Monday, December 16, 2013

Busy, and snowy, weekend

I do not care what the calendar says…winter is here in central Ohio.  After another couple blasts of snow last week, and the temperatures rarely even approaching the freezing mark, we are at record levels of snow and cold temps for this point in the year.  Maybe global warming is evaporating more water in to the atmosphere resulting in more snow…

A couple months ago I had made plans to head over to the Cattaraugus to swing flies for steelhead for a few days over this weekend so I had been watching the weather like a hawk.  If there was a weather report I was on it and I was tracking fronts like it was my job.  That ‘advanced scouting’ clued me in a couple weeks ago that it would likely not happen as there was an arctic front coming down hard on the region the week leading up to heading over.  I kept my fingers crossed that it would somehow dissipate but knew that was not likely as I have better odds gambling horses than I do getting good weather for trips.  Sure enough the front came through as expected and put everything in a deep freeze…porque no es buena for chasing chrome.  By Monday we already had all the information that we needed to make the crappy call and cancel the trip.
This left me with a  rare open weekend on the calendar; what to do…what to do…?

First things first, there were flies to tie so I got a bunch of prep work knocked out a couple orders and then started tying tails.  Feathers and fur where flying through the week quickly filling the garbage can each night.  The whole time at the vise though I had an eye on the local weather to see if there would be an opportunity to get out.  Thursday rolled around and the opportunity presented itself for Saturday.  I shot my buddy Scott a text message to see if he was around, and if so was he game to deal with inches of snow and/or rain with temps ranging 26-34 to go and take advantage of marginal at best flow levels to chase some fish.  The answer was a foregone conclusion of course.

Saturday morning came early but I was up and ready to hit the road.  After filling a couple thermos with coffee I was off in the snowstorm and headed towards the river.  I arrived with about 4” of fresh snow on the ground and the forecast was for precipitation of some sort without end until long after we would be off the river.  Shortly after I arrived Scott rolled in with a smile on his face and, after a quick car spot, we dropped in and I took first turn on the sticks.  I always keep an eye on local flows so I was not surprised at the low clear water that we had…but when you get the opportunity to get out you make the best of it.  As I carefully navigated our way downstream Scott was dialed in and hitting every likely spot…along with all the unlikely spots that big fish like to inhabit. 

We swapped off on the oars every so often and the man in the front made cast after cast.  We rolled through numerous fly patterns, different retrieves, and every conceivable type of water as we made our way downstream but were not rewarded with much action other than a few half hearted follows in the low and cold water.  Heavy snow turned to light snow, turned to freezing rain, turned to driving rain, turned to drizzle and still we kept the faith knowing each cast could be the one.

Pushing six hours in was the best action of the day.  We had made it through a long stretch of shallow and featureless water, and the first cover I saws was an overhanging tree just past a large undercut root ball.   The resulting current had dug out a pretty significant trough.  As we were still 20 yards upstream  I made a few casts to dial in  the distance then, as we got in to range, I dropped a perfect cast right in the bread bucket and made a quick upstream mend to let the fly get down.  I barely had time to get the first twitch and strip completed before the bottom seemed to erupt in buttery fury.  The beast had been perfectly camouflaged until it chose to attack and destroy the streamer.  As it hit and rolled I strip set hard and felt the weight then, after it rolled and headshook, I hit it again to try and drive the hook further home.   The second set pulled the fish a foot towards me so I thought I had a solid set.  As I fought the fish I heard the anchor go down an Scott was reaching back for the net…tense times.  The fish was right a the side of the boat as the net was brought to bear, then just as it was at the ready the fly simply came loose and the line went slack as the fish faded back in to the bottom.  “FUCK!!” was the first thing that came to mind…and voice…loudly. 

Starring sullenly down at the boat I had that crappy feeling inside that only comes from losing a fish like that.  After a minute I looked back at Scott and he had that look of disbelief too…we thought we had that one sewed up.  “Sorry bud.  Nothing I can say to make that better” were the words that came out of his mouth…and he was right.  That had been likely well over the 20” mark, was the thickest fish I have seen in a long time, and was so brightly yellow that it nearly seemed fluorescent.

We finished out the stretch with renewed attention but I couldn’t fully shake that pit in my stomach knowing that we had missed a buttery golden opportunity.   I have replayed that fight time over and over in my head and don’t think there is anything I would have done differently.  Sometimes the dice just don’t roll your way.  Still sucks when it happens.   In the end though I realize that it is unbelievably cool to see a fish like that, and I have him marked for round two sometime in the near future.

