June 29, 2011

Cahills of the Fluorescent Kind

light cahill
light cahill
Stenacron interpunctatum, better known among angling circles as a light cahill. I love the way that the local population around here emerge with almost fluoroescent yellow or chartreuse hues. You can really notice it when isolating a few color values as highlighted in a post from last summer, Exposed.

light cahill

June 27, 2011

Nom Nom

Kimchee is the food of the gods, not to mention one of the healthiest foods on earth. Maybe one of these days I'll pony up a recipe for you folks out there in roughfisherland. In the meantime, you'll just have to eat vicariously through me while I make my way through 6 quarts of heaven in a jar.

June 26, 2011

The Clamtastic Voyage

Time to start bumping some clams...

The Clamtastic Voyage
...Off the bottom for some big fish fun. How do you like your clam? Bearded or Brazilian style?

June 22, 2011


Crap Crack
A jackpot of Carp Crack in a couple of new flavors. Please fish responsibly.

June 18, 2011

Cock of the Walk

Took the kids to the zoo today and all I could think about was how to get away with nabbing a few peacock swords, as well as some bison, camel, and dall sheep fur. I think I have a disease....

peacock strut

June 16, 2011

The Brown Drake

Brown Drake
Ephemera simulans, typically the first of the big drake burrowing mayflies to emerge in Upper Midwest streams and lakes. Ephemera species like the Brown Drake and it's better known cousin, Hexagenia limbata, are members of the big meat genus of the mayfly world. These are truly giants in every way, including giant fun taking highly aggressive fish feeding on these giant morsels.

Brown Drake
Brown Drake
Brown Drake

June 10, 2011

A Bug's Life...

A poke around the house while doing some yard work found a few tasty morsels for those fish. Ever since they redid the highway upstream, I've noticed an increase in abundance and diversity of emergent macroinvertebrate life. Proof that installing storm water retention systems for impervious surface runoff does make a difference. The bonus? I've finally started observing a few species of mayflies over the past year that are only found in clean coldwater environments. While the Pelican River that runs through my backyard isn't what you'd classify a trout stream, it does support the same macroinvertebrate life that you'd expect in a blue ribbon trout stream.

June 9, 2011

Beaver Island - Land of the Carp Flats

The ride in on the ferry from Charlevoix is surreal. Midnight blue water surrounds you in every direction as far as the eye can see. As you near the main island of the Archipelago, Beaver Island, those dark shades of blue transform into hues of turquoise and aquamarine, like something out of the South Pacific. Even in eighty feet of water, you can see clear through the gin clear water to the bottom. As you pull in to the main harbor on Beaver Island, Saint James Harbor, you realize that you have arrived someplace magical.

Saint James Harbor
The fine folks at the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce and the Beaver Island Lodge were so kind as to put us up for the weekend. I cannot say enough about the warmth and hospitality these folks shared with us upon our arrival. I've traveled a fair amount across the globe and have to say that these guys are some of the friendliest and most gracious hosts I've ever met. You gotta love the charm of the Upper Midwest.

Beaver Island Lodge
Room with a view
First glance at the archipelago and you'd think you in the Carribean. Crystal clear water encompasses the vast number of rocky shoals and reefs, lined with fine sugar sand. The only giveaways are the vegetation on shore of the larger islands, cedars, pines and spruces, and the missing taste of salt on your lips. While the majority of northern Lake Michigan is still left unspoiled, I can't hardly suspect that the ultra clear water isn't partly due to the presence of zebra mussels, unintentionally introduced to the Great Lakes from the ballast water of ocean going vessels. Untold miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan are lined with the washed up shells of dead zebra mussels. Even in paradise, the impact of man can still be observed.

northern paradise
bird shoal
holographic flight
gin clear
The real heroes of Beaver Island are Captains Kevin Morlock and Steve Martinez of Indigo Guide Service. These guys put up with half a dozen scurvy Prima donnas from fly fishing's seedy underbelly, the media. Not only did they deal with us assembling to roll call way past reveille, and fumbling casts as some of us were still under the influence of the prior evening's activities, they managed to put us on fish under adverse conditions of a late spring. These guys must be part time saints. I'm not saying that we were all obnoxious by any means, but the pressure is on for any guide leading some of fly fishing's elite, filled with the high expectations of catching some of those Beaver Island behemoths, the common carp.

