Monday, May 12, 2014

A MAGNIFICENT MAY- THE BIG PICTURE-STEELHEAD, HATCHES, TROUT, MORELS....NATURE'S WAY OF SAYING "'I'M SORRY!"- A SILVER LINING


The healing after the flood comes with a silver lining. May's splendor is too intoxicating to the senses to ignore...especially if you are fly fisher that revels in the beauty all around the forests and woods, and also what you have to chase and admire...May's bounty is relentless. Our new waters on our Michigan rivers after the floods are flowing  full and rich  with a deep  marl tannic stain like we have never seen....the low drought conditions and pathetic and sickly flows of the past are over for a long time as we watch one massive thunderstorm system after another dump life giving rain to our river habitat which are 'English-like chalkstream downs', that will replenish our deep subterranean aquifers for years to come. 
( Yesterday's Mother's Day Steelhead-2014- a fresh gravid hen right up from the Lake-...our late April fish are just showing up and they are just starting to catch fresh chrome hen steelhead hard as rocks off the Muskegon pier- was there last night!- all the northen rivers in MI and elsewhere will have runs this year well into middle June)

Our Muskegon has a tea stain like never seen in this century. I will go out on a limb here and declare the dreaded zebra mussels are 'DEAD,BURIED AND GONE'!. After three years of flooding, an epic 100 year winter of below zero and slush ,ice and snow for that extended of a period, and this last epic flood that buried several feet of silt on the quieter spots the zebra mussels like to live and filter their plankton, we have finally buried these pests for decades..imho.! Ask any biologist that knows these invasive critters and they will tell you the two things they hate are extremely fast flows and very cold waters- silver lining of the flood! That is tremendous news for the aquatic insects- especially filter feeding zooplankton caddis , vertebrate trout/salmon fry and parr and other invertebrates.

We fail to realize how important our amazing riverine topography of sand Michigan has that nourishes every drop of water and store it for the future like spring creeks, only to give out a slight desired alkalinity that makes our rivers and streams the most fertile river systems 'in the world-bar none!"- with mayfly, stonefly and caddis life- not to mention midges and scuds and everything our trout, steelhead and Pacific and Atlantic salmon need for survival. Our rivers remind me of the rivers of my youth in northern Poland along the "podmorski" Pomeranian  shoreline of the Baltic rivers that had the same topography of sand and dense forests, marshes and bogs, with rivers having native wild browns, sea trout and Atlantics.

So for us on the Muskegon, here is the new and exciting  bounty and opportunities of spring "finally being sprung-well over two months behind", we will be basking in. For each of us that really cares about or rivers , and given all the grief and despair 2014 cursed us with from the start.... we can now say,"what doesn't kill you makes you stronger"... eh?...through hardship comes peace and prosperity.....that's the silver lining through it all.
( size of trees uprooted by flood on our lower property after flood receded )

NEW HABITAT- This is perhaps the most exciting part of what the flood gave us.What big tailwaters lack for trout structure is large wooded/woody debris that provides 'brown trout condos' like found on the PM and other smaller lunker brown streams like the Big Sable. Well!...the flood's destruction of docks,boats etc. also gave us giant oak trees and stumps/roots from 30-60 feet  deposited on the shoreline everywhere...giant trout condominiums/lunker structure even a dynamite blasting fund structure campaign of tens of thousands of dollars couldn't provide-( like they have done on the Au Sable and other northern rivers). Also the high flows cleaned gravel in faster gradients, deposited silt in slow gradients for silt burrowing mayflies that could repopulate the river from Croton and Hardy that are loaded with Hexes and Brown Drakes. BUT!...the real biggie is that nuisance aquatic green vegetation - the water eel grass/foil and junk that came from warm low flows that turns the river into a weed bed in summer is most likely scoured and gone, witn clean gravel remaining. Ther is no question that the years of 1999- through 2004---then again in 2011/2012 heat waves was a serious 'ugly head rearing of global warming"- these aquatic weeds prospered in those years couple with very, very low flows- the floods and cold winters kicked there ass- they are nothing but trouble for aquatic insects since they choke out their food supply. With them gone, insect populations will skyrocket-especially the beloved caddis of which the Muskegon is shrouded in literature.These are just some notable changes you will immediately see for the positive.

