3-04-05 - BLUEWATER BROWN TROUT ON THE FLY!
Waters Fished: Lake Michigan
Fish Caught: 4/5 personally
Outing Date: 3-04-05
Air Temp: teens in the AM, rising to upper 30's / lower 40's
Water Temp: 32F - 44F
Water Level: normal
Water Color: blue and cloudy, visibility 1-2 feet
Fish Species: Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Gummi Minnow, Clouser Minnow
Pattern Color: Chartreuse & White Clousers got ALL the hits
Fishing Quality: FIVE STAR FLY FISHIN'!
Thursday afternoon I'm checking my email in WI
and I find a note from Capt. Mike - what am I doing tomorrow morning?
Ordinarly, I'd be sleeping, but as I said just a couple weeks back,
an invitation from Capt. Mike will NEVER be turned down if I have
a say in it!
6:15 AM rolled around just as Randy and I pulled
in. Capt. Mike was already waiting, boat just about ready for launch.
A trio of friendly guys was already in the water and asked "So
we hear you're going to be doing something different today....".
Indeed. Capt. Mike's invite was spurred by earlier conversations.
Today, we'd be FLY FISHING.
I had spent my Thursday afternoon in a mad dash
to Bass Pro to pick up vital supplies. First, I'd need flies - no
time or materials to tie with - I had to teach from 7:00 to 10:00.
Most of my selections were made from the "saltwater" side
of things - 3 2/0 Clouser Minnows, 2 large Gummi Minnows in Blue,
and a couple deerhair patterns that had a LIP like a crankbait.
Not to mention I would have liked to be fishing my spey rod for
this, but it's still UNBUILT!
So for gear, I opted for the next best thing, my
10' 7wt. It's overlined with 8wt. WF Floating Line (I think) - I
needed something that wasn't floating as we'd be fishing anywhere
from 8 to 25 feet in depth. Not wanting to fork over $60 for a full
sink line, I instead opted for a Cortland Sinking Head kit....around
$10. I went with the fastest they had, 9" per second.
We shoved off only minutes after arrival and braced
ourselves for the ride out. I rode the bow while leaving the harbor
- once through the ice fields I came to the stern for the real hardship.
Face down, staring at the deck of the boat, I closed my eyes as
the engine kicked up and the wind started howling. It was only 16F
or so to begin with - the windchill was easily below zero.
The ride seemed to take forever, but of course
it was probably only a minute or two. If you can make it through
the ride, you've got it made for the rest of the day. Mike's Lundh
came to rest in flat water, shaded from the westernly breeze. Randy
and I rigged up - he borrowed a chartreuse & white clouser and
I borrowed some 14lb. flourocarbon. I rigged up a tandem fly offering,
Gummi Minnow above and Clouser below.
Within minutes Mike boated 2 browns...his options
for today included flatheads and crankbaits. Shortly thereafter
Randy's rod doubled over from a vicious strike. His drag started
to sing. FISH ON. When it was all said and done, Randy sealed the
deal on exactly what we had come seeking - bluewater browns on the
Mike landed another fish. We'd periodically notice
a slap on the surface and head to that location, casting all the
way. After what seamed like an eternity, I thought that maybe Randy's
fish was a fluke. Well, we'd proved it could be done, even if just
a lucky fish.
Then it happened. I was untangleing fly line, with
my fly out past the stern, just dangling. My line went tight and
started moving away from the boat. FISH ON! I had line puddled at
my feet and was forced to apply pressure by letting it slip through
the fingers on my right hand. Randy kept shouting "Get it on
I don't remember WHO came to my aid to land this
fish, but once it was done I too had sealed the deal. This was no
fluke, it was really happening. With a bit of foresight, planning,
and a lot of help from Capt. Mike with his intimate knowledge of
Lake Michigan Browns, we had boated the 2nd fly caught brown of
the morning. I think the grin on my face tells how how exhilerating
After all this action things slowed down again.
Randy was fishing straight floating line and had literally 10 or
more splitshots on his tippet tag just to get down to the bottom.
I was counting down 10-12 before even starting my strips. A strong
shoreline current almost made the situation more like river fishing
- we'd quarter UPSTREAM, let the flies sink. Then our lines would
bow and the flies would zip through the current, swinging. As they
came to rest, we'd strip retrieve.
Meanwhile we heard strange chirps off in the distance.
Somewhat like seagulls, but definitely NOT seagulls. Mike was the
first to point them out - Falcoms (or some other raptor) were going
nuts on the shore. I took a pause in the fishing to shoot dozens
of pictures...nothing quite good enough to figure out what type
of bird they are but interesting all the same. As these last couple
of days have proved, you can definitely get more out of fishing
than just the fishing, even if the fishing is the main event!
After we'd had our fill of birdwatching for the morning, Capt.
