Thursday, November 22, 2018

Rudely Interupted by a Grumpy Steelhead

    Cast, Swing, Hang, repeat. As the boat drops down the run, with the whine of the anchor rope coming up and down, conversations float away to far off places. "Have you ever fished Montana?", "I wonder why they hold and drop loops while swinging in the Pacific NW and not as much in the Midwest?" Other questions arise about water temperature, swing speed, boat position, fly selection, tippet size, etc. Through all this, the angler is basically just keeping their mind occupied while swinging the fly through the run, over and over. 

Nate with a nice colored up October Steelhead that hit the fly running.

    The fishing instruction comes second to storytelling and question asking. "Where are you from?" "What do you do for enjoyment there?" "How long have you lived there?" Nonchalantly getting to know each other while waiting for a fish to kill the fly. Once we have both gotten completely lost in conversation, all the sudden we are Rudely Interrupted by a Grumpy Steelhead! The traditional click and pawl reel growls on the initial eat, wait, wait. As the fish turns its head and takes off the reel screams like a two-stroke motor being revved! Wait, wait, now lift. Game On! As the big Steelhead finally realizes that something is not quite right it bucks, alligator rolls, and cartwheels to try to shake the fly. It doesn't matter whether the fish is landed, shakes the hook in an aerial display of power, or just pulls off mysteriously. Swinging flies for Steelhead is all about conversations being Rudely Interrupted by a Grumpy Steelhead!
Tony with a great November Chromer that smacked a swung fly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March Steelhead Report

Spring 2018 Steelhead
The run has been great on some larger rivers in west Michigan. Some of the smaller rivers have not received the bulk of their Spring run fish quite yet. Despite this slow start, we have still been experiencing a good fishing. Let's be honest; to experience one or a few of these magnificent fish each day is spectacular. This time of year, there are usually more fish in rivers like the Pere Marquette. When the fishing is slow I revert to working on technique and learning new fun tactics. Fishing nymphs has been productive for me. Sometimes we get stuff in this rut of thinking that migratory fish will only eat eggs. Getting out of this rut and thinking outside of the box wins most days. I like to fish small black stoneflies, alevin(salmon fry), hex nymphs, and caddis this time of year. Throwing a fly that the fish have not seem 100 times, like an egg, will help get bites from those picky fish. Don't get me wrong eggs are one of my top choices when there are lots of fish in the river.
 
As more fish enter the river system and the water temperature raises to or above 42F, there will be an increasing number of spawning fish. If these fish are left to spawn it ensures our future fishery. Leaving spawning steelhead alone is also an investment in your days fishing. Think of it this way: If you leave the origin of the buffet line of eggs active, you will guarantee a continued meal for the fish in the deep pocket or pool below the spawners. If the female is hooked or fought or landed, she may not go right back to her spawning duties or position. Spawning fish will sometimes return, but sometimes hide in the deep water or a log jam and sulk about what just happened. In the Spring, there are usually several less dominant males behind the spawning pair, whether just on the lip of the gravel or in the deep water. When they are in the deep water, you may not be able to see them. I have experience several days guiding and fishing, when I left a spawning group of Steelhead alone and hooked several trout and/or Steelhead in the deep pocket. Thinking back to some of these days; I have hooked up to 8 trout and 2 Steelhead behind a spawning pair on one occasion in just one spot. I have also had clients hook 5 steelhead in a small deep pocket about the size of my pickup truck. This truck sized pocket was directly below a spawning gravel with active fish. Sometimes my boat doesn't see 5 fish hooked all day, so having this happen in one spot is really something that sticks out in my memory. 
 Our preferred tactic in the spring is indicator fishing deep pools, runs, and buckets and pockets behind spawning gravels. Swinging streamers can be productive especially lower in the river system for dropback fish that have already spawned. These fish are aggressive and need to feed to regain energy to go on to the next cycle of their life. Smaller streamers in white, natural, work well in the Spring, followed by black and olive.

My top egg colors have been orange, and chartreuse. Other productive flies have been #14 black Pheasant tails, alevins, rubber leg hex nymphs, and caddis larva. 

Remember it's fishing not hooking, let those spawning fish lie. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Run has Begun! ...and so has the FLOOD.