Sunday was mostly spent at the desk building stock throughout the day, under the watchful eye of my assistant, until it was time to hit a company Christmas party later in the day.  At the party many pleasantries were exchanged and I was asked how things had been going,  I did say I’d been out all Saturday in the snow, but left out ‘the fish’…still too soon.

Next time it ends differently…I hope…

-mike schmidt

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Out from under a rock

Well, this has been the longest that I have gone without posting here since I started it up.  Not so coincidentally that matches up to what has been an extremely busy time at the desk, and something had to give!   Since the camping trip back in October I have made it out on quick exploratory trips locally to keep tabs on the conditions and tweak patterns, but never really had a chance to get out and fish hard for an extended period.  I was busy enough with flies and life in general that this was the first fall since I moved to Ohio (fifteen years ago) that I literally did not head up to Erie a single time for the fall steelhead run!  The whole time I consoled myself that it was OK as I was going to head to the Catt to swing flies with some good friends and that would make up for it…but that trip was scheduled to start tomorrow and the this current arctic blast we are enduring has it locked up.  Guess I’ll tie some more!

Don’t get me wrong, being extremely busy is certainly a ‘first-world problem’ and I am very thankful for all of the business.  It seems that more and more people are sourcing at least a part of their fly arsenal from local US tiers, and that is very exciting for me.  This was once again the best year for Anglers Choice Flies in terms of volume, sales, and exposure.  This sort of year does not happen without the support of the tying and fishing community so I thank you all.

In the coming months I will be on the show circuit, though not as heavily as the last few years.  I will try to get some shots up as they come and go, and I do also plan to get back to hitting the water more often as we get in to the spring.  There are a handful of patterns that I have been working on since last year that have been kept close to the vest, but after tweaking in the fall are about ready for some action.  I plan to release some of those over the winter as well as some more step by steps for both patterns and techniques.  I do have plans for some video projects in the works now as well since I have both the software and hardware to make it happen, so watch for short videos to start dropping sometime later this winter once I have a better handle on the editing.

It’s early yet, technically not even winter, but the early cold and snow out west already makes for a promising spring and summer.  It is something that I keep a close eye on as I will again be headed out to Wyoming in July to chase fish around with hoppers.  The last two years that trip has been the highlight of each years fishing as the scenery and company is only surpassed by the amazing fishing itself.  If you missed the posts about it check them out from the last two Julys.  I am super excited to have the trip back on the calendar and do have just two spots remaining available, so if you are interested in tagging along drop me an email for the details.

I want to thank you for all the support that has allowed me to grow Anglers Choice Flies year after year.  The ever increasing interest in tying, new flies, new materials and techniques has been fantastic to see and is indicative of a group of people dedicated in their pursuit of what they love.  I greatly enjoy both watching and contributing in any small way to that growth and catching up with friends, new and old, along the way. 

In case I do not get back on here before then or catch you on the water…have a Merry Christmas and fish on in to the new year!

Jan 15 and 22   Streamer Class at Mad River Outfitters, Columbus OH
Jan 24-26  The Fly Fishing Show, Somerset NJ
Feb 1  Greater Cinci Fly Fishing Expo, Cincinnati OH  (Streamer tying workshop)
Feb 3, 10, 17, 24  Advanced Tying Class at Mad River Outfitters, Columbus OH
March 8-9  Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, Warren MI
March 12  Bar Flies with Schultz Outfitters, Ypsilanti MI
March 22  Tie One On, Syracuse NY
July  11-15  Hopper Extravaganza, Wyoming

-mike schmidt

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall camping

Friday was one of those days at work that seemed to drag on for days.  It was not because it had been a particularly strenuous day on the job but because I knew that I was headed out with a car full of camp gear to hang out amongst the trees that looked as if they were on fire...fall camping.

As our crew trickled in to camp we got the giant pot of stew I had cooked up out and on the camp stove to simmer back to warmth.  It was a cold cloudless night so the campfire and hot stew were just what the doctor ordered.

 Friday happened to be both a full moon as well as a pernumbal lunar ecllipse, so as the moon came up it was in shadow to start the evening.   It almost seemed to blend in with the fall colored leaves.
Though not a fishing trip I did have my gear along and snuck out for a couple hours to start Saturday.  It ended up being a practice casting session as I could not get any fish to play along, but it was great to spend the brisk morning on the water regardless of the slim pickings.  This shot was taken on a big covered bridge over the river and was one of two hours during daylight on Saturday that it was not raining...hard.

