Bob Is A Hero

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Bob knew how to get that perfect hero shot.

I think Andrea Larko has been following Justin and I around on the river. I guess the secret is out. Check out Bob and much more of Andrea’s work on Etsy.

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Popping The Ball, Why Guides Release Fish

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By Brian Kozminski

If you popped a basketball every time you make a basket, you might be missing the point.

It’s a burning issue, and hot topic across the midwest right now. Nothing new for me, really. I received a call from a potential client the other day, I was just getting done washing off the mud and cedar debris from the Adipose in the drive-thru car wash, so I decided to take the call. The kind lady first asked if I was Catch & Release?

“Well, of course I am, ma’am.”

“But we want to fish up there next week when we are up for vacation. Can’t we keep the fish we catch?” replied the lady.

I had to take the opportunity to explain myself. I am an advocate for C&R, but also believe there is a time and place for selective harvest—meaning taking out certain sized fish in a population that is self sustaining in order to ensure future healthy size class, whether warm water or cold water species.

“I would gladly take you fishing, but if I let you keep fish, that would not only deter the quality of guide trips next week, month and next year, but also, if the word got out that True North Trout catches and kills trout, I could quickly gain a negative reputation and lose potential clients. It works like this: if you popped a basketball every time you make a basket, you might be missing the point. The relaxation, the art of tying and fooling a fish on a fly, therein lies the reward and why we chase eight-inch brook trout with a three-weight rod. Fly fishing is about the peace, the serenity and the enjoyment of seeing the beauty in nature around us.”

“But what if we let the females go?” she retorted. “My husband and I would like to learn to fly fish.”

She was relentless. I felt backed into a corner. How can I turn around a possible learning situation for these anglers and for myself?

“I would be more than happy to take and show you how beautiful the river is and some fly fishing technique, but I won’t purposefully kill or take a fish home. Simply put, if you catch a nice 18-20″ trout, I know where he lives, and perhaps have the opportunity and chance to share catching that mature fish with future anglers, even a couple more times in a year, and next year, he is a 22-24″ fish. If we take him out of the ecosystem, there is zero percent chance of catching him again or that he will be a two-foot streamer crashing trophy next season.” the best I could come up with.

“Well, maybe. Let me talk with my husband, we would like to learn how to fly fish. Do you know any other guides that will let us keep our catch?” She is not giving up easily.

“I am sorry, I do not, sounds like you are looking more for a charter boat captain and would enjoy a trip on Lake Michigan trolling for salmon or lake trout.”

“Thank you. We will get back with you. Good Bye.”

“Thank you. I am sorry. I hope you understand. If we as guides killed every fish we catch, we wouldn’t have a job in a few short years, similar to a restaurant that gives away a lot of free drinks, they don’t manage the resource very well and end up dry.”

Scenario phone calls like this seem to pop up every other week or so. Kind of crazy when I think about it. What is driving this customer my way? Google Search shows TNT at top ten? Most of these anglers are from out of state. I understand the need to bring a fish home, a bit of a keepsake from Michigan, and understandable with our of state license fees. But these fees are exactly what helps keep Michigan an often sought fishing destination. What about where they are from? I see a trend in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and even Georgia residents seeking a piece of our northern Michigan heaven. So I looked into these states and why the popularity.

First, The PURE MICHIGAN campaign. Laugh a little. I did. But a considerable

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Small Stream Structure- Holes, Bends, Runs Etc.

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By Jason Tucker

In the public mind there is probably no feature that comes more readily to mind than the Ole Fishin’ Hole. 

A lot of non-fishers think that is what fishing is about- going to a big, well-known hole, soaking bait, waiting for the fish to bite. I certainly spent a lot of my childhood believing this was the way to fish. 

Especially once you get into fly fishing, you realize those big holes don’t hold all the fish, and probably are some of the least interesting places for the fly angler. After all, fish on the bottom of that big hole aren’t likely to rise eight feet through the water to hit your fly. Learning to identify fish holding water and cover on a small stream is just as important as your casting and fly selection. It is especially important because you need to identify these spots from a distance, pick out the likely fish holding lies, so that you can stealthily approach the spot and present your fly. I can’t tell you the number of times I have (and still do) failed to properly identify fish holding structure and blundered into a spot that was a great opportunity just waiting for my fly.

Holes. After demeaning them at the outset, it is time to redeem them. Holes hold fish, lots of fish, but it’s not enough to approach one and start flogging.

The problem with holes is that a true hole will be too deep to fish a dry fly unless you see fish lingering near the surface feeding. This does happen, and if you run into that situation, by all means move into position and start casting. More often you will find yourself happening on a hole with no perceptible action and will need a game plan. There are four areas to concentrate on when you get to a hole: the tailout, the margins, the head, and the hole itself.

