Monday, July 21, 2014


( afternoon ant eater on a cow country spring /freestone mix) 
It's an amazing time of year! In decades past states would close their trout seasons in July (PA for example). But now with more tail waters and focus on mountain ice cold frestoners and spring creeks, this is actually the most challenging and rewarding time for the true troutsman to shine.


There are two main types....valley frestoners and high altitude mountain gradient freestoners. The first is usually a series of tributaries culminating into giant freestone rivers -the Catskill and Montana rivers can describe these waters. In teh summer there is strong trout migrations towards ice cold thermal brooks and refuge areas- Horton Brook on the Beaverkill is one example.

The later has very cold mountain spring caverns that keep its predominantly wild trout-mainly brookies, happy and cold all day.


The mornings usually see the tiny trico hatches couple with a few rusty Pseudocloeon spinners (bwo). Also a few very large leviathans are stirring from the night feeding foraging binge before they go P/D for an afternoon snooze.

Afternoons are the S/R mind game venues that trout play with terrestrials; ants, beetles, hoppers..etc. I say' mind games' because though they really relish these morsels, they somewhat always question the authenticity of their being...and make very complex/compound rises
Night and evening activity brings out the A/A behavior of the larger brown trout that go on the hunt for anything that moves: large pteronarcys stoneflies, mice, snakes...anything that will feed these 70 million year old modern dinosaurs...concentrate around bridge pools, and deep pools with wooded structure. 

Next...spring creeks !

Saturday, July 19, 2014


After one of this 2014 most amazing weather year in history...100 year bitter cold winter...hundred year floods...coldest summer...(if this is global warming?...we better prepare for an ice age...ooops- word change, called climate change now- like it has been doing for past 100 million years), we are now starting to get to somewhat normal summer weather...not really!. I had polar fleece on last two nights guiding on the river..air temps in 40/50's...the hatches are all confused..but water temperatures are perfect for the trout!...unheard of cool waters at this time of year-TROUT ARE LOVIN IT! If you haven't followed my three Facebook pages on "Selectivity TSS...Gray Drake Lodge and Outfitters.....Matthew is a summary update


Brian Breidert is the head of the Indiana Summer Steelhead program in Michigan City , IN. He was very frustrated when I called my good friend yesterday..aka" Doctor Skamania". He was hounded by phone calls all spring summer..."Where are the Skamania?'....YOU SAID THEY WOULD BE HERE BY JULY 4TH"!!!!...came one rude call after another.WELL!...the fish didn't get the memo that they had to come in then. One of the coldest most brutal ice freeze-up winters in the Great Lakes had the central lake buoy temperature gage stuck on freezing until a week ago. We had winter strain steelhead spawning in the Muskegon until the third week in June...unheard of ! Igloo brigade Charter boast had a tough time locating fish since the lake was cold everywhere. I took the high speed car ferries from Muskegon to Milwaukee ...and then the Badger from Manitowoc to Ludington in the end of June and it was like crossing the Arctic Ocean...water was ice...heavy fog...not a bump or wave to be found.


Summer Skamania are three salt steelhead that spend three years roaming the ocean. They love the deep cold, mysis/pelagic baitfish waters off the Manitou Islands and migrate the entire length of Lake Michigan down to the southern tier of MI/IN borders. They use the stratifying build up of warm/cold water thermoclines, increasing photoperiod daylight and their natural biological time clocks based on pineal/endocrine sexual development perfected over a million years on the Pacific rim. This year's very cold temperatures and the lack of photo light out in the lake due to almost constant fog/darkness from the air condensation and dewpoints negated the later development. It is just starting to happen now, slower then ever before! The lake temps have been the coldest recorded in decades .

SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?...August/September will be amazing months for summer steelhead. With river temperatures cool there will be a constant migration and the fish will not stall at the pier heads only to get slaughtered . In very hot summers , trollers win the game and river anglers suffer...the complete opposite this year even in a more drastic way.
One must also remember the incredibly HOT summers of 2012/2011/2010/ taking from Trail wiers, Berrien Fish ladders/St. Joe, didn't happen until early /late August when water temps in rivers finally cooled. Thus the parents of this year class of running fish were late run genetics-thus their photoperiod imprinting was for 'a late running model'. All being said, the fish should be bigger like last year which was epic in the size of the fish, since this year they will have had more time to chow down in the big lake etc.....MORE AND BEST YET TO COME!

