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> > A couple days on the PM

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RogueratOctober 15th, 2015, 4:32 pm
Posts: 451
I spent last weekend and Monday exploring the Pere Marquette river on the 'flies-only, no-kill' stretch west of Baldwin, MI. This was only my second time on the PM and my first Fall trip so I'm still on a pretty steep learning curve regarding King salmon and all- especially how they take off like a hooked locomotive and pop tippet like it was soggy string. A fair number of bumps, some hookups, nothing brought to net- but there's always next time.

The attached pictures say a lot more...the river was beyond beautiful.

Roguerat

'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
Kschaefer3October 15th, 2015, 5:46 pm
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Wow! Is that ever beautiful! I need to go there sometime...sooner than later.
RogueratOctober 15th, 2015, 6:31 pm
Posts: 451
That's yours-truly in the third image, wondering what the heck I'm supposed to be doing while a well-meaning kibbutzer (white T-shirted guy in the bushes) yelled advice. I felt like a kid in the proverbial candy store, so many fish in the river...hen salmon in the holes trying to spawn, browns right on the tails of the salmon (literally inches away) waiting for an errant egg or two, and almost sensory overload for this ADD addled novice.

crazy fun!
SmugglerOctober 16th, 2015, 10:42 am
Lebanon, Pa

Posts: 16
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
Www.flymphforum.com
PartsmanOctober 16th, 2015, 6:14 pm
bancroft michigan

Posts: 290
Nice, I was up grouse hunting a few days ago and stopped by the Ausable below foote damn, not much going on there at that time. What a beautiful time of the year to be outdoors in Michigan. Its a shame it only last for a few short weeks.
CrenoOctober 16th, 2015, 8:03 pm
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 298
I love the color of that stream. I grew up on the PM in the '60s - cabin at Ruby Creek on the SF and the Baldwin clubs the rest of the time. Is there still a dam/obstruction below Baldwin keeping the salmon out of the upper portion of the main stem? I was part of the salmon introduction years and I have to say it really trashed the fishing overall.
RogueratOctober 17th, 2015, 8:55 am
Posts: 451
I didn't see any diversionary dams, wing-walls, rip-rap etc. other than bank structures on the outside bends to prevent erosion; not to say these weren't there in the '60s, though.


To my knowledge the PM never got a 'real' dam- too low a gradient for hydroelectric power needs.

I did fish the Baldwin R upstream at Bray Creek and someone installed a DIY rock thing or two there, trying to make holes and holding water?
WbranchOctober 25th, 2015, 12:52 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2611
Does this section of river get a good steelhead run?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
RogueratOctober 25th, 2015, 4:50 pm
Posts: 451
Matt-

Yes, the PM is noted for its anadromous fish runs; steelhead follow salmon and lake-run Browns, and are just starting to show up now. I'm not sure if this follows for every Great Lakes trib (I've fished Michigan streams exclusively) but it takes a good rainfall and falling temperatures to raise the river and cool things down which triggers the steelhead run in earnest. (and I just realized you already know this, d'oh)

Google 'Pere Marquette River reports' and see what comes up; most of the guide services are prompt to report river and fishing conditions.

sidebar, I just came back from a sunny Sunday afternoon on the Muskegon R below Croton dam- the water was low and clear and I could pretty much sight-cast to trout holding in the holes and behind rocks, no hookups though. Still a beautiful day to be on the river, colors were great and no work...

tight lines, and its an estimated 10 1/2 hour drive from Y & S, PA to the PM...cutting across Ontario, Windsor into Detroit, then I-96 NW to US-131 north, to US-10 west to Baldwin and the PM.

Roguerat

'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
WbranchOctober 25th, 2015, 10:35 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2611
Roguerat,

Firstly is that an invitation?

but it takes a good rainfall and falling temperatures to raise the river and cool things down which triggers the steelhead run in earnest.


Yep, that is exactly what is needed on the Erie creeks to trigger a significant run. A few fish come up without that rain event but the major run requires pretty much a major blow out rain event to clear out the debris that has accumulated at the mouths of the creeks and clear a path for the fish to come through.

I've been tracking the reports daily and lots of chrome is being caught at the mouths of many of the streams but all of that is frog water suitable only for 10' - 12' noodle spin rods and floats. Most guys just wear hip boots and stand on the bank and cast out into the middle and watch the drift of the float.

There is going to be at least an inch of rain this week and periodic showers next week for a few days. I'm packed and ready to go. Right now I'm thinking of going up Monday morning (next week) and returning on Friday. It is a 5 1/2 hour 330 mile drive for me and one I prefer to take with a buddy to split the cost of gas and motel and share the driving.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
RogueratOctober 26th, 2015, 10:38 am
Posts: 451
Matt,

More intended as driving directions to a truly beautiful stream, if you ever head Michigan way. Ditto on rain since we're forecast to get the fallout of the big storm that hit Mexico- this ought to raise river levels and get things going.