Just another shot of the bridge since it was dry at this point.  It was fun to play with the camera a bit and continue to learn more about what I can get it to do or not do.

On the way back to camp for breakfast I stopped off at a gorge overpass and the view was stunning.  All the leaves were changing and the fog was eerily thick.

After a day spent hunkering under shelter tents the rain finally stopped about six and we kicked up the fire from a sad pile of smoldering ashes and small flame to a respectable camp fire.  Nobody wanted to venture too far from the fire as the temps dropped down in to the thirties.  We had a first time camper along on this trip and she had a great time despite the rain and cold.  We told her that if she could deal with what was thrown at us for this trip then she was golden.  Definitely looking forward to doing it again!

Of course, after a wet and forboding day when we could have spent the time exploring, we woke up this morning to a beautiful sunny morning.  First order of business was to get the campfire ripping and get some water in the french press. After an awesome camp breakfast we all broke camp and went our separate ways.  thie was likely the last time thie year we will bust out the tents, but already plans are churning around in the head for sprng trips...

-mike schmidt

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Driggs River Gang and Salmonfest 2013

Growing up in suburban Detroit I was regaled with stories of the Driggs River Gang.  Not nearly as sinister as it sounds, the gang consisted of a large group of family and friends that migrated north for a yearly hunting and fishing camp each fall on the banks of the Driggs River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  ‘The Gang’ started off with original members of Great-Uncle Al and his buddies, then cascaded down through the families generations along with a few friends mixed in. 

Each year there were multiple ‘planning sessions’ held at Eddie’s house to ensure all the bases were covered and then, as the leaves turned, the migration north started.  Once on site it took a full day to erect the monstrous house-sized oil cloth wall tent around a stove piped cast iron wood burner.  The tent was the common area, card room, sleeping quarters, dog kennel, and kitchen all rolled up under one massive roof held up by 37 miles of binder twine…give or take.  A lucky few stayed for a whole month while others migrated in and out of camp a few days at a time; at its peak each year there were three dozen men and a dozen dogs under that roof. 

The days at the Driggs River Camp were spent chasing upland quarry through the woods or trying to trick the local brookie population in to eating a well placed silver Mepps spinner.  The nights were filled with cleaning guns or fish, card games, stories and pipe smoke.  Camp was miles back on some two tracks in a time that was well before cell phones, and in a part of the country they may still not work, so as a young boy the isolation made it feel like we may as well have been on another planet.  There were only three rules; no loaded guns in camp, only the invited were welcomed, and you had to be at least 10 years old to go.   It was something to look forward to every year.

Fast forward to present day…Salmonfest.  It has become a yearly trip that I look forward to spending with a few friends and family each year.  Some years there are more people along for the fun and then in other years, like this year, there are only a couple that can make it.  Each year it is a  quick drive north to the banks of Michigan’s fabled Pere Marquette river where we see about tangling with some king salmon, and then after a few to hand target the egg-gobbling browns and any early steelhead that happen to be around.

We have shed the tent in favor of Baldwin Creek Lodge and we spend all our waking moments on the water so we depend on Debbie’s or Barskis to supply us with an endless supply of gastro-riddles to navigate through (all kidding aside Barskis is phenomenal fare…can’t recommend the burgers or perch dinner highly enough).  Out of nothing but stubborn tradition we get up long before we really have to and walk in to the river in pitch dark, then hang out on the bank and listen to the salmon working upstream as the first cigars of the day are lit.  Everything seems funnier in the dark of the woods when you are working on hours of sleep that can be counted on one hand, so laughing until you hurt is generally to be expected.  Eventually I am usually the one that breaks down first and wets a line in the dark then the others are usually quick to follow, especially once there has been a fish on.  The general plan usually consists of being out until after dark with just a short break mid-day for lunch and a few beverages…then repeat again multiple days in a row.  While we do spend almost all our time on the river we all have come to realize that the fishing is just the excuse to get together.

Mike has been the longest running Salmonfest participant with me now and is my oldest friend met after high school...since literally the day I moved to college.  With a few young kids and a good job his fishing time and vacation days are at a premium, but this trip stays on his list year after year.  It is always goo to see him tie in a some hefty fish.  In this shot he was working a dark slot off the back of an active bed.

