Getting Ready for Fall Fishing

Fall is one of the best times of the year to fish.  The hot days and warm nights turn to warm days and cool nights.  The green leaves turn to oranges, reds and yellows and the salmon start their annual pilgrimage into the Muskegon, Grand, White and Kalamazoo Rivers as well as and other tributaries.  Smallmouth bass and northern pike become even more aggressive as they fatten up for the long winter.

With the salmon pilgrimage the fall steelhead follow as they find a food source, salmon eggs, in the rivers along with other aquatic insects and smolt.  They stay in the systems until they migrate back out into Lake Michigan in the spring after they spawn.  Trout are on the prowl as well, fattening up for winter on the abundant biomass in the area river systems.

During this time it’s important to use multiple techniques to maximize your success on the rivers.  There are various techniques that can be used but here are some that we prefer.

Fly Fishing:

  • Chuck-n-Duck:  The Chuck-n-Duck method can be used for salmon, trout and steelhead.  With salmon, once they enter the upper river systems and start to spawn, they no longer feed.  As a result, they will no longer eat your presentation.  At this point, the goal of this technique is to “line” the fish in the mouth as the flies drift into their path to hook and then land them.  With steelhead and trout this method can be effective in the deeper holes and pools.  If you see fish spawning, please remember to not target the females on their redds and to fish the pocket water.   The pocket water typically will hold trout, and male salmon and steelhead.  If you remove the female off her redd she will be exhausted and stressed from the fight and may no longer have the energy to spawn, thus effecting future populations.
  • Streamers:  Streamer fishing involves using either floating or sink-tip lines tied to leaders with descending strength to a fly that looks like a smolt, minnow, or another form of baitfish.  With this method the fly is “stripped” through the water and as it is stripped imitates a moving baitfish.  Typically the predator fish will instinctively react to the movement and strike the streamer in an aggressive bite.
  • Indicator / Bobber: This technique involves using floating line tied to leaders with descending strength to tippet.  In order to get your fly/flies down, various size split shot is used.  The bobber is positioned on the leader so it can be adjusted to the changing river depth. If the bobber goes down you have a bite.  The bobber don’t lie.  This form of fishing is much more subtle than streamer fishing and is used when the water temperature is much colder and the fish are lethargic.

Center Pin:

  • Centerpin fishing, also called float fishing, is a fishing technique which uses a centerpin rod, a centerpin reel, and spawn, skein, an artificial fly or bead coming off of a leader of various descending strengths to tippet.   Centerpins are designed to freespool line off the reel and allow for a natural downstream drift of your float presentation without any interruption.  In order get the line down, various size split shot are used to keep the line vertical in the water column for a natural presentation of the fly, bead or bait.

Crankbaits & Plugs:

  • Plugs are a popular type of hard-bodied fishing lure. They are widely known by a number of other names that include crankbait, wobbler, thundersticks, minnow, shallow-diver and deep-diver. The term minnow is usually used for long, slender, lures that imitate baitfish, while the term plug is usually used for shorter, deeper-bodied lures which imitate deeper-bodied fish. Shallow-diver and deep-diver refer to the diving capabilities of the lure, which depends on the size and angle of the lip, and lure buoyancy.  These lures are used when an anchored boat is positioned upstream and the lures are dropped off the back of the boat about 60 to 120 ft depending on the depth of the hole.  The current will take the lure back and once the the line set, will “dive”/ wobble to trigger a strike.
  • Crankbaits are another deadly technique for catching fish.  This technique involves casting toward the bank and positioning your rod downstream and slowly retrieving the lure.  During the first stages of the salmon run in the lower sections of rivers this can elicit and violent strike.

What ever method or technique you use, make sure to get out on the river and enjoy this time.  It only comes once a year and life is way to short to not enjoy it and catch fish. Tight lines all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing Report

July 22, 2017:

The Grand River continues to run stained in the middle sections but it is coming down. Hopefully, if the rain can hold off for awhile, clarity should improve.  Water temps were in the low 80’s this past week but with the rain we had last night and couple of cloudy days the water is now back in the upper 70’s

River traffic is next to nothing.  As a matter of fact, many days we are the only boat on the water and only share it with a few bald eagles, osprey, king fishers, herons and some deer.

With that water being as stain as it is you’ll want to use streamers, articulated ones are working best.  Color combinations include, yellow brown, orange and green.  300 grain sink tip on an 9 ft 8 wt with a 4 foot 10 lb. leader has been working the best to get the fly down to where the fish are.  It’s a bit aggressive, and you may get lodge in some wood or rock, but it’s what’s producing right now.

When stripping, use slow, irregular retrieves so the fish has time to see the streamer as it goes by.  It’ll be difficult with the stained water but look for contours, seams and pockets to find fish.  You may have to make a few casts before one hits.  Remember, be patient, you want to cover as much water as possible and move as much water as possible to get the fish’s attention in these conditions.

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As the day progresses toward early evening switch to poppers.   Us a 4 ft. leader with floating line on a 6 wt with a fighting butt as your combination.  Yellow and green poppers seem to be working the best.  You’ll want to cast right up to the bank with these, as many of the fishing are tight up against it.

 

The Grand River has many different fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and northern pike.  At Werkman Outfitters, we take full advantage of that by chasing after multiple species using multiple techniques.  So come join us on the river and fish different.

