Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead in Michigan

Spring Steelhead

Spring steelhead fishing in Michigan is a different animal from fall steelhead fishing. The difference is due to several factors, water temperature, the urge to spawn, and available food supplies.

Steelhead begin moving into our rivers in fall. Their motivation is available food and the urge to spawn.  The salmon spawn puts millions of eggs in the river that the steelhead feast on. During the salmon spawn it’s almost difficult to catch steelhead on anything but egg imitations. The steelhead spawn doesn’t occur until spring. No one knows for sure why steelhead that ascend the river to eat steelhead eggs in August and September stay after the eggs are gone. Sometimes they don’t! Coming early and staying is likely due to some of our original steelhead planted had to travel great distances to spawn so they started early. That urge may have remained in our Little Manistee River strain of steelhead.

Temperature

Water temperature plays a big role in determining where to look for spring fish. The smaller rivers like the Pere Marquette River warm faster than the Big Manistee River. The earlier warm up has the fish moving up river to different runs, closer to spawning gravel. Spring Steelhead are motivated by Mother Nature , the spawn is the primary trigger for them to migrate the river.  When fish are moving up river towards spawning gravel how do you change your tactics?  Fish pinch points, funnels, and heads of pools versus the tailouts.  We definitely find more fish in the spring at the head of runs, most of these spots are deeper and slower and you find fish there moving up river toward the spawning grounds. This is likely to occur in a normal year (who knows what that is anymore??) in February. On bigger waters with dams this movement generally takes place in very early March. Read more

Costa Sunrise Silver Mirror

Costa Sunrise Silver Mirror Glasses

Costa Sunrise Silver Mirror

For the last year or so I have been wearing  Costa’s Sunrise Silver Mirror glasses. At first I was thinking I would only use this color lens for a hour in the morning and a hour in the evening. I assumed they would fit a niche time of day when the darker, daytime Costa Sunrise Silver Mirrorlenses where too dark. I was dead wrong! The sunrise silver mirror was far more of an all day lens than I thought it would be. Even though the sun rise silvers are a lighter color lens I was impressed with the way they cut glare and how well you can see in to the water.

Overcast Days

The sunrise silver lens really shines for me on overcast, drizzly days. The low light days where the light conditions don’t change. The days that you feel like every fish in the river should be biting. The first time I had these lenses on in dull light conditions I was amazed. The way they seem to gather the light and still cut the glare was a true eye opener. Another big plus is the way the sunrise lens performs in the dark.  If your are fishing dry flies at night for nocturnal brown trout or fishing bridges at night for tarpon they have got you covered. This is very important because we should always wear glasses while fishing.  Now there is a lens that allows us polarization without the dark shade. Its very hard to see a fly heading your way in the dark and there is no replacement for our eyes.

Changing Lens

I do tend to change out the silver sunrise lens to the green mirror copper lens when the day goes to blue bird conditions . High sunny skies are a bit to bright for the silver sunrise. The green mirror is a great choice for river and backcountry fishing on sunny days.
Now that Costa offers the sun rise silver in the 580 glass lens, they have all the bases covered. The 580 lens cuts haze and glare for a more crisp view. The 580 also filters out the yellow light enhancing colors of blues and greens helping in reading water.
With the number of frames styles to choose from and it being offered in the 580p and 580g there is a pair for everyone. Check out Costa Sunrise Silver Mirror at your local fly shop. Working on the water in Michigan and Alaska this lens has been the best choice for me most days.

Jeff Topp

trying with beads

Tying Flies with Beads

Tying Flies with Beads Alaskan Trout and Steelhead anglers have known about fishing with beads for years.  Bead fishing is an effective way to imitate fish eggs.  Fishing with beads has really exploded here in the midwest over the past few years especially when targeting fall steelhead . While most anglers use beads by themselves […]

American's Favorite Flies

American Favorite Flies, New Book

Chuck Hawkins and Russ Maddin featured in a new book, America’s Favorite Flies

American's Favorite Flies

This is a new book, America’s Favorite Flies. It showcases 224 favorite flies from such notables as Yvon Chouinard, Lefty Kreh, Joan Wulff, Craig Mathew, Huey Lewis and others including Russ and I. All of the profits are given to two nonprofit organizations. They are the Native Fish Society and the James River Association.