bass assassin
Deeter the fishing magician
I came prepared for Beaver Island, sporting a seven weight Ross Rx with a Ross F1 reel, and a Ross Essence FW in a nine weight matched with a Ross Momentum LT for heavy duty work. The seven weight was spooled up with Scientific Anglers Coldwater Redfish Line, which casted wonderfully in the cool Michigan Tropics. The nine weight was spooled with SA's Textured GPX, a perfect fit for tough duty in stiff winds. While I was hoping to test the mettle of both setups to their breaking points, both combos fished flawlessly and had nary a hiccup in the line of duty. While I didn't get to see an F1 blow up or an Rx crack under pressure, I did get to see how easily the combo subdued a thirty pound carp, especially after getting into the backing twice on that fish. Even with over four hundred feet of line and backing out of the guides, My gear never wavered, and I was able to get the fish back to the boat to land.

rigging up
this little piggie had roast beef...
scaled out
I'll be back. Even though I didn't get into the quantity of fish that I thought I would, cool water temps resulting from a later spring helped subdue large numbers of fish from coming up into the shallows to feed. Perhaps a visit later in June or early July would be more favorable for high numbers of fish. Regardless, the quality of the fishery is outstanding, and the average size of carp caught had to be pushing twenty pounds. Throw away everything you know about fishing for carp, and head to Beaver Island. Beaver Island will redefine what you think about fly fishing for carp, skewing your baseline and possibly spoiling you for life. Welcome to without a doubt, some of the finest flats fishing in North America.

I'll be back allright, and next time Steve, I'll be bringing the kimchi.

June 7, 2011

The Badasses of Beaver Island

A few of my favorite candid portaits of some of the Beaver Island players.

carp ninja
Oh Captain, My Captain
carp stormtrooper
standing rock
Señor Steve

June 5, 2011

Northern Bog Violet

Northern Bog Violet
Northern Bog Violet
The Northern Bog Violet, Viola nephrophylla, near Glyndon, Minnesota

June 3, 2011

Grand Traverse Bay - The Pre Party

The plan was to roll into Traverse City early to do a little pre-fishing with Brother Matt Dunn. Beaver Island was the main objective of the trip, but Grand Traverse Bay is no slouch either. After a quick lunch and license purchase, we rolled up to the tip of Old Mission Point. First mistake of the trip, I left my polarized glasses in the truck back at the hotel. Oops. Luckily in crystal clear water, it is fairly easy to locate fish under bright sunny conditions. I somehow spot a shadow in the water and tell Matt to cast to it. He successfully hooks up with a beautiful golden bone and we think the day is getting off to a great start. We proceed to find hundreds of fish cruising around the flats. Cast after cast, some of them so on the money that you can't write up a finer presentation in a text book, but no takers. Every single one of these fish had a case of the lockjaw. No worries, though, I grab a Hurricane High Gravity on the way back to the hotel and settle in for the evening.

The Apex Predator
The next day was a complete 180 from the day prior. The wind shifted direction, picked up in gusts, and brought clouds and rain with it. As we scouted the flats, we could not find a single fish where we had found hundreds the day before. We regrouped and headed back to the hotel where the mouth of the Boardman entered the lake. I rigged up a new pattern I whipped up the night before, the Mustache Ride, and proceed to swing my flies along the bottom at the mouth of the river. I was surprised as I managed to dredge up a few smallies off the bottom in relative short order. Now, I was in my element. Matt and I hooked up several decent smallmouth, a white sucker, and one corpulent lake run brown who looked like it was about to pop. The day was salvaged.

Emergency Fly Tying Session
In my element
Some new blood arrived and joined up with us in Traverse City; Caleb Reinhold and Bill Konway were joining us on Beaver Island. We grabbed dinner and headed to an Irish pub for some local flavor. Third Coast was responsible for the entertainment that evening, half price stouts courtesy of "Guy's Night" (I didn't know there was such a thing), foosball, and a late night run to the border, involving more burritos than you could load a ferry with. Good times...

The Apex Predator
Team Building
Coming up next: getting to Beaver Island.

June 2, 2011

Third Coast Love

I Heart Carp
Check out Brother Matt Dunn's reports from Beaver Island over at Third Coast Fly. Plenty of good stuff going on on Third Coast Fly's Facebook page, so become a fan now and don't miss out!

Field report from the roughfisher coming soon!