Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why got STEEL!!!!

  My new steelhead queen -Katie Sloan Goggins from Dallas Texas just a few days ago.

WE GOT STEEL!- and more on their way...all I can say, gonna be a great fall/winter run.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It's time for the "Great Lakes Grand Slam"-it just doesn't get better!

They're back!!!...come and get the "Great Lakes Grand Slam" : Trophy wild King and Coho Salmon, Landlocked Atlantic Salmon, steelhead, lake-run browns- , and resident browns, rainbows... and even some small stream brookies-all in our Pure Michigan paradise

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Best is yet to come...Pure Michigan Salmonid Mecca

Despite the hot and dry summer, our rivers and the Great Lakes have held up remarkably well! 
Given the low flows from lack of rain, that has actually allowed more cold water underground spring influences on our smaller rivers and even Muskegon tailwater. Lots of summer rain run-off is usually warm water- thus our vast underground cold spring aquifer Michigan is planted on with its sand/chalk down soil, allows more spring flow influence.
We are very excited of what is yet to come for 2018- an amazing array of trout, salmon and steelhead possibilities unlike nowhere on the planet, and all in one state- #PureMichigan at its finest, and we can bring it all to you!
                  ( Gene Kelly with a beauty two weeks ago)
Despite our first push of fresh fish two weeks ago, we are now waiting for the Lake to turnover from the 74F that it is now and will cool down to the low 50F water beach temps when we get the next wave of Nor'easterly winds. That will bring in the rest of the bulk of summer Skamania and chrome silver coho salmon we should get an excellent run this year ( Indiana plants close to 400,000 coho -wild Michigan Platte River strain) We are waiting for the next wave and bulk of the run to come in for the rest of August and September, since June and July was so hot with lake and river temps soaring back then. It has cooled off considerably. I still have a few dates left for these exciting fish as the best is yet to come!
                            ( The coho of the St. Joe come in chrome silver with a tad of pink- stunning fish on the fly rod!)


DRY FLY HEAVEN TIME!!!!....From the Muskegon and Manistee tailwaters , to all the small jewel spring creeks we have all around us, the best fishing for the year is on right now, Fishing early mornings when the flows are the coolest, we have wild browns,and brookies in the small spring creeks, and rainbows and browns in the tailwaters that can get to trophy size. Tricos in the morning, followed by the caddis hatches which are just starting and will peak in the next 8 weeks, along with terrestrial hoppers/beetles and ants The massive midges,  tiny Pseudo Blue -winged Olives and flying ants are an August thru October gig and can litter the water in massive amounts and bring every fish up to the surface.

( here are two epic fish from 2017- Gene from Boston with his massive Wild king salmon on Muskegon September 2017- and Norm from Connecticut with his stunning winter run swung up on his Burky spey-December 2017)
All indications are the big lake is loaded with very large Kings and much larger than average steelhead ( they are hitting the alewives and exotic shrimp populations) They will start hitting our rivers from September through December. A few have already been spotted to rivers up north ( Betsie,Manistee, PM)
Judging by the massive size of summer steelhead this year, our fall/winter run steels are packing on the weight and should be game on this fall!

Our Michigan Atlantic salmon fishery has been world class and it continues to get better!  My client and I still hold the world IGFA record at 27 pounds taken in 2011. Last year we saw some amazing fish in the mid 20 lb class, especially this Brutus caught by Brett Howard on my electric Green Butt Candy Cane above. The run so far on the St. Mary's is strong and we are looking to crack a new world IGFA record this fall- I have very few dates left so treat yourself to this magnificent "bucket list" fish of a lifetime
Cheers!- na zdrowie, more good things to come !

Monday, August 6, 2018

Could be the most satisfying two days of my guiding carreer..a tale of a Dad and Daughter

                   ( Two days last week that gave me the most emotional joy and satisfaction of my 23 years of guiding- teaching a young lady the joys of fly fishing with her talented fly fishing father as he watched with joy in his heart-beyond words!)

I have had thousands of days in my 23 years of my guiding/Gillie-hood in Michigan and around the world that were truly spectacular- and a few that I was glad to forget. They are full of epic  big fish and numbers catches,big hitter fly casters and legends, celebrity clients, world record fish, insane and challenging conditions, harrowing brushes with weather,  death ,wild animals, Russian mafia AK-47's in the Kola Taiga, Deliverance-like stalking from "inbred cretans" in the Podunk backwoods...you name it!-I've seen it all ! 

But the last two days I spent with a father and daughter, who were experiencing the emotional bonding and joy that fly fishing and down-time from the hectic pace of electronically driven constant barrage society only to escape them,  are the moments I cannot put into words, but only a tear and a warm felling in my heart to those moments. 

