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Guide Profile – Brian “Koz” Kozminski

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Networker.  Conservationist.  Educator.  Fly Fishing Evangelist.  Communicator.  If you are at all plugged into the Michigan (or beyond) fly fishing scene, chances are you are aware of the man everyone calls “Koz”.  Originally hailing from the Grand Rapids area and now residing in Northern Michigan, the only thing bigger than Brian Kozminski’s network is his generous and affable personality.  http://www.truenorthtrout.com

Koz serves many roles in the fly fishing community.  First and foremost, he is a defender of our resources – promoting educational opportunities for others to better take care of our waterways.  Koz also has done a great amount of work to promote fly fishing in a positive manner that encourages youths and others to explore the sport and take advantage of our great fishery.  Leveraging his vast network of people involved in the sport and industry, Koz serves as a one-stop hub for endless amounts of information.  It is obvious to anyone that visits his Facebook page, that Koz is a sharer of important information and events that impact and inform the entire fishing community.

While I have not yet had the privilege of spending a day on the water with him (something that will get remedied this year), my numerous conversations and encounters at shows, all of my exchanges with Koz have been nothing short of extremely pleasant and focused on driving the sport forward in a positive manner.  It is obvious that he not only cares deeply about the health of our sport and the resources, but he also has the same level of care for the people in it.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?

You can find me taking clients on a variety of water, whether wading the upper Jordan Valley, floating its cedar strewn lower or my favorite stretch of the Upper Manistee from M-72 to Three Mile.  Some wadable locales on Lake Michigan for Carp or smallmouth. We will always make a worthwhile trip to Mio on the Au Sable to throw articulated wet tube socks with the best of the Mitt Monkeys around. There are a handful of other northern Michigan streams not as often publicized, but equally rewarding because of their secrecy.

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding?

Anytime you have a client that can cast-> BONUS!

Watching an angler who can negotiate down trees and flip streamers within inches of structure, cast after cast, all day long, can make for a productive day. But I really, truly enjoy being on the river in near complete darkness, all other senses besides sight are heightened and on high alert when you are casting foam and deer hair tangerine sized rodents against the double shadow of a tall grassy bank that seems to move and come alive the longer you stare at it……waiting for the explosion at the surface and the entire universe erupts with chaos.

Species of fish that you guide for? 

Primarily a trout and steelhead guy by nature, but my youth was focused on bucket mouth bass, so it feels good to get back to basics and peruse local warm water species. Smallmouth and carp are so abundant in the Great Lakes and especially the Lake Charlevoix system. Toothy fresh water wolves have become more notably sought after species.

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What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

Best case scenario, at the end of the day, clients learn a thing about fly fishing, its rich and deep history in Michigan. They have a remarkable ‘all day’ experience, from casting & conservation, to bug lessons, and hopefully catching a fish or two. That is not always the case. we have to remember to make the experience fun, so they wish to return. I try to make these things memorable by providing a farm fresh lunch and out of this world scones from the Boyne Farmers Market, a taste of up north to take back home with them.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

It used to be a wine marinated hanger steak with fresh grilled asparagus, these days, I have more requests to be ‘heart smart’ and not waste an hour grilling- even though I enjoy a good steak from time to time. Seems lately we are doing a sweet potato black bean quesadilla with pepperjack cheese and fresh ginger guacamole- and people are raving about it.

If you could be in a band, which one would it be? 

stuck on a retro 80’s mohawk, black leather kind of mood- Depeche Mode – seems Dave Gahan & I have hit bottom and are building ourselves back up from scratch. everyday, one day at a time.

Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse?

Totally a mouse trap. I know people who have worked for the mouse, they rarely ever come out the other side the same. Its like they brain-wash you to the next level, CIA conspiracy kind of stuff. I would like to convince my family we could vacation in Yellowstone for 6 months on the same amount of coin we would spend in the Rat Trap…

 

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?