And that slot yielded feeeesh!

My first morning up this year I charged up a glow in the dark ESL and ran it through a deep bend a few times before getting in to this beasty.  Keeping the lights off and fighting the fish by feel is always a good time.

Brian has gone a number of years running now.  He was around when Mike and I were talking about the trip one time and commented on how cool it sounded.  Brian was not a fisherman at all but when I said " are welcome to come up and hit it with us next year" he jumped on it.  A week later we were eight months out and he had already ordered up waders...the wait was on! 

Now Brian has this trip down pat and we love getting him to come out from central Illinois to get on some fish for the weekend.  After having done this trip he got the bug bad and now fishes as much as just about anyone that I know, terrorizing largemouth and bluegill at his local lakes on a daily basis!

A quick word of whatever is required to not let your line wrap around the tip of your rod...bad things are a certainty if you are wrapped up.  This hog was giving Mike quite a fight when all of a sudden it swam straight at him.  While trying to manage the line he had out and get it back on the reel a loop developed towards the tip.  As I yelled to warn him it almost happened in slow motion that the fish took off for the lake and turned his rod from a four piece to a six piece.

Mike finished up the fight on what was left of the rod though and about five minutes later I slipped it in to the net.  This was the second year in a row that Mike will be making use of that warranty...these guys can be tough on gear.

Speaking of gear...  I made good use of the Switch Belt, Switch Bag, and Digi-Pouches from SmithFly.  The bag I have had since it came out but this was the first time in the water with the Digi-Pouches.  I have to admit that the first time I went in up to my waist with a few grand in camera gear on me had me pretty nervous, but they performed exactly as advertised.  They are definitely a great way to carry gear that you want to keep dry but still have easily accessible.  I will have no problem carrying my Canon 7D and lenses with me anymore!

 The face of a twenty five pounder with the fly still cornered up.  Fishing with my brother I made a cast in to a dark slot then watched as this guy came across and was head shaking hard before heading to the lake.  I started to follow him downstream with my brother trying to keep up.  I was able to stop him for a bit in a few pools but even with the eight weight doubled over it was as if he did not even know he was hooked.  About 15 minutes in to the tug of war I had my brother run to find the other guys and the net.  He made it back with both in tow as the fish was starting to tire and I was hoping that it gave out before I did.  After over 30 minutes of fight that stretched the better part of a third of a mile downstream Mike slid him in to the net for me and the smiles were contagious.

After a hard fought fight we got a coupled quick pictures and slid him back in to the water.  I was rewarded for this bit of kindness by this fish using his paddle sized tail to give me a serious bath as he went back to his business...and I was totally cool with it.

Arms like jelly, out of breath, and hands still shaking...this celebration required some of the good stuff! 

Mike was up in the tree spotting fish in the dark water, yeah...that's it.  This had nothing at all to do with something silly like retriving a freshly tied rig thrown in to the tree on the first cast... 

 Decisions, decisions...

One really cool thing that happened this year was that my youngest brother John was able to get in to the mix.  He worked midnight shift and then drove across the state to catch up with us on the water for the remainder of the day.  He is used to chasing smallmouth downstate or brookies up on the South Branch, but has never been out during the salmon or steelhead run.  I will never forget the wide eyed look he had on his face as he came around the bend to find us.  He was almost in disbelief that he was seeing so many giant fish swimming around in the river.  I think our first words were something like "DUDE...HOLY SHIT DUDE!".

 After just a little bit he was off and running.  He did not get the opportunity to truly fight a fish in the couple hours that he was there, but did get to feel the power in one that he fouled up on before I had him break it off.  He is totally hooked and already talking about coming back in a few weeks to indi-up on some chrome!

 It is always a whirlwind few days up on the river that seems to take forever to get there and then is over before you know it.  We do not have the same traditions as the Driggs River Gang, but our Salmonfest group is slowly building our own and having a blast doing it.  Just 50 weeks and counting...give or take...

-mike schmidt

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A very Boyne weekend

Last weekend was a long time coming.  Ethan, guide buddy and manager of Boyne Outfitters, has been trying to get me up north for the last year and we finally had a weekend match up on our schedules.  After work on Friday I headed north and we had a hell of a time hanging out, having a few beers, fishing all day (and night), and laughing our asses off.  It was exactly what the doctor ordered.  Here a are a few shots I have had a chance to clean up from the trip. 