It is now, in my emotional halcyon days of reminiscing of my youth in western New York's Allegheny foothill spring creeks and my Dad's Polish farm tree house on the Wieprza river and its beautiful colored browns, that I think back to those days and how they now inspire me to my passion and love of teaching the joys of trout and the fly, and those special places they live in- it is beyond word

                     ( Dad Bill and 15 year-old daughter Liv whom I had the pleasure of teaching/guiding this past weekend)

When Bill called me and booked two days to teach his daughter Olivia the fine art and joys of fly fishing, I relished the challenge. It only took me a good 15 years to "chill out"to finally figure out the needs, desires, pace and emotions of young people getting into the sport and how to make it fun, relaxing and no pressure, which they love and what most parents cant do ! The intensity a parent delivers to their offspring to learn sometimes is too overpowering, thus an intermediary guide /instructor can accomplish the task because we have learned to "chill" and take it slow and easy which works 100% of the time. To say that Olivia was a natural talent is an understatement. Being an avid volleyball player, I find most young adults and youth who play eye/hand coordination sports: baseball, Lacrosse, hockey, tennis , golf etc., do extremely well and learn very quickly and with fluidity and muscle memory- Liv embodied this!
                         ( Liv with her first rainbow and brown trout- she was hooked for life!- and her dad couldn't have been prouder!

Dad Bill was an advanced and outstanding fly caster and tactician, having worked in a fly shop when younger for the late-great Miles Chance Orvis in Okemos, MI. Since the weather finally cooled off with rain and we had a few upper 50F nights, I decided to teach Olivia the joys of a big water /tailwater scenario one morning, and the intricacies of small micro spring creeks the next. We started our days at the crack of dawn :6AM, which wasn't easy on a 15 year old girl on summer break, but she was ready with her Patagonia attire and Orvis gear. My first morning I let dad go and do his thing as I gave Liv a school session in the dynamics of the cast and how "less is more" in her casting execution. In years did I never see someone pick up the fluidity of the stroke and rod load in such a graceful and effortless fashion- she was relaxed , I was in awe and very shortly she was making tight-loop cast with no effort. Before I could help it , I was teaching single hauling and down-and-across reach casting and BINGO!- she was catching her first trout, as I taught her how to strip-set hook and fight fish.

What was truly a memorable event, was that a massive caddis hatch was underway at 11 AM and every trout in the river was on top and chomping pupae and adults ( first big caddis hatch of the year that always starts like clockwork first week of August, and was over a half hour after it started and as we quit early to avoid stressing the trout as waters warmed ( coldest water is very early from nighttime bubler and cooling btw-not evenings that retain warm water heated up from the day!). All we did for two days was dry fly fish: caddis, tricos and terrestrial hoppers and ants, and watched every trout,  a couple big ones, but most smaller, come up for our offerings which Olivia watched every take and died for- she was so hooked !
( a couple of nice 15 inch brownies Bill caught that couldn't resist my new caddis tear-drop pupae- they were chowing caddis in a crazed frenzy despite the sun- blew me away, and I would never have thought that would happen!-I just wrote a book about photophobia in browns  dang it!)

The next day we headed up a little spring creek not far from the lodge and caught gorgeous wild browns and brookies on terrestrials- it was a gas! We quit by 12 noon because of the heat, but the water we were fishing was low-50F at most. After 40 or so trout in two days, we were all exhausted from this fairy tale book two days- EPIC is not enough to describe our days on the water.

( The beautiful wild browns and brookies of our next day's spring creek adventure-these browns were the first stocked in the western hemisphere from Germany in 1883- truly #groundzerotrutta....and the brookie was there for millions of years!- how cool is that? )

SO...parents, take your children and young adults fly fishing. Our amazing freshwater wonderland of Michigan's Great Lakes and rivers is one of the most unique ecological masterpieces that our trout, steelhead and salmon thrive in amazing abundance and wild populations. Give them to all the talented Michigan guides/instructors ( we are the best on the planet bar none since our fisheries are so diverse and demand excellence in every tactical venue ) that can teach them in a relaxed "chill" manner ( children often and unfortunately repulse their parents instruction- its just fact, and nothing you can do about it!)
As your children grow up, go away for educations. have families and jobs....fly fishing is a holy and emotional way to bring families together, to bond and relax, catch up on life and let it all go!- It's a beautiful thing!...Amen! 
At the Gray Drake, we pride ourselves on making families that fish together, love together and have fulfilling supporting lives no matter what road life leads us on. Our legacy is Pure Michigan, pure wild rivers, lakes and fish that is all waiting for every family to explore.
(Olivia in her spring creek wonderland- Pure Michigan perfection!)