Saturday, November 5, 2011

More precious than Gold

Well, its been a while since I've posted anything.  Life has a way of getting busier as you get older-spare time is worth its weight in gold pretty much these days as work consumes my being & family is the most important thing in my life these days.  It has been a very busy year, possibly the most rewarding year of my life.  But there are some things happening in this fine placed called the U.P. of Michigan that are just plain alarming to me. Something needs to be done.

Organic, earth first, green, healthy living-we hear these words or terms every day now & they encompass many of our lives.  Manufacturers use these words for marketing mainly, trying to convince consumers that their product is superior & no animals or plants were hurt when making it.  Whatever. Everyone these days realizes how vital it is to take of mother earth, it has been shit on for so long that it is about time we actually give a damn about how we live our lives impacts the environment.  So people are doing their best to try to help out each other as well as their surroundings.

So is it alarming that everywhere else in the USA that state/local governments are fighting tooth & nail against invasive mining and or damming of natural rivers?  We have taken a real kick in the nuts lately here in the Northern U.P. in this department.  First off the city of Marquette & Marquette Board of Light/Power decided to re dam the Dead River system.  This decision was made to re-create Tourist Park Lake, prolly because land owners wanted their property values back-God knows this dam cant be worth the investment to create such nominal power.  Yes, there prolly wasnt much for Steelhead, Salmon or Trout that made it above those falls-but c'mon, this makes the environmental friendly city of Marquette look damn stupid.  What a waste of money & to turn back a natural river is not cool.

Secondly, this mining push has got to stop.  The blasting has started up on the Yelllow Dog Plains & the writing is on the wall.  I fear the worst as one of the most wild & beautiful places I have ever been may be ruined for future generations-I pray that my baby daughter can someday cast for Coaster Brook Trout with me while we watch Bald Eagles & Falcons soar above.

Now the "Back 40" mine on the Menominee river in the Southern U.P.-this is one of the finest fisheries in the United States.  This is a border State & I hope the anglers of Wisconsin can help stop this bullshit.  This is a gold mine & it is as bad or worse than what is happening up on the Yellow Dog Plains.  Kinda hard to stop these mines when our state government wants them to happen because our economy is so piss poor.

Join the fight.  Just tell anyone how much you think this sucks.  Doesn't matter who, just tell someone.  The more people who know about this & don't like it the better.  Only you can decide what is important. My rant........

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Outbound & Downtown

Exploring.  This is something that every person has done in their life, to me it just never seems to get old.  I remember as a kid riding my bicycle so much with my waders on I would wear holes on the inside of the wader's legs from rubbing on the bike frame. As an angler, I very much so still relish the opportunity to fish new water for just about any type of fish.  I've traveled across the U.S. & several countries fishing, the increased pulse rate & downright sheer excitement of when you step into a new piece of water is exhilarating.  One can hardly expect to catch fish when fishing someplace new, you have to earn this right.   Putting together the pieces of the puzzle to find choice water & then figuring out your plan of attack is a work of art. Learning is such an important part of fishing and life in general.  One does not become an expert at fishing after a year or two at this sport, anyone who says they are is full of shit. Actually, anyone who declares themselves an "expert" is a pompous ass-once you stop learning your game is over. Catching fish in a  place or two is the norm, but take that game to locales across the board & get ready to be very humbled. Rarely do these quests pan out into much, but every so often you find yourself a gem.  Over the years one of my fishing partners & I have logged way too many miles on both of our vehicles in search of the holy grail.  Our wives think we are idiots as many days we just drive across the U.P. spending loot on pricey fuel and we don't even get a cast in with the fly rod. But dammit, when you have one of those days where the stars align and one of these places you have researched actaully has some sweet trophy fish-it feels damn good.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cold Summers

Yes, cold weather sucks ass.  I hate it, I bitch about it all damn Winter long.  Then comes Summer here in the U.P.,  I look forward to the long warm Summer days all of the dark months.  This year, not much for the warm days. In fact, it's been rather downright shitty for the most part.  Heck, today a girl who was fishing on my guide trip was wearing winter gloves & it is July pretty much.  What gives! Yeah, we had some days in the upper 80's which was nice but that has been about it.  But as a Trout & cold water angler I kinda appreciate the cooler temps, they keep our finned friends in hospitable water temps and provide for some great opportunities in the fishing dept..  So i'm left in a classic catch 22 standpoint.  These cold Summers will prolong fishing seasons & make for better fishing seasons in the future. So what the hell, bring on the cold I guess as complaining & whining is no longer tolerated!  :)

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

ohhhhh that smell....