STEELHEAD- we have at least another glorious month of steelheading, both fresh fish still coming in due to the ice conditions of Lake Michigan, to the tons of fish in the system spawning now and the drop backs that love to take a swung intruder with a vengeance.Good numbers are still being taken by pier trolling fisherman that are still headed up to spawn weeks from now. With the high cold flows and no heat waves in sight, , we will have steelheading until Fathers Day like the last time the Great Lake froze over to 90% in 2003? (or 4)...please correct me.
HERE IS SOME REALLY GOOD NEWS!....they stocked our steelhead smolts before the flood....bingo!...instant blow down to Muskegon lake and Lake Michigan in very high and muddy waters that protected 60,000 smolts form the walleye and bass predation they normally get in the clear waters. Was down at Lake Michigan seveal times in the past weeks after the flood and the waters were mucky brown...I bet we have 90% plus survival of smolts that normally get butchered in the river, lake and near shore areas by predation and clumsy and thoughtless worm dunkers...the run in two years will be EPIC....new buzz words...' epic and biblical '! 
( MY FAVORITE DROP BACK SENYO INTRUDER- recipe in Selectivity Book)


HATCHES-My biggest fears from an epic flood are that mayflies, stoneflies, caddis etc. will get washed down river prematurely before they could hatch and insect species destroyed, silt covering them and suffocating them and washing them up on dry land once the waters receded. Well I'm happy to report that yesterday, Mother's Day, the Muskegon gave birth to several Epeorus Pleuralis -Quill Gordons, in the same middle of the river spots I have seen them for several decades- this was a major triumph and blessing knowing the bugs survived. The Quills hatch in the dead smack middle of the river and that was a very rest assuring sign. The sulphers, march browns , gray drakes and olives will be starting any day, along with the caddis. With the cold and wet season, we should see amazing gray drake hatches like we had three years ago under the same type of weather...lets hope!!!
( quill gordon naturals by JG Miller)
( my Hendy Wiggle Crack-#14- TIE THEM BIGGER FOR GORDONS/MARCH BROWNS-recipe on Facebook)


TROUT- Our river has some very good sized hold over browns and rainbows we are just starting to catch behind steelhead. As the current resident steelhead become more lethargic, the browns and rainbows get more aggressive/active. They are fat as hell and full of steelhead eggs and chinook fry- suckers are just getting ready to spawn. The Muskegon is slated for trout stockings in the next few weeks, The smaller tributaries which are excellent little trout streams; The Tamarack was just stocked with Gilchrist Browns and Eagle Lake rainbows, and the Biglow and Penyor have wild populations of all three;brook/brown and rainbow.
( before the flood some nice hold over brownies)
STREAMERS- The banks and near shore areas are loaded from the epic Chinook salmon run last year of small fry/parr. Stripping parr patterns and small rainbow trout/brown yearling articulated stuff will conjure up browns and bows not totally addicted to steelhead eggs
(Pat Cohen Brown-tri articulated real deal- Senyo's Truttanator above)
( fish the shorelines tight with your parr patterns)
( my 'Parr-extraordinaire '....also steelhead from March just hatched so back to more sac fries!)

NOTES : WOODS/SMALL STREAMS/BOOK REVIEWS/ MISC:

I still have a few good dates left for the remaining steelhead season which will be longer than we think. Also cant wait to guide you to some great hatches and dry fly trout. For those of you sick of the loud and obnoxious daily jet boat indy race onslaught which was a little above average  crazy this year on the Muskegon, I can also float the White River and do small stream wade in trips where we combine morel mushroom, wild ramps/wild flower trips and trout for those that love the Cardio-boost of wading small creeks- .....nothing like sleeping well after trampling through the woods all day working up a sweat and finding some gorgeous trout and flora jewels.....the older I get and the more my infatuation with exercise and staying fit, I'm addicted to my small stream hunting from my youth with my Patagonia back pack/vest and new knees I'm mobile and lovin it!!- nostalgic



Finally, here is a very kind Book Review Dave Karczynski- English/ Literature Professor at U of Michigan did last week of my Selectivity book  at Midcurrent.com- a fantastic fly fishing web site in case you haven't visited it...click on the link below..Thank You David!....he is also an outstanding writer himself. David is off to Poland this summer where he is writing a book about the country, the people and their love of fly fishing...I am so jealous!!!...click on link below




Also my" SELECTIVITY-TROUT" DVD is now available at your fly shops and online at Amazon...hope you enjoy it!



CHEERS-NA ZDROWIE!....hope to see you at the Gray Drake/Trout and Eagle!