Michigan Fly Fishing Expo 2013

MFFC Expo 2013

I was able to attend the Michigan Fly Fishing Expo on March 9.  It was fun to get out and start dreaming about being on the water again.

My wife brought both my daughters this year, and they had fun making a T-shirt and trying out casting at the casting pond.  I always worry about the casting pond now because they actually have Sage rods set out for the kids. I’m not really sure that I want to chance my girls snapping the tip on a fly rod worth several hundred dollars, but they handled it well and there were no broken fly rods.
Casting Pond

The girls even got to try some rocking trouts:
Rocking Trouts

Seems like our family has been down with some type of illness every couple of weeks since the end of last year.  Taking the illness and coupling it with work, church, and life in general, the last few months have just zipped by. But, I am excited because I am attempting to plan a short trip to Montana later this year. Hopefully, that will force me to stop and smell the roses. In preparation for the trip, I decided to buy a 4-piece fly rod at the show. I ended up at the Colton Bay Outfitters booth where ironically the owner, Dirk Fischbach, was giving a seminar later in the day about traveling to Montana on the cheap. After discussing some packing options, he showed me the 6wt Mystic Reaper fly rod, and I decided to buy it. I know a little bit about Mystic fly rods, and that it is a Michigan-based company, so I was happy to try and support them.

Our Trip to Pennslyvania

My wife and I decided to take our daughter to Sesame Place. Sesame Place is the only theme park centered around the Sesame Street characters. Sesame Place is located in Langhorne, PA, which is north of Philadelphia. Our daughter loves Sesame Street, and we decided we could squeeze in some activities geared towards us while we were there.


The long car ride there was broken up, and upon our second day we arrived at a hotel that was centered in between the places we were planning to visit. The first day we arrived, just after lunchtime and headed into downtown Philadelphia to visit Independence Hall, and some of the surrounding landmarks. After the long car ride, Clara ended up falling asleep, so she missed the first part of the Philly trip, and was even asleep when we took this picture in front of the Liberty Bell:
liberty bell

We visited some of the surrounding landmarks including the Benjamin Franklin museum and the Portrait Gallery. The one thing I learned about Pennsylvania and the roads around Philly was that they split into a hundred different directions and there is almost never a straight road. After leaving the parking structure underneath the Independence Hall visitors center, I missed the lane to get back onto the expressway, and figured I could go down a block and come back. Instead, the traffic flow forced us onto the Ben Franklin bridge and we ended up in New Jersey. I then had to pay a toll to get back across. Luckily we only got lost one other time, but the roads around Philly were quite confusing for a Michigander who has lived in the Detroit grid-patterned street system his whole life.

Sesame Place

The next two days, we took Clara to Sesame Place. Clara seemed ecstatic as she got to meet all of her Sesame Street friends in real life. She enjoyed most of the rides, all of the shows, but did not care for any of the water rides. The first day we even had “Breakfast with Elmo,” and it actually turned out to be breakfast with Elmo, Big Bird, Zoey, Burt, and Ernie. Here was our first encounter with meeting with Elmo:
meeting elmo

Amish Country

After our two days visiting the Sesame Street monsters, we visited Amish Country in Lancaster, PA. We took a small tour, where an Amish farmer took us to his farmhouse inside of his buggy. I snapped this picture of a buggy that was coming up behind us:

The farm was basically a dairy farm that supplied Land O’ Lakes with milk. It was amazing to see the hard work that was put into running the operation with just one family.
amish farm 2

As we pulled away from the farm I snapped this picture of the Amish “tour bus” that arrived just after we did:
amish farm

Just before returning to our starting point for the tour, our Amish guide pointed out a church that he said was built sometime around 1740. It amazed me how old that building was, and I was lucky enough to get some good pictures as we passed by:
old church 2

old church

Fisherman’s Paradise

The last couple days in Pennsylvania, we stayed in the city of State College, and I discovered that there was a creek nearby named Spring Creek. It had special regulations that basically allowed for fly fishing only. So, after purchasing a PA fishing license online, I headed out to do some fishing at a section of the creek appropriately named Fisherman’s Paradise. This exit just before the city of Bellefonte lead to the creek, and shows some of the hilly mountains found throughout the Penn state.
exit to fisherman's paradise

The creek had very strict regulations that were posted in many locations. The most interesting one to me was that there was no wading allowed. I had never heard of a no-wading regulation before. Here I am standing near a sign explaining the area:
fishermans paradise sign