The Muskegon has been running the coolest its been since 1991 when Mount Pinatubo blew and its ashes spread over the atmosphere blocking sun and giving MI and the Mo a cool summere with great trout fishing. A tremendous nutrient load of Daphnia/water fleas /plankton is keeping the stocked fish well fed along with crayfish and the few caddis that are hatching. The real good news is that the fish are growing large quickly and when the next big brood of little green and cinnamon caddis start up..( any day now in big numbers, since the rocks are covered with their larvae), the fat stocked and large holdovers will switch to the meaty pistachio nut morsels of caddis pupae. I predict August and September will be epic dry fly hatch  months, along with the white cahill hatches of the lower river and flying ants. Tricos and tiny pseudocloeon bwo olives will also be very important in the mix . Plus there is an ever increasing late summer Isonychia hatch , which bt fishing my Iso caine wiggle nymphs, has the trout looking up for a chewy piece. 


It's amazing how many miles of small trout streams we have between Kent/Newaygo/Montcalm-Mecosta and Lake counties that we have with wild and Gilchrist wild strain browns stocked in them, that are totally not fished...bloody not at all!

 Tamarack creek alone received almost 15,000 wild brown strain stocked fish this spring, plus has wild brookies with zero pressure. If you look at the fish stocking DNR reports for these counties its mind boggling how many trout are planted and wild!- with everyone concentrating on the larger rivers. The flooding in spring and constant storms have left them high, muddy and untouched all season and the trout spread everywhere...they are finally in fishable shape and will be for the rest of the year. These are perfect  for fishing terrestrials/hoppers etc. One could spend a whole season just exploring these creeks and its fat trout that haven't been touched! If you like strapping a back pack on and love small stream fishing, our western MI trout country is perhaps the most under explored creeks in the lower 48 !
( a wild brown from a stream just down your road !)

ALL FOR NOW!...hope this helps you find some exploring to do in the trout hunting game!

Monday, June 30, 2014


Hope to see all my good Catskill /NY/PA east coast friends next Saturday, July 5th at Catskill Flies.....12 noon to 4 PM...I'll be signing the 'Selectivity' book and have my new 'Selectivity -Trout' DVD....lots of good filming on the Delaware and Beaverkill...two of my all time favorite true Americana rivers....stop by and shoot the sh*#@t, I'll have my tying kit and whip some cool Catskill patterns....Roscoe is a special place-Trout Town USA !

And thank you Howard Meyerson for the very kind and thorough review in 8 Michigan papers/GR Press and MLIVE...very glad you liked the book!

na zdrowie...cheers!

Sunday, June 29, 2014


                                                                ( 27 1/2" Driftless WI spring creek trout
                                                                           taken Wednesday)
Had the extreme pleasure of visiting my good client and friend, Dr. Jack Flaherty from Chicago, and his lovely farm  in the Amish country of Wisconsin's amazing Driftless spring creek country. Though I fished the Driftless limestone spring creeks of Minnesota and Iowa, it was my first visit to the mind boggling natural spring coulee riches this vast Wisconsin chain of rolling hills and meadows have to offer.