Specialize in beginners, fresh, local friendly, and genuine. Making a day trip on one of our rivers is an escape from the busy text message, fax, memo, meeting filled world. We just like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the nature that surrounds us.  We waste too much of our valuable time on the things that really mean so little.

What makes a good client? 

Practice casting prior to getting in a boat and not be happy with missing a few fish. You dont buy a new set of golf clubs and fly to Pebble Beach without a few practice swings. You need your A-game on any river in the Mitt, some days, it’s the wind, others it’s the fish, current, rain, bugs, the sun, etc. You need to do the best you can to be prepared for connecting with a trout. Listen to your guide, chances are, they have been down this river a dozen or more times than you have…image4

Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens?  We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky? 

It is true~ like in “Horton Hears a Who” the fish world is a speck on a flower, and their world is equally dependent upon how well we take care of it…

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you? 

Of course the ego maniac would like Brad Pitt in the lead role, some would say more like Matt Damon- not that bad, but reality is- Anthony Michael Hall(16 Candles/Weird Science fame) is your huckleberry, a sure shoe in for my days on the river and chasing Molly.untitled

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

The usual suspects: calling works- 231 675-1237 or

Facebook

Flyfishbkoz@gmail.com

http://www.truenorthtrout.com

 

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Nestle Admits No Ice Mountain In Evart, MI

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Consumers of Ice Mountain bottled water were shocked this week when news of the deception was announced. For years, area residents have been on the lookout for the Ice Mountain that can be found on Nestlé’s bottled water taken from Evart.  “It’s adorable how the local folks think that there is an actual ice mountain” commented company representatives.  When asked if Evart’s residences are dim-witted, the response was about as clear as a bottle of zebra mussel filtered Muskegon River water “they’ve let us take nearly 4 billion gallons of groundwater from them since 2005 for free, what do you think?”5612036-ice-images

Upon hearing the news, residents were quick to dispute allegations of having a gullible nature.  “Of course we knew there was no ice mountain and yes, I checked again today to find that Evart is not in the dictionary under gullible” commented local resident Dale Gunderson.  To their credit, some area residents confused the 2,500 foot pile of off-spec water bottles near the company’s bottling plant as the ice mountain.  “In the summer when that bottle mountain gets hot, the sun shining through the BPA cloud is downright beautiful” mentioned Gunderson.

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“Look, their high school team mascot is literally a babe in the woods” commented company representatives, “we just can’t help ourselves”.  “In fact, it was kind of a joke when we asked for another hundred million gallons of groundwater but they just smiled and said sure, why not?”

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When asked why Evart doesn’t drive a harder bargain or at least charge a fee for groundwater sold for profit, town officials commented “we heard you can’t put a price on Pure Michigan so of course that’s why it’s free”.  The future is definitely uncertain at the headwaters of the Muskegon River as species indigenous to the watershed prepare to feel the full effect of the Nestle crunch.

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week satire column intended for entertainment purposes only.  No fish were harmed in the creation of this post.

On the more serious side

Nestle is working to double-down on bottling groundwater from the headwaters of the Muskegon River.  Osceola County and the DEQ are set to approve an increase of nearly 2.5 times their current withdrawal, amounting to about 576,000 gallons-per-day or 210 million gallons-per-year.  One would think that the DEQ would advocate the resource but they’ve instead quietly given their seal of approval despite less than favorable computer modeling data concluding that a massive increase in Nestlé’s harvest of Muskegon River tributary groundwater may not be favorable for the watershed (not to mention the big picture issue of millions of additional plastic bottles set free in the world – not exactly environmental stewardship at its finest).

For those interested in voicing an opinion, public comments on the Nestle proposal (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-odwma-ehs-nwsu-nestle_section17_application_533989_7.pdf) are being accepted until March 3, 2017.  Comments may be sent to deq-eh@michigan.gov

2016 Recap Part 2

Something tells me that when I’m an old, crotchety, drunk most of the time old man sitting in a nursing home spending my days planning an escape attempt, I will always remember the summer of 2016. I spent more time on the water this past summer than any other year – and the fishing was overwhelmingly good for the most part.

