Monday, February 27, 2017

All is back to normal on the Muskegon and Lake Michigan Tributaries- Perfect flows & temps

(Early March Red-bander and chrome bonanza is here!)
PERFECT!... is the one word to describe the current state of affairs on the Muskegon and other Lake Michigan steelhead and brown trout tributaries .They are prime to set the stage for a nice long spring run like we have been accustomed to for decades.
The recent nights that dropped the air temps into the upper teens and 20's, along with almost two inches of rain that other places in the Appalachians would kill for, has put our river at "prime ' stage for a nice long March thru May period.
River flows at 5400 cfs this morning is optimal for bringing a ton of fresh steelhead into the river system, cloaked by the stain waters and not killed and over-harvested in the lower system which is usually the case in lower water levels. 
It will also move resident and lake-run browns around and hungry for the grab. 
( my client Jeb from VA last week- we landed three browns in 4 days between 22- 24  inches- one 26 incher, last week- and many more in the 15-16 inches- can't wait for the stoneflies and mayflies to hatch!)...for those itching for mischief,  brown trout season doesnt open for harvest until the last week in April- 8 weeks from now FYI
The bump in flows will trigger the lateral lines and send migration into over-drive.
Soon the baby salmon sac fry will hatch with the warming temps- We should see an excellent crop this year based on the large size of Chinooks last fall ( best in size in 6 years IMHO). So the larger the fish, the more efficient nest builder and larger number of successfully laid eggs in deeper water water redds that have a higher hatch to fry success ratio. All good mouth candy for browns and steelies alike.
 Finally, river temps are back down to 35F this morning with two spill gates pouring ice cold waters to slow the spawning down. Gates are also pouring in tons of ice stunned baitfish from the reservoirs.
As good, as it gets!, despite the roller coaster- hot/cold weather we have had.
NOTE: We still have some good dates available this spring and would love to have you!
Happy and safe Fat Tuesday! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Seriously... swinging flies on the big Muskegon to winter holding lies, that can average 6-11 feet, in the deep spring-fed pools for steelhead, that often won't move far to take a swinging fly is not an easy gig. If I get one steelhead per client in 35F ICE COLD WATERS?- WE ARE DOING WELL, AND EACH FISH IS RELISHED AND APPRECIATED.!!!- that is the beauty of the challenge of deep winter swinging.
Maybe I'm not as good as the other guides to keep my realistic low, yet totally satisfying expectations- I hope to be more enlightened someday. 

But. When we start to get stupid numbers of fish on the swing in deep pools and runs, along with those amazing browns I have been posting, I'm elated but confused, by the  abnormal conditions and how they will affect future expectations
Needless to say, I should logically accept and feel the need to relish and appreciate what has been divinely given to me for the last week of guide trips. I think my sorrow sometimes for catching too many fish is born out of my 'twisted sense' of over respect for the elusive chrome mykis warrior that  more often humbles us and I like to often label as 'selective'- a term that is obviously dear to me.

Anyways, the day we had today: dense fog in the morning with next to zero visibility, a very cold , damp, deep chill in the bones that played capriciously on my sports Arthritis, and then finally sun at 4 PM, gave me and my client one one of the finest days I have ever witnessed in February-  in the winter's' classic deep ice box month. 
( I never talk numbers, but when you hit 6 for 6 on the swing in February- epic/thankful is all I can humbly say!)
So, this 'manna from heaven day', couldn't have happened to a better dude than my client Dr. Jeff Territo, who has guided with me since I started my business back in 2015. Jeff has had epic days in the last two decades; and 'paying your dues'  shunk days. But today?,  the mykiss gods came smiling . 

Also, what impressed me the most was the size of our steelhead that are getting bigger and back to normal like the big river Muskegon has always produced. After two years of small sized migrating steelhead, I' seeing some very thick and healthy fish- rather than slinked out snakes. Things look good for the Lake Michigan forage base in my secular 'up the river homie experience'. But Chuck Madenjian ,  my friend from Ann Arbor-'the  Great Lakes forage base guy", might think otherwise.

I hope I didn't' offend anyone by my observations and success, of what is often jealously labeled' shameless self promotion", but my feelings are real and sincere. 
Can't wait for the next episode of climate change coming this weekend!
Matt....PS. would love to see you this spring and see what is in store -love the learning curve!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


All I can say is, "it's been crazy!" Never seen a February like this. 60 F air temps,  T-shirts, spring runoff 3,000 cfs perfect river levels and insane browns and steelhead. The Skagit swinging , streamer meat stripping and swing/switch/chuck nymphing has been something I have never witnessed in February ( not guide talk!).

 What is so cool and excites me more is that despite the dastardly hot and drought summer of 2016, our browns and bows have gotten huge!- thank you spring creek -fed aquifers of the Muskegon tailwater and its crayfish/sculpin/dace/darter/scud biomass .

 Can't wait for the early black stoneflies, sulphurs ,March Browns and Drakes to get them to come up and eat properly-"cricket style-on the dry". But, it has been as lovely as it gets on the aggressive side , which is so addicting. they have been smashing my Coon Skulpines and honored to fish Tommy/Laf/Schmidty/Madden-man/Motown inspired dude's double-d's-sick action.

We have seen more 16-to 22 inch browns caught in the last week then I can ever remember in February- Amen!, and am very, very thankful. My client Jeb from Virginia had some serious 'catching' - not normal for true fly guys and me that don't go to the 'dark side'. He fishes the Bighorn and B.C. and we did the combo in Michigan. 
 GOOD NEWS!...finally cold weather coming- snow and F digits down to 12 F...AMEN!-  a little slow down for the hot mamma nature..we need it to get back to "normal?"- IF THAT EXISTS ANYMORE!
Cheers!- Na zdrowie- hope you come and fish with us in 2017!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conditions Perfect for Browns and Steelhead and warm Winter

Can't ask for better conditions!

 Water level 2340 CFS. A few early black stones hatched. 
Chinook salmon fry soon on their way. Browns and steelhead on the hunt and getting active. 50F AIR TEMPS THIS WEEKEND!   ( Virgil with a beauty combo- what else could                                                      you ask for!)
We still have some good dates left for spring. But I think spring is already here eh?...