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Posts tagged “brook trout

What Canada Taught Me About Fishing

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Canada knows how to do sunsets…even if they aren’t until 11:30pm

A long time bucket list of mine had been to participate in a  fly-in fishing trip to northern Canada, and in the early part of June last year, I was able to finally check it off.  If you are unfamiliar with these endeavors, they are all pretty much the same concept.  Drive as far north into Canada that roads will take you, hop on a float plane to any of the hundred remote outpost camps on any of the million lakes up there and start fishing.  As long as you can keep from being devoured by a  bear, trampled by a moose or suffocated by a swarm of ruthless, evil, hate filled bugs…you will no doubt catch more fish than you can possibly imagine.  Besides the obvious appeal of fishing for a week straight, the biggest pull for me was how remote these locations are.  You’re out on your own, miles and miles from civilization, surviving off only the gear you bring in and the game you catch (sorry…no “keep em’ wet” happening there) all the while taking in nature that hasn’t been completely altered or trodden over by a herd of humans every weekend.  It was an awesome experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat with the only negative memory being those damn bugs (pro tip: don’t let them get INSIDE your bug suit…nightmares).  But as the resident new guy on this blog, I thought I’d share one of the things I’d do differently if I were to partake in such an adventure again; my approach and plan for catching fish.  I’ll break it out for you.

Where we were fishing:

As with the vast majority of water in northern Canada, the two major species we would be pursuing (and living off of) were walleye and pike, of which I have very little experience fishing for. The particular body of water we were on consisted of a decent sized river opening up to a 7 mile by half mile lake with two other rivers that exited on the other side.  Our outpost was located at the mouth of the river feeding in, and I was told that we would be spending most of our time around there for walleye and in the river and its tributaries for pike.  The walleye were known to hang by structure in water anywhere from 10 to 20ft with pike patrolling the edges and shallow tributaries.  We also would be taking a crazy adventurous day trip, 15 miles up river to a set of falls that are known for holding monster brook trout (trout rule, ‘eyes drool!).

How I planned on catching fish:

At the point I was planning for this trip, I had fully converted my fishing techniques to the fly and had all but rid myself of anything img_2612relating to gear fishing.  I knew pike would be easy.  I would treat them like hyper aggressive trout, slap some wire on the end of my leader and throw big, gaudy streamers at them.  Walleye were another story.  They aren’t known to be a regular target for most fly fisherman and finding large quantities of information on how to go about it was difficult.  But the Internet is full of crazy people like myself and I was able to find enough articles to put a plan in place. My idea was this:  I’d set up an 8/9wt rig with a long-headed 300gr sink tip line and tie up a bunch of weighted
leech and clouser patterns with colors ranging from black/purple to chartreuse/orange.  I figured that if after I cast out as far as I could, I gave the fly ample time to sink before slowly stripping it in, I’d be close enough to the target depth to get in walleye range. Solid plan right?  I should note, my father-in-law, who has been on countless number of trips to this lake, and would be with me on this one, thought I was a fool to only bring a fly rod.  So much so, that he went out and bought me a spinning gear combo package so that I’d be guilt ridden into bringing gear with me.  He wasn’t taking any chances as I’d be part of the equation of whether he ate dinner or not each night.  What’s that they say about listening to those that have gone before you in life?

How it turned out:

Yea…not nearly as well as I thought and I was grateful for that spinning gear.  The big thing I forgot to factor in was that I’m a novice who, at the time, couldn’t cast to save his life (an accurate metaphor given the circumstances) nor understood the fish or environment I was fishing in.  Let’s break this down:

-When you are a very inefficient at casting, a 300gr line with heavy flies is not only a bear to control, but will wear you out lickety split.  Add in that I’m a walking stick figure with a career that emphasizes typing speeds over strength, and I was well worn out after a full day behind my rig.  This made my accuracy and distance garbage and I spent more time out of the fishy zone than in it.

