Recently I got the new book "50 Best Tailwaters To Fly Fish" by Terry & Wendy Gunn sent to me for a review. As a guy that has spent a lot of time on tailgaters all over the country, I found myself wondering if this book would be a true representation of the best tailgaters or just a regional opinion. I found my answer very quickly as I perused the different rivers outlined in the book. Terry and Wendy did a great job to representing the entire country with detailed pieces on some really great fisheries.
Growing up in Michigan, I thought their write up on the Muskegon River was terrific. Not only was it a good resource for flies, techniques and strategy. But also gave great insight on the area. That's the real appeal to this book, in my opinion. It's a resource for the DIY fisherman that wants to get a feel of a river system. Not just read puff pieces on how big the fish are or how to get there. This is a book that will help you plan a trip to some amazing locations.
As a photo-nerd… I was sold before I even opened the cover. It's worth picking up just for the great photography alone. It's also a big, sturdy book that looks just as good on a coffee table as it does on the dashboard of your '97 Tacoma.
So if someone asks you what you want for Christmas this year, send them to Stonefly Press for this book.
I woke last night to the sound of thunder How far off I sat and wondered Started humming a song from 1962 Ain't it funny how the night moves When you just don't seem to have as much to lose Strange how the night moves With autumn closing in...
I had to get out of town. Don't get me wrong, WNY has been good to me. I enjoy the time I have spent out here. That being said, you don't live out west for a decade and not gain an affinity for the trout, the scenery and the friends. So I decided to hop on a plane and get out of Nickel City for a spell.
My favorite place on Earth. Some rivers simply burn a spot your soul that you can't help but to be love. This place literally hurts to think about, as it's not a place I can simply drive over to anymore. While the distance has became a reality, I know it will always be there for me.
Some things in life are more important than any explanation you can explain to people that don't do what we do. I got back to my office after this trip and my boss asked me how my trip was... I just said, "Good"... and left it at that...
So... the old jon boat I got a while back ended up turning into a dumpster fire of a situation. The guy that sold it to me ended up not having a title. So I had to go to his house twice to return the boat. The first time, it was heated and he refused to take my money back.
Eventually, with the help of the court system, I got my money back. It must have been fate, as this gem showed up right after. It is a duck boat designed by Scott Boats out of Ontario. Similar to a Towee boat out of Wisconsin, just without all of the bells and whistles.
So far, I have had two people standing and casting flies out of it. I have even shot guns out of it. It's extremely stable for a skinny boat. It also pushes 20mph with the little Merc I put on it. Enough to make your butt pucker a little bit.
I wrote about the need to remove the Pucker Street dam on the Dowagiac River in southwest Michigan over a year ago. Pressure makes diamonds, my friends. Through letters, emails and phone calls, the city of Niles is finally moving forward with the removal. This is going to open up miles of new water for steelhead and create overall better habitat for the trout of the Dowagiac system. Creating a river quite similar in tempature, flow, length and size of the Pere Marquette several hours north. This rivers best days are ahead.
The Pucker Street Dam’s days appear to be numbered.
Jeff Dunