Streamer fishing is one of the most exciting aspects of fly fishing.  Throwing streamers is not just limited to Brown Trout.  Hawkins Outfitters likes to streamer fish for Smallmouth Bass, King Salmon, and Steelhead as well.  The Manistee , AuSable, and Pere Marquette are prime examples of Northern Michigan’s best streamer waters.

Streamer fishing is the art of casting single or articulated flies toward ambush locations where predator fish kill their prey.  In these blog post we hope to teach you how to become a better streamer fisherman.  Learning how to strip your fly better, or tie some of the news patterns.

Posts

Stripping Streamers

Streamer Stripping Helpful Tips

Stripping Streamers

Stripping Streamers for Brown Trout

How many times have you heard the phrase “don’t stop moving your streamer”, when streamer fishing?  It’s an interesting phrase and there is it a lot of truth to it for a lot of situations.  However, there are always “exceptions to the rule” as multiple other scenarios might play out in your fly fishing career where you’re going to want to stop moving the fly to have success.

Spring streamer fishing season in Northern Michigan is just around the corner so let’s dive into some of the situations that might play out for you while stripping streamers on Michigan Rivers.  Like most things in fly fishing, there’s always an exception to the rule. No matter how rare the exception, a fly fisherman should always be willing to experiment when traditional tactics aren’t producing.

Now let’s break down the “don’t stop moving your streamer” phrase based on species. To be a really good streamer fisherman you need to have a well rounded streamer game.  Meaning you better be able to fish for multiple species, i.e you want to become the Bo Jackson of fly anglers.  Trust me, having as many experiences as possible is going to make you a better angler even if the only thing you want to catch is Brown Trout.

Trout

Trout especially, Brown Trout, are prime targets to a streamer presentation.  During the spring one of the most important factors to pay attention to is water temperature.  For example, if water temps are still in the 30’s stopping your streamer pattern can be really effective.  I’ve had some of my best streamer days on cold rainy days while barely moving the fly, almost vertically jigging the fly back to the boat. Keep in mind how water temps can affect trout behavior and then change your presentation to match the conditions.  When jigging the fly it’s important to stay in contact with your presentation as the bites are usually soft.  Make sure to maintain control of your slack line and keep your rod tip low when not moving the fly.  Use flies like Russ Maddin’s Circus Peanut or a variety of conehead patterns that sink faster.  I really like Tungsten cones in this situation as they sink really fast.

Another factor to keep in mind when stripping your streamer is the kill shot.  Brown trout love to swirl or hit your fly on the constant-strip retrieve.  Having the ability to stop after the swirl can lead to success . One our Hawkins Outfitters Guide, Jeff Topp likes to say;

If a trout misses the bait for sure pause it/stop the fly.  If you see them swiping at it half heartedly trying to “kill it” and if they don’t bite it on the stop they will most likely eat it when the fly takes off again. Trout will bite on a steady retrieve but the twitch and pause seems to bring more bites for me.

As with most predators Brown Trout are keying in on the weak and helpless.  in other words don’t be the fastest minnow in the group.  Stopping your fly on occasion near structure or even in the middle of your retrieve can bring you surprising results.  An example of this can be observed with how native baitfish move in their environment.  Sculpins often tend to use a few quick bursts to propel themselves several feet and then they’ll quickly settle to the stream bottom and remain motionless. Fly anglers should keep this in mind when they’re fishing sculpin patterns.  Don’t be afraid to stop your sculpin pattern! Read more

Golden Dorado

Golden Dorado, Parana on the Fly

Golden Dorado

Golden Dorado at Parana on the Fly Lodge

Parana on the Fly

I have been trying to come up with the words over the past few weeks to describe the jaw dropping experience at Parana on the Fly in Itati (Corrientes region), Argentina. It has been harder than I figured it would be to find the right words. I traveled to Parana on the Fly with Ed McCoy and a group of anglers including Jerome, Kean, Robert, John and Paul. We spent a week chasing one of the ultimate predators, “The Golden Dorado”. What a ferocious and unforgiving species, this fish is unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered!! Now pair the Dorado along with an impressive Parana River system that left me speechless due to it’s pure size, flow, and the amount of baitfish it holds. Words can’t describe the overall experience and lasting impression that was left upon all of us who travelled there to fish, truly amazing!!

Michigan Anglers Travel Well

I have always said and believe whole heartedly that if you can fish in Michigan you can fish anywhere in the world and this held especially true on this trip. If you put your time in and train in Michigan you will develop a formidable skill set that will travel well anywhere in the world. I couldn’t have been more

Golden Dorado

Big Golden Dorado on the Fly

proud of Kean, Jerome, and Robert with how they handled themselves mentally and opportunistically by using the skills that they have honed on Michigan waters. Dorado are not easy to catch by any means and they will test your moxy as an angler.

Golden Dorado require that you have the physical and mental capacity to remain in the game throughout the day. You need a good understanding of gamefish behavior and how they want to kill their prey. Fishing with big streamer patterns was our normal daily tactic. The flies weren’t huge like some that we fish for muskie, but good sized trout streamer patterns tied on 3/0 hooks. While fishing for Dorado you have to be willing to make a lot of casts and believe in every cast.  Most importantly when you get that opportunity you need to have the mental fortitude to strip set, “DO NOT TROUT SET”, when the bite occurs. Be AGGRESSIVE on the strip set and be ready to rumble as these fish are as strong as any fish I have experienced, there were some broken rods on this trip!