After more than a decade of suffering the fate of a fishing widow, my wife finally decided to put in more time on the water with me.  She did a really great job learning how to cast and manipulate streamers – and had a lot of success with smallmouth all summer.  It was a really great experience to spend time with her on the water, and the excitement that she showed for each and every little thing that happened made me realize how much I take for granted.

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The smallmouth scene was really good all summer on the local rivers, low and clear water presented ideal conditions to go out and find several each trip.   There were even a few pike mixed into most outings.


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The Bass 1 Fly happened again this year, in our 5th year of the event it has grown to 27 anglers.  It’s the dumbest event on the planet and I never have any fun during it, I don’t even know why I torture myself putting it together and showing up (if you couldn’t tell…..I didn’t win……again).  Heres a pic of some stupid idiot that did win – he’s banned from the event in 2017 (just kidding Sean…..kind of).

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Guide, teacher, presenter, explorer Nome Buckman (more on her in an upcoming Guide Feature) invited me to join her for a day of Musky fishing this summer.  Something I’ve never done before – so I spent countless hours researching and tying and piles of money buying new stuff that I don’t even need.  I even constructed a Musky Medical Kit – I heard shit gets wild and I wanted to be ready.

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Jeff came along for what turned out to be one of the more fun weekends I’ve ever had.  Beautiful scenery, the most intense sunsets I’ve ever seen, and a number of opportunities at fish.

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I got on the board on Day 2 – and I still have all of my fingers, so it was a success.

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Towards the tail end of the summer when the smallmouth become slightly more scarce and harder to find and salmon start making their annual pilgrimage to their spawning grounds – I finally got the Mitt Monkey Intern out into the boat.  Adam is an old pal from High School and an incredibly proficient newer fly guy.  He threw tight loops and hit the right spots with his streamers all day and was rewarded with a 20″ smallmouth – one of the biggest I saw all year.

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If the summer of 2017 is half as good as this past year, I’ll be happy.

 

Guide Profile – Matt Zudweg

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Without any shred of doubt, Matt Zudweg is one of the most (probably is #1 actually) supremely multi-talented individuals that I know.  Possessing more creativity in his left pinky finger than I have in my entire being, Matt is able to inspire through his art work, popular sticker creations, t-shirt designs, and innovative fly patterns (Click here to view his work).  That creativity, along with the enormous attention to detail that he exhibits, undoubtedly allows him to achieve great success in not only his creative business but also when he provides his expertise to clients on the river for a day of fishing.

When he’s not guiding clients to enjoyable days on the water, exercising his artistic abilities, or reconditioning classic ski boats, Matt is a leading advocate for Michigan’s precious resources,  working tirelessly to preserve and protect our fisheries.  matt-z

It’s obvious that Matt is extremely passionate about his crafts, but its his humility, humbleness, friendly demeanor, and  genuine enthusiasm for sharing great experiences that makes him a great guide, and even better person.

As a new feature on Michigan Fly, we will be highlighting a new guide each week – please see the end on how to contact to book a trip.

What Rivers Do you Guide on Primarily?

Since 2003 I’ve guided exclusively on West Michigan’s Muskegon River.

What’s your favorite method of fishing to deploy when guiding?

For steelhead my favorite and primary method of fishing is swinging flies with a Spey Rod. For trout, I’m also primarily using switch rods and swinging wet flies (unless of course there is a good surface bite)… although I am a slightly bigger fan of hucking a big streamer for the big guys, if conditions are right. For bass my favorite method is fishing large poppers into nooks and crannies or a streamer fished just under the surface. The take is what does it for me so I tend to be drawn to the method that creates the most exciting strike, although most of those methods are the more challenging ways to produce numbers of fish… I’m ok with that though.

Species of fish that you guide for?

Steelhead, Bass and Trout

What’s your favorite thing about guiding?

