Monday, August 17, 2009


Sorry for the long delay in posting but we are having one of the busiest Augusts in our lie.I wouldn't have imagened it in my wildest dreams, with the way the economy has been that we'ld be in this blessed position, thanks to all our great Gray Drake clients and supporters!.
Dry-line summer steelhead, big rainbows and excellent caddis hatches have been making us 'WOW' for the past week .
Monday started off with a very nice couple from Houston,TX. He runs the NASA space shuttle program and is an avid salt water fly fisher. He learned the"house of pain" dry fly caddis program and couldn't believe how selective even the small rainbows and browns were. The "house of pain" was a broad flat below Carmichael Flats that we named back in the early 90's Carl Richards era where the caddis feeding trout could make you grey overnight by their extreme selectivity and compound and complex rises termed as such by my former mentor Vince Marinaro of Pennsylvania Limestone spring creek fame, which he described in his book"IN THE RING OF THE RISE". I fished with Vince before he died in the early 80"s on the famous Letort Spring Run and was blessed to have listened to his wisdom of selective trout surface feeding to size #26 Jassids and other minutae.
Had Tom Brehmer from the Lansing area for two days of summer steelheading mid-week. He never caught a summer run and booked two days to do it. The first day he fished with his friend John from Owasso- an excellent fly rodder. Tom had some good early morning hook ups , but the learning curve was in full swing with some break-offs and...WTF.... and OMG moments that brought nothing to th net. He was learning the curve and determined to put the whole program together the next day.
Thursday we started in the main river where the water had a good current and a good sized pool directly below some spring creeks. The main river has been on the cooler side all summer and the steelhead were very active- suspending in the pool, chasing each other and being very curious. That day, I taught Tom and his partner Nathan the "greased line method"- a traditional west-coast dry line techique that works well for active summer runs. By keeping drag off the line through a series of "mending line folds", keeping a slight right angle drift and presenting the fly broadside is the key. Using Senyo's rubber legs Damsel stone in irredescent black/blue, the fly imparts tons of motion without movement(MWM) , the steels either reject it , which happened all morning, or will act like a trout or Atlantic and follow it and crush the fly. After many hours with no hook-ups, the technique was being quickly mastered by Tom. After several perfect presentations, Tom's line tightend up and a huge fresh chrome male was dancing in the air shaking it' head. It quickly took Tom in the backing and stopped once it felt the warmer main channel water and headed back for the coller pools.8 jumps latter his chrome masterpiece and the fly buried firmly in the inside left corner of the jaw came to net and camera. I quick image and the fish busted water out of my hand and bolted off into the deeper colder water.....there was no stress on this fish since Tom fought it quickly and fast.Harvesting these fish is perfectly fine .but....if done correctly on the right water conditions, there is room for catch and release if the angler chooses.....done properly once again I will inject. Tom......Congratulations!!!!!!!!!- this was your graduation fish brother !....and it was a HAWG to say the least.....and I used my little pocket Pentax digital without the fish eye lens and it still looked .I could tell you how big it was, but I'll let my fond followers estimate it- it's so much fun to see all the positive comments(lol).While I was gone Bob Mansel guided the Webb party of three on the Muskegon and had a ball with learning the caddis curve.
Came back to the Lodge to guide the Webbs Friday and Saturday with Buehler. Michelle Webb did outstanding with her 18 foot leader, 7x and perfecting her down-and accross reach cast and also learned the "Statue of Liberty' upstreeam mend/twitch to roll over and skip the ova-positing female caddis. Her husband Steve and her got some very nice 10 to 17 inch rainbows and browns over the three days they were at the lodge. Michelle did graduate caddis school with a suma cum laude 4.0 perefection go girl.
