Thursday, December 30, 2010

Easy to Tie and Fish

Here is the Lucky Leech tube fly, a true guide pattern. Quick and easy to tie, you can't really fish it wrong, and will catch pretty much anything depending on the color. Here is the recipe:

Tube: Inch and half length of Eumer small tubing, heated on both ends.

Wing: Rabbit strip 3"-5" long in your favorite color, mix in some of your favorite flash material- mine is CascadeCrest Krinkle Mirror Flash.\

Head: Optional- I like to put in a few wraps of Schlappen and add a clump of Ice Dub

As you can see, color combinations are endless.

For swinging, I put the hook in a tippet loop and anchor the knot inside the tube. For stripping add a junction tube and seat the hook.

Swinging on the Salmon River

The recent warm spell has anglers out on the water all over the Great Lakes area. Here Patrick Ross, owner of The Angler's Lodge in Altmar, NY (315-298-6028) swings a run on the Salmon River for an end-of-the-year steelhead. Pat hosted JD, and dog-friends Wael Dardir and Jeff Liskay for a close up look at the river. Stay posted for final results!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dog Friends and Friendly Dogs

JD got an invite from Dog Friend Jay Reda (upper right), host of NE Ohio's Inside the Great Outdoors radio show for a snowy day goose hunt. Here are the results of yesterday morning's adventure in Geauga County with Jay, buddy Chris, and gang. Jay's hunting buddies, Grizz and Bruin, were kept happy and busy retreiving geese.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Reward for Hard Work and Preparation

Late-season duck hunting can take a lot of work, first to locate an area that is holding birds, then to be prepared for the conditions. Hunting on a day like this, when wind chills were below zero, requires dressing properly for comfort and safety. The reward can be be a trio of prime birds like this black duck and two mallards.

The Big Chill!!

With the cold and snow across the region, fishing has pretty much shut down for the time being. Good time to switch gears and try for some waterfowl. Although most of Sandusky Bay is frozen, there are scattered open patches of water that will attract puddle ducks and geese. A few decoys are all that is needed to attract birds under these conditions. Just be sure to dress warm so you can wait them out!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fly Fishing Loses a Great Friend

The fly fishing community as a whole and the Midwest area, in particular, lost a great friend recently with the passing of Tom Helgeson on November 12, 2010. Tom was Editor-In-Chief of Midwest Fly Fishing magazine, a wonderful publication that focused on fly fishing throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes area. Tom also ran the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expos in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Helgeson was an active steward of the environment and preserving the resources of the region. He had a passion for educating anglers and bringing young blood into the sport of fly fishing. It was my pleasure and honor to have known Tom and worked with him for many years. He will be missed by all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fly Fishing Southern Lake Michigan

JD is on a search for fly fishing guides working ON the Great Lakes. Recently he was able to hook up with Capt. Austin Adduci of Grab Your Fly Charters. Capt. Austin works the south end of Lake MI and does a season-long program that covers both warm water and cold water. He starts at ice-out in the spring and can work until freeze up. One of the unique species he targets is late-season lake trout. Not many places where you can cast a fly to lakers without going way-way north and spending beaucoup dinero.

Capt. A runs a Maverick flats skiff on the lake and will will offer float trips for smallies when the lake is too rough. Great guy, give him a shout!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Silver Bullet

This just-from-the-lake chromer has all the characteristics of a wild fish- lean, mean, and clean. All the fins are sharp and crisp with no deformities. Stream-born steelhead are available in all the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, where several Ontario and New York tributaries support substantial natural reproduction.

This fish taped 28 inches and found its way into Ohio's Grand River where it hit a swung grapefruit head purple rabbit tube.

Good Moon Rising

Here is the moon rise over the breakwall at Kewaunee, WI, harbor from a recent stop there. It was too windy to fish, so did a little tourist stuff instead.

Brown Town

Got a chance to fish with dog friend, Dave Pinchcowski near his home base in Milwaukee, WI. The WI shoreline of Lake Michigan has turned into brown trout mecca. When baitfish are not available, the browns will munch on gobies. This fish hit a classic Feenstra Emulator sculpin pattern while swinging a two-hander in a power plant discharge

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Product Testing- Somebody Has To Do It!