The last shot was from about 19 hours in to the day and our third different stretch of water.  This particular spot was awesome mouse water.  We turned a dozen fish and hooked up on three, but this was the one that came to hand...23" of mammal eating fish.

-mike schmidt

Monday, September 9, 2013

Castapalooza and Streamer Freak Sunday...and Walter...

After two solid days of hanging out, fishing, talking fishing, and tying flies I was out of gas when I rolled back in to my driveway last night…both literally and physically. 

The weekend started off with me heading north to Greg Senyo’s place after work on Friday.  It was an easy few hours on the road and my mind wandered from fly design to fly design as I drove.  Shortly after I got to his place I carried my bin and tools to his tying room.  We both sat down and proceeded to fill the night with the usual sharing of ideas, techniques, and generally having a great time.  While there is plenty of giving each other shit about different things during these tying sessions they spark enough good ideas that I have taken to texting myself ideas as we go so I remember for next time that I am at a desk.  In my opinion the best technique that I saw from Greg was something that he is doing with Hareline’s new Predator Wrap that makes for a quick scandi tie.  It was one of those light bulb over the head kind of moments as I watched him with it at the vise and something that is sure to be a hit with tiers as he shows the technique at shows or on line.  Midwest Spey owner/instructor/guide Will Turek stayed at Greg’s place as well so the stories went on until well after the Friday Night football game was over; Saturday morning came real quick. 

I got all of my gear piled in to Greg’s car and then, after a quick stop for food, were on the road to  Shultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti.  As we drove by car after car flying Michigan flags my excitement grew…a day of casting talk and fishing topped off by a Michigan game is bound to be a good day!  We made it to the shop about an hour before the open and in short order there were customers lining up to get in.  It took only a short time for the shop to be packed with people excited about the weekends casting and tying events.

To say the least, Schultzy had the shop stocked to the gills for the weekend.  It was awesome!

I was just along for the ride on Saturday, so as the casting workshops got started another buddy Bryan and I laid out a game plan to hit a stretch of river and took off for a bit.  To be honest the fishing was a bit slow, only landing a few smallies, but it felt awesome just to be out and checking out a new stretch of water. 

The most memorable thing from the day was my ever so brief introduction one sea monster of a largemouth.  A few hours in to the day I made a long cast with a white Tarpon Toad to an exposed point of lily pads.  The fly landed with a splat and I let it sit for a few seconds before I twitched it, then as I went to twitch it a second time all hell broke loose. A monster went full breach airborn like U-571 when she blew all her tanks and surfaced to avoid being torpedo’d.  As the water started to boil it seemed like time slowed down and I watched as the push of water slid the fly aside and a massively thick belly went straight vertical then crashed back into the depths having missed it’s target.  After starring blankly in disbelief at what I had just seen I erupted with the less than child-friendly scream back to Bryan…”HOLY $*@T DUDE, DID YOU SEE THE SIZE OF THAT F*%&(NG FISH!!!! F@CK!!!”, to which the I got the valid reply of “YEAH DUDE, THAT FISH WAS F@C*&NG BIG!”.  I stood there in disbelief for a minute and collected my thoughts…that was likely the biggest largemouth that I have ever seen north of Florida.  We guessed on the spot that the fish was 7 inches or more thick and pushing two feet long.  Knowing how that sounds I decided a the shop to be conservative and general when I was telling the guys about it and said It was somewhere around or north of 20”…and as it turns out they have spotted this fish a few times over the last few weeks and confirmed it is every bit of that!   They originally mistook it for a carp before getting a better look and seeing the stripe.  Walter eluded me but is going to make someone’s month if they can get it to eat and keep it buttoned up…

After a short time at the shop hanging out we decided to get back to the river to hit another stretch.  This time I decided to take out my 5WT switch rod to get some swinging practice in.  Swung through the whole stretch and I did not get in to any fish in the afternoon.  Truth be told I was really more interested in dialing in the casting with that rod…and I was still thinking about Walter…