The teaching aspect probably. I never really pictured myself as a teacher until maybe 7 or 8 years ago. One of my kids was taking one of those tests to see what kind of job they’d be good at, so I filled one out as well. I was surprised at the time when it said I should be a teacher, but that conclusion has made much more sense to me ever since. I also love the camaraderie.

Favorite bank lunch to prepare for clients?

A good steak and some grilled pineapple.

If you could be in a band, which one would it be?

Definitely something bluegrass and from days gone by like the Osborne Brothers or Flatt and Scruggs. I’ve wanted to learn the banjo for some time now, but I’m not sure I have the musical talent to ever make that happen.

Do you believe that Disney World is a people trap operated by a mouse?

Ahh, this is a question always in the back of my mind, I’ve just been waiting for someone to finally ask it. I’ve come to the conclusion that it absolutely is a people trap and most likely run by a large herd of mice with ambitions of world domination.

What do you believe makes a guided trip with you a unique experience?

I believe my good humor, positive attitude and undying passion for making my clients better anglers is something that I have to offer.

What makes a good client?

The “ideal” client to me is someone who is easy going and looking for a great overall experience on the river. They are motivated to become a better caster and angler, and they prefer angling methods that target the most aggressive fish, rather than using methods that may be more productive for numbers of fish. I have been so blessed to have mostly clients who fit that description.

The “perfect” client also shows up in a 69 Charger painted Hemi orange and let’s me do some donuts at the boat launch.

Have you ever pondered the fact that fish see people as aliens?  We hover above their environment, in a ship and pull them from their dwellings into the sky?

Of course I do. After a certain amount of time fishing alone I think that thought crosses every anglers mind and they come to the same conclusion.

If your life was turned into a movie, who would play the part of you?

Probably Jase Robertson. He seems to have a similar sense of humor, he’s a fair skinned fellow like me and he already has a gnarly beard.

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What else would be helpful for people to know about you?

I love people, but hate crowds. I’m very comfortable around 2-4 people. I love making balsa poppers, antiqued furniture and vintage style signs. I had a life changing moment when I was 18 and dedicated my life to following Jesus. I’ve been married 22 years to the most incredible woman and we have 3 kids that mean the world to us. I feel older than I look but am trying to reverse those. Some people call me Pastor but I’m not officially a Pastor and have no plans to be at this time. Many call me “Z” or “Zuddy”, nicknames I’ve had since childhood. I still jump up and down clapping my hands when a client hooks a swung fly steelhead… it just never gets old. I’ve got a thing for Toyota 4Runners and I’m super thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given in this life. How’s that?

How does someone contact you to book a trip?

Through Feenstra Guide Service www.feenstraoutdoors.com or my personal website www.zflyfishing.com or by email matt@mattzudweg.com or even by calling/texting at 231-206-7660 or just yelling my name very loudly.

 

 

 

Swingers Unite

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Fly fishermen choosing the alternate swing lifestyle have found themselves the subject of ridicule and jeers from nymphers, pluggers, centerpinners, and spin fishermen.  Although the method held mainstream appeal in recent years, it’s no longer the case as swingers are increasingly bashed for their choice of piscatorial presentation.  “It’s bad” commented Dale Farner, “I’ve been locked in the Pine Street outhouse, my truck tailpipe jammed with spawn, and the other day a Tenkara guy shoved me and called me a loser”.

Swing fishermen have recently realized kindred spirits with the original swing community.  “It’s no surprise” commented lifetime swinger Jim Barns, alongside his frisky wife Betty, “we all love to hook up”.  Citing additional similarities, Barns went on to comment “think about it, we both use intruders when conditions are right and we all like to work with jungle cock when we can get our hands on it”.  As it turns out, swing fishermen have recently taken a page from their kindred spirit brothers and sisters and have adopted the swingers pineapple as the international symbol of their preferred pastime.

