River Report - July 13, 2017
"All men are equal before fish." - Herbert Hoover
June has come and gone, and July is reaching its tipping point. The major cycles of the hatch season have tapered, and the dog days are upon us. It's time to switch gears.
Now don't get me wrong... I love hatch season. I love chasing brown trout into the evening hours. I love the rythmic rise of happy fish. But I also love diversity. I love brook trout. And I love exploration.
In my opinion, the summer switch is what seperates the men from the boys. During hatch season, especially hex...and with the continued advancement of technology...anyone can be a hero. Go out enough nights, hit enough spinner flights, and eventually you'll be rewarded with big fish. That's awesome. Take a picture or two, keep it dripping wet and consider good C & R practice, and get it back in the river. If you'd like...show your friends. But remember, humility is a virtue. Some of the best stories are of the "one that got away." If you do catch a 24"+ brown trout, you should be proud, but you shouldn't be arrogant. Catching a big fish does not make you a better angler; it makes you a successful one. Many of the "big trout" anglers know this... and their social media feeds seem somewhat void of big fish pictures during June...and by no means is it an indicator that they are being unsuccessful. Rather, they are preserving the remains of what they consider to be the morality of the pursuit - in that "all men are equal before fish."
Why do I bring this up? Because I'm a guide - an educator. I'm not perfect. I've flossed, dreged gravel, shined at night, etc...but eventually, I came to a realization that my goal is help create a better fly angling world...not make it worse. That means keeping some things to ourselves. That means promoting good ethics. That means learning a river system in the daytime before trying it at night. And that means not killing trout in the effort to "prove" via a picture that I for one, am a better angler than you.
The hex season can be a wonderful time to be on the water. But it also brings out an egotism that has no place on trout waters. And hence, by the second week of July, combined with many sleepless nights, I always look forward to the summer switch.
Raise a 20"+ during the daytime...on a hopper...in August. Or put a mid-teener to hand on a morning trico hatch on 8x. Or pull a nice one out of a slot nymphing in gin clear water on a bluebird day. Or better yet... don't give a damn about the size of the fish... and go catch a few beautifully painted headwaters brook trout...or chase bass on a popper... or just go FISHING & enjoy a day on the water!
Brook trout predominate during the daytime hours with lightweight rods and even lighter tippets. Morning tricos and olives will test your wills. Brook trout are still one of my favorite pursuits. They are beautiful. But their beauty doesn't just show in the colors on their fins. It shows the history of Michigan. It shows remnants of the last ice age. It shows determination in the face of logging, habitat destruction, and overfishing. And with constant looming environmental threats and a world set on instant gratification, it shows that beauty...True Beauty... can still be found in little hidden spring creeks in the form of a painted petite char willingly rising to take a fly.
Need something else? Throw the skunks and hoppers to move bigger fish from the wood. Carp & bass hold a very important place for the angler who wishes to get away from the river. And bluegill on a glass rod is not something to be scoffed at.
Versatility is the quintessential key to summer fly fishing in Michigan.
This is what seperates the men from the boys.
Enjoy the warm weather, and make time for the river.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn."
~ Chuck Clark