Sunday, June 23, 2013

On the Bay with Kestner

A few weeks ago I got a call from an old friend that he had a cancellation during prime time and wondered if I could make it up to northern Michigan to hit some water with him....I of course jumped on it and made plans for a suicide run this weekend.

I have known Jon Kestner since he was at the Troutsman in Traverse City but had not been able to hang out with him since he was one of the guides in Alaska when I was there a couple summers back.  Jon has been on the fishing scene and a guide in northern Michigan for three decades, so when I got the call I was all about getting up there to chase some fish around and lerna few things.  After getting off work on Friday I hit the road and arrived at Jon's house south of the bay under a super moon.  We hung out and had a couple beers before turning in for the night.  We were not too worried about getting an early start since the forecast looked like there would be some gnarly storms coming early and then a window late morning through the afternoon.  I did my best to sleep knowing it would be a long day on the bay chasing smallies.

After a few cups of coffee to wipe out the cobwebs we checked the weather and found that the forecast had not changed...storms on the way.  We quickly got the boat in on East Grand Traverse Bay and took a short run to our first flat.  We knew that the front was coming and figured worst case scenario we were close and could make the run back in short order if it really got hairy.   Somehow the wind shifted a few times and the bad storms split around us so we just got some serious fog for the first few hours of the day.

The fog made the site fishing tough going, but Jon had us in fish.  The man was a wizard and had half a dozen fish in the boat before my eyes adjusted to be able to see the areas he was telling me to target and got in to a fish myself.  I was relearning to see all over again as if it was my first time on a salt was amazing how well everything blends together!  This chunky four pounder about what I could expect all day along with shots at bigger fish. 

Here is another fish that Jon brought in that was about in the same range.  The day before John had a client out and landed many over five pounds including one that boga'd over seven! 

I was in streamer heaven.  Based on water depth I was switching back and forth between sinking and floating lines, as well as weighted or unweighted flies, to dial in the presentation.  Early on the visibility was bad so we went with very light colored flies so that we could track them in the water.  Some of the time the take was viscious and unmistakeable, but others it was so light that it was nearly undetectable and only the light fly disappearing in the darkness was that clue that there was a fish on and it was time to set the hook.

About the time that we settled in close to shore to grill up lunch the cloud cover mostly burned off and it really turned in to a beautiful day.  We had an expertly grilled lunch of chicken, broccoli, nd garlic bread before geting back after it.

With the sun out we could really targe fish much better and found some really agressive fish to play with.  This particular fish chased my streamer without committing half a dozen times before Jon mixed it up and threw in a permit crab he had tied up that just happened to look like a crayfish.  The fish could not resist that snack and pummeled it.

That was a mistake on the fishes part as Jon drove the business end home.  After a quick few shots back in he went.  We spent the day cruising East Bay and getting in to fish, it was awesome.  We did not get in to any of the monster smallies that were around but did see a few that made my heart flutter as they edged away from us just out of casting range.  There is a reason that Kevin VanDam named this one of the top ten smallie fisheries in the was awesome.

Tough to beat a sunny day on the water in northern Michigan!  If it has been like this all day instead of just a few hours in the afternoon I can only imagine what we could have done.  As it was we fished nearly blind much of the day and still landed a few dozen fish around the four pound mark along with some smaller guys that beat them to the food.  If you are looking to get out on the water in Northern Michigan then Jon is a great way to go.  Check out his services at the 'Jon's Guide Service' website or shoot him an email at to book it up.  Smallies, trout, salmon, can't go wrong!

-mike schmidt

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Serious optics upgrade at ACF

For a long time now I have been shooting all of my shots with point and shoot cameras; first a Sony Cybershot and then a Canon G10. The G10 has ben a phenomenal camera and a reliable tool for shooting at the house and on the water, especially when paired up with the scuba case.  While they did the trick adequately there were always shots I just could not get so I have been dreaming of the day I could upgrade to a full DSLR, and that day has come.  I had been keeping my eye out for a good deal on the Canon 7D as it is a great camera and finally found a kit including the body, a 28-135mm lens, and a 70-300mm lens.  They are kit lenses but for the time being will be great as I get back in to the game and regain my camera savvy that I had accrued leading up to my BFA from Dayton.   I also sprung for a serious top end L glass lens, the f2.8 IS 100mm, and it is bad ass!  As I play with the lens and get more comfortable I will be posting more shots and plan on some pretty cool ones to come this summer.

The other benefit of the Canon 7D body is that it shoots video in full HD, so the option to produce more video step by steps is now on the table.  I plan to put a few up here and there as well as put together a collection of them on DVD at some point, perhaps by this winter.  With that being the case I will need to know what people really want to see so if you have a pattern you think is a must reply to this post and let me know.  If I choose your fly for the first video then I will tie a few of it up as I am getting ready to shoot the video and send them off to you. What could be easier!?!?

Here are a few shots I took with the 100mm the last few days:

I hope to hear from some of you with your fly suggestion for coming video step bystep!

-mike schmidt