Come get your Steelhead on with River Ninja Outfitters.

Steelhead are entering rivers all over the west side of Michigan. Fishing has been good as of late. The quantity and density of fish is only going to improve from now until the end of the year. Early Fall is the perfect time to get your butt kicked by a chrome torpedo.


Indicator Fishing and Swinging have both been producing ferocious strikes. Fall is a great time to learn a new tactic, because we receive positive feedback from aggressive fish. These fish have not been pressured by anglers and low water for months. They are eager to take in calories for their journey up stream.
As I began writing this blog/report the other night, it had been raining for 28 hours straight in Baldwin, MI. So, if you have not already seen, the West Michigan Rivers are blown out. Be careful, and don't get in over your head. When the water comes up this high to FLOOD STAGE the fish all shift and are not always in the same places. I would advise you to not go out in the FLOOD waters to fish.

That having been said, the fishing has been good. Set up your fishing trip for the first week of November, as the water should have receded by then. This high water and wind/storm front should bring a ton of fish into every river in the West side of Michigan. I love this time of year, let's share a day on the water this Fall.


Call Alex @ (989)802-1125 for in depth information on what rivers and tactics are working best for that week. We will hook you up with the up to date information. Book a trip today and learn the tactics firsthand.

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Chrome

Steelhead are here!



There is nothing sweeter than the first few seconds of hooking a dime-bright steelhead in November. It is a euphoric, exhilarating,  adrenaline rush. Whether it is indicator fishing, swinging or stripping a streamer, bottom bouncing, or some other tactic that hasn't been invented yet, the pursuit of these fish is magical. That moment when you realize there is an 8+ pound steelhead on the end of your line, there are an innumerous amount of things that can go wrong. Many times one of these things does go wrong, and the wild animal prevails over man. It is indeed that fraction of the time, that we are hoping for. The chance that the angler does everything right, or rather doesn't do much wrong. These steelhead are in the infancy of their journey upstream to spawn; they are full of energy from the high protein meals eaten in the great lakes. With water temperatures at the warmest these fish will see, plus the energy level, these fish are very tough to contain. It is merely that feeling of trying to catch up the entire fight that is so crazy and exhilarating.


    There are Steelhead spread out, throughout the Pere Marquette River system. Fish are from top to bottom. There are concentrations of fish that continue to change, shift, and evolve as they move upstream. Although these fish are on the move, there are still runs that should and do typically hold steelhead this time of year.
Come out and get your steelhead on with River Ninja Outfitters!
To book your trip NOW call us at (989)802-1125, email riverninjaoutfitters@gmail.com
Visit us on the web at www.riverninjaoutfitters.com
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Dry Fly Fishing is HERE!





    The weather is more like Summer, the water is warming, and the bugs are hatching. The Hendrickson hatch is the first big mayfly hatch of the year. It has been going strong on the Au Sable River for a few weeks. Typically that is as long as this holds on for. That been said, there are many other aquatic insects hatching to entice the fish to rise to the surface and eat.

The Hendrickson (Ephemerella Subvaria)
hatch throughout the East and Midwestern states. This hatch marks the beginning of dry fly fishing. The Hendrickson hatch typically starts some time around traditional Trout Opener (the last Saturday in April). Some years it can be a few days earlier and some years the bugs don't start hatching until a few days into May. This year we had bugs on opener. Regardless of when the bugs start hatching, it takes the trout a few days of bug activity to knock off the cobwebs from a winter of not feeding on the surface. For many of these fish it has literally been 8 to 10 months since they have eaten a bug off the surface. These mayflies are large and fish haven't seen anything this size hatching for a long time. With that in mind, it can make all sizes of fish rise with disregard to their surroundings. Now, don't get me wrong if you wade or anchor too close it will spook them. If you slap the water with a cast or put the fly line over them with a cast a few feet too long, it can also put these fish down. This hatch being the first consistent dry fly action of the Spring/Summer brings many anglers to the river to enjoy the resource.