JD took an evening's worth of R n R to do a bit of product testing at the mouth of the Chagrin River. Here is a lake-fresh male steelhead that hit a new pattern he and Jeff Liskay have been throwing in river mouth and breakwall areas. Tied on the Eumer Jighead tube with a healthy amount of Cascade/Crest Krinkle Mirror Flash, the "Flash and Fall" pattern is proving productive. You can see the size 2 Daiichi 1640 hook firmly stuck in this chromers jaw and the fly has slid down leader, making unhooking the fish quick and simple.

JD was casting Scientific Angler's new Coastal Express line. A long, quick strip with a pause allowing the fly to "fall and flash" is triggering strikes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A New Tube From Eumer

Eumer has introduced a new tube into the North American market. The Eumer jighead tube has a keel-style design with the weight of the tube centered on the bottom. The fly will then ride and move similar to a pattern with weighted barbell eyes. The advantages of the tube pattern are the ability to interchange hook sizes and styles, replace a damaged hook without trashing the fly, and being able to run the hook stinger-style, back away from the body. Check out all the Eumer products at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The King of Swing

Muskegon River guide, Kevin Feenstra has had more influence on the use of streamer patterns for Great Lakes steelhead than any other single angler. His flies and tactics also produce fish beyond our region and he is gaining a wide reputation.

Kevin recently released a DVD Searching For Steelhead. In this production he takes the viewer through the how's and why's of swinging flies, gives fly patterns and tieing instructions, and shows these in use in both large and small stream situations. Every serious steelheader should watch this DVD!

For a quick look or to purchase Searching for Steelhead, go to You should also be able to find the DVD shortly in your local fly shop.

First Atlantic for WD

Dog friend, Wael Dardir hoists his first Atlantic salmon from the St. Marys River Rapids. Despite howling wind, four inches of rain, and dropping temps, Team Fish Dog prevailed- we have the technology. 50 Mph winds made swinging flies impossible, so the boys nymphed 'em up with green caddis and black stones under indicators.

Scott's 11 foot, 8-wt. A3 switch has proved to be a great multi-purpose rod for The Rapids.

Great Lakes Pink Salmon

Here is a pink salmon caught in the St. Marys Rapids. Pinks were introduced into the Great Lakes accidentally when their eggs got mixed in with Chinook and Coho that were being shipped out for stocking. They are now totally self-sustaining in several locations with the St. Marys being the focal point.

There is also talk of a Chinook-pink hybrid existing called the "Pinook". I have seen these fish and they look like a giant pink on steroids or a small, humpbacked Chinook, each ones seems a little different. I don't know if their existence has ever been verified or not. To view pinooks check Hawkin's Fly Fishing Outfitters website and go to the Garden River link.

Now That's a D Loop!

Jeff Liskay, Patagonia & SA Pro Staffer, forms a classic D loop and leans into a distance cast at the Great Lakes Spey Fest. The D loop in the line creates the weight to load the rod which then transforms stored energy into kinetic energy as the cast is made. Just a little Physics 101.
Jeff is using his Scott 14'6" 8-wt. T2H rod to reach for the stars.

Great Lakes Spey Fest 2010

Dog friend , Wael Dardir, aka "The Spey Ninja" competes in the distance competetion at the recent Great Lakes Spey Fest at Henning Park on the Muskegon River. Throwing from both right and left sides, Wael averaged 105 ft., good enough for second place. Congrats Wael and a good showing for Team Fish Dog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Farrell House Lodge

The spring creeks of northwest Ohio have some of the oldest private trout clubs in the United States. These streams originate from a huge aquifer laying beneath the limestone base that underlays much of the area. The clear, cold water supports lots of trout and year-round fly fishing opportunities.

Farrell House Lodge is located on two miles of the legendary Cold Creek. Overnight lodging packages are now available that can also include fishing access. The historic lodge has ten spacious guest rooms at several price levels. Different meal packages are also offered.

