Brook Trout Fall Colors

Amazing colors from a brook trout from the Upper Manistee River, late summer and early fall are some of the best times of year for fishing and for photography. This brook trout was on full display. I can’t wait for the coming weeks as news of a couple steelhead are around, and fall browns start to show off their yellows.

Big Fish Chase

Wow have things changed in the past 24-48 hours, from highs of 90’s to now highs in the 60’s with blustering 20-25 mph winds out of the north. Feels more like fall now instead of summer. For more than just a few people, this change of seasons brings the feeling of hunting season rather than fishing season. I for one getting the feeling this is the time of year to hunt for the biggest fish in our rivers and lakes.

I do get asked more than a couple times a year, “what is your favorite season”, I often reply with the answer “I love the change in seasons”. All the opportunities that Michigan provides are special. I love the first dry fly day of the year, I love the first fall steelhead I find behind gravel, I love the aggressive nature of a bluegill in the spring. But September does bring the opportunity to hunt for the biggest fish. Be that King Salmon or monster browns. The opportunity presents itself because of the change in temperature, the struggle to preserve the species, and the fact that Old Man Winter is just around the corner.
The change in season brings opportunity to the fly angler. Go hunt your rivers, lakes, and shoreline. I for one have a box unchecked on the bucket list of a 30″ brown on a fly. This change in season brings opportunity. Time to go knock on some doors. Before Old Man Winter closes them until next year.

Hopper Time


I have my next project, and it is really one of my favorite hatches that occur in our area for trout. The grasshopper! Over the next couple weeks I’ll be accumulating footage for a short video with the star being the grasshopper. The main focus will be to show how this bug can pull up some dandy trout in the day light hours. Can’t wait to find more willing stars to shoot over the dog days of summer! For a personal plug for the guide business, I’ll be floating the pine, pere marquette, and manistee in search of trout willing to eat these tasty morsels. If you interested in booking a day contact me, plenty of open days to choose from. Enjoy and make sure to come back and see the finished video, hope to have it up in mid August. Contact me via email jray@hawkinsflyfishing.comor 231.631.5701

Tight Lines,
Jon Ray

Biggest Trout Memories

Being a fishing guide first and photographer second, being part of somebodiesbiggest trout ever is always something special. First to be there and walk them through the experience of the the fish you can hear but just can’t see. Helping them locate what log the fish is sitting near, how to wade into location, how to make the cast, how to mend the fly, and what to do if the fish eats your fly. As a fly fishing caddy, helping the angler choose the correct angle like a pro golfer working with his caddy before a really important putt on a difficult green.

Guiding is my love, I have so many special memories of so many people’s firsts. The first day they went fly fishing seeing their cast progress, the first day they landed a steelhead and got that monkey off their back, the first time they heard a big trout eating hex in the middle of the night and they calmed their nerves and made the cast. All are so special is actually why I love my job so much.
But now being a photographer to be able to capture the image, to see the joy in the anglers eye, as they beam with joy. To burn these memories onto film and to have these memories for the rest of our angling days. Now to have been the guide and the photographer is making these experiences even more special.

Trout fishing with Dry Flies

Warmer days have really kicked in the dry fly fishing the past three or four days! Is there a better way to catch a trout than with a Dry Fly? Watching a trout no matter what size come up and taking a dry fly is such a special part of fly fishing. With May and June being the prime time months here in the state of Michigan to get your full enjoyment of the dry fly season.

Last night Ed McCoy and I enjoyed a section of the Manistee River were we had Caddis, Yellow Sallies, Mahogany’s, Hendrickson spinners, Medium Brown Stones, and a couple unidentified bugs in the air. While May understanding what the fish are actually eating can be difficult the reward of catching a couple fish on top is worth the couple fly changes for success.

For the next 6 weeks look for the best dry fly fishing of the season. I am working on trying to get that perfect shot of a trout eating a bug. Never did relize how much work it was going to be. Almost had it last night on video, working with zoomed in shots with a tripod in low light, and a unstable platform (by boat) is not that easy. But I love the challenge an I look forward to the next evenings spinner fall.

Catch and Release


There is something special about holding onto a very big fish and feeling the power of the fish as it swims away. Working with Chuck Hawkins today, on a two boat streamer trip on the Manistee River. I had the chance to photograph Chuck as he let this 21″ brown go. The experience of catching and then releasing these magnificent fish is something that I hold dear. As I spend close to 200 days guiding individuals through out the state of Michigan, one of my favorite every day experiences is to hold and watch our catch swim away to be caught again another day. The couple seconds that I take to look over steelhead, trout, or salmon before release is my personal “QT”, the quick bond before they swim to the depths.

Chuck Hawkins holding the prize catch today before release. As spring steelhead continues to give us questions marks, brown trout fishing shows every positive sign for an amazing season ahead of us. Streamer fishing on many rivers and at many sections is thumbs up. I can’t wait as steelhead gear begins to stay home and trout gears takes the front seat, to capture more images of big Michigan brown trout. Dry fly fishing this season I think is going to be special.