-I was the only guy using a fly rod.  And since piloting an outboard powered boat is near impossible while casting one, that meant the speed and positioning of said boat was almost always in favor of the hardware guys.  When trolling, I couldn’t cast fast enough to accurately hit my zones or keep my fly deep enough if we were in walleye territory.  When holding still, we were usually out far enough that I had to muster up monster casts to get to where the fish were.  Again, my weak casting did not help me here.  We had a 5th guy lined up to go with us that is a fantastic fly fisherman which, had he not had to bail at the last second, would have made this a moot point.  But if if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, oh what a Christmas it would be.  I was going to a camp designed around hardware…not sure what I expected.

-I didn’t tie nearly as flashy patterns as I should have.  The water levels were abnormally high and strong winds had the water very cloudy.  I obviously could not have predicted this, but you should prepare for everything on a trip like this.  The only places I had any success were in the tributaries were the water was clear or low.  But the name of the game that week was either motion (more than an articulated streamer can provide) or flash, neither of which my patterns overly excelled at.  This was the most obvious the day we spent at the falls.  I was the first in the water and on my fourth cast landed a real nice brookie on a white boogieman pattern.  At last, I thought, it’s my time to shine!  That was the last fish I caught that day.  My boogieman was crusty leftovers in the eyes of the trout once they saw the Mepp’s my uncle’s were throwing.  And they could cast them farther and faster than I could ever dream of.  They put up some impressive numbers of some of the biggest brook trout I’ve seen and left me with my one measly fish and a sore shoulder on the boat ride home.

Did I catch fish on my fly rod?  Is the pope catholic?  I hooked up with plenty of hammer

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Probably one of the smallest…but the one I’m most proud of!

handled size pike and even proved my theory correct with a few walleye.  But I had to work my butt off to get them while my companions were kicked back slaying them one after another (literally) with spinning gear.  And believe me…they let me know it.  I eventually gave up and just switched to my spinning rod.  I still refused to jig or troll…what a boring and uninvolved means of fishing.  But I ended up having a fantastic time ripping stick baits for pike and spoons or spinners for walleyes and ended up with the record for most consecutive fish per cast by going 10 for 10 on pike one night.  Quick side note here…the pike in that lake were some of the most aggressive, brutal predators I’ve seen.  If it moved, it was food.  They would come up and take chunks out of walleye we had on stringers and I swear to you, one even smashed a Rapala that was covered in a foot of weeds.  Made for some fun times…but nature, you scary….

 

What I’d do differently:

Obviously, get better at casting.  It’s coming up on a year since that trip and although I’m far from being Paul Maclean, I’ve made big improvements in this category thanks to some relentless backyard practicing and some great guidance from a friend.  I also think I’d upgrade my fly rod. Over the summer I switched my Redington Crosswater 6wt over to a Mystic Reaper and it made a world of difference in my casting, especially for large streamers.  I think if I did the same for my big streamer rod (combined with even more practice) I’d have a better time at it.  But maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to have three Reapers in my collection.  Also, I think I’d focus all time with my fly rod on hunting trophy pike and just be happy if a walleye randomly hits my fly.  For walleye, I’d upgrade my spinning gear, chuck heavy spinners with ease and be happy doing it.  Or pack in some steaks and leave the monotonous task of working a jig to others.  Finally, I’d bring along a better assortment of flies.  And I’m not talking about anything super fancy here…did you read the part about that pike hitting a grass covered lure?  But maybe a little something more to get their attention and mix it up like some floating frog/mouse patterns or a pack of flashabou tied to a hook.  That’d get it done.

So at the end of it all, these shortcomings with my fishing strategy by no means took away from an awesome trip.  For that matter, it’s made me realize that living in Michigan, I’m limiting myself…just a bit…by swearing off gear fishing for life.  The fall salmon run for instance has all be written off for me since I’ve given up the ol’ chuck n’ duck.  So I think this September, IF the salmon come back up the river and I have an opportunity to get in there and battle it out, I’ll be throwing plugs and hot n’ tots instead of streamers and eggs.  OK no joke…it was really hard to type that.  But I’m trying to be open-minded and I promise I won’t be petitioning for this blog to be renamed michiganflyandgear.com.  Fly or die people.  But, in the meantime, I’m going to go look at pictures of steelhead sized brook trout, Bob Ross level Canadian sunsets and Fireball stealing in-laws to remind me of an incredibly memorable trip…and to keep practicing casting.  So hey ya’ hosers, keep some tight lines eh?

 

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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