This is a great place for an overnight getaway with your significant other as in addition to world-class trout fishing there is also a lake with bass, bluegill, and tiger muskies on the property. Several wineries are close by and you are only a short drive from Sandusky Bay and the Islands area of western Lake Erie. Plenty to do for for anglers and non-anglers here. Check it out-

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Dog friend and SA Pro Staffer, Jeff Liskay, works out with the two-hander and a new Spey line from Scientific Anglers. Here he is using a Scott 12'6" 8-wt. T2H teamed up with a Scientific Anglers Skagit Extreme 640 gr. line. SA has revamped their whole lineup of Spey and Switch offerings and now has one most comprehensive lineups of lines on the market. Liskay will be a presenter at the Great Lakes Spey Fest coming up September 25 at Henning Park on the Muskegon River in Newaygo, MI.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A New Species on the Fly For Me

Here is a Central Quillback Carpsucker (Carpiodes cyprinus hinei) caught on a crayfish pattern from the Kokosing River and another species to add to the fly caught list. Research showed that this is a different fish from the Northern Quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus cyprinus) that comes into the Lake Erie tribs in the spring and eats nymphs fished for steelhead.

They are suprisingly good fighters when hooked and can reach a weight of up to 10 pounds.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Santa On Vacation?

No, it's dog friend Walter Shockley. Walter runs Ohio Kayak Fishing and recently hosted JD and Aspen on a trip down the Kokosing River. The Kokosing runs through central OH and is an excellent smallmouth stream. It is also a State Scenic River and a 28 mile stretch has been designated the Kokosing River Water Trail. The Ohio Water Trails program was developed "to promote awareness of public paddling access by partnering with local communities to develop designated water trails on Ohio streams." Oh yeah, they even caught a few fish along the way, too.

Santa On Vacation?


By request here is a photo and recipe for the Crowe beetle. This is one of the best terrestrial patterns ever for eastern trout fishing and has caught plenty of western trout, too.

Hook: Daiichi 1310 or 1130, #12-#18

Thread: Black 6/0 or Uni 70

Body: Black deer hair

Trim section of deer hair at the hide (around 1/8" in diameter for #14 hook) and clean out all the fuzz. Tie the hair in by the butt ends about 1/3 of the shank length back from the hook eye. Wrap back over the hair, binding it down around the hook shank, to the bend of the hook. Move the thread back to where you tied the hair in. Put a bit of head cement over the body and pull the hair over the top of the hook shank forming a shell back. Coat the shell back with a bit of cement. Adding the cement helps to strengthen the deer hair. Pull 4-6 hairs on each side of the head to the side and do a cross wrap over them, then tie off thread and cut. Trim the hair still sticking out front and trim the legs to about the length of the body. You can also add a small tuft of yarn to the top of the body for increased visibility on the water.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Beetled 'Bow for Mr. B

Dog friend, Ken Beutel, shows off a mega-sized rainbow he caught during a dry fly lesson with JD. The fish were eagerly eating terrestrials and this fish happened to inhale a Crowe beetle plopped along the bank.

Beetles, Browns & 'Bows

It's terrestrial time for trout. Late summer's hot days with cool nights are the perfect combination to keep bugs active and make trout hungry. Grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and beetles are all on the menu plate when they hit the water after an errant hope or get carried by a gust of wind. Try "plopping" your flies along shoreline grass or under overhanging brush and branches.

This hefty spring creek brown took an all-time favorite terrestrial pattern, the Crowe beetle. This fly, of western PA origin, has been around for decades and still catches trout whenever they are tuned in to land-based bugs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Rapids at the Soo

Here is a shot of the St. Mary's River Rapids from the International Bridge that connects Sault Ste. Marie, MI and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Canada on the left, U.S. on the right. The St. Mary's is the connecting water from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. It hosts an assortment of coldwater species 12 months a year. From the bridge it looks easy to wade and fish, but it is a different story when you are actually there. The water is vodka-clear making the depth hard to judge with boulders that range from house to golf ball-sized. The current runs 10-14 miles an hour. A wading staff, studs on your wading shoes, and lots of caution are needed to fish the main rapids area, this is some of the gnarliest wading you'll find anywhere.