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Phil Cusey Joins Werkman Outfitters

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We are excited to announce that Phil Cusey has joined the team at Werkman Outfitters. Phil is a veteran fly fishing guide of 25 years on the Grand, Muskegon and Kalamazoo rivers where he pursues salmon, stealhead, trout, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Phil is the past president of the West Michigan chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Michigan River Guides Association and enjoys introducing first timers to the sport of fly fishing. Phil and his wife live in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Werkman Outfitters Expands into Big Lake Charters

Werkman Outfitters has partnered with JJ Sportfishing Charters to provide their clients a one stop shop for guided fishing trips.  Werkman Outfitters is owned by Tom and Max Werkman and JJ Sportfishing Charters is owned by Jim Swanezy.

“We are excited about this partnership” says Tom Werkman.  “Jim and his crew bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with big lake fishing that few can duplicate.  To me it just made sense.  Our clients now have the opportunity to pursue salmon, steelhead and trout year-round from the river to Lake Michigan and back again.”

Salmon, steelhead and trout are migratory species and spend part of their life in Lake Michigan and then annually migrate into the river systems to spawn.

“There are times that our clients would like to try something different and now we can work with Werkman Outfitters to make that happen.” Swanezy stated.  “We are very happy with Tom and Max and what they offer.”

Werkman Outfitters is a full service guide company in Grand Haven, Michigan whose home waters include the Grand River, the White River and the Muskegon River.  Werkman Outfitters not only pursues salmon, steelhead and trout but also large and smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye using multiple fishing techniques and gear.

Swanezy has been a charter boat captain since 1995 and has over 35 years of experience fishing Lake Michigan.  He and his crew have many top finishes in fishing tournaments through out the Lake Michigan basin.

JJ Sportfishing’s home port is Yacht Basin in Holland, Michigan.  Jim uses a 34 foot Pursuit that is fully equipped for the ultimate fishing experience.  He pursues salmon, steelhead and lake trout from April to September.

 

Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine

Thank you Michigan Out-of -Doors Magazine for publishing my article on Spring Trout and Steelhead fishing.  As a guide and outfitter, I feel that west Michigan has some of the best rivers around to pursue my client’s addiction to chasing these fish.  The tug, is definitely the drug.  I am proud to call The White River, The Muskegon River and The Grand River my home waters.

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Guide Profile – Max Werkman

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Four years ago, I received an email message from Max Werkman.  I have saved this email as it is a constant reminder to me, and I refer back to it in times when I ponder what direction the sport and industry of fly fishing is heading in.  With a new generation that is typically pre-occupied with tweeting cat videos, posing half naked on Instagram, spending their time with their noses buried in their phones, or trying to level up in the most recent Xbox game – there are young men and women out there like Max.  As long as we have people like Max involved in this sport and industry, we will be in good shape.  I won’t share with you the entire email, but here’s how it begins;

My name is Max Werkman,  I’m 15 years old and I live in Holland Michigan. I love fly fishing and I always…

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The Crude Facts- Line 5

We are proud to be associated with Patagonia, Bell’s Brewery, Brewery Vivant, and many other great businesses, in the Great Lakes Business Network in our efforts to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinaw.  Line 5 is owned by Enbridge and is beyond its useful life.  If a spill were to occur in the Straits, it would have a negative effect on the environment and the local businesses that are tied to clean water in the Great Lakes.

As a company, we feel it is important to make a commitment to the communities we serve.  We believe, that as we benefit from a healthy environment we should help to ensure that it stays that way.  That’s why we donate to the preservation and improvement of Michigan’s wild fisheries and this cause falls within our commitment.

Why has Werkman Outfitters lent its support.  Here is our statement:

“Being from southwest Michigan, we saw the ecological and economic damage that occurred as result of Enbridge’s Line 6 B spill in the Kalamazoo River. Although the clean up has restored the habitat we feel a spill in the Straits would be far worse and more difficult to clean up.  For us, having a healthy wild fishery in the Great Lakes is critical to our livelihood. If a spill were to occur it will effect wild populations of salmon, steelhead and trout not only in the Straits, but as they are migratory, through out the Lake Michigan / Lake Huron basin. In addition, the native smallmouth bass and carp populations that live along the flats in the area will be negatively effected.”

Check out Great Lakes, Bad Lines for more information.  Will you join us in this effort to protect the the Great Lakes?

Stay Thirsty My Friends

I’m not one to really talk about politics and I would rather just fish but this has caught my attention.  If you are not aware of this Nestle has applied for a permit form the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to increase the amount of ground water it can withdraw from its plant near Stanwood, Michigan.   Currently, they can withdraw up to 200,000 gallons per day and if the DEQ approves the new permit that amount could go to 576,000 gallons per day.  Just to put things in perspective, that’s 210,000,000 gallons per year.

 

What is frightening and disturbing about this is the aquafer that Nestle wants to pump this from feeds the Muskegon River.  The Muskegon River is home to world class runs of Chinook, Steelhead, Coho and Trout.  Not to mention Smallmouth Bass, Walleye and Muskie and Northern Pike.

 

Now I am no “scientist” or “engineer” but it seems to me that if you draw 210,000,000 gallons per year from an aquafer that supports the Muskegon River it will have adverse impacts on the fishery, which will impact those of us that make a living on the river from guiding.

 

In addition all of this just smell like rotting dead salmon.  The computer models that the MDEQ uses spit out that, if approved, the withdrawals would adversely impact the watershed.  So once the DEQ had this information what did they do, not deny it but overrode the models and approve the permit, until the public found out about it.  Oh, that was sneaky.  Maybe that’s because Nestlé’s chief spokesperson on this is Deb Muchmore, who is married to Gov. Snyder’s former Chief of Staff and is a registered lobbyist.

 

Given MDEQ’s history of handling water in Michigan all I can say is….contact the DEQ at deq-eh@michigan.gov  and tell them to not approve the permit .  If you don’t or this gets approved, we can all stay thirsty my friends.