The Hendrickson hatch is winding down, but that does not mean there isn't great fishing on our Midwest streams. Once the Hendrickson start to hatch it opens up the flood gates for the other hatches of Summer to start. We have been seeing a plethora of bugs on the water, including: large stoneflies, Mahoganies, BWO's, Dark and Light Hendricksons, among others. These bugs be joined by Sulphurs, March Browns, Light Cahills in the late weeks of May. During June there are many great insects on the menu for these trout, Isonychia bicolor (Iso's), Brown Drakes, and Hex just to name a few. The latter three are the big three of June that bring fish to the surface. Brown Drakes will hatch sometime in the range of the first 12-15 days of June. Hexes will typically hatch starting in the last ten days of June up North. Hatch activity is not easy to pinpoint on a calendar. Anglers from all of the country try to plan vacation to Michigan rivers for the Hex hatch in Late June to early July. They look at the Calendar and use whatever resources and knowledge they can tap into to predict the hatch. But like anything all these hatches happen on their own time.



The best thing to do is plan a trip to the "North Woods", lean on some local knowledge from a guide or the local fly shop, be prepared with a large variety of flies, and HOPE that the stars align.

I will be guiding dry fly fishing trips throughout May and the first two weeks of June 2016. At which time I will be making my annual pilgrimage to the runoff of the Southern Rocky Mountains in Vail, CO.

If you would like to book a Trout Fishing Trip in the next few weeks feel free to call or email for open dates to secure your reservation. If I am not available there are many guides and local fly shops that may have guides available that I would be more than happy to set you up with. If you would like to book a Hex trip after I have left for CO, I can knock on some doors and get you on the water with a great guide.
 



Alex Forsberg
River Ninja Outfitters
(989)802-1125
riverninjaoutfitters@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why River Ninja? What does River Ninja mean?

The name of my Outfitter company, River Ninja, sounds like a narcissistic proclamation that "I AM THE RIVER NINJA". That is not the case. How did I come up with the name some clients have asked.

The name River Ninja Outfitters came from my guiding experience in Vail, CO. In Vail there are many families that are on vacation and want their children to experience the outdoors for a morning or afternoon. This leaves me with two to three little rascals to corral and entertain for four hours. Some would think this is a task fit only for a babysitter. I welcomed the challenge, and in doing so became very versatile at guiding all ages. Whenever I had kids trips, one child would always catch more fish, it's the nature of inequality in our society. It doesn't mean one is any better than the other. What it did mean is that I would have to entertain and make a game of the fishing to take the pressure off and distract his mind from not catching fish. I would always check to make sure the other child angler was doing well. What I would do next is figure out where I know there is a fish that does not see flies often. An example would be an eddy next to a large boulder, or a riffle where an approach needed to be stealthy. Here is where it all begins...

I would pull the struggling child aside, take the rod from them, so as to give them a little break. I would then crouch down to their level and whisper:

Alex:"Alright, are you ready?"
Child: "What do you Mean?"
A: "We're going to have a little adventure, if you're up for it?"
C: "Yeah, I'm in."
A: "Alright this is what we are going to do. We are going to fish up by that rock. But we aren't just going to march up there and splash around to alert the fish of our presence! We are going to sneak up there, not making any noise or any splash, kind of like a "River Ninja". Does that make sense?"
To which the response was always, "A River Ninja, cool." or something the like.

Each time a child was struggling to land his first trout of the day, I would pull them aside and have this chat. I would get them in the right "River Ninja" mind set. And then we would stalk the spot to be fished together. I would whisper reminders as we snuck up to the fishes lie. There was always a point that I would put myself in a netting position, and tell them to sneak into the casting position. We had rehearsed the entire game plan several times pregame and on the warmup walk to the spot. My little angler knew exactly what to do.

Whenever I used this "River Ninja" example with a child that had not caught a fish, it was like a light switch! Bam they hooked and landed a fish!

As many other guides have learned, if you have an analogy that is working and everyone understands it you keep it in the rotation. It like a comedy and jokes that just straight up kill the crowd. Those are your go-to's. Well this "River Ninja" analogy become a go-to on every one of my kids trips. And one day it just hit me, "River Ninja Outfitters!" Although I had been bending my mind for years to find the perfect fly fishing company name, here it came out of nowhere. And my company was named. Later that year after returning home from Colorado I would get my LLC and start Salmon guiding in Michigan.