As the day rolled to an end we grabbed a few guys and walked down to catch Mark Sedotti with his rods down at the casting area for a bit.  He had a couple proto rods that were really fun to cast.  One in particular seemed to fit my casting quite well as I was throwing tight loops of 8wt line 120+ feet with very little effort.  What was really cool was watching Mark cast his show rod, which was basically lead core trolling line as a shooting head straight to running line.  One cast in particular stood out and had us rolling.  Mark carefully stripped off what looked to be far too much of the running line in to neat little piles as if in a distance casting competition then flipped a foot long yak hair fly out on the cement next to the grass.  As he did this a guy was rolling down towards us on a bike and gave the fly and Mark a funny look as he pedaled around the line and kept going.  After he had passed Mark got down in to a low crouch almost as if he were coiling up like a spring, then in one smooth motion hauled hard with his line hand and flung the rod back in a nasty back cast.  As the rod loaded and fired he released the line and that foot long fly flew through the air, and kept going…and going…  It whizzed by a few feet from the kid on his bike, who was now well down the road, causing him to wobble and almost go over.  I paced it off and found that with not a single false cast, simply a single backwards haul, Mark had shot that foot long fly 80-82 yards!

Late in the day the guys convinced me that rather than head back to Greg’s place for the night I should stay and watch the Michigan game in Michigan…so I did.  After the casting was over we headed up at game time and grabbed a table at a local place.  Food was good, beverages were cold, I was loud, and the game was awesome.  After the game was over we walked back to the shop with smiles on our faces and crashed out on the floor of the shop for the night.  My pillow consisted of the ‘Streamer Freak’ hoodie I had purchased earlier in the day (shameless plug:  get your from Schultzy before they disappear!) and I slept like a baby.

The morning again came quickly and it was instantly apparent that I likely did not need that last beer and car bomb at the end of the night…  Oh well, you only get to celebrate beating NDs ass for the last time once right?  The three of us that crashed out at the shop slowly came to and got things cleaned up a bit and in no time Schultzy showed up with some greasy McDonalds to complete the morning rejuvenation.  Similar to the day before there was quite a crowd to start off the day.  I was slated to have a tying workshop alongside Mark Sedotti at 10, so we got all of our gear together and gathered up the students for the walk down to the tying venue.  I had the pleasure of teaching four students the finer points of articulation on three different patterns over the next few hours.   They ranged from 30 years of experience at the vise down to a guy that “started tying a week ago to get ready for the class”.  He was a real hoot as he did not take himself too seriously and the smile never left his face.  There was a lot of laughing going on as we worked our way through the planned flies.  It was a good group of guys and I think they had a good time learning the Meal Ticket, Double Deceiver, and Junk Yard Dog. 

With my class being over in the early afternoon I got to hang out at the shop for the rest of the day and talk flies.  I also enjoyed watching Tommy Lynch tie the Drunk and Disorderly for his shop demo.  I find that every time I sit and watch him I learn something and smile a lot…that dude is awesome and his mind works in a totally different way from mine.  He pays attention to stuff that I simply miss and really makes you think.  By late afternoon the weekend events were over and I was headed south on the long road home.  It is always a great time getting up to Schultz Outfitters and hang out with a really fishy group of guys.  Totally looking forward to next time; if Walter has not been wrangled yet then I may head to the river with Corey and see about a formal introduction…

This week will seem like an eternity since I am back to the river next weekend.  First though I have some flies to tie during the week and the first Central Ohio Fly Fishers meeting of the season with George Daniels coming in to talk about Dynamic Nymphing.  If you are in town on Tuesday at 6 you should stop up at Barley’s Smokehouse and Brewpub to check it out.  Friday I will be headed north right after work to meet up with Ethan Winchester, from Boyne Outfitters, to fish until our bodies give out.  It could be a Mountain Dew and Five Hour Energy fueled 30 hour fishing marathon before I jump back in the car Sunday afternoon to head back home…

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Busy Long Weekend

In between Fridays’ dinner out, friends over for one football game on Saturday followed by heading out to watch my game, shopping for the week and an impromptu (and much needed) trip to the river I managed to squeeze in 21 dozen flies of which fully half were articulated.  It was quite a lot of time at the desk to say the least, but it is now the time of year that requires that time investment when water time is not on the books so that when trips are scheduled they can be fully enjoyed.  With me on the road the next few weekends this was work that needed to be knocked out.

This weekends work consisted of a starter set of streamers to send out to a new account in CO, flies for two books, some mice for carnivorous Alaskan rainbows, and a whole pile of buggers for a guide buddy that simply has no time to tie.  As well as a few stragglers to be knocked out!