The Soo Locks are on the right hand side and allow ships to bypass the rapids.

Summer Chrome

I caught this steelie in the St. Mary's River a couple weeks ago while on an adventure with fish buds Jeff Liskay and Capt. Brad Petzke. This fish came while wading the rapids and indicator fishing. This was probably the only time I was actually disappointed to hook a steelhead as we were targeting Atlantics. On the other hand, this fish was one of few that I have hooked river fishing during the month of July. I can now definitely say that I have hooked Great Lakes steelhead in rivers every month of the year from January through December. It is also my first Canadian chromer, eh!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

River Bigmouth

Muskegon River guide, Kevin Feenstra, shows a largemouth bass from the lower part of the river. Though most recognized as a cold-water fishery, the Muskegon provides plenty of warm-water activity during the summer. The lower river divides into a series of braids and side channels that have plenty of cover for largemouth, smallmouth, and rock bass, plus pike and walleye.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A New Brew

A double dog "woof" to friends Pam & Chris McKimm at The Brewkettle in Strongsville, OH for their help in creating a new a summertime thirst quencher. The BK is one of the top brew pubs in the country and has extensive facilities for "on premisies" brewing. With over 100 recipes to choose from, their is a beer to satisfy anyone. Best of all you can create your own label!

On The Tube

JD got a chance recently to apppear on Cleveland's Channel 8 Fox News morning show with their man about town, Kenny Crumpton. Kenny travels NE Ohio looking for interesting activities and events to promote. On the "Kickin' It With Kenny" segments, Kenny and JD were at Lake County's Chagrin River Park doing a little Fly Fishing 101. The gist of the show was to discuss Lake Metroparks land procurement activities which result in areas that are beneficial for all outdoor activities from fishing, to dog walking , to biking and more.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Great Lakes Atlantics

Dog friend, Jeff Liskay, shows a mint-bright Atlantic salmon caught in the St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie, MI. The river is the outlet of Lake Superior to Lake Huron and forms part of the international border with Ontario, Canada.

The Aquatic Research Laboratory at Lake Superior State University handles all the stocking, monitoring, and research with Atlantics in the upper Great Lakes.

Jeff and JD fished with Capt. Brad Petzke of Rivers North Guide Service and had a couple days of top-notch fishing for Atlantics and some large resident rainbows.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On The Way Back From Spey Nation.....

On the way back home from the Spey Nation III event, I got an invite from Rick Kustich to spend a few hours with him on the upper Niagara River near Grand Island, NY. Rick is a Scott Rod Pro and best known for his books and work in the steelhead arena. He is also a die-hard warm-water fly fisher and has a particular fondness for over-sized smallmouth bass and an obsession for chasing musky with a fly rod.

Here Rick shows a healthy Niagara bronzeback that ate one his favorite Deep Minnow colors- shad with red eyes. Fished behind a 300 gr. Steamer Express line, this pattern accounted for a number of large river fish this evening.

Scott Rod Custom "Kayak Special"

Scott Fly Rods has had their Custom Shop open for around 6 months now with great success. This allows and individul to go online, select a rod model, and then customize it for their personal specifications. As you follow the steps, you can see the rod being built until the final product is assembled. The customer can then forward the info to a Scott Custom Shop Dealer to have the rod built.

Dealers can also have a specific model built to their specs. Here is a rod I had built through Scott Custom Shop I call the Kayak Special. It is done, on the A3 8 foot, 8-wt. platform but has the components off the S4S saltwater rods. This rod loads quickly for short-range accuracy, but still has the ability to push out longer casts when needed. Plus, it effectively fights fish at close quarters.

Spey Nation III

I had the chance to attend the recent Spey Nation III event on the Salmon River at Pineville, NY. Around 300 folks attended the event, from beginners to hard-core Spey geeks. A number of companies displayed product and top Spey talent from around the U.S. and Canada gave demonstrations.