LETS TALK RIVER TALK- this week really was an eye opener. First the caddis of August we used to have are back in a big way! I've been tying caddis, digging up old caddis boxes from the early 90's evry day. The cinnamons and little greens are in full swing. Their revival has been taking a slow progress each year, but this year they've exploded with the cooler summer(yet the last 4 hottest days of summer saw their most significant emergence all summer!).You better have read Carl Richards and Pobst's caddis books over and over to enjoy this fishery and spend every evening on the water paying your dues). You better know how to tie the larvae for indy nymphing and for the surface , your tear-drop, and suspended foam pupae/ emergers,still-born emergers, tent winged adults, tape and z-wing versions and quad winged spent spinners. This is heavy PHD. fishing brothers and sisiters , and be prepared for many refusals and close inspections on the surface. 18-20 foot leaders down to 7x are the must for now..BUT there are some hog rainbows and browns feeding at dark and will get you crazy .Also, the Large white nectopyche(white miller ) caddis have started and Michelle broke off a hog she couldn't hold on the light tippet Sat Night. They fly and egg-drop close to the surface like stealth fighter jets and the trout key in on them once they are out.Stay small ith the other caddis-20-22#s.
OTHER RIVER NOTES: The last two-three days saw the hottest temps of the summer Consumers Power cold water bubbler kept the river tems 20-21 celsius-68-69-F........that was a good test and is a far cry from the 74-75 watr temps of years past.
* Tom Bernard was out Sunday and says the surface was alive with trout feeding all afternoon into evening cause of water temps.This hasn't happened in 13 yeas. Past summers , A FEW torut would feed at dark or not at all. All the 10-11 inch trout we are catching are like spring footballs, gorging on the caddis and zillions of slinked out summer fish like past years.
* if you go to the shoreline around 8:30 at night you'll see tons of spent caddis , caddis shucks, still born green and cinnamon pupae, caddis soup. A good amount of the big fish will sip close to shore at dark cause the water temps are favorable.
*zebra mussels- they are becoming a thing of the past. Consumers Power and USGS can both confirm it. Saturday while my clients eat there grilled dinner , I decieded to go for a dip in the river since I was wet wading. The gravel bar I walked off of in years past was one big crunchy crusty bed of zebras.........not Saturday.It was clean gravel and rocks. Picking up rocks were loaded with cassed caddis, not the zebra clusters of the past-I was shocked. Also water clarity is a deep peat/ tannic stain. You could stand in two feet water and barely make out the bottom due to the debris(plankton) in the water..........this is very,very good! Also, the eel grass infestatins of below the dam to Pine Ave and Gaza are gone due to tannic viscosity of the water not letting sunlight to penetrate the benthic enviorns and let the grass grow.. Explanation for zebras demise.........simple.We've had three years of heavy flood level waters last winter and successive April/ Mays. Also coldest winters on record in a long while last couple of years with lots of reservoir ice. Zebras come from the warm placid waters of the Caspian sea......they don't like those weather and flow fluctuations.Also, with any exotic new infestation, ther is a very alarming quick growth period immediatley upon their manifestation and a slow and steady decline from their.......sometimes eventual bottoming out or downfall............we can't quite say about the later yet!
*steelhead fingerlings- here is another interseting thing taht should make some of you happy. Usually by July 1st the tons of newly hatched steelhead fry/parr disappear . Several weeks ago while nymphing size 20 caddis larvae on indys , we started picking up 2-3 inch steelhead parr.............that's an all time first! Bob Mansel has also experienced the same thing.
Theory has it that the warm water forced the steelhead fry to emmigrate down towards the Lake where warm water and a chain of predators from trout, bass, pike etc. would devour them.
The wild steels that made it usaually ran up the Bigalow, and other small cold spring creeks along the Muskegon. We could be onto something very,very interesting!
*Salmon- saw two huge chinooks come right out of the water at the Croton Dam Saturday- probably came up on the last high water push and the cooler water temps.
*HERE IS THE SAD NEWS: It would be great if there were scientisits out there documenting all of this as opposed to a self-serving guide businessman promoting his guys and you and I know who you are-cheers!) Maybe when the economy improves and the DNR gets more funding........until then I will report what I see from the river everyday.........I 'M LOVE'IN IT!