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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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Oldredbarn has attached these 12 pictures. The message is below.
A fishing friend, George, wading in the bay.
There is the remnents of a wall/road out there that was used to transport stone to Grindstone City to the right out of the frame.
Water levels down in Great Lakes. This used to be under water.
One of our members...I thought I was hard to get off the water..."Just one more cast dear." ;) This fella can fish!
There were 40 of us in all. It was pre tourist time here. We owned the town and the Bay...There were two motels next to each other and we filled them both.
Check out the clear weighted part of that Rio Outbound line.
One of the spawning beds.
This used to be under water. You now walk through this to get to the Bay. It is on the other side of this.
The remains of a boat or barge sunk in the Bay.
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Jun 2, 2013June 2nd, 2013, 7:12 am EDT
The Michigan Fly Fishing Club has an annual outing to Port Austin at the tip of the thumb to fish over spawning small-mouth in Eagle Bay.

When I left Detroit it was 84, but as soon as we reached the coastal area the temps dropped by nearly 20 degrees. We had an easterly wind the whole weekend. But everyone caught fish and had a wonderful time at the two "picnics" we had...

The theory: As the water temps rise in spring the male small-mouth move in to the shallows and clean off beds/nests that look like 3-4 foot dark circles that can be seen from a distance. The females gather in deeper water and wait for either the mood to move them or the proper water temps and then they move in to these nests made by the males.

The males defend these beds like junkyard dogs, and anything tossed near these areas get smacked in an attempt to move it away and protect the nest. There are many things that feed on the eggs and young fry from these areas so they have their work cut out for them.

Tackle: I used a 9' 7wt Loomis GL3 with a 8.5 Marryat reel. Mike Schultz at Schultz'z Outfitters in Ypsilanti MI helped rig up this dry-fly-guy for some fun and a trip back to the fishing of my childhood...He loaded the reel with a Rio Outbound line and a very short, for me anyway, leader.

The Outbound line zips! It is designed to be 2 line weights heavier than the rod used and is loaded in the front. You strip out past the clear head in to the fly line and the only thing that stopped the line from running out was the amount of line I had stripped out...Incredible! Mike gave me a line that was actually a 6wt line so I was one line weight heavier.

I asked him about leader and he pulled some spools off the wall...2' 25lb, 18" 20lb, and 2' 16lb...That was it. When I asked about tippet he laughed at me and said, "Spence. No tippet, rope!" :) When I used some of my smaller streamers I did work my way down to 3x. ;)

The water levels in the Great Lakes are way down...20 year lows etc. The access site used to be where the water started and there was a boat launch there. Now you have to walk a quarter to a half mile to actually get to the water. You folk know I'm a talker, get it from my grandpa who chatted with everyone where ever he went...so, in my conversations with the locals I got a zillion reasons for the water problem from global warming, dredging the shipping channels, little ice in winter allowing evaporation to occur with wind etc wisping the water away, to the "end of days"...:)

My first fish was a Gar Pike as long as my arm! I wasn't ready for this fish and thought I'd forgotten to set the drag...No. This fish can run...Once I got some control I worked the fish back about halfway and the fish turned to my left so I got a nice look at it and the fly popped out. I have never held one in my hand, but their weird mouths are all bone and teeth and there is little for the hook to grab...There are yarn flies designed to catch this fish where the yarn actually gets entangled in their teeth allowing the angler to land it.

We also saw schools of skittish carp...a few were caught...

We were a tad early I think this time around to the spawning beds. The cooler spring has slowed things down...We saw males everywhere on the beds, but I'm not sure I saw a female until the Sunday morning I was to leave and I stumbbled on what I thought was the hole where the females were staging prior to the spawn...Every fly I tossed in here had a fish attached...It was a blast! I had to leave to get to Grayling and decided to show a father and son from our group where I was fishing and off I went.

The land in the thumb is the flattest I've ever seen. Miles and miles of farm fields, wind mills, deer, and turkeys. Bay City is known here in this state as the place where our sugar comes from...:)

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Posts: 287
Feathers5 on Jun 3, 2013June 3rd, 2013, 6:20 am EDT
Can we fish for as some of those next year? Is there any bronzeback fishing near the trout fishing?

PS. There's a finger we fish near here, but it's not the thumb.
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jun 4, 2013June 4th, 2013, 4:43 am EDT
Very nice report, Spence! How was the wind?
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jun 4, 2013June 4th, 2013, 12:38 pm EDT
Hey Spence, been waiting on this report! Looks like you had a great time in spite of slightly less-than-ideal conditions. I bet those smallies bent that fly rod over hard! And yes, spring has been slow to warm this year. Up here in Oscoda things have been rather unstable as of late - one day I have to run my air, the next day the heat! Looking forward to reading your Grayling report next...

One reason that I have heard, that IS supposed to be legitimate, is that there used to be a rock wall at the head of the St. Clair River, right at the southern end of Lake Huron. This rock wall was apparently removed some years ago for shipping and the upper Great Lakes almost instantly dropped by one foot! So, that's the background and recently we've been having hot dry summers on top of that. Take it for what you will, that's what I have heard.


P.S. Smallies should soon be feeding on dry flies in the evenings on Cooke Pond if you want to get some of those in your favorite fashion...I know, I'm a dry-fly guy too...though, there is something electric in the strike of a smallie on a streamer! ;oD
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Jun 4, 2013June 4th, 2013, 3:26 pm EDT
P.S. Gar pike...

I think I may have told this story on here before, but one night in San Marcos, Texas, on the River at about 8:30 p.m. in February or March, I saw big swirls in the light from a building on the other side of the river. After launching several streamer patterns into them and getting nothing, I put on an elkhair caddis and threw that, thinking, monster sunfish??? Who knows what...well something slammed it and started tearing line off my reel, I had no idea what, I'm thinking great big bass?? Tilapia? (The San Marcos is spring-fed and in Texas that means 70 F year-round so there's quite a variety of fish in there...) Well, after one hell of a fight, I got a look at my opponent and it was a spotted gar about 20-24" long. His (her?) mouth looked like a pair of scissors, and I was up on a seawall about 3 or so feet above the water and had my doubts...tried to pull it up and SNIP went the leader...still one hell of a fun experience, especially at night when you really have no idea what is going on!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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