The creek had extremely clear water, and there is a fish hatchery on the site that was built next to the creek. The first day I had fish rising everywhere, and I went though a series of dry flies, emergers, and nymphs with no luck. Finally, near the end of the first evening I had a fish at least take a look, but still reject my fly offerings. The second day, I finally got into a fish. I really nice brown slammed my fly, jumped out of the water, and shook the hook out of its mouth. I was appreciative of the show, especially considering that was as close as I came to catching a fish in Pennsylvania.
looking down fisherman's paradise

There was a neat bridge built into the hatchery, and provided a way to gain access to both sides of the creek.
fisherman's paradise bridge

The really odd part was, I could see brown trout all over the place, but there were actually a couple of other species mixed in as well. First, there were several sucker fish that appeared to be hanging out near the back end of the hatchery facility:
sucker fish

Later, as I was expecting small brown trout to swim by, two enormous carp appeared in front of me. Not exactly the type of fish I would expect to see in a trout creek.
carp in the stream

The first day I fished alone, but the second day, my family came out to cheer me on in my fishing endeavors. I was lucky enough to have my wife there to take pictures while I fished.
changing the fly

I think my daughter was very interested in fishing, as she was watching and following me while I fished:
fishing with daddy

I was extremely frustrated with fishing here because I could watch brown trout over 12 inches long swim right in front of me, and totally ignore the flies I was casting:

In the end, it was fun to try and fish in a new location, and this is the first time I have ever fished for trout outside the state of Michigan. So I have expanded my fishing horizons…
paradise casting

The best part of the trip was seeing my daughter have so much fun. Who knows, maybe someday she may even by my future fishing buddy:
future fisherwoman

A little bit of randomness…

First, I took my daughter out for what I would consider her first fishing trip yesterday. A little pond at a park about 20 minutes away holds a bunch of blue gill. The good thing is I don’t think they know what a fly is, and are pretty eager to try one out.

So, I was armed with a small fly box full of blue-gill flies, a pair of clippers, and a small pink Barbie fishing pole that lights up. I started off by trying to teach my daughter how to cast…

fishing 2

After a a few minutes she gave up, and I decided I would hook one and then hand off the pole, so she could reel it in. My wife said I looked pretty funny fishing with a 2-foot long pink fishing pole… Anyways, after about 10 minutes I hooked into a decent sized bass, an let her reel it in. I think she got a kick out of seeing the fish up close.


My second bit of randomness…

I was on my way into church this morning and stumbled on the the Ravi Zacharias radio show called Let My People Think. It contained a very good discussion titled “Evil and Modernity”, and I was specifically impressed by the guest named Os Guinness. He had some good points regarding the church in America today. I’m not sure how long the podcast will be available for download, but it is currently posted up here:


DIY Canoe Stabilizer , outrigger, float, or something like that…

So, I’m hoping to hit a couple lakes this year, and while my canoe feels pretty stable already, I wondered if there was a way to make it REALLY stable.

So, I started researching canoe outriggers and stabilizers. I learned a bunch of boating terminology in the process, and have come to the conclusion that it might be possible to build one relatively cheap.

Cabelas has one for over $200: http://www.cabelas.com/p-0001464011360a.shtml

I started to see some homemade floats made from things like pool noodles, large 4″ PVC pipes, boat bumpers, and more. I found several web sites using bullet nose crab buoys, and it seemed like the best plan to me. I also decided to use some free conduit that was laying around as the “cross beam” for the whole thing.

So, I ordered the crab buoys first from LFS Marine here:

Next, I needed a way to attach the conduit to the canoe. Luckily, I found something called a conduit U-bolt beam clamp. This clamp worked perfect. Here is the clamp:
U-bolt beam clamp

Here is the conduit in place with the u-bolt beam clamp:
Conduit on the canoe

I then found a video on Youtube that showed someone attaching the crab buoy to a 3/4″ schedule 40 PVC pipe. I bought 6 pre-cut pieces of PVC, and two tees. Basically, you stick one piece of PVC into each end of the tee making a big upside down “T” out of PVC. The two crab buoys attach to the upside down T. I glued them in place with plastic adhesive. I think filled the whole “T” with “Great Stuff” expanding foam for the sake of waterproofing and floating.