America’s favorite Flies is fun to read. In addition to Russ and I, I’ve seen other Michigan anglers featured. John Kluging and Dennis Potter are in the book. Each fly tier answered some questions and did a write up about themselves and or the fly the called their favorite fly. I’ve enjoyed both the stories and the photos,  I’m sure you will too . There is also a ton of artwork by well know artists including Dave Ruimveld, Bob White and others. This is a substantial book, 656 pages, 1700 color images, it weighs 7 1/2 pounds! It is is a great coffee table book for the avid fly angler! You can get more information about it at American’s Favorite Flies.

How to Purchase America’s Favorite Flies

America’s Favorite Flies is available for sale for $145, shipping included, directly from the printer. It may be purchased by emailing me at chuck@hawkinsflyfishing.com or by calling 231-228-7135. If you would like Russ and I to sign it, we will be happy to! Just add $10 to the price to cover the extra shipping.

As Jason Borger says in the introduction “These pages represent the diverse fly patterns of a diverse group of anglers,but more than that  these pages celebrate experiences and revere waters. With an underlying mission of preservation and conservation, America’s Favorite Flies is a visually engaging storybook for all fly fishers who share such ideals”

Many thanks to John Bryan and Rob Carter for inviting Russ and I to participate and for creating such a beautiful book.

Capt. Chuck

Atlantic Salmon AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon fishing AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon in the AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon fishing AuSable River

Atlantic Salmon Fishing in the AuSable River

Atlantic salmon are one of the world’s most sought after and prized gamefish.  Fly fishing for salmon is now a fantastic and exciting late summer/early fall angling option for Hawkins Outfitters on the Lower AuSable River. Let us help you pursue these unique and aggressive (close relative to brown trout) fish while providing another high quality angling experience on new water. If you have ever wanted to see an Atlantic Salmon chase down and crush your streamer, or swing through a nice run and have your line come tight with the thrash of a nice fish, now you can.

AuSable River

Located at the terminal end of the fabled AuSable River, there lies a much different AuSable than the fabled Holy Water. This section of river is just outside of the towns Oscoda and AuSable. It is fishable from Foote Dam to the mouth at Lake Huron. Foote dam was constructed in 1918 and bears the name of Consumers founder, William A. Foote. It stops all migrating species. This section of the AuSable is stunningly beautiful. It boasts large scenic overlooks, slow meandering deep outside bends and nice gravels runs. Fly anglers dream about water  like this. This area along the lower river also provides primitive campgrounds, hiking trails and some walk in/wading access. Read more

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Bridge

I’m happy to announce after nearly super human efforts from Jim Anderson and Dave Boberg of UMRA and the very generous contributions from many of our clients the new boat launch near CCC Bridge on the Upper Manistee is nearly done. Way back in August I let you all know it was in the works. Predictably Jim and Dave ran into a bureaucratic nightmare getting 4-6 agencies to sign off and to then pull permits. Without going into which agency was the logjam I’d like to congratulate these gentlemen and all of our donors on a job well done. Thank you.

The new launch is just downstream of CCC Bridge on river left (as if you are looking downstream) just below the large dock. Notice the bridge in the photos. The construction includes an increase in parking along with the standard slide that has proven so bullet proof in the past.

The Upper Manistee River Association jumped into this project the minute it was realized that we had a problem with the loss of a private launch just downstream. I encourage all of you that use the river with boats, kayaks, canoes, even tubes to join and support UMRA. You can join here. I encourage all those guides to commit and send a few bucks too!

Thanks to all involved!

Hawk

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

Garden River Fishing Report

2017 Salmon Fishing Garden River Recap

Salmon Fishing Garden River

Salmon Fishing Garden River

Garden River 2017 Recap

Fly fishing on the Garden River First Nation for King, Pink and Coho salmon, along with steelhead is the best in the Midwest. The reason is privacy, this section is private,owned by the Garden River First Nation, a band of Ojibway Natives. No one is fishing where we are! The lack of pressure makes the salmon more likely to eat a fly and the steelhead beyond willing!

The Garden River fly fishing in 2017 started with a run of very large pink salmon. Usually when we have larger than normal pink salmon the numbers of fish is less than normal. That was not true in 2017, it was huge run of pink salmon. Fresh fish continued to move up the Garden River until the end of September!

