Kevin Feenstra shares his image of Drew Rosema holding a beautiful Great Lakes Steelhead.
New and fancy patterns are always coming out, but sometimes going old school is the best policy. The ESL is a standard pattern. ESL stands for Egg Sucking Leech. Yesterday we got on the board with a fresh steelhead up from the lake that very morning, if I had to guess. On a orange headed black rabbit strip egg sucking leech.
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Getting a double header is a pretty unique experience, but something in the fall we actually do see with waves of curious steelhead pushing up the river and grabbing the first piece of food they see. I love curious steelhead! So getting a double header steelhead combo I would say is not a hard combination to come by. But the Lake-Run Brown steelhead combo I’ver personally only had the chance to see twice here in Michigan. I’m sure in other parts of the country the combo is more common. But for us currently with a declining LRB population the past 10 years the opportunities are very rare. Well last week (in the spring season no less) my clients Blake and Steve put a LRB / Steelhead combo in the net. It true was a surprise.
The only other time I’ve had a chance to catch this combo is a day I will never forget. With good friends and great guides Kevin Feenstra and Jeff Hubbard. We were fishing on Kevin’s b-day when Jeff and I put these two great fish in the net while fishing streamers on the Muskegon River. Photo below courtesy of Kevin Feenstra.
Found a new material from Spirit River at The Northern Angler in Traverse City to play with on these cold Northern MI days and nights. It’s called Swamp Rat Zonker strips(SRZ). This material comes in Natural, Hot Pink, King Fisher Blue, Orange and Purple. I have been experimenting with the blue and orange for steelhead tubes. There is a sexy translucency to the fur that makes it shimmer in and out of the water.
When the weather breaks I will put in some more on the water R&D, but I fished these flies on the Big River with Jon Ray and Erik Rambo back when the weather co-operated in January and had 2 grabs on the swing, so the fish seem to like them too!
These flies are kind of a hybrid of old school streamer and “scandi style” tubes with few little twists. The first twist is that the SRZ has a hole punched into it and then is slid onto the tube so that it stands up nicely against the hackles as opposed to being lashed down flat on the tube. The other technique is that the front collar(s) are the SRZ spun in a dubbing loop with the skin cut away. It is then picked out with a needle. Speaking of the skin, it’s very thin and holds very little water making these flies very easy to cast. The wing also undulates, shimmies and shakes very freely.
This material is perfect for substituting in any fly that uses rabbit strips- Zuddlers, strip leaches etc.
Very cool video from the Pacific Northwest. Todd Moen does his usual amazing working with the camera.