Jack's lovely wife Kathy just passed away from cancer a month ago and it hit all of us very hard. I spent many a day with Kathy who was becoming an avid steelheader- I will miss her very much. I was so glad to see her one more time in May when she came up with Dr Jack , weak from the Chemo but with serene spirit. Jack loved these spring creeks and was a kind host to show me his 'decompression farm' from the hectic ER hospital shifts and hustle and bustle of Chicago.
 (Ruland's Coulee)
I am simply awestruck by the natural beauty of these steep hills and valleys ( the French called them 'coulees'), with gorgeous farms with grazing cattle, sheep and horses. It is a mini Switzerland and tons of Amish farms and cheese/farmer co-op outlets abound- a' farm to table' chef's dream come true. These ice cold limestone spring creeks come out of the hard dolomite limestone caverns at 46-57F year round and are managed by the WDNR for wild brown and brook trout. This area did not get the flattening glacial upheavals that the lower Great Lakes did and have all the limestone/dolomite cliffs mountains and valleys that are not present in lower MI/IN/IL and eastern Wisconsin. There are hundreds if not thousands of miles of pure limestone spring creeks with most of them blue ribbon wild trout waters managed for catch&release...totally amazing!. 
Each valley /coulee has a spring creek and you can literally spend a lifetime exploring this vast mind boggling resource of this endless trout Mecca. I believe God created these creeks for himself to fish!  The tremendous stream structural improvements done by Chicago and Wisconsin Trout Unlimited chapters for the last half a century is obvious everywhere. Cattle grazing is contained and stiles/fences are carefully managed . WDNR strict September 30th closure is not liked by many, but this staunch regulation protects the spawning year class fish and the results are obvious everywhere with the mind boggling wild trout per square hectare numbers. These creeks fish like the Letort and Falling Springs back 40 years ago. I spent every weekend on the Limestone Springs of PA when I was in the hotel business back in the 80's in Washington DC. It is here I fell in love with their complexity. These creeks also brought my romantic feelings out as they look alot like the upper Wiscoy Creek in the Allegany foothills of southern New York , and similar to the Wieprza and her small tributaries in certain sections on my Dad's farm in Poland, both creeks I fished as a boy and honed my skills and observance of trout behavior. 

The absolute highlight and lifetime event of this trip was my first WI Coulee trout- it was a massive 27 1/2 inch brown I stalked for over an hour after I noticed the fish midging in pure daylight of a hot afternoon.The fish succumbed to my new creation, the WMD ( weapons of midge destruction) pupae I tied at the ranch that morning. It is the second largest spring creek trout of my life ( actually about the same size as my first), taken at Skelly's farm meadow on the Falling Spring Run , and another similar sized one in Virginia on Mossy Creek- both in the 80's.
( my beast!...I'm still shaking from it days later!)
The great thing about these spring creeks is that the prime time of year is just starting...Tricos in the morning and terrestrial hoppers/ants /crickets in the afternoon- that is the best time to fish these springs and have large A/A browns cruising about for a hopper sandwich- they can get a little dumb then when their kill artist response is on full alert......I'll be back in September!- I am counting down the days!

MICHIGAN REPORT: The Muskegon is at a good flow and fishing very well since the trout have packed down so many drakes and Isos over the weeks , their bellies are gorged and now on the hunt for more food sources. The stocked trout will put a serious bend in your 4/5 weights and are starting to target the caddis hatches. Some Cahill Stenos at dark- still a few drakes and Isos- but caddis will now be the mainstay for the rest of the year.Lat evening's guide trip saw my couple having fun with the numbers of fish and quality that can excite many novice anglers- great summer to get kids and spouses into fly fishing with so many trout about. Water is still cool and "FINALLY"...they fixed the turbines and are no longer top spilling off the dam. This will keep water temperatures down all summer since there is still plenty of cold water in reservoirs and the cool water bubbler gets turned on in July. It will be a great summer and fall- last year the Trico hatches really started to kick in. Back to air temps in the mid/low 70's this week. Hex action is yet to explode on the PM due to rain/high water and the bitter cold spring. Up on the Au Sable , Hex action is at peak. The smaller streams of the White/Tamarack etc. are full of water and fishing amazing since they were flooded and unfishable all spring.



Lake Michigan is still ice cold- 40F in the center. I came over both the Muskegon and Manitowoc ferries this week and the lake was one huge foggy arctic cold zone. The summer run will start any day now and July thru September should see excellent returns with lots of cold water in both lake and rivers and good flows. Last year's big girthed fish- approaching the 20 mark, was hopefully an indication of what is to come. Also their appetite for beetles and mysis shrimp was a great learning experience. I still have some good dates available  for guiding on the St. Joe and IN spring creeks. 

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