5th , Drew will be tying Steelhead Patterns. Check out Kevin Feenstra on February 26th as well, you will not be disappointed. Should be a great couple events, if you haven’t stopped by Justin’s shop he has one of the best fly tying selections in northern Michigan.
- February 12-14th I’ll be in Milwaukee , WI at the Muskie Expo, if you happen to be in the area stop by. I’ll be hanging out with Brad Petzke of Rivers North, with some new things (that I can’t talk about yet) in the booth. Plus I’ll have the new muskie shirts available, they just showed up this weekend. They look great. Will get them on the web here soon as well. I’m looking to expand my Muskie calendar, if your interested in a trip contact me. Going on my 5th year of chasing these amazing predators. I look forward to learning additional water this year, and piecing together more of the puzzle.
These are a few of my favorite recent photos. Without a doubt, January is one of the hardest times to fish for steelhead, especially if you are waiting for a pull. It really is rewarding when you have a chance to land one. This year it is even more so, as it was a challenging fall.
The fish above took a fly after the better part of a day without a bite. I was very excited to fish on this day as I had a pair of battery powered heated gloves. The gloves were a $120 failure but near the end of the day, the fish made the time on the water a success!
A steelhead is a flash of lightning and a splash of color in an otherwise dreary day. This fish viewed its home and went there….See you next year, I hope!!!!
When you think of destructive forces in nature, you think of various storms and earthquakes, etc. On a smaller scale, you could argue that a two year old is similar. Our son Zach is a wonderful source of joy in our lives. However, he possesses a unique destructive ability, and some pieces of gear have fallen prey to him in recent months.
Most recently, my favorite sunglasses are the victim. I mistakenly set them down in a reachable spot, and before I knew it, they were vaulting majestically across the room, only to break upon impact on the wood floor. I find that rather than send things back for repair, I will try to fix them myself if at all possible. Sending a piece of gear back to the factory takes time, and that time is valuable with useful things like sunglasses. Also, my experience with sunglasses is that after you send them back, they might not be repairable. A few weeks down the road, you might hear that they are being sent back to you unfixed. Thus, Do-It-Yourself repair might be an option.
There is a simple, inexpensive way to fix the broken arm of a sunglass. Here is a list of things you need to make this happen:
- 1″ of heat shrink tube, just larger than the arm of the sunglasses. This is available in many colors, including clear, though black is the most common.
- A heat source; a heat gun is your best option because it usually won’t melt any part of the sunglasses (can’t make any promises, so you are on your own with this). A small butane torch could also be used, as well as a lighter. However, these are more likely to cause damage to your glasses (I have most unfortunately learned this the hard way).
- Gorilla Tape or other similar product: This is optional. You could also use glue to prep the arm. The shrink tube itself may be sufficient.
Here are the steps to fixing them, in images:
That’s all there is to it! It may not look pretty. However, usually it blends in quite well and no one is looking at your ears. This is especially true if you are catching fish…
Thanks for looking!
Kevin Feenstra shares his image of Drew Rosema holding a beautiful Great Lakes Steelhead.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a gear head. I have enjoyed being a member of Scott’s pro staff for more than a decade but will always give you an honest opinion about any given model of Scott rod if you ask. They have made many models of fly rod, and I have owned a lot of them. Many of them–but not all–have been rods that I like. Furthermore, as a guide, I have had the ability to cast a lot of different rods by other manufacturers. This is due to the fact that clients are always bringing their own rods into the boat. In this day and age, it is more difficult to find a truly bad rod. It is even more difficult to find a truly great rod that sets itself apart from all the other choices. To me, a rod has a couple of hoops to jump through to be a truly great rod. The two questions I ask myself are:
1) Is the rod versatile or is it limited in function?–This question is something that each person needs to ask when they purchase a rod. Some rods are great for dry flies, some are great for streamers, etc. Very few can do it all.
2) The second questions that I ask about a rod is something that is more apparent to a fishing guide. That question is “Is this rod durable?”. If you use a rod or reel a reasonable amount during the course of the year, and pack it and dry it after each use, you are not likely to test the limits of durability of your stick. As a guide, rods see constant use and exposure to the elements. It is blatantly obvious over time which rods are consumer grade and which are really meant to last.
There is a rod that has hit the market over last couple of years, the Scott Radian. I am happy to write this brief review that confirms that the Radian is indeed a great rod. It is more than adequate at most tasks, in fact, it is downright awesome at many of them. Furthermore, it is an extremely durable rod. Because of its versatility and its durability,I strongly recommend this rod to anyone looking for a new fly rod for fishing in Midwest waters.
I can’t recommend ever putting your fingers this close to a musky!
Here is a breakdown of the Radians that I have used extensively and a little breakdown on the performance of the rods.
Radian 908/4: This is a great heavy duty freshwater rod. It pairs with 200-300 grain sink tips, and can cast large flies better than many 9 weight rods. It is a good steelhead rod but is also a really nice smallmouth rod. When over lined, it becomes a popper fishing machine. Recently, I took this rod musky fishing alongside of 9 and 10 weight rods. I found that I put the heavier rods away and just fished this one. It was capable of casting the large flies and putting the wood to large toothy ones. I dream of the day that Scott builds the Radian in a 9 weight, but for now this is a great alternative.