It's the height of a busy guide season & spare time is at a premium right now.  Not much time to update this blog, let alone being able to spend time with family & friends.  I guess that's the price of running your own business & being on the water when the Trout want you to be.  It is truly a wonderful time of the year to be a fishing guide, the forest is alive and the rivers are teeming with life.  Being able to share this bounty with others is very fullfilling, so much nowadays that i'd rather have a new angler catch a great Trout than myself to have the opportunity.  The joy that fills one new to the sport when the hook into a quality trout is unexplainable.

Lately the conifers here have been pollinating or whatever it's called. I'm guessing as my truck has been covered with a yellowy looking powder every morning.  The other night on the river my clients & I had to hide off in the woods as a heavy storm rolled through that dumped biblical amounts of rain as well as heavy thunder & lighting.  After the storm several nice trout were brought to hand & we had a journey out in the dark form the river after fishing.  I couldn't help but notice an overpowering wonderful smell of pine.  It was like nothing I had ever smelled in my life before, so aromatic & just downright pleasing.  I'm guessing it was form the pines being damp & this pollen being present.  I have never smelled this before & it was quite the treat leaving the forest with this in the air.  The essence of the woods during trout season.......

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ode to da Opener

Opening Day-it's all about traditions here in the Upper Peninsula.  This a day of the fishing calendar I clear the slate every year to enjoy the surrounding of this great place I call home.  As an angler it isn't about catching fish to me, it's about spending time with friends & relaxing.  If we make it astream that's wonderful, if not-who cares.  Many people in this day of age are always in a rush, it's not worth even going fishing if you are in a hurry to get out.  Trout fishing, especially here in the North Woods is all about kicking back and soaking in the environs.  This weekends heritage in the U.P. runs so strong that words really cannot explain it, since Trout have been here anglers have celebrated this holy day.   Trout only live in the most beautiful places on Earth, these are the places I like to spend my time.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seeing Any?

This is something that I will never understand I have come to accept.  Frequently during this Spring run of Steelhead when you encounter other anglers on the stream they frequently ask "Hey, have you seen any spawning Steelhead?"  They seem saddened or not enthused about fishing unless they can actually "see" Steelhead.  Sure, I used to fish to spawning fish-so I definitely don't hold myself above any other angler who chooses to do so.  But it was because I wasn't informed or didn't know any better to leave these fish alone.  Spawning fish are not fish that eat, they are fish that are getting their freak on.  How many times have you felt like eating a pastrami sammich during the middle of sexy time?  Yeah, prolly not to many times i'm guessing.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Slow & Steady

Old School-that's the two words I can think of the describe this Spring here in the Upper Peninsula.  I remember that the month of March used to be classified as another month of the Winter here instead of the beginning of Spring. I myself am guilty as well as many others are of getting used to these early Springs we have had over the course of the past few years.  Many inland lakes across the Upper Peninsula have a solid 2 feet of ice still on them, you can drive a full size pickup truck on that very safely!  Yesterday as I peered out across Lk Superior all i could see was ice as far as the eye could see, granted this ice blows in & out with the wind.  But there sure is quite a bit still out there & that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  As it is right now though, we are in a major drought.  Since February there has been very little precip (snow or rain), this doesn't fair well for fire danger or river/lake levels.  I'm hoping that April brings some nice rains, heck even a snowstorm would be fine by me.

Recently I purchased a new camera , so these shots are local images from the Marquette area.  Learning how to operate the camera is in adventure in itself, but I see how one can become very involved with the art of photography.  So much is require to get a great photo, I'm looking forward to providing some images of the essence of this beautiful place I call home-Michigan's U.P..

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Fishing Michigan's U.P.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Da Flashdancer!

I thought a tutorial of a newer streamer pattern I have found to be effective would be kinda cool to share.  This pattern is primarily used for migratory species, but if it is tied in smaller sizes with different colors variation/use of flash it is effective on resident Trout as well.  It can be fished in a variety of different ways, my best results have been while swing/actively slow stripping this pattern.  It is designed to target aggressive fish in water temps in the 40-55 degree range.  The liberal use of flash on this pattern grabs attention from fish that are a long distance away- I have found this pattern to work well in varying water clarity conditions, although clear water has been the most productive.  This pattern was inspired by the patterns of friend & fellow river guide Kevin Feenstra.  This is a extremely easy fly to tie, a nice choice for beginner fly tiers!  Due to the heavy use of bright/flash materials in this fly, I chose the appropriate name "The Flashdancer" for this streamer.