Next, I needed a way to attach the “T” to the conduit. I looked for some type of tee clamp, and found a PVC 3/4″ compression tee would be perfect. I can looses the tee and slide it up and down the upside-down “T” to adjust the height. The compression tee had a threaded outlet, so I I bought a 3/4″ schedule 80 nipple to screw into the compression tee. Here’s what I ended up with:
Canoe Crab Buoy

Luckily the 1/2″ conduit I had fit nicely into the nipple. I then drilled a couple holes though the nipple and conduit, and will place pins into the holes to hold the whole thing together. This is what the final product looked like:
Canoe Float

So how much did I spend (rounded):
a. 6 – 2′ sections of Schedule 40 3/4″ PVC = $6
b. 2pcs 3/4″ PVC tees = $1
c. 2pcs 3/4″ Compression Tee = $8
d. 2 – 5″ Schedule 80 3/4″ nipples = $2
e. 2pcs of Conduit = free for me
f. 2 – U-bolt beam clamps = $8
g. 4 – Crab Floats = $33
h. 1 bottle Plastic Adhesive = $4
i. Great Stuff Foam = $4
Total: $66

Not too bad. The biggest cost is the crab floats. So, hopefully someone out there who is thinking about doing the same thing stumbles onto this and can have yet another opinion on how to build a stabilizer, float, outrigger, or whatever this thing is called.

Spring time at the homewaters

So, after visiting my favorite local fishing spot twice within the last couple weeks, I was finally able to catch some fish today. The local water has been washed out because we have had an overabundance of rain so far this year, and I was glad to see the water the way it was this morning.


I was somewhat wary about going today because fishing during Memorial Day weekend can be ruined very quickly by people who have are not in nature to be at peace, and would rather do quite the opposite. There happened to be an entire boy scout troop doing some Memorial Day camping near where I parked the car. Interestingly, there was a handful of them already fishing at one “my” spots. So, after getting geared up I headed in the opposite direction.

The river was clear enough to see the bottom, and the water temp was below 60. I almost wish I could talk to the DNR about stocking this place with trout because I think they could survive, but then it would probably get overrun with anglers. Anyways, I battled mosquitoes in between casts as I made my way down the the river until arriving at a familiar pool that I thought I might have a chance in. Sure enough, my first fish of the day was a chunky little creek chub who took a woolly bugger quite eagerly.


I couldn’t stand the mosquitoes any longer so I fished my way back to the car, and sprayed my stetson and shirt sleeves with some bug spray. I noticed all the boy scouts went to go eat breakfast, and decided it was my opportunity to fish “the honey hole.” I thought if I positioned myself in the right spot, I may be able to drop my woolly bugger next to a tree emerging from the far bank, and just might get lucky. After the second cast I felt a big tug and then a weight that felt like a dumbbell was just tied to the end of my line. The fish started to fight, my rod bent over, and I knew I had a decent sized fish on. After a couple minutes of tussling with the fish, I had it in my hand. A nice sized smallmouth between 12 and 14 inches long. In this river, this guy is one of the monsters.


Just after I released the big guy, I heard a “gloop” across the the river. I quickly tied on a popper hoping that I might get some top water action as well. On the second cast, I had another fish on, and it was fighting like another smallie. I knew it wasn’t huge, but pound for pound, those fish like to fight.


I waded upstream for another hour or so. On my way upstream I saw a longnosed gar swim past me, probably over 2 feet long. Today I fished some beautiful pieces of water, but I again I wish it had some trout taking up residency for extra fun. The next fish I saw was at a mucky pond just off the river. A big sploosh got my attention, and I took a seat to wait and see if it happened again. Several minutes passed by, and a fish over 12 inches lept almost 2 feet from the water to take an insect flying overhead. While I’m not exactly sure what type of fish it was, it definitely had some spunk.

As I waded downstream back to my mini-van (which I think I may start calling the fish van, like Traver’s fish car), I hooked a little blue gill on a dry fly – a white wulff actually. I continued back to my car, and saw that the park was being overrun by a secondary event other than the already present boy scouts. It was time to head home.


Trout Trip 2008 – Part 1

The last four days was spent on the banks of the Au Sable River in Lovells, MI relaxing with my family and catching fish.  It was an amazing weekend, and am so thankful for the way the entire weekend turned out.  I am going to try and re-cap the entire weekend from memory…

Pre-trip Info:
A co-worker mentioned that I might be able to rent a cabin near the North branch of the Au Sable.  After finding out I could rent it (and do so at a VERY reasonable price), I became very excited and the vacation plans were put into motion.  The cabin was actually more the size of a house, and was 50 feet from the banks of the river.  More so, the cabin is fairly centrally located within the entire Au Sable River system, so going to fish other portions of the system is about 20 minutes in most any direction.

The other important pre-trip information is that I booked a float trip with Mike Moreau of North East Fly-Fishing Service. He said we might be able to catch the white fly hatch on the trophy waters below Mio.  Never having taken a float trip before, I was very excited.