At some point around dinner on Sunday the wife came in and made mention of how stressed and/or tired I looked.  I agreed that it had been a long few days and I really wanted to get to a river for a quick spell to which she replied “Well why don’t you go now?”.   With almost no debate I decided that was a great course of action and threw a few flies in my Vedavoo wallet as I skated out the door. 

I decided on heading to a favorite carp spot as it is off the beaten path a bit and may not have seen much pressure on this holiday weekend.  I rolled down the road, enjoying a fine Honduran puro cigar, and I realized that I had not fished that stretch in the evening in a number of years. I had been fishing it at first light so I was not sure exactly what to expect.  As I rolled up the river laid out before me and I struggled to keep myself from hurrying, trying just to relax. 

There are a few hundred yards of some nice riffles and pools to navigate before getting to the first of the usual ‘carp spots’ so I decided to throw on a weightless streamer to start.  I flicked my fly out at the base of the first riffle and then started to pull line of for my first cast.  With the line pooled at my knees I went to haul the fly out of the water for the first cast and was met with some resistance….fish on the board before really even casting!  Instantly all the pressure and time tables melted away and I proceeded to get in to a dozen strong smallies between 12-16” as I worked my way upriver.  I never did spot or spook a carp so I ended up just fishing that streamer close to the surface for 90 minutes or so until the sun dipped below the trees and I made my way back.

I am excited about the coming weekends as I will be spending both in Michigan and on the water.  This coming weekend I will be downstate in Ypsilanti at Schultz Outfitters for Castapalooza and Streamer Sunday.  During Castapalooza I will be wandering around some and also intend to fish the Huron for a bit and see what I can turn up.  I will be out of there in plenty of time to get a good seat for the Michigan game against ND that evening!  Sunday will be a blast as there will be tying workshops and dmeos held throughout the day from some of the top streamer guys out there today.  I believe that there are still a few spots for the workshops so call up to the shop if you are interested in attending one.

The following weekend I will be making a long run north after work on Friday to meet up with Ethan Winchester from Boyne Outfitters.  We have a crazy intenerary of throwing streamers all day on Saturday and then gearing back up for an night of mousing.  Hope to have some great pictures from both weekends to share here!

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Snap out of it!

Well, as you can tell from the lack of activity around here, the post-Wyoming fishing funk set in again this year.  After another amazing trip west I get back home and fishing falls by the wayside for a bit.  I would like to say that it is because I am too busy with work, hanging out with my lovely and amazing wife, half marathon training, or catching up on the fly orders that piled up.  While those things have happened that is not it…I got me a bad case of fish funk and it is time to snap the FUggetabouit out of it.  The truth is that I have had plenty of opportunities to get out and only made the time for a precious few.  I need to switch my brain back to my reality and get back to enjoying the wonderful fishing opportunities that I have either just out my back door or within a few hours drive!  

We are now coming up on my favorite time of year, with football and the changing colors of fall right around the corner.  Smallies and browns about to get on their fall feed, carp slurping away, salmon and Esox smashing big streamers, swinging flies for chrome rockets…you better check your pulse if that does not get you excited!  I have some water time coming up over the next few months and should get some great shots to share and the stories to go with them.

In lieu on fishing shots here are a few pictures from the last few days that I popped over to Instagram under @anglerschoiceflies.

I saw a picture of a fly wallet that Scott Hunter at Vedavoo had done a few weeks ago for another friend and decided that I needed to add one to my arsenal of fly boxes.  I touched base with Scott and told him what I was looking for then, a few days later, this beauty showed up on my doorstep.  Amazing craftsmanship as usual and the fly wallet is exactly what I was looking for to have a few go to flies at the ready in my wader pocket.  If you are not already up on the Vedavoo gear head over to their website and check them out.  Functional, bombproof, made in the USA, and Scott is a hell of a good dude.

This was another streamer order finished up last night and off to northern Michigan this morning.  They will be deployed in the hunt for aggressive Salmon, in the lower rivers or out in the open lake, along with Lake Trout and lake run Browns.  The colors of choice are the Firetiger, Chartreuse over White, and Glow.

Hit the Glow with a headlamp, or even better one of the many UV lights on the market, and they light up and hold that charge for a few minutes.  Feels like you are casting a tracer fly in the dark!   It performs very well in the dark of the night as expected, but in low light conditions (dusk or cloudy day) it gives the fly a little extra pop and draws aggressive fish in for a taste.

The cold evenings are signalling the impending change of seasons.  Time to get out and take advantage of it!

-mike schmidt