Bonus Time

It did not take long for Dorado to teach me a very valuable lesson. Having arrived at the Lodge on the banks of the Parana River, the guides gave us some bonus fishing time our first afternoon. Everybody quickly put a rod together, mine being a 9foot 9wt Scott Meridian. I knew we would be stripping streamers so I was rigged with a Scientific Anglers Jungle Titan Clear Tip Fly Line. Our terminal tackle was a 5 foot leader of 40 pound fluorocarbon and the tippet was about 18-24” of AFW 7×7 50 pound wire. This set up could turn over any fly that I was required to throw.

River Structure

As we set out for the afternoon of bonus time on our 3rd spot we pulled into what is best to describe as a Dorado kill hole, meaning a big piece of structure in the middle of the Parana River. The Parana river is massive system that dwarfs anything we fish here in Michigan, average flows are reading around 150,000 CFS. To put this  into perspective the biggest flows I’ve ever guided the Big

Golden Dorado

Parana River with Rock Island Structure

Manistee River was around 6000 CFS. Flood stage on the Parana is somewhere in the millions of CFS, this River is beyond big!! So the structure that these Dorado are going to use to ambush prey is going to have to match this trend. On the first afternoon of fishing we pull up next to a rock structure in the middle of the river and you see this big seam kicking off of the rocks and it looks fishy! Lucas, my guide for the afternoon, wants us to throw the fly next to the rocks and slowly strip the weighted deceiver pattern through the fast water along the rocks. Read more

Manistee River Trout Fishing, Night Fishing, Mousing, Midnight Creeper, Frogs

Transitioning to Fall

Transition to Fall Fishing

August is the time that we transition to fall fishing. Towards the end of August, we start to wean ourselves off terrestrials, mousing and smallmouth and begin to think migratory fish, salmon and steelhead, and muskie. Between now and then our focus remains on resident trout and smallmouth bass.

Pine River

August and September is prime time for the Pine River, Lower Michigan’s most unique river. Cold, fast and the lower peninsula’s most prolific rainbow trout fishery, the Pine River is a blast to fish.  In summer the Pine fishes very well with foam hopper creations. As the water begins to cool in early fall the streamer bite can explode. Fishing smaller offerings that are heavily weighted in natural colors. If you streamer junkies are looking for one more streamer excursion before switching to migratory fish, the Pine River should be in your sights. We don’t have a lot of days available in August and September but check with Cherie to see what’s available.

Streamers for Kings

By the end of August King Salmon are in our rivers in good numbers. This is streamer time for these fresh brutes. While rarely a numbers game, the pull from a fresh king slamming your tight line offering is something you’ll never forget. Throwing streamers in low light then switching to smallmouth is a fun day on the water. If you want to give this a try make sure to have plenty of Flash Monkey’s tied up.

As we move into September Kings and Muskie take center stage. Steve and Tim generally have available days for king salmon fishing below Tippy Dam. This is a great venue for beginning anglers and kids. Lots of action sight fishing for big fish.

Garden River Salmon

Garden River fishing report

If it’s salmon you are looking for the Garden River in Sault St Marie, Canada, is a special place. This is private water owned by the Garden River First Nation. I’m there usually there from around September 10th to the end of
the month. The earlier dates are perfect for children and beginners as most of the fish will be pink salmon. There will 100’s of them and they are fun to catch. We offer a two-day special, one adult and one child for $1000. The later dates are when in addition to kings, we start to hunt cohos and steelhead. These trips are three days and run $995

Muskie Fishing

If muskie fishing intrigues you Jon Ray and Ed McCoy have a September venue that they fish every year. The area is in Michigan but shall remain unnamed unless you have a serious interest in capturing one of these elusive, apex predators! Contact us about open dates and more information.

Manistee River Fall Steelhead

Finally, a quick reminder, fall steelhead is the highest demand time of year at Hawkins Outfitters. Jon, Ed, Jeff and I might have a few days available, but not many. Our newest team members, Steve and Tim have days available. If interested give us a call to check availability and then get some days in the calendar.

Years ago, Kirk Deeter stated in Field and Stream Magazine that Michigan is the best state in the union to fly fish mainly due to the great fly fishing for a huge diversity of species. The transition to fall fishing is the epitome of that. Trout, smallmouth, muskie, salmon, and steelhead. So many fish, so little time!

Give Cherie a call to book any of this at 231-228-7135

Tight lines,

Capt. Chuck

Orvis Recon Short Rods

Orvis Recon Short Rods

 

Orvis Recon Short Rods

There has been a lot of talk lately about the value to an angler throwing streamers using “short rods”. These are rods that are usually between 7 and 8 feet long. I decided to buy a couple of Orvis Recon short rods and give them a shot. I purchased the eight and nine weight Orvis Recon short rods. They are seven feet eleven inches long.

The advantage of shorter rods is lees air resistance during your casting stroke and greater leverage when fighting large fish. Short rods also load fly lines with short heads very quickly. This allows you to deliver large bulky flies very quickly and accurately. These  Orvis Recon short rods are extremely light and coupled with a very light reel are a pleasure to throw all day long. In particular my guides are using them to fish for muskie, pike, salmon and to robo cast big streamers hunting trophy trout. They do an exceptional job for anglers fishing from boats for the above species especially throwing big offerings.

As great as they are in the above circumstances they do have shortcomings (no pun intended). The biggest weakness is if you are the rear angler in a drift boat using these length rods. If the anglers are fishing the proper direction out of the boat (approximately 45 degrees) it is very difficult to deal with the guide’s oar. You are all over that oar. Roll casting takes a little more work with less height as well as casting over foliage behind you.

The bottom line…for good casters, chasing big fish with big offerings, they are great. Use some of the short head lines like the Scientific Anglers new Cold Lines and stay in the front of the boat you’ll find these Orvis Recon short rods can’t be beat.  For average casters, wading their favorite streams using normal lines the work required to fish them probably isn’t worth the benefit.

Hawk