Roguerat
OldredbarnOctober 26th, 2015, 10:45 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
Rougerat & Matt,

I just returned from two days on the PM myself. As stated above I seemed to be early...Floated one day Upper Branch Bridge to Walhalla and then down nearer to Pere Marquette Lake and Lake Michigan (corrected!)...:)

Water low and crystal clear up river, dark and deep down below.

Day one there were many spawning Kings about and some dead and dying salmon...We stopped for lunch and sat in the boat and watched a huge female working a redd with many large to small bucks trying to get lucky below her. At one point a big male just decided to start leaping out of the water non-stop...It was a hoot...He basically wore himself out...Maybe a last hurrah? He was tilty after and looked like he may be done. I thought he was going to jump up on the bank or in our boat.

I hooked one steelhead that gave me two wonderful leaps and as I fiddled with an unfamiliar reel, trying to adjust drag, I basically gave him too much line and he broke off as he crashed into a submerged tree...Considering how hard it was for me to free myself from snags with that heavy test, it was remarkable to me that he snapped me off!

Basically floated egg flies and small streamers...Sometimes two flies and other times one depending on depth and underwater crap.

I got to Spey cast a great deal on day two and was surprised on the length of the drifts I was able to get...The lower water is wide open, a delta really, and very deep.

Did some indicator fishing day one. On day two Spey and chuck-and-duck, or as my guide called it, "chuck-and-plunk", I called it chuck-and-plink. :)

I pounded the water for two days...Suffered from what my guide called LOF "Lack-of-Fish"...Next year I'm set up for early September sometime.

My guide thought he was ruining Mr. Dry Fly for trout fishing. He said he was showing me the "dark-side". :) The next day I was walking the pier in Ludington and watched the boys on the pier...I may post some pics...Thinking I need a big old open face reel and a few feet on that pier to myself. ;)

In the late 50's, as a dink, I fished off the piers in Manistee and Frankfurt...For buckets of perch...This was just prior to the big fish plants in the great lakes taking hold...

There is some concern that the salmon in the Great Lakes may be fading out...Little DNR support in terms of planting numbers...Bait fish stocks under pressure. Maybe something like Lake Huron the last few years.

Had a wonderful time on the river though. The Fall colors were great, being on the river learning new techniques, and conversation with a serious angler...Can't beat it.

Also struck out on my birding in Ludington State Park...I not only beat the steelies up, but also the Fall migratory waterfowl...Hiked one day up the beach to the lighthouse at Big Sable Point.

Spence
"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
WbranchOctober 26th, 2015, 10:47 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2611
Since the Great Lakes steelheading seems so dependent on rain in many of the streams I fish I think I better stay in the PA/NY waters since it is hard enough to time a good trip when the water is 5/6 hours away let alone 10/11 hours.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
RogueratOctober 26th, 2015, 2:12 pm
Posts: 451
Spence-

"Lake Erie?!'

I gotta' convince you to spend more time on the west half of the Mitten State...just joking, since you've got the rest right with Little Sable light, Ludington SP and all. I agree on the foliage, I've rarely seen fall colors like this year and I'm a 61 yr old Michigander.

You're right about the lack of stocking by MDNR, if I read the number correctly things are steadily decreasing by the year; I heard from an unreliable source that a) the alewife population in L Michigan is down so the forage base is down, so the migratory fish population is down, and b) by decreasing artificial means of support self-sustaining native populations should increase in a given stream.

Spey-casting looks like a blast, I'll try to pm you on this...I was on the Muskegon Sunday and looking at a 150' wide river had me wishing for a Spey rod and the skill to use it.

Roguerat

'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
RogueratOctober 26th, 2015, 4:45 pm
Posts: 451
My turn to correct things :) Little Sable Point is above Mears and Pentwater, not Ludington (and I was in Ludington only 2 weeks ago, also at the SP and all).

Back to fishy things, I'm researching spey rods and setups for them; lines, casting variations (lots going on here- all kinds of ways to cast), and online videos. I'm thinking combined Christmas and Father's Day present/investments, should cover a good rig. A good friend has a switch-rod and I may bum this off him for a cast or three, see what it's all about.

Roguerat
OldredbarnOctober 26th, 2015, 5:06 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
Rougerat...Thanks for spotting that...I must be burnt out after all the fishing, hiking, and driving! Lake Erie, indeed?! I corrected it...Wow!

61, eh? Me too. :) Maybe that explains the mistaking of Michigan with Erie...;)

I'm the corresponding secretary for the Michigan Fly Fishing Club...I have to set up speakers for our monthly meetings and the guest speaker for our banquet in May...I usually get to have dinner with the speakers prior to the meeting and have been very lucky to get to spend time with some of the better guides here in Michigan.

I get to pick their brains for an hour or so...Michigan steelhead have been on my mind for a long time, but when I worked I had only so much time off and that was it...Chasing trout with matching the hatch bugs has been my thing and when push came to shove, the trout won out.

Now that I'm retired I have been trying to catch up a bit...