Materials needed to tie this pattern-
Hook-Size 2 TMC 9395 or suitable high quality 2x heavy streamer hook
Size Medium Lead Eyes
Chartreuse Large Cactus Chenille
Flour. Pink Ice Dub
Silver Holographic Polar Chenille
Silver Flashabou
Pink Flashabou
Gun Metal Flashabou
Uni-thread black Big Fly thread

First step-Secure lead eyes to bottom side of hook just back from the eye of hook. Then bring thread to rear of the hook shank.

Secondly, add a generous amount of gun metal or silver flashabou to the rear of the hook.

Next, tie in your silver polar chenille at the rear of hook. Palmer the chenille all the way up to to right in back of the lead eyes.

This is what it should look like once the polar chenille is all the way up to the lead eyes.

Next, add your pink Flashabou. I also add another material at this point that is more of a rubbery  feel to it. It looks like Flashabou & has some holographic properties. I just can't remember the name of this product.  Krystal Flash can also be used in this step to gain more iridescence to the pattern.

Now tie in your cactus chenille behind your lead eyes & then after a wrap or so behind the eyes figure 8 the chenille around the eyes to thoroughly cover them.

Here is what it should look like once the eyes are covered with the cactus chenille.

Take a pinch of the pink ice dub & push this through the eye of the hook. Wrap 2 or 3 times over the top of the ice dub. Then push ice dub back & secure the front of the ice dub to hook by the thread grabbing a few fibers.  Now finish the fly with some half hitches then done!

There ya go, all done. The finished product, an easy tie that is a big meal for a willing participant!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend of the Dogs

The past week has been a roller coaster of weather patterns up here in the U.P. and across all of the Midwest for that matter. This past weekend was one of my personal favorites of the Winter, the annual U.P. 200 sled dog race weekend.

The weather ended the race early because trail conditions were tough on both the dogs as well as equipment. This years race had 19 teams from across the United States attend, mushers/teams that have raced the world famous Alaska Iditarod compete in this race. It is a remarkable event for our small northern Midwest community to promote and host.

For those who have never participated in spectating a sled dog race, it is quite the event!  It seems as if the dogs actually feed off the crowd as you can literally see the excitement in their eyes as they act as a team to pull their musher to victory.  These dogs live for this time spent on the trail, they train all season long for the opportunity to get out racing.  These dogs are not house pets, they are specifically bred to race.  They are high energy thoroughbred animals, although they are very friendly pre-race when the crowd gathers downtown Marquette, but once the race starts they are all business!

Many mushers welcome the spectators to pet and get their pictures taken with the dogs, it a cool chance to get talk to the teams and learn more about sled dog racing.  There are several operations here across the U.P. that allow sled dog enthusiasts to take part in trail riding themselves and experience this cool sport first hand.

Visit here for info on how to take part in your own sled dog adventure here in the Upper Peninsula. Ive had family members, friends, & clients try this and everyone says its a once in a lifetime experience- I look forward to trying it myself next Winter. Come visit Marquette next Winter for the U.P. 200 weekend, a unique & fun time here in God's Country.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hustle, this is the one word that was profound to me in the President's message today here in the Upper Peninsula.  Working hard to come out on top and be the best that you can be, don't accept coming in second. He quoted JFK in his speech as well as when he was discussing how the U.S. needs to become #1 and that nothing other than that is acceptable in this global economy.  Just sitting back and watching as the world takes center stage is not good enough, America needs to move forward.  He declared that America invented the Internet, so we need to be the leader in providing broadband Internet to every home in the U.S.. The President stated that by having this ability to access faster Internet throughout the country will directly spawn entrepreneurs, invention and economic stimulus.

The overwhelming feeling of pride was very evident in all the people in the community-those that attended the event as well as those who didn't.  When the President opened his speech by saying "Hello Yoopers-the crowd went berserk! Yoopers are extremely proud of the place we call home and the President definitely recognized this.  The President commented on how special of a place the U.P. is and how genuine everyone was here he met with, joking around about the Packers at the start of his speech got the crowd chuckling. Sen. Levin also during his speech commended the Pack and stated he wished his Detroit Lions could follow suit!

Whether you are a supporter of President Obama or not, it was very special to have him come visit our small town here in the Upper Peninsula.  It isn't everyday that the leader of the free world decides to take a trip to the frozen north.