Here Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador, Topher Brown, gives an on-water explanation of two-hand rods and casting techniques. You can watch Topher, along with Greg Pearson, and Dr. Way Yin on a great DVD, Spey to Z.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here is my interpretation of Bill Sherer's Figure 8 streamer. Bill says this pattern has accounted for more fly caught muskies than any other fly. I tied this one up in a perch/sunfish coloration and this particular fly caught the fish I'm holding in the previous picture. The fly is not complicated to tie, but there are a number of steps involved. It has a large profile in the water, but the materials compress significantly when out of the water, making the fly easy to cast. This fly is usually tied to be 5"-10" in length. It will also catch pike, oversized smallmouth and a host of other predators.

Contact Bill at for a material listing.

River X Musky

Here is a nice musky caught recently in northern Wisconsin. JD and a group of intrepid dog friends teamed up with Capt. Bill Sherer for a couple days floating for smallmouth bass and Esox majors. Here the Freedom Hawk 12 UL is in expedition mode, all set for a long days float. Over 3 days the guys covered nearly 30 miles of VERY fishy water. A special woof of the dog "thank you"to Jim Linehan for his awesome on-water photography.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kayak On The Bay

Presque Isle Bay, at Erie, PA, is favorite spot for spring and early summer anglers. Lake smallmouth move into the shallows to spawn, along with pike and also musky. The Bay also has a large population of largemouth bass available to fly fishers all summer long. With the smallmouth spawn over, Jeff Liskay worked weed edges in deeper water with his Freedom Hawk 12 Kayak. Fishing his Scott S4S 9' 8-wt. and a 300 gr. SA Streamer Express line teamed up with a chatreuse/white Deceiver, Jeff had a productive evening with post-spawn smallies.

'Gills On Beds

Here is a group of bluegills guarding spawning beds from unwelcome intruders. The eggs are laid on an area that is cleared of any silt or mud. The nest is then protected until the eggs hatch and the fry swim off. Any invaders looking for an easy meal are chased away by the guard 'gills.

Capt. Jon Ray shows a sizeable Lake Michigan golden bonefish taken in Grand Traverse Bay. This style of flats fishing has opened up a whole new arena for Great Lakes Anglers. Carp like this are available to fly fishers on hard bottom areas throughout much of the Great Lakes. Be sure to take an 8-wt rod and a reel with a solid drag system and a lot of backing. These fish are fairly opportunistic feeders, so most creepy crawly looking flies have potential. Keep the flies fairly small- up to 3" or so length and use a strong hook. Crayfish, damsel nymphs, Hex nymphs, and at times even Buggers will work. These fish run slower than a bonefish, but with a LOT more endurance, kind of like a diesel locamotive.

Capt. Jon works with Hawkins Fly Fishing Outfitters and also has his own photo/video production company, Mangled Fly Media.

Friday, June 11, 2010

On The Move

Here is the Freedom Hawk 12 UL on carp patrol. The new dual position pontoon allows the boat to be easily paddled with the pontoons extended. This lets the moving angler pull up quickly for better visibilty and to get into casting position. Stayed tuned for more Freedom Hawk adventures.

Geared Up & Ready To Go

Here is the Freedom Hawk 12 UL being put to work on Grand Traverse Bay off Lake Michigan. I linked up with Capt. Jon Ray of Hawkins Fly Fishing on a carp expedition. The boat proved perfect to cruise the shallows and locate groups of golden bones. Special thanks to Jon for the photo work.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Freedom 12 Ultralight

The Freedom Hawk 12 Ultralight has become my favorite PFD (Personal Fishing Device). the boat is hybrid kayak/canoe design that is super stable and will carry a lot of gear and weight (i.e. me and the Fishdog with room to spare). It is easy to put on and take off the car and get to the water. I normally stand and brace my back against the bar to cast. This allows me to strip line onto the seat in front of me and cast any direction. Even standing, you can manuever easily with a regular kayak paddle or the optional stand-up paddle.

