Sunday, April 28, 2013


( "the steelhead queen " herself, Shawn Murphy with two males she caught yesterday on the Muskegon- 15 and 17 lbs respectively on the Boga- this lady is a fishy girl!)
Things were looking bleak a week and a half ago when the boat ramps were closed by the emergency crews ,Sheriffs patrolling  the waters ; homes flooding, docks, trees and other peoples boats flying down river like leaves and the dam's spillways looked like Niagara Falls...river was at 12,000 cfs- normally 1800-2200 cfs... and it looked like a hundred year flood couldn't have come at a more worse time than right in the middle of our peak of steelhead season...candles and prayers were lite  and lots of guide trips were cancelled as many of our clients couldn't get flights to Chicago from the east coast when rain, tornado's, hail/snow and wind seemed like a biblical curse of epic proportions !
(One of Shawn's males jumped 8 times and I just caught the last two- husband Dr. John-who caight more steelhead in 20 years than Bob York, was playing first mate guide as always and screaming instructions-John is a hoot!)
 But the curse turned into a blessing we couldn't imagine. The water ran through our lower property and even two steelhead were swimming by our stairs in total bewilderment thinking our lawn was a tributary creek.
All has been healed and our waters are dropping fast and at 4900-5000 cfs , have a nice dark stain to them  that cant let the gravel ripping snaggers see the fish and string them up, and water temps are rising from the icy 36-38 range to 46F. With the FULL MOON, the high water and steelhead run is on at a blistering pace- double digit days have been the norm since the river went fish able on last Wednesday.Some very good size fish are coming into the lower river and migration is around the clock with the high stained water and lunar cycle.With the low water temps and colder weather coming by late next week, we should have steelhead in the river until Fathers day-early June, like we did in 2007- May will be on fire!
What gives spring steelheading during a spawning run a bad vibe is sight fishing to spawning fish which is a Great Lakes tradition. Yes!...even fly fishermen, who consider themselves a much higher ethical creature are guilty of foul hooking...if you can see fish, they can see you!...and thye chances for snagging goes up!. But on heavy flows where the water is dark and stained, the fish remain aggressive, the angler must fish blind and read the water and the beautiful game of steelhead becomes a reality- just the like the hunt in fall and winter steelheading!
( Mike Hefner from Birmingham with a nice female on Friday- new arriving hens are rock hard like late February- everything is running a month late from usual)
( my Black and Copper Shaggy sculpin bugger- lethal for high stained water and aggressive/active steelhead)
So many good things come from a flood that we take for granted. Despite the destruction, a ton of huge trees where catapulted into the river from bank destruction. But this will provide amazing trout cover for the future-especially on cover less tailwaters. Also, 60,000 steelhead smolts were stocked days before the flood- huge ones this year at 9-12 inches because of a great growth spurt of early winter. They got blown down to Lake Michigan safely in the flood waters , having just enough time to imprint olfactory smell of the river. They are usually caught and killed by the thousands to anglers thinking they are stocked rainbows- cant imagine what the run will be in two to three years. Also, the high waters allow the \steelhead to dig redds and spawn and return quickly to the big lake only to return bigger next year as multi-year class fish.
( Greg Senyo's Mufasta Gangsta intruder- perfect for swinging on high stained water-it was a killer this week on the Muskegon and White for those that cant live without the Skagit swing !- top dry- bottom when wet -the materials scream in the water to bite me!- chartreuse and blue strong colors in stained water)
Prior to the flood, the DNR made a great decision not to stock the river with browns and rainbows which would have occurred and the fish blown down to the lake. Talking with Gary Whelan -head of hatcheries, the trout will be stocked in the coming weeks and the fish are on the larger size from normal like the steelhead-when the hatches start they will grow fast !
( My Matt's Shaggy green caddis has been very effective- latex highlander green body, Senyo's Black Shaggy Dub -Hareline and wood duck create a fishy caddis that moves)
The black stone fly hatch is just starting and as the waters drop, we will have great steelheading in the morning and dry fly trout action in the afternoons.
( a Muskegon brown that was munching hard on black stone egg laying females on the surface- love this hatch!)
( CDC Stone adults and Oliver Edwards black stone as a dropper is a lethal comb!- even jack male steelhead come up and take them. This September I have an article in Fly Fisherman Magazine  called 'Hatch Matching Steelhead'- some cool new patterns and how to take Skamania on the surface!)
( my Disco Stealth Bomber Stone- deadly in stained water and when stones are hatching for steelhead
hook: Daiichi salmon hook black #10
tails and legs; black goose biot
body: Ultra Vinyl Rib black
thorax:Uv Ice Dub black peacock Hareline
wing case;electric blue flashabou
( Michael Scholl from Munich , Germany last week with a nice White River steelhead- his first steelhead and now addicted for life !)
( Mike Karples from Chicago with a nice hen)
( it was bitter cold in early April- a good hot grilled lunch and the guys brought a little "whee bit nip of the dramm"-just to take the chill off)
( the deadly combo for spring steelhead- Proseek steelhead Abels, Sage z-axis switch rods and Rio Aqua Lux intermediate clear lines- you can switch to a Skagit head quick and easy to swing flies or nymph/bugger)
Can' wait for the hatches to come and sulpher gray drake time. They are calling for a cool and wet summer which would be great for bugs and trout!.
You can order the new Steelhead Dreams online now at the Amatobooks. com website, or wait until I come and do book signings to your local fly shops. My Selectivity -Trout, Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon Book- Stackpole Books- will be out later this winter. My "Hatch Matching Steelhead' article will be out in Fly Fisherman this fall.
OTHER NOTES: Besides the Delaware which is the finest world class brown trout fishery-make sure you ask for Johnny Miller top guide there, the Farmington and Housatonic rivers in Connecticut are amazing brown trout fisheries- the Farm fishes well in the summer with cold flows. Call Torrey at Housatonic anglers for excellent guide services. Here is my Facebook friend Nanda Sanasie with a gorgeous brownie- she has become a steelhead and trutta master and could be the rising new hot stuff guide...go Nanda!
All for now...would love to guide you in May and June so give us a call or email .
Gotta go and get a big minnow net to get several hundred Chinook salmon fry that are stranded in our ditch by the lodge- gotta get em back to the river - even nature needs our help sometimes- usually we are the ones doing the damage !
Cheers!-Na Zdrowie-Sto Lat!