A rewarding day for NMU and alums-a day our president came to visit our school/town because we are leaders, not followers!

Many thanks go out to Senator Debbie Stabenow and her staff for inviting Riversnorth Guide Service to attend the Obama event today in Marquette.  It was a phenomenal experience to participate in and the opportunity to see the President in person was very rewarding.  Senator Stabenow has been at the forefront of the Asian Carp battle and has been steadfast in her stand to keep the Carp out of our Great Lakes.

Keep up the good work Senator Stabenow & Thank You!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Land Mine

Sure, the Upper Peninsula was founded pretty much upon the mining of the valuable minerals found deep in the soils and bedrock of this land. Many people moved to the Upper Peninsula to work in this industry to provide for their families-it was how the U.P. became what it is today.  Currently the U.P. still has vast deposits of minerals-recently this has been a hot topic as some mining companies have been granted permission by our state and federal governments to mine in extremely sensitive environmental areas.

Even with responsible mining techniques that are present this day in age, it is so absurd to allow the opportunity for a company to possibly destroy our natural resources in search of a product that will put money in their pocket.  Mining now is different from the mining that founded the U.P., we know so much more now about adverse effects of mining from what we did back then.  The future of areas that are remote and beautiful like the Upper Peninsula rest with tourism.  The U.P. has become a global destination because of its vast abundance of natural beauty and wonderful natural resources.  Every season anglers from across the U.S. and world travel here to fish with me to experience what the U.P. has to offer. Managing our natural resources correctly so that many generations are able to enjoy the benefits is key, not opening up our land for possible destruction.  If a species like the wild coaster Brook Trout is lost because of a mining mishap, it can never be brought back to its truly wild status.

Whoever is part of allowing this mine in the Yellow Dog Plains should be ashamed of themselves for letting greed possibly ruin something beautiful and pure.  If there is a line, it needs to be drawn. 

Nice work Marquette City Commission- Way to stand up and give Rio Tinto the bird!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hard Water

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That's exactly what the game plan has been here over the last few cold weeks.  Ice fishing has sparked my interest as some new opportunities for some unique fisheries has provided some good times in the cold weather.
The U.P. is littered with countless lakes as well as ice fishing on the big water of Lake Michigan & Lake Superior.  The big water ice scene is pretty damn cool, sketchy ice conditions & the chance at hooking some damn nice fish through the ice is interesting.

Playing the winds is key when venturing out on the big water ice, watching for offshore winds can save your life.  Not a wise decision to head out when a south wind is kicking up for example on Lake Superior ice, the ice can blow out in a matter of minutes.  Not a pleasant ride!!
The ice fishing scene is kinda more about relaxing and being outside verses slaying fish.  Sure, you are going to have some good days on the ice occasionally-but most of the time on the ice is going to be spent catching up with friends!
Super Bowl-after a season plagued with injures to key players, the Pack has made it to the big show!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Frozen Coast

Yup, it's the middle of Winter & that makes it cabin fever time.  Not something I look forward to, I start looking at the 10 day forecast hoping for a day in the mid 20's so I can possibly wet a line.  Doesn't look like that will be happening for a while right now as everyday is pretty much single digits or barely over 10 degrees.  Hopefully this new video can uplift the spirit & remind us that it isn't that much longer till the warm season begins!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homegrown in da U.P.

When people think of ice fishing lures, most likely the first lure that comes to mind is the one & only Swedish Pimple.  The Pimple has been around since the late 1950's & anyone who fishes regularly owns a handful of them. I have to beleive that more Walleye/Perch have been caught while jiggin' through a hole in the ice on this lure than any other lure in existence. My limited experience in ice fishing,  I pretty much exclusively fish the pimple. Why not-it catches fish & its made right here!  This lure & many others were designed here in Michigan's U.P. by the Bay De Noc Lure Company.  The lure company sits right in the majestic downtown district of Gladstone-right outside the door is probably the best testing grounds (Little Bay de Noc) one can have to design a lure for ice fishing.  A world class Walleye fishery that people travel to from around the world-quite a perfect laboratory for designing lures!