Kayak Demo Dazed

Here is a flock of kayak testers on the water at Lakeview Park in Lorain, OH. The Backpacker's Shop/Ohio Canoe sponsored the on-water event last Saturday. The Freedom Hawk 12 made itself at home among a full lineup of brands and styles of boats.

Another One for the List!

Have had a chance to fish the Arctic Wiggler tube in some other situations with success. Here is one of the latest addtions to the species list for this pattern. Walleye are not a common catch on flies, but can be taken under the right conditions- mainly early, late, or on a cloudy drizzly day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Garrrrrrr- Check These Out!

My buddy from Maine, El Pescador, has a great blog- Way Upstream. Check out these recent links from his blog.

Ya gotta love Nick Pujic from Canadian Fly Fisher magazine. Way to think outside the box and have some real fun with a fly rod!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another Species on the Wiggler!

The species list continues to grow on the Wiggler tube fly whenever I fish it. Just added yellow perch into the mix. This jumbo yellow belly hit an olive Wiggler I was stripping for trout at Two Mile Run Lake near Franklin, PA. So far the Wiggler has tallied steelhead, brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, and now perch. Can't wait to see what's next!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cleaning Up The Creek

Canoes were dropped over the hillside to clean up an old tire dump in Conneaut Creek. Numerous trips were made filling up the canoes, floating the tires down to a pick up point, then paddling the canoes back upstream to load them again. In addition, a number of bags of trash were also collected and taken out. Thanks to the Friends of Conneaut Creek for organzing the clean up and manpower, the Ohio Division of Watercraft for the canoes, organization and manpower, and the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders for manpower and being concerned anglers who want to make a difference on one of the best steelhead streams in the U.S.

Conneaut Creek Clean Up

A joint effort by the Friends of Conneaut Creek, Ohio Division of Watercraft, and the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders went into yesterdays clean up on Conneaut Creek. About 30 people showed up on a cold, blustery, rainy day to attack trash and garbage at access and parking areas.

Several tons of material were collected and transported for disposal. Here, Jeff Liskay is shown as he assigns work crews to the different areas.

Many Thanks to all who participated!

Friday, May 7, 2010

More On The Arctic Wiggler

Here is a new version of JD's Arctic Wiggler tube fly. This crayfish version has proven successful on both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The same materials are used as in the original pattern with the addition of rubber legs. The Eumer Ballhead tube is still the base of the fly. It would probably make a useful crab pattern, too.

Both the original baitfish design and the new crayfish version have application for a very wide ranges of fish species. Somebody please try these out in saltwater and let me know.

Pictured colors- Olive (left), Softshell (center), Brown (right).

Our Favorite New Brew!

Team Fish dog has a new favorite brew. From Thirsty Dog Brewing Company out of Akron, OH, check out their Labrador Lager. It is a great warm-weather refresher and particularly good if you have just been retrieving Frisbees or tennis balls. Check it out and tell them the Fish Dog sent you!

Doc Hangs A Hawg!

Long time dog friend, Dr. Fred Brindle, shows a Lake St. Clair smallie that hit the magical 5 lb. mark. This fish took a white on white Half and Half streamer. Doc and JD spent the day dodging the wind with Capt. Brian Mezaros.

Lake St. Clair is a perfect place for warm water fly fishers- 3 species of bass, pike, muskie, drum, carp, perch and other panfish are all available. The average depth is around 10 feet and it is loaded with gravel bars, rock piles, weed patches, and other fish holding structure. American Angler magazine listed Lake St. Clair as one of the "Top 50 Fly Fishing Destinations" and there is almost always a place to hide out of the wind and still catch fish.

Back On The Big Water!

It's that time of year to shift gears and start to pursue some of the other opportunities the Great Lakes area offers to fly anglers. Did an R&D trip with Capt. Brian Mezaros of Great Lakes Fly Fishing on Lake St. Clair to test out my Arctic Wiggler tube fly on warm water. Managed to add white bass, largemouth bass, and a number of sizeable smallmouth to the species list.