Day 1:
We arrived at the cabin Thursday evening.  I had the camera out, and was also already casting from the stream side – no waders on just yet. The river looked amazing upstream:
First Day
And downstream:
A Trout Island

There was even a little creek (pronounced crick) on the property:
Cabin-side creek

I was ready for my float trip the next day, and could hardly wait. I threw on my new fishing hat and was reading a copy of TU Trout, when my wife decided to shoot a couple pictures of how stupid I looked…
Anticipation for the float trip

Day 2: The Float Trip
We were to meet Mike at 9am and ended up arriving at the Mio boat launch at 8:30am. As we pulled up, there was a gentleman casting off the boat launch with what appeared to be a glass rod. He struck up a conversation with us, and we found out he lives in the same neighborhood as my grandmother-in-law. When I asked about the rod, he said it was one of his bamboo rods. He was a cane rod maker! He started showing me some of his bamboo rods, and even gave my a few furled leaders he had made. His name is Todd, and I definitely need to look him up.

Mike pulled in half way through the conversation with Todd, and launched his boat. I got geared up and he helped us into the drift boat. He said he wanted to start out nymphing, so we each got a nymph on and started casting. After a short while, my father-in-law reeled in the first fish of the day, a nice brown trout:
Father-in-law Brown

Then a little while after that, I picked up my first fish of the day, a little rainbow:
First Fish of The Day

I was worried that if this was the pace we would be catching fish, we’d be lucky to get a few throughout the day. Either way, I was already happy with those first two fish, but then the rain started. A slight sprinkle turned into a drizzle that lasted a long time, and the fish turned on BIGTIME. As far as my eyes could see down the big water there were fish rising.

We switched over to a white fly pattern dry fly and the fun began. We hit the river at just the right time. The fish were not big, but they were plentiful.

A rainbow:
Another Bow

Then a brown:
Another Brown Trout

Then a rainbow:
Nice Looking Rainbow Trout

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… The rain caused a slight fog to form over the water, and the fish kept rising.
A foggy float

Soon, the trip was at a half-way point and it was time to stop for lunch. Mike grilled up some salmon, and as my father-in-law and I looked over the drift boat across the water, while the fish just kept rising and rising.
Shore Lunch

The fishing slowed down a bit during the afternoon, but there was still a lot of critters running around – a weasel here and there, and blue herons flying around like ancient pterodactyls.
A Blue heron on the banks

There were still more fish:
Nice Brown Trout

All said and done we were exhausted at the end of the day. We lost track, but probably got into some where between 30 to 50 fish and had around 15 come to hand for each of us. This was a very memorable trip, and am so glad I chose Mike as our guide for the day.

While I should have been sleeping, I decided to fish.

I haven’t got out much to fish this year. I went on my lunch hour once or twice to an oversized pond, and I’ve been on the river twice. I worked the late shift which gave me a chance to go out the following day on a weekday, and my wife, the best wife in the world, told me to go and to relax.

So, I went to what I call the homewaters and was able to get almost a half a day of fishing time out on the river. When I first arrived, i was a little disappointed because someone was fishing in the “good” spot. Actually, it is the place where I can guarantee I’m going to catch at least one fish. I figured I’d have the whole place to myself in the middle of a weekday. This was also the peak of the new moon, and I thought that might help out the fishing, but that didn’t seem to help so much. Lastly, I was disappointed in how much the river was overgrown with weeds. It was awful. What used to be nice runs of gravel looked like green sludge.

Well, I caught a few rock bass at one of the first holes. As I looked back, the guy who was fishing at the entrance had followed me and was watching me… well, watching the fly fishing more likely. I like how every so often there is a guy fishing with bait, and they are extremely interested in what you are doing fly fishing. It is like Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Fishing was once fun and happy, like little Anakin Skywalker. The you grow up and need relaxation from the daily grind , so you go worm dunking once in a while and join the dark side. Then one day you see a fly fisherman who has a smile on his face and is overly eager to go fishing, and you realize that standing on the shore and throwing slimy earthworms into a pond just isn’t all there is. You revolt, and come back to the light side… fishing becomes fun again. Here is a shot from the light side:

Anyways, I caught a few fish and eventually made it down to my honey-hole. And all of a sudden I see a fish that was at least 16″. Then two or three more. Then an entire school of fish show up, and I was pretty sure they were spawning. At first it looked like a huge brook trout, but that would be impossible. With the glare on the water, it was heard to make out what they were. Seeing as this river isn’t really a cold-water fishery (even though it is close), my best guess is that it was some type of sucker. They seemed to be fighting each other off like I’ve seen salmon do during spawning. It was pretty cool to stumble onto these fish.