I skipped a visit west this year and spent my time exploring some of the Michigan rivers I've always wanted to check out...This summer I fished on my Au Sable quite a bit...both up in the upper river near Grayling and below Mio. I fished for smallmouth at the tip of the thumb in May up in Port Austin. I fished the Manistee a couple times. Did a night fishing trip on the Sturgeon. Then this trip to the Pere Marquette.

I set my prejudice aside, and pre-conceived notions about angling to try some new stuff and see it for myself. I was lucky to do it with very knowledgeable folk. Some of them have known me for quite sometime as a dry fly guy and took some pleasure in claiming they were ruining me for trout, or turning me to the "dark-side"...:)

I have fished all my life and didn't start fishing with a fly rod exclusively until 1991. All these experiences give me something more to take back to my match-the-hatch obsession and hopefully make me a better angler.

You spoke of the Mighty Muskegon...I had dinner a few months ago with Kevin Feenstra...Two old Dutchmen swapping fishing stories...It was a treat! Two years back at our clubs Fly Fishing Expo I got to walk around Rick Kustich for two days, author of "Advanced Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead".

I fished with Ed McCoy on the Manistee. He guides out of Hawkins. Two years in a row he's put me and a friend over 20"+ Browns.

The last speaker we had at our club meeting was Jeff "Bear" Andrews...He's 61 also :)...He spoke about Labrador Brook Trout and tied a wulff pattern in his hands after without a vice in honor of Lee Wulff...His "Bears" Hex has been around here for ever and he's done his time on the stream for sure.

So...I've been picking the brains of all these Michigan Boys who chase steelhead and trying to get me a little of that action...My guide on the PM was Kevin Morlock...He jammed all he could into this old brain in two days of covering the water. He and I met some years back at the Great Lakes Council's Fly Tying Expo up near Lansing...He guides in the summer up on Beaver Island for smallmouth and carp...My sister-in-law has a place up there and I have stopped by Kevin's lodging up there to empty his frig of beers. :)

Rouge...You and I are lucky here in Michigan...We couldn't possibly cover all the water you and I have here...But it's nice trying, eh?! :)

Spence

"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
OldredbarnOctober 26th, 2015, 5:14 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
My turn to correct things :) Little Sable Point is above Mears and Pentwater, not Ludington (and I was in Ludington only 2 weeks ago, also at the SP and all).

Back to fishy things, I'm researching spey rods and setups for them; lines, casting variations (lots going on here- all kinds of ways to cast), and online videos. I'm thinking combined Christmas and Father's Day present/investments, should cover a good rig. A good friend has a switch-rod and I may bum this off him for a cast or three, see what it's all about.

Roguerat


You need to get in touch with Glenn Blackwood at Great Lakes Fly Fishing Co over in Rockford near you...He gave a talk at our club a couple years back about Spey and Skagit lines etc...Over my head, but he knows his stuff...Whenever I'm looking for a rare angling book he's found it for me.

Spence
"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
WbranchOctober 26th, 2015, 5:28 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2611
Spence,

61, eh? Me too. :) Maybe that explains the mistaking of Michigan with Erie...;)


What are you going to do when you get to my age of 72? You might of become so absent minded that you might forgot to put your pants on or if your still able (haha) to fish forget your fly reel.

I can still jack ass a 400# Hyde drift boat off, and back on, to the trailer after an all day, ten mile, float where I often row back upstream through a good pool.

Walk two miles through the woods to get to an out of the way steelhead pool and then have to drag myself back to the car before it gets dark. Admittedly by the time I get back to the car it is tough to get the Simms off and as soon as I get back to the motel I heat something up in the microwave and am asleep by 8:00. But God willing I'll still be doing it when I'm 82.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
OldredbarnOctober 26th, 2015, 6:13 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
But God willing I'll still be doing it when I'm 82.


Amen, brother!
"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
WillyOctober 30th, 2015, 5:35 pm
Chicago, IL

Posts: 47
Getting into the spey game is dangerous. I dabbled before I moved to Oregon, but now I'm all in (though my recent trip to the Deschutes included about 25 hours of swinging for one fish and about an hour of nymphing with a trout rig for two steelhead). I highly recommend Skagit Master. It's a paid site with videos and a forum that can teach you a ton about casting and fishing. What a lot of guys miss is that the casts are just the beginning... it's how you fish the fly that really matters. A lot of guys think that you just cast the fly really far and hang on until it swings all the way down. That works... but there are a lot of things you can do to make it work better.

I found a guide out here named Tom Larimer when I first visited OR in 2006 (he's recently stopped guiding to take a job with Loomis). He's from WI and guided in MI, but moved out here in the early 2000s. A few trips with him this past winter really got me up on the Skagit game. A lot had changed in terms of equipment since I had fished with him in 2006. Gearing up is way more technical that single handed fishing. Understanding line types and head types and fly types and everything else pretty much requires a PhD. If you're going to invest in the gear, invest in spending time on the water with someone who can show you how to do it right. Otherwise you'll be running around with 3-4 feet of extra rod and not fishing any more effectively.
Check out my fishing pictures on Instagram.

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