This past weekend my brother John and I headed up to the U.P on a EPIC smallmouth trip. The idea was to leave early Friday to scout out three floats for the following days. After guiding late on one of our northern rivers it made it tough to get out super early. We were north bound by 9AM with the Clacka in tow!
The drive was fairly easy with only two stops along the way for gas and a sub for lunch. Once we reached our destination camp was set and the scouting mission was on!!!
Once camp was set it was time to map out our attack on the local bronze talent. With three maps and two GPS units this part was a piece of cake! The locals were very pleasent and our first float/ car spot of the trip was all set. TIME TO FISH!!!
With less than a hour to fish it was KVD style streamer fishing. Hitting the rocky banks was our best choice for such a short period of time and it paid off. John rolled a couple right off the bat as well as broke off on a toothy critter. Soon after he scored the first fish of the trip this average 16″ football. Soon after he hit another pike and smallmouth. 3 and out is how we roll. My turn…
Right out of the gate I stuck a decent walleye as well as a average smallie. After saying one more cast for the 4th or 5th time this 18 plus inch chunk decided to play. After a couple nice jumps John gave him the slip and what you see is the result. What a way to start our trip!!!
During our first evening we witnessed over a half dozen free jumping sturgeon up to 4ft below the dam. One was 3 feet off my oar blade. Not a soul in site!
After tangling with a couple pike it was clear that we would run into break offs during our trip. The majority of the first night was spent around the fire crankin out both weighted and unweighted murdich minnows. Bell’s Oberon was the drink of choice!
One of several pike we managed to slip in the Fisknat. Plenty of break offs and heart stopping takes right at the boat. John had a fish on that was 40″ plus as well as another that sharked the fly in the 4 foot range. No joke! When we go back were planning on fishing Pike for a whole day. 9 and 10wt sticks with heavy fluorcarbon tippets.
John launching one off the bow
Rock solid U.P. Bronze that loved the Single Fly Cray
Schultzy’s Single Fly Crayfish
Hook: Daiichi 2546 Size 1-4
Colors: Combo of Brown, Olive, Crayfish Orange, Gold & Sand Variant
Thread: GSP 100 or equivalent
Weight: Dumbell Eyes tied on top Clouser Style
Stinger Loop: 30lb Original Berkley Fireline (The stiff stuff)
Under Flash: Gold or Copper Flashabou
Legs: 6-8 Brown or Olive Hot Orange tipped rubber legs
Pinchers: 2 Rabbit strips or pine squirrel tied in on both sides
Body: Wrapped rabbit strip
Collar: Wood Duck or Mallard Flank
Head: Rabbit cut off the hide. Then spun in dubbing loop and wrapped in a figure 8 around the eyes. I use a wire brush to tease out the trapped hairs.
One of the coolest things in smallmouth fishing is what we call the “Wake and Take”. It’s when you make a shot to shallow water and the fish wakes right to your fly and destroys it! This happend a lot on our trip. Didn’t matter if we were fishing streamers or poppers these northern bronze backs were aggressive.
During our our first full day of fishing we covered 10 miles of river along the way we saw plenty of Bald Eagles, Osprey, Turkey and Deer. The Sturgeon were plentiful as well. We ended our float with 20 or so smallies and nearly as many pike in the net. Pike break offs were common due to 15lb fluorocarbon tippets.
I had 100% confidence in our presentations and fly patterns. This river was capible of more! Day 3 would be a different story.
Ahhh what do you do when your battery dies in the north woods? First you hook up your Die Hard portable power. When that smokes and the wires melt you get on your bike and ride it until you get a signal. Then you call USAA. Within 45 minutes good old Mike from L&M Towing was at the scene with a very nice $300 AC Delco portable jumper system. Just like fly fishing products you get what you pay for! After filling out the paperwork and slipping Mike a tip it was off to the river.
Like I said today would be different. I was on the sticks to start and John was putting shots in the right spots as soon as I pulled anchor. Five smallies and a pike in the first 100 yards. You can’t make a guy go 3 and out with a run like that! Looks like this was going to be one of those days.
After catching over 20 on streamers it was clear that the fish were very aggresive today. I tied on my Clown Show popper and hit several fish 17″ or better right off the bat. This DUKER did the old wake and take. I won’t soon forget it! Cast… One pop… Wake…. Wait…. Pop and EXPLOSION!!! I even had time to look at John and say watch this.
Different fish cool view
John with one of the 50 plus we tagged on day 3
Gotta love sticking bronze on hopper man!
This single day of fishing was well worth the 14 hours in the truck. Several fish in the 18 plus inchs range were landed. We didn’t break the 19″ mark during our trip but they are there. These are the hardest fighting smallies I’ve ever experienced. Sorry Lake St. Clair or Erie and our homewaters of the Flint, Shiawassee and Huron. These dudes would drown you!!! Just like Lake Superior Steelhead these fish are tough. A short summers and harsh winters are the norm. If you make the trip north please handle these beauties with care and release ALL of your smallies.
Fish like these are special! A reasource that wouldn’t take much to ruin.
On our way back to camp I hit a deer! The EPIC day and zero deductable made for a chill evening despite the damage to my rig. Support your local body shop! Thanks Superior Collision of Ann Arbor. He he
Day 4 had us picking up where we left off. The fish were still eatting very good and the weather was unreal. Time to loose the farmers I mean fishing tan.
Day 4 was pretty darn good! The popper was again KING and a boat load of smallies were landed during our half day float. By 4PM we were headed back home with some great stories and memories.
This trip was one that will never be forgotten! It wasn’t about the fish, It was about spending time with my brother in the north woods of our great state of Michigan. There will be several changes coming to our family in the near future. John is getting married August 6th to his long time girlfriend Kendall and Allie and I are expecting our first child in November. Although future trips are a sure thing this one was special! If you have a brother, sister or close loved one that you don’t get to spend a lot of time with take take them fishing this summer. You won’t regreat it!
Schultz Outfitters will host a trip to these waters July of 2012 with Tim Landwehr and his team of guides at Tight Lines Fly Shop in De Pere, Wisconsin. If you’re interested shoot us a note. 4 of the 7 slots have already been filled. Date coming SOON!!!
Local Southern Michigan fishing has remained good dispite the low clear water conditions. Eirik, Aaron and I are on the water daily. Big numbers in the net has been the norm for the past 3 weeks. Our annual Hex and Ephoron (White Fly) hatches should start any day now. Give us a shout! Several new dry fly programs for late summer smallies.
Mike Schultz Warmwater Open Dates for 2011
August 23, 24, 25, 29 & 31
September 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13 & 16
Eirik and Aaron have openings as well!
Please call or email Eirik Vitso to set up a trip this week… I’m Alaska bound in 7 hours!!!
Due back Thursday July 28th
Goodnews River Lodge here we come!!!
- The Shiawassee's BACK!
- Summer SLAMMIN!!!
- Just a little High Water
- A day with Dad and Father
- U.P. Trout Trip w/ Brad Petzke's Rivers North Guide Service