Last week I was in Gladstone, so I decided to stop by the Pimple factory for a visit-I just missed the afternoon coffee break & all the employees were hard at work in their specific areas.  I was greeted by Dave & Anders Nyberg-owners of the company. Dave was designing new custom color schemes for specific fisheries, a new aspect from the Bay De Noc lure Company.  Anders was filling/taking orders on the phone as it is Winter & this is the busy season for ice fishing.  The guys showed me around the shop & were explaining the process that goes into the lure making.  I was amazed at how many steps were involved in making one of these small lures.  A truly unique factor in this business is that nearly everything in the shop was handmade & designed in house.  Lloyd Nyberg-one of the founding fathers of the Bay De Noc Lure Company was a Tool/Die maker by trade.  He designed  many of these unique dies & other pieces of equipment that are still being used on a daily basis-built to last & one of a kind!

Lloyd, his brother Carl & the Apelgren family of Gladstone designed these lures as a hobby and now a second generation of family is running a phenomenal business distributing these lures across the world.  The Bay de Noc Family of lures- The Swedish Pimple, The Do-Jigger, The Laker Taker, The Flutter Laker Taker & The Vingla.

Swedish Influenced, but Yooper Made!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Baitfish-the future of them?

Seems like only yesterday when I was a young boy fishing on lake Michigan with my Grandpa & Dad for Chinook Salmon, many of these giants would reaches sizes in the 30 lb range.  This was not uncommon in the early 1980's, Chinook up to 40 pounds were recorded every season on both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Massive populations of Alewives gave these Salmon plenty to feed on all year long in these two Great Lakes.  These Chinooks thrived in the Great Lakes during this time frame.

Around 2000 Chinook Salmon populations seemed to be declining a bit on the Lake Huron side, maybe we thought it was just a smaller run of fish this year. Chinooks seemed to be skinny & on the small side verses what we were used to. So another season came around and even less fish were around, no one seemed to have an answer as just as many Salmon were being stocked as prior years. This trend continued until finally some answers were being given by scientists, fisherman & our state agencies.

The answer to the declining Salmon fishery on Lk Huron was directly related to the shipping industry that uses the Great Lakes for commerce.  The vessels that enter the Great Lakes system from the saltwater were directly dumping ballast water that was collected from water bodies other than the Great Lakes directly into our waters carelessly.  This was introducing invasive organisms into a water body that has never seen anything such the likes of this.  What has happened since is absolutely horrible.

Organisms such as the zebra & quagga mussel has overtaken Lake Huron-in laymans terms these mussels eat the food that the alewives need for survival more or less. Thus creating an environment void of food for the alewives, this means if the alewives have nothing to eat-they starve to death. This in turn creates a entire crash of the system from the bottom to the top predator (Chinook).  Luckily Steelhead, Atlantic Salmon, Pink Salmon, Lake Trout, Brown Trout & Coho are not as reliant upon the Alewife population as the Chinook Salmon.  These other Salmonid populations seem to remain strong despite the low numbers of Alewives in Lake Huron, they have a more diverse diet that doesn't purely reply upon baitfish.  Atlantic Salmon & the others tend to eat what is available, aquatic insects & other baitfish provide enough food for these species to still thrive.

Since this crash in baitfish populations Michigan DNR has cut back stocking efforts on Lk Huron, no reason to stock a fish that purely relies upon alewife when there are no alewives present.  The only stocks of Chinook that happen on Lake Huron are purely for tribal treaty reasons, which is a whole separate issue.  Michigan & Canada now rely solely upon natural reproduction for Chinooks in Lake Huron, some of the river systems have astounding rates in natural reproduction which keeps Chinook numbers present.

Michigan DNR biologists figured that this may happen in Lk Michigan in the near future, so they cut stocking efforts of Chinook to try to balance out the predator/prey balance.  This was done around 5 years ago & now Chinook numbers are not nearly what they used to be in Lk Michigan.  Current research on Lk Michigan on baitfish populations are not good. Steadily declining numbers of alewives, smelt & others are pointing towards the same issue that happened in Lk Huron. This year class of Chinook appeared to be smaller & not as many as usual. I'm not panicking yet as fish were still what I would consider strong in numbers & fishing was good. This is such a frustrating situation that was caused by something our government could have controlled.  Its not rocket science either, it is amazing that uncontrolled dumping of ballast water has occurred for so long.

Check out this link to a study on Lk Michigan biomass, it pretty much tells the more scientific story of what I explained above.  Hopefully sound management & good decision making by our State agencies will ensure quality fishing for generations to come.

It is amazing to me how quiet people are keeping about this, hoping that it will go away or something. It isn't going away & it seems like not many people are stepping up.  The more people who know about this problem the better, tell your legislator about this & that it is of importance to you.  It's better to be proactive verses reactive.