Mike decided it was time for a tacticle manuever. We slid a few
hundred feet south along the shore and again dropped anchor. The
currents were slower here and mostly on the surface - we'd have
a better chance at getting our fly lines deep enough to entice more
Of course, it worked like a charm. Occasionally a fish would surface
in proximity of the boat. Whomever was closest would cast for the
rise, hoping to connect with the aggressive fish that had just given
up it's location. While it's an OK plan, it turns out that there
was a bit of uncertainty regarding WHEN you'd get that next strike.
Randy proved the point beautifully by hooking up while pulling his
rod back for the next cast - instead of the fly popping out of the
water and shooting past our heads, his line went tight, his rod
throbbed, and another fish was on. Most likely due to a poor hookset
(a result of the unexpected strike) Randy's next fish got away.
I didn't fair much better. While stripping in I was pretty much
able to work up to the butt section of my sink tip; then I'd have
to haul 20 feet of line high and hard to get a proper backcast.
Well, on one such cast I watched my flies appear at the surface.
Behind them, a MONSTER brown. As my flies shot out of the water
the brown swirled and then disappeared back into the depths. My
backcast lay out on the water behind me. My hands were shaking.
I managed to eke out something like "HOLY SH*T - THIS IS BETTER
THAN MUSKY FISHING!". Mike saw the telltale swirl still expanding
on the water's surface and chuckled.
Once I had regained my composure (and my line) we again slid south
along the shore. Here we were in truly shallow water - much of the
bottom was covered in large rocks that reached up to snag our flies.
After several hangups requiring a boat repositioning to free up,
Mike suggested we try his secret spot. Our last time there had us
all too happy to go.
So we get there. Randy and I flog water while Mike simpliy tears
them up. What else can I say - I had what may have been 3 or 4 hookups,
or may again have been snags on the bottom. Whatever the case, Mike
KICKED OUR BUTTS going after these browns with fatheads, roaches,
and lures. Randy and I pretty much played netboys!
After boating a good half dozen fish, Capt. Mike finally turned
to us and said "well, what do you guys want to do?" I
figured that Mike's spot was better left to presentations that could
get 25+ feet down...we headed back towards shallow water. Within
minutes, Cochran busted onto the scene with another hammering hookup.
From it's antics, we initially speculated that thsi might be a steelhead!
Things just kept picking up. Not wanting to be
outfished by my buddy, I focused on my presentation. The wind had
switched and was coming from the south, making casting a bitch as
we were sitting on the northern edge of the current. Mike admittedly
spent much of the time keeping the boat in position while the fly
rodders probed the water. Randy continued to tap and miss fish.
You know the feeling - either your buddy is doing something you're
not or he's just darn lucky.
Randy and I conversed with regards to where he
was tapping fish. I made just a couple adjustments in my presentation,
pretty much allowing for more time, up to a 20 count, to let my
fly get down. Eventually I gave up the 2 fly rig and went for just
the clouser...the more boyant patterns on the rig may have been
keeping my flies up too high in the water column.
That was the move that truly paid off. After just
a few casts, my line throbbed. Another fish came to the boat for
me. Randy's not one to be outfished, and moments later, he too boated
another chrome brown!
3 to 2...and Randy is back at it again! By now,
the only real difference in our presentation is Randy's psuedo Chuck
& Duck rig vs. my sink tip presentation. Perhaps that's what's
making the difference? Randy brings his total to 4 and I'm speachless.
Then it happens, my lines starts peeling through my fingertips like
I've hooked into a log drifting downstream! I rear back hard on
my 10' rod and a fish explodes from the surface. It cartwheels,
then tailwalks for what seems like 50 feet. My rod tip is keeping
his head pointed skyward as he attempts to swim in the opposite
direction. Drag is pulling now and the fish is STILL walking on
the surface. Randy isn't exactly speachless. It's more like he's
as awestruck as I am...everyone is shouting!
You'd think after such a display the fish would
tire, but instead it swims under the boat. I have less than 10 feet
out, my sink tip is stuck up in my guides. I can't pay line out
like I'd like to, so instead my rod tip is pulled under the water.
It's starting to look like I'm truly flyfishing saltwater style
as I battle a fish that's probably 6 feet directly beneath me. Miraculously,
somehow we manage to bring this fish to net.
I am truly speachless....this has been a STUNNING
morning of fly fishing. I turn to Mike and let him know that whenever
he's ready to leave he won't here a word of complaint. 15 or so
minutes later, the wind now howling from the south, and Mike pretty
much battling the currents and wind just to stay in position, Mike
says "It's that time".
I've already laid out a cast; I turn to Randy and
say, "Last Cast, Make it a good one". Randy lays out another
plunk into the current.
"YEEEOWHA" I scream as my line goes tight
and the telltale headshakes make their way through my line, down
the rod to the grips. Mike gives up fighting the wind long enough
to net this truly CLUTCH fish, and then focuses on keeping us clear
of the rocks. One more brown has been fooled into eating a fly.
If you're a likeminded individual, you NEED to
try this. Give Capt. Mike a shout (Screaming
Minnow Charters - firstname.lastname@example.org).
He'll get you where you need to be for some fantastic BLUEWATER
BROWN TROUT ON THE FLY!