“I don’t miss having that awkward conversation with new fishing partners” says Farner, “we both know what each other wants so we get right down to business”.  Nowadays, Farner is often seen browsing around local fly shops wearing his pineapple trucker lid.  “You’d be shocked to find out who swings these days, the camo wader crowd is surprisingly open”.

So if you’re finished being rejected by pals when you mention breaking out the spey rods and fat lines, take a cue from the original swing crowd and slap a pineapple decal on your bumper.  Whether swinging for steel or swinging for real, both groups agree that the tug is the drug.

* Tuesday Bananas is a once a week satire column intended for entertainment purposes only.  No fish were harmed in the creation of this post.

We’re Back…….

 

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The very first post written on MichiganFly was published on Jan 9th, 2014 – 3 years ago today.  That Michigan winter was especially brutal, temps that reached a high in the single digits for several days in a row and snow that was measured in feet instead of inches.  Dan and I started this as a coping method as we searched for any crutch available to maintain the level mental sanity we both had.  Luckily for us, jumping on the internet and acting like clowns worked to the degree that we didn’t have to resort to our final plan that involved tons of drugs and booze.

We decided at the time that we would operate the blog through the winter months, then bail out of it when time no longer permitted, usually signaled by the polar bears and penguins migrating back to more permanent arctic lands.  So……..we’re back for the next couple of months.  Who’s ready for Tuesday bananas?

2016 was a good year – they are all pretty damned good if you have a group of friends that you spend time with on the water.  Here’s a the start of a brief recap:

SPRING

Instead of typing some BS that nobody wants to read here, a video recap is probably better.

A few trout a few steelhead, nothing wrong with that.  Then towards the latter half of spring, something happened that….that changed everything forever.  In our circle a 20″ trout is usually referenced as a “good fish”, anything over 24″ becomes a “giant” and if you topple the 27″ mark, something that has been done once by Jeff (see his work at  Fly Fish the Mitt) its legendary status.

Well, Dan (MichiganFly co-founder) didn’t just set a new bar this year, he took the old one, broke it and shoved it up everyone’s rears.  Never in my lifetime did I expect to witness a 30″ resident brown trout being put into the net – but it happened.

The fish ate a fly of Dan’s own design – the Mitt Fiddle.  Guess what bug got fished by everyone else a lot for the rest of the year?

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Personally, I was on the struggle bus a bit streamer fishing this past spring.  I had a number of opportunities at good fish maybe even a few giants in there – but usually I had my head up my ass and completely blew the chance.  Definitely, something that will be addressed this year.  I don’t know – is there some surgical procedure or something to remove craniums from rectums?

Rest of the year recap to come soon.  Tune in tomorrow for the 1st Tuesday Bananas of the year!

Unpopular Fishing Blog Announces 7 Month Vacation

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Likening the task of pushing out two or three posts each week to repeatedly placing a man on the moon, wildly unpopular bolggers at Michiganfly announced today that they will be taking 7, maybe 8 months off to recuperate, fish, and try desperately to catch up on American Idol before the series finale.

Just when site traffic finally began to surpass most pre-2012 inactive DIY project blogs, the guys predictably decided to “take a bunch of time off before people’s expectations get way out of whack” according to Michiganfly’s Chief Rocka.

Response from their tragically low readership has been mixed.

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“It’s obvious they’ve been coasting the past few weeks and to be honest, I don’t think I could bear to see what they’d post if they were to try even less” commented Rich Youngstein.

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“Avoiding work is pretty much what they do best so it’s no surprise they’ve decided to take a 28 week vacation” commented Ryan “Pulled Pork” Riggins.

Unsurprisingly, many appreciate the break.

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“I just wish I could get back the four or five hours that blog sucked from my life this past winter” commented Cole Beardsley.

When asked if actually planning to return later in 2016, Bob and Dan commented that they’ve been thinking of opening a mall kiosk selling replica designer sunglasses and motorized scooters with all the click-through proceeds from their site. If for some reason that fails you can expect to see them back at it this fall.