Radian 907/4: This is a great streamer/smallmouth rod. As a seven weight, it is more of a niche rod for freshwater use. It is at its best with a floating line for smallmouth fishing or a 200 grain sink tip for below surface work. A good smallmouth rod needs to be able to cast a tight loop, so that flies don’t catch overhanging trees while fishing from the boat. This rod fits the bill.
Radian 906/4: Hey, I am not in the retail business, and wouldn’t typically say this. However, the 906 Radian is one of the finest all purpose freshwater rods for a Michigan angler. I own a few of these; they are my bread and butter guide rod. They are also the rod that can do just about anything you could ask while fishing for trout and smallmouth bass. This rod can cast a dry fly delicately. It has a very satisfying feel when it loads and is equally at home with a sink tip and short leader. It also roll casts nymphs and weight with ease. I don’t think it would have a problem with light duty steelhead fishing for that matter.
When I go out and fish on my own, the 906 is the rod that I always grab. The Little Muskegon River runs behind my house; it is a fair trout stream and a good place to catch smallmouth. Often times I will work my way upstream casting dry flies for trout in the riffles, only to turn around and fish heavy crayfish patterns on the way down for smallmouth. This rod handles both of these tasks easily and enjoyably. It is available with or without a fighting butt, which is a nice option to have. I always use the model with the butt attached, but you may prefer the other option.
Radian Spey 1308/4: I received this rod a few weeks ago. Aesthetically, it is a cool looking rod with orange wraps and an unsnapped blank. When I first put it together, I was a little bit concerned because it is a pretty stiff blank. I have had several shooting head rods with apparently similar action, and really didn’t like them. All this skepticism was put to rest upon the first cast of the rod. It has a great, muscular feel and casted an intermediate skagit line and a scandi head with equal ease.
OK, so these rods are great fishing rods, and they have a great deal of versatility. But how well do they hold up? I can’t guarantee this, but I am pretty sure that they know my name at the Repair Department of Scott Fly Rods. There have been years that I have sent back 15 or more broken rods in a single year. Guiding in the Midwest is inherently hard on equipment. This is especially true when you make your living casting flies with lead eyes through much of the year. Since receiving several of the Radians, not a single one has broken in over a year of heavy use (this is the main reason for this favorable review). They are heavily reinforced as is apparent on the blank. This includes fishing in all sorts of heavy and extreme weather, and being pelted by weighted eyesand split shot. I watched helplessly as a Radian was crushed by the weight of a robust angler. Somehow, the rod survived.
Due to their great performance and durability, I can recommend the Scott Radian line of rods to any Midwest angler. The 6 weight is a star and if you are looking for a fantastic, premium, all around rod, this is the best option I have seen. The other models, including the spey, are equally impressive. The versatility and the durability of the Scott Radians makes them an extraordinary series of fly rod.
Highly recommend that you add Kevin Feenstra’s new website to your favorite list, his photography is amazing and his new site shows off his talents for sure. Also a great way to keep up to date with how the Muskegon River is doing. Nice new site Kevin!
Make sure to check out the Featured Fly section for a great new pattern for steelhead, trout, or smallmouth from one of the best innovative fly tiers in the Midwest
September is gateway to the fall, and it has become my favorite month to fish. After a busy summer with the smallmouth, I take some time to relax and fish. I thought I would share two experiences, which were radically different in some ways but completely the same.
Last week, I visited muskie land for a chance at a big fish. They are one of my favorite recreational species. I was fishing alone and it was extremely windy, so fishing was uber challenging in this vast, open area. After two solid mornings, several fish had followed my shiny flies to the boat, but no connection. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever catch one. After numerous casts, zilch. I texted with Jon Ray and he said “chartreuse”. I took his suggestion. Literally on the first cast, I caught the glimpse of something beneath my fly. Soon the shadow disappeared, but something told me not to rush pulling the fly out of the water. I did a figure eight with my rod tip. I had never caught a musky with a figure eight, and my expectations were low. On the beginning of the second figure eight, a wide bodied fish exploded after my fly from under the boat. Soon he was hooked! It was one of the most exciting strikes I have ever had for any species. The fish was landed–it was a good sized fish, not huge, at 36″ in length.
Upon returning home, there was some time set aside to prepare for the fall season. In addition, I was hoping to accomplish one other fishing goal, to catch a brook trout in its fall spawning colors. There are numerous small creeks with brook trout in my area–in fact there is one in my back yard–so you think that this would be an easy task. This was not the case. I went to a stretch of a local small stream that is rumored to be great for brook trout. On the first day, I had several fish rise to my hopper pattern, but was unable to connect. Suddenly, a nice trout rose to my fly as it fell out of the grass on the bank. Much to my chagrin, my glee turned to horror. Normally I love brown trout, in this case I was disappointed with the 13 inch butterball on my line. I caught one more brown trout that day. The next morning, four browns as well as two rainbows we caught, but still no brookie. Finally, while swinging a wet fly, a tug registered on the line. I was frustrated when the fish was missed. The process was repeated, and again the fish took. I missed him yet again! I surmised that this must be a brook trout, as a brown trout would never be this stupid. On the third cast, I watched this nice trout follow my wet fly and it took. After a brief struggle, an 11″ jewel was at my feet. This moment was just as thrilling as catching the musky.
Fishing is always fun. Challenging fish make it more rewarding. This sounds like something a guide would say but the fish that you work for really are the most memorable. During the month of September, there are many challenges for the willing angler. Whatever fish you prefer to catch, get out and enjoy this great time of the year!