And that is how River Ninja Outfitters was born.

Friday, April 22, 2016

How I became a guide?

Clients ask all the time in the boat, "How did you become a fly fishing guide?". And here is the story:

A great friend Ody and I were walking upstream from the Claybanks access on the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin, MI one evening to do some steelhead fishing. It was a crisp Fall evening, gloomy and just above freezing. We were excited to get a line wet. While entering the river as the public land turns to private, we saw a boat approaching from the gravels above the Deer Lick cabin. I found it weird that a drift boat fit for three people was barren with only a rower??? Weird, right. So being the person that my father raised me to be I sparked up a friendly conversation. Once the salutation had finished the following paragraph ensued:

    Alex F: "Is everything alright?"
    Matt S: "Yes, why do you ask?"
    AF: "Well, we're not looking for your buddy floating down the river soaking wet are we?" Because we don't usually see lone rowers in a large drift boat.
    MS: "No, no, I am just in town with my family, trying to get a little time on the water and didn't have anyone to float with."
    AF: "Oh thank goodness, good to hear it. Where are you from?"
    MS: "Colorado. Hey do you guys have a minute to talk?"
    AF and Jon O.: "Absolutely!", as I always have time to talk to other anglers about fishing!
    After a few oar strokes the anchor immediately splashed into the cold, clean waters of the PM.

    What followed was a 45minute to an hour conversion about where the fish are located in the river system and within the runs and pools. We connected these locations to water temperature, talked about leader diameter and strength, length of total rigs and leaders, choice of fly line, indicators, and most importantly flies. After this lengthy conversation with a great individual who was not afraid to ask for local knowledge I immediate followed his company, Minturn Anglers, on facebook and tried to stay in contact with him.

    This was a memorable day. I don't even recall if we hooked or landed a fish that evening. It would however prove to be an integral conversation and a turning point in my fishing career.

    My friend Ody ended up fishing with Matt that Fall on the Big Manistee. I did not have the pleasure of sharing a boat with Mr. Sprecher until the next Fall, which would have been November of 2012. I floated the Big Manistee River with Matt and his friend, per Matt's request to fish the "Big River". About an hour into the day I hooked and landed a nice steelhead.
After landed a gorgeous Big Manistee fish, I was done fishing for the day. I wanted the other two gentlemen in the boat to experience that pull of a crazy pissed off steelhead. As the afternoon approached Matt turned to me and said "You're hired! You'd be a great guide!" To which I said, "What?!?".
MS:"If you ever want to guide in CO, you have a job!"
AF: "When should I show up?"
MS: "June 1st."
AF: "I will be knocking on your door on May 28th!" And I was! And the rest is history... as they say.
I have been guiding for Minturn Anglers since June of 2013. Since then I have guided a few trips in WY and started my own business, River Ninja Outfitters, in MI. The summer of 2016 will be my fourth year at Minturn Anglers, and I have loved every minute of it.

A huge thank you to Matt Sprecher for giving this country boy from the Midwest a chance and throwing me to the wolves within two weeks in a raft on THE Eagle River! What a wild ride it has been. I am indebted to so many of my mentors over the years.

What a group of guides to say I have fished with and learned from:

Bob Streb, Anthony Mazza, Alex Garnier, Jeremy Clements, Scott Thompson, Duane Redford, Tommy Lynch, Alex Lafkas, David "Rambo" Randby, Jeff "Cookie" Cooke, Blake Knisely, Nick Denbow, and the list goes on and on. I appreciate all of the relationships I have made and all the fish that I have netted along the way. I have grown a great appreciation and happiness out of seeing a fish go in the net. I find true pleasure from flushing the bag on a fish for the first time with a new client.

Here is a link to Minturn Anglers website. I hope to see you out there in the Summer months.
www.minturnanglers.com
Thank you to all the guides, anglers, and clients that I have spent days on the water with in the past few years. It is all of you that make me smile everyday. I am so fortunate to be able to chase a dream job and work outdoors.


Alex Forsberg
River Ninja Outfitters
www.riverninjaoutfitters.com
(989)802-1125
riverninjaoutfitters@gmail.com