I threw a bunch of different flies at them, but probably should have tried a nypmh seeing as they were staying so close to the bottom. They didn’t seem to want anything I put in front of them, but at least I tried. After that it was time to get going, but I did end up catching a decent red-eye out of the same hole:
Red eye

A nice way to relax…

2008 Michigan Fly Fishing Expo

Well, this is basically the start to the next fishing season. Every year in March, the Michigan Fly Fishing Club puts on the Fly Fishing Expo. This is only my second time going, but I had a lot of fun.

MFFC Expo Show Floor

I got there as they were opening in hopes to get into some of the hackle and pick out the good stuff. My plan was to see Jerry Regan at 8:30 when he presented some Au Sable River flies. I stopped at a couple of the feather booths, but a bunch of people had the same idea I did and they were flooded with people digging through the bins. So, I decided to visit the one booth I regretted not visiting last year – Shelbyville Rods.

Last year, I stopped at the Shelbyville Rod Company booth, and they had a couple rods at a great discount, but I passed them up.  This year, I figured if I had first choice at what they brought to the show that I might be able to get a nice rod for a good price. My 6′ 3wt rod I got from Bass Pro looks like it cracked this past summer. I was looking for something to replace it. There were two rods I liked, and the best thing is you can go right over to the casting pool and try them out. I ended up buying a cutom-made fiberglass 3/4wt that a customer ordered, but didn’t buy. I really liked the slow action it gave, and I could cast real easy. So, that will definitely be getting some use this year.

I bought the rod, and headed over to Jerry Regan’s fly tying demonstration, and he was tying a streamer-like pattern called the Buzzsaw. The fly is a tandem hook fly that actually uses skunk hair, and resembles a Madsen Barber pole. Here is a good article on Jerry.

Immediately after Jerry Regan was Charles Meck. I was hoping to meet Charles Meck and to have him sign my small streams book, but after a long morning, and with bad weather I decided to leave about an hour before his book signing session was starting. I did get to watch him tie up what he called “1-Minute” flies. The two patterns I thought looked the most effective were the Universal Emerger and Zebra Midge. Here is a picture of him at the vise:
Charles Meck

After watching the fly tying demonstrations, I walked aroud the show floor some more and ended up subscribing to Michigan Streamside Journal. I also met Will Mullis from Hatches magazine and subscribed to their fly tying magazine as well.

Next, I headed over to what I thought was going to be a session on how to build a graphite rod, but was actually a REALLY good explanation of modern fly rods given by Mike McFarland of McFarland Rods. I have a feeling I’ll be buying a rod from him someday. He really knows his stuff when it comes to building rods, and he has some very down-to-earth theories about what makes rods better.

After Mike, was Jerry Kustich from Sweetgrass Rods. If you don’t know who the Boo Boys are, then you should read up about them. They are a part of Fly Fishing history, and their bamboo rods are legendary. He gave a presentation on “The Bamboo Way of Life,” which showed how they got to where they are today.

Jerry Kustich

After the presentation, I made a couple more rounds around the show floor, specifically looking jungle cock nails and some chenille, and there just didn’t seem to be a lot of material places around, except for hackle. Overall, still a really good show, and a really good way to frustrate you that the fishing season has not yet arrived.

Winter Fly Fishing

I was itching to get out on the water, and had some time to go out last Saturday. Christmas was fast approaching, but I had got all my shopping done and Jenny was planning on baking cookies, so I decided to head up to the home waters.

The moon was full, but the river was unforgiving.
Winter Stream

I had to break up ice just to wade in certain areas. There are a few spots where springs feed into the water and it was still frozen there. I could actually walk on top certain parts of the river, and I am not light.

After about two hours my toes started to go numb, so I wiggled them around and got the blood flowing and all was well. I tried nymphs and streamers in places I thought fish might be holding, but no luck. The air temp was around 40 degrees (F) and I thought that might help get the fish moving, but the water temp was reading at almost 32 degrees(F).

It was very peaceful out on the water, and I was able to scratch the fishing itch even though I was fish-less. More than anything it ended up being a reprieve for what was about to happen that night. I ended up eating out that evening and ate something bad at the restaurant and am pretty sure I had some type of food poisoning. I have not been that sick in a LONG time, but I feel better now. The river was peaceful and that was the best part of heading out.

Winter Stream 2