 

Fly Tier Accused of Being a Adult Video Addict

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Everyone knows that your Internet browsing history can be awfully incriminating if brought to the public eye.  However one man feels he was unjustly dragged into a domestic argument with his wife over the contents of his Firefox history and bookmarks folder.  The man is a well known fly fisherman in his social group and an avid fly tier.  He prides himself with his ability to tie some of the sports most exotic and complex streamer patterns that often have equally exotic and complex names.  However it is these suggestive names that have landed him in the hot seat with his wife.

“So, I just HAPPENED to stumble into his browsing history looking to install an extension or whatever and the list of YouTube videos and websites I saw just disgusted me” says his wife. “He claims they are instructional videos for the flies he ties, but I wasn’t born yesterday. He clearly has a porn addiction.  I heard about this on Dr. Phil!”

The man claims that it is all a misunderstanding and that he has just been working on developing his skills tying various streamer patterns that are  known to be top trout producers.  When we inquired about what patterns lead to this dispute, the following list was provided:

Articulated Butt Monkey 

Sex Dungeon 

Barely Legal

Double Screamer 

Big Hole Bug 

Butt Sump 

Pearl Necklace 

Stacked Blonde 

T&A Bunker 

Trophy Wife 

Girl on Girl Action 

Skinny Dip

Even with links, that list seems sketchy. But a trip to a local fly shop confirms these gaudy globs of feathers and synthetics toting sexy names are in fact real streamers that SUPPOSEDLY catch fish.  After our interview, we’ve been unable to contact the man as his wife informs us he is in therapy.  Which leads us to the question; are pro-fly tiers just having fun when naming their creations?  Or are they a cover for the online pornography industry and creating a new breed of porn addicted sportsmen?  We may never know….

Brah’s Annual Steelhead Weekend

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Preparing for the annual weekend of “hot steelhead action” with Sam, his high school best friend, Dale Unger has a pretty good idea what to expect. Sam, a tantrum-prone 35-year-old, predictably goes through the same rituals starting with a healthy dose of pre-trip boasting about all of his new gear, secret bugs, and YouTube prep for an average of 12 weeks prior to the outing culminating in the purchase of a top shelf rod, reel, or waders, typically a brand name he’s spent years criticizing. About one week out Sam’s focus and attention is directed to heavy internet analysis with hourly USGS updates, Facebook puffing, and sarcastic forwarding of fishless outing reports from acquaintances with taglines like “not gonna be us pal”.

Knowing the impending events about to unfold, Dale endures Phases 1 and 2 like a pro realizing that this, by far, will be the most joy Sam will feel during the entire experience. Phase 3 starts in the parking lot where they meet Saturday morning when, while gearing up, Sam begins laying out a carefully orchestrated series of handicaps and disadvantages for use at some appropriate moment during the day. In a futile attempt to lower the odds of a meltdown, Dale often gives Sam’s gear a quick once over for obvious flaws.

During the walk in, Sam treats Dale to stories of his many successful outings in this river, often recounting events that Dale is pretty sure never involved Sam. Tuning out Sam’s tall tales, Dale recounts some of the more memorable blowups, fondly recalling the 2013 event when Sam spent 45 minutes fighting a “monster chromer” that turned out to be a despondent turtle. In 2014 it happened when Dale hooked and landed a large buck in water Sam had fished for over an hour. 2015’s meltdown resulted from Sam ripping a hole in his waders trying to step over a low barbed wire fence and snapping Sam’s brand new Sage 8wt that he’d nicknamed Excalibur.

Desperately trying not to trigger Sam’s impending hysterics, Dale fishes secondary water two bends down from his pal. After about an hour and when some of Sam’s gear begins floating by, Dale knows his buddy is upstream going ape shit.  Thankful for not having to witness this years meltdown, Dale quietly gathers his gear and prepares to call it a trip.

Reflecting on the galactic disconnect between Sam’s expectations and reality, Unger notes that it would probably help if Sam got out and fished on some of the 363 days between outings.