I’m honored to have Patagonia Flyfishing post an image on their Instagram account , thank you Larry and Paul for letting me take a minute and play as we floated a Michigan trout stream this fall.
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!
The DEQ has announced that it has found two new invasive species in Michigan rivers. The Pere Marquette River near Ludington has New Zealand mud snails and the St Mary’s river has didymo (rock snot). Read the announcement here, by the DEQ. Both of these species are very harmful to our rivers and the fish we pursue.
To stop further spread of these invaders wash all of your equipment thoroughly, including your warders, boots and boats after getting out of the water is mandatory. We all fish multiple rivers, we need to be vigilant to keep the remaining waterways free of these pests. Cleaning wading boots and waders is key to stopping the spread of invasive species.
Waders and Wading Boots – should be dried inside and outside throughly. This is especially important during the summer months when perspiration may build up in waders even with gore-tex and other breathable fabrics.
Clean off any mud, sand or other fine debris before leaving your stream or lake. This is especially important if you are fishing a stream or lake infected with rock snot AKA Didymo, zebra mussels or New Zealand mud snails. Use fresh water if you have enough to do this. Otherwise using the stream or lake water you are fishing in will help to keep the critters where they started.
A good stiff vegetable brush will clean off mud and debris off the soles, welts and other parts of wading boots and the soles of waders.
Allowing boots and waders to dry in the sun will help damage invasive species. On waders make sure to dry the outside, then turn the gravel guards up so they will dry under them.
Build a simple but effective wader drying station by purchasing a four post prebuilt type hat rack at Lowes or Home depot. Attach it to the wall studs with a 2 inch screw in each end. Hang the waders by the suspenders with an open post between to allow the waders to drape open a bit. My station holds the waders about 2 inches above the floor.
Allowing waders to dry throughly between uses will generally kill the common aquatic invasive species. The suggestion is to dry for 5 days minimum between fishing trips.
Wading boots should be laid out to drain and dry completely between uses if possible. This is especially important with felt soles. Beginning in 2011, all major wading boot manufacturers will no longer offer felt soles. Sticky Rubber, Aqua Stealth, soft rubber Vibram soles, Eco-Trax soles are a few of the substitues on the market.
- Soak your waders and boots in hot water over 120 degrees for at least 30 minutes will help to kill most invasive species.
- A combination of hot water and salt solution can also be used. See Controlling the spread of invasive species for the mixtures.
- 100% vinegar is an alternative to salt.
- Do Not use 409. It will eat your waders, is hard on the environment and is illegal too.
- Use a high pressure sprayer to clean wader soles and the cracks and crevices inside and outside the boots will help. Then soak in a hot water bath.
- I scrub my boots and waders in a hot water bath to remove the left over mud, stream debris, etc. and allow to completey air dry before using again.
Take the Clean Angling Pledge and follow it.
If we want to continue to have some the best fishing in the United States we are going to have to stay on this. Please tell your friends and fellow fishermen about this problem and be part of the solution!
A quick photo from some footage we shot with the Phantom . Clackacraft boat in tow, ready to go to work. Photo shot by Erik
Check out our latest project. A step-by-step educational fly tying experience with Ed McCoy, learn how he ties one of his best mouse patterns. With many extra’s filmed in Night Vision.
Thank you Erik Rambo for all your work. Very fun project to be a part of.
If you have heard me talk about smallmouth the past couple years you know all about the crabbing technique, well the annual spring minnow hatch (salmon fry) has started on the most of our western streams, steelhead and trout are taking notice. Using the same techniques that I use for smallmouth (chapter 3 of the DVD) , only instead of using a crayfish or hellgrammite pattern, but fishing with a 1-2″ minnow pattern and a float (bobber) can bring a couple extra fish a day. One of the perfect size steelhead jigs that I’ve found is made by Wapsi, I like them in 1/32 size 6 or 1/16 size 4. Here is a link to FishUSA. I powder paint mine to match the colors that I like, white, pink, light blue, and black. But fishing a small baitfish pattern near the bottom dead drift style in the spring is worth the little extra effort.