Weather Struggles

Salmon Fishing Garden River

Garden River Steelhead

The dominant characteristic of 2017 season was the lack of rain and high air temperatures. The last significant rainfall was in the week of Sept 10th. After that a couple of small thunderstorms was it. The rainfall in the week of Sept 10th brought a nice run of large king salmon upstream along with a nice surprise, steelhead! For the next 10 days or so we had great fishing with all species available.

The Garden River Fly Fishing was humming right along until mother nature threw us a curve ball, 5 straight days on 90 degree temps and a continued lack of rain. This shut off the fish tap and started reducing water levels. The fishing suffered accordingly. Most noticeable was the lack of steelhead.

Salmon and Steelhead

The day that the weather broke we had high temps in the low 60’s with clouds and drizzle all day. That brought in another small push of kings but not many steelhead. That gave us enough fish to finish our Garden River 2017 adventure.

Many thanks to all of the anglers that fished with us up north in 2017. All in all it was a pretty good year. Weather hurt us a little but didn’t kill us!

Most of the customers rebooked their spots so we have limited availability in 2018. We have Sept 8-10, 4 spots. This date may be reduced to two days as it is prime pink salmon time and great for kids. Call for details of reduced pricing for children. On Sept 20-22 we have 4 spots available. These are prime time for all species with historically steelhead start showing up. Available dates are subject to change. Learn more about the Garden River on our Travel page.

If you have any questions or want to book one of the remaining openings give Capt. Chuck a call at 231-228-7135 

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

In Northern Michigan, the larger hatches are done around July fourth. That begins one of our favorite pastimes, Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan. Many anglers put away their rods when the Hex hatch is over thinking that the best fly fishing of the year is behind us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan can produce many surprises!

Read more

Manistee River Trout fishing

CCC Boat Launch

New CCC Boat Launch

Access….critical to our use and enjoyment of Michigan’s many rivers. Kayaks, canoes, river boats, drift boats and humans all need safe and reliable access to the river. In addition we need access that does not harm the river by allowing sand in the stream or damaging streamside vegetation.

Last year long time property owner, Jim and Mary Ann Weber sold their place just downstream of CCC Bridge. The Weber’s believed strongly that the river belonged to everyone and graciously made their property available to launch and retrieve boats. This solved the problem with the launch on the upstream side of the bridge. It is narrow, concrete and often gets blocked by campers. Inadequate to say the least.

This is where the Upper Manistee River Association got involved to help. UMRA, with funding  primarily by Hawkins Outfitters clients, has lead the charge in improving canoe/boat launches between M-72 and Sand Banks. These launches were all existing but in disrepair, not protecting the river.

UMRA

UMRA and more specifically Dave Boberg, president and Jim Andersen, head of the restoration committee, jumped in and spearheaded an effort to build a launch on the downstream side of CCC Bridge. This has been a long and frustrating process. Due to the various entities that have to sign off on a project of this nature. However they have accomplished the seemingly impossible, all agencies necessary have signed off and permits are waiting. The money has been raised, thanks again to those that donated!

There is one final step, a comment period mandated by the DEQ. The purpose of this blog/correspondence is to ask all of you to hit this link below….

Since your comments can be very short and to the point I hope many of you take a moment and let the DEQ know how you feel.  Asa result we will hopefully have a dependable boat launch that protects the river is needed in the area of CCC Bridge.

Therefore thank you in advance for letting the DEQ know the need for this. Have a great summer.

Capt Chuck

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Water Resources Division (WRD), has posted the following notice to the MiWaters home page.  To make comments and view documents please click on the following link: https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/info/-301210193690066715/details

Steve Ladd

Steve Ladd

Steve Ladd

A Life Well Lived!

Last Sunday morning Steve Ladd, longtime friend, client and world traveling angler passed away from a heart attack in the kitchen of our river house. In the last 25 years Steve and I fished together very often, some years as many as 50 days. Ladd was gruff and opinionated on the outside and warm and giving on the inside. He was always first to donate to causes helping the rivers he loved, the Manistee and Pere Marquette. He contributed time and money to efforts to teach people to fly fish. He worked tirelessly for Project Healing Waters, getting wounded vets on the water fly fishing.

Steve was one of the most optimistic guys you would ever encounter, he believed that the Cubs would win the World Series, that his next cast would result in a 30 inch brown and that the Republicans would someday control the White House, Senate and House. Amazing how things came true.

Steve’s presence will be missed by many of us. Brown trout however are elated the world over. Rest in peace Laddie, I hope there are great trout streams in heaven

Hawk

Steve Ladd