If you’re fishing from downstream, the tailout is what you want to concentrate on first. I spent many a summer day observing big holes in rivers as a child. There was a bridge on a hole that we always fished. The bridge was in the middle of nowhere, not even on a road. I believe that landowner had the bridge repaired at some point, as it was in good shape. It was originally a stagecoach bridge in Michigan’s logging days. It served an old hotel that used to be there. Nostalgia aside, I learned a lot sitting on that bridge soaking worms.

When we would walk out on the bridge it was common to watch thirty or more fish scoot for cover in the deepest part of the hole. The thing to do then was to sit still and wait for the fish to relax and return to their feeding lies. After ten minutes small fish would start to move back out into feeding positions. After twenty minutes they would start to feed again. After thirty minutes even the larger fish would become visible if they were going to feed. A lot of the prime lies were near the bank on the deep side, and also at the head of the hole, but a lot of fish would drift back to the tailout and wait to feed. So when you are approaching a hole this is where you want your first cast to go. You’ll want your fly to land where the color changes from dark to lighter. The fish here may be sensitive to being cast over, so you don’t want to cast too far into the center of the hole and line the fish. Make a few casts to the tailout and work the whole area from shallow to deep before moving onto your next target.

The next target is the margins of the hole. Typically at least one side of the hole has a gradual slope to the bank. Fish that want to feed will

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Alice’s Angle: December

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By: Alice Tesar

December, the mountain slopes are open to skiers and the rivers are practically void of anglers.

Not only is hitting the river an excuse to escape holiday guests but it can also be quite productive if you’re willing to endure the cold factor. If you know me, you know I’m a nymphing fool. Streamers and dries are exciting but mastering a nymph rig that catches trout with each presentation feels invincible. Most mountain town rivers are running low and uberclear right now. Furthermore, blue skies and snowy banks make your shadow and own presence on the water louder than ever. To avoid spooking more fish I recommend wearing muted colors and limiting your false casts, I even let my drifts go longer in an effort to slow down my above water activity.

Regardless of spooking easily, the trout is at its laziest in cold water. They are lethargic and prefer to place themselves where currents are easy, and the conveyor belt of tiny bites is steady. Midges are my constant this time of year- black beauties, mercury midges, and a biot midge if you find the trout feeding closer to the surface. Darker colors over bright and flashy. Pair the midge with a black or dark brown stonefly. A small stonefly, 16 or 14, seems to work better than something larger.

My final tip, that I repeat often is

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2 Ways to Determine the Sex of a Trout

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Here are two ways to determine the sex of a trout.

Over the years, I’ve found that the majority of my clients have a hard time determining whether a trout they catch is a male or female. Below are two ways to quickly identify the sex of a trout.


One of best ways to distinguish the sex of a trout is to examine the mouth. Female trout all have a short rounded nose or upper jaw, while male trout have a more elongated snout. If your trout has a lower jaw with a kype, it’s a male for sure. Although the mouth of a female trout will grow larger as it ages and increases in size, the mouth will never grow a kype (hooked lower jaw). Upon becoming sexually mature, male trout will begin to grow a pronounced kype. At first, it will just be a tell-tale sign, but as a male trout ages, its kype will become more pronounced. It’s important to point out that even for trout that aren’t sexually mature, an angler can look at the mouth of a trout and see either a uniform mouth with a short rounded nose (female), or a elongated snout with a slightly longer lower jaw (male).


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Shea Gunkel’s Radiation Baetis

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By Bob Reece

The creation of some fly patterns results purely from the need to fill a niche.

Others however, result from a blending of emotions and experience. This latter path of development leads signature Umpqua tyer Shea Gunkel to the creation of his Radiation Baetis.

Moms are in integral part in many of our lives. A couple years ago, Shea received news that his mom had been diagnosed with cancer. His heartfelt emotion drove him to create a new pattern, the original highlighted with pink, in an effort to raise awareness for cancer and show support for his mom.

The earlier versions of this bug were often pinned in hats and sweaters, where they made frequent trips to chemotherapy treatments. As time passed, Shea began to see the pattern in an additional light. After fishing it heavily and sharing samples with guides around Colorado, on the water success stories began to flow in. Shea then

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Bonefish Fly Lines: Beyond The Cast

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By Louis Cahill

Does having the right fly line mean catching more fish? Absolutely.

Having the right fly line for the species you’re targeting and the conditions you’re fishing is key for a successful day of fishing. You can buy a line from almost any manufacturer bearing the name ‘Bonefish’ but that doesn’t mean it will be the best line for the day you are on the water. It may do a great job of loading your fast action saltwater fly rod, but not catch you a lot of fish.

When shopping for a fly line, we focus almost completely on how the line casts. Of course it’s important to have a good cast but often it’s too late when we stop to think about how the line we chose fishes, and there are some big differences. This, of course, applies to all types of fishing but is especially pertinent to bonefishing, so I’m using that as an example.

It’s very common these days to see anglers over-line their fly rods. Putting a 9-weight line on an 8-weight rod absolutely makes it easier to load, but that ease of casting may come at a price. I fished recently with an angler who had paired his Sage One 8-weight with a 9-weight RIO Outbound Short. He liked it because it felt like his Winston trout rod. The only problem was, he couldn’t catch a fish.

There are three things wrong with this setup. First, the head diameter on that line is huge! It casts a huge shadow and makes a thunderous racket every time it lands on the water. It spooked every fish on the flat. Secondly, the short head meant that he had to strip the line in completely every time he recast. There’s no time for that in bonefishing. You need a line you can pick up and recast quickly. Lastly, by slowing the action of his rod down to that of a trout rod, my friend had lost all of the benefits of having a fast action rod.

I’ve seen this problem go the other way, too. I tarpon fished with a buddy a while back who had chosen a RIO

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New Orvis Pro Bootfoot Wader and Pro Boot with Hybrid Sole

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Check out the new waders and wading boots from Orvis. Orvis has a couple of new options this year for your wading excursions. The Pro Boot is now available with a new and improved BOA system, as well as a hybrid sole that combines felt and rubber. The new Pro Wader now comes in zip-front and boot foot, for extra warmth in the winter. Watch the video for all the details on new Orvis Pro Boots and Waders. Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline 

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Don’t get yourself caught in a tight spot!

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By Justin Pickett


Recently, I headed up north with a great friend of mine to fish a small stream in north Georgia. Over the past couple of years this destination had become one of our favorite pieces of water. The main reasons being the number of large brown trout found there, and how it seemed one of us would hook up with one these large residents every time we wet a line in its waters.

That Spring day was perfect. Cool temps. Cloudy skies. The water was just a bit stained from the rain the night prior.

We headed straight for the section of stream where, historically, we’ve had the best luck hooking up with some nice brown trout. Fishing our way up through this section, we were coming up empty handed. Only a couple of eager rainbows had bent our rods during the first couple of hours.

We typically fish together with alternating casts and different rigs. This has always proven successful, but today I decided to depart from our usual method and jump ahead of my fishing buddy. Straying further upstream, I figured we’d just holler at each other should we need help with something.

I approached a run that just looked fishy as hell. A shallow section of water dumped into a deep bucket and then cut under the far bank, which was lined with rhododendrons. At the tail of the run a tree branched out over the water providing shade and cover. It had trophy trout sanctuary written all over it.

My euro-rig that day consisted of a #6 black stonefly nymph, trailed by a #6 Vladi worm, and I had them tied to 3x and 4x fluoro tippet respectively. To say, I have confidence in this tandem on days where the water is stained, is an understatement.

On the second drift through the meat of this run, my rod translated a solid thump in the line. I lifted the rod tip and set the hook hard, and immediately I can feel

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How to Keep Your Polarized Sunglasses Like Brand New

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Look out micro-fiber cloths, there’s a new player in town
My polarized sunglasses are a critical piece of equipment in my fly fishing and guiding. I depend on them for keeping my vision clear and crisp, so I can untangle knots quickly, spot fish effectively and make precise presentations on the water. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m constantly having to clean the lens on my sunglasses on and off the water to keep them functioning at their highest level. In the past, I’ve depended primarily on using micro-fiber cloths to clean my polarized sunglasses. These micro-fiber cloths work pretty well, but after a while, they get packed full of dirt and grime or get saturated on those wet days, and start losing their effectiveness. I’ve got some micro-fiber cloths now that really don’t clean all that well, even after I’ve taken the time to wash them. Plus, I’m always trying to find a place to stow them in a safe place that’s free of dirt and dust, like a zip-lock bag.

Recently, my parents turned me onto Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes. You can purchase them at your local Walmart or Pharmacy (Rite-Aid or CVS), from $3-10 depending on the size of the box. I’ve fallen in love with these individually wrapped pre-moistened lens cleaning wipes, that are safe to use on your sunglasses, camera lens and electronics. It takes just a few seconds to unwrap one of these pre-moistened wipes, and do a quick once over on the gear you need cleaned. Almost instantly, it dries 100%, leaving you with a super clean surface that looks brand new. These days, before I head out for a day on the water, I quickly clean my polarized sunglasses with them, and then throw three or four more in my shirt or jacket pocket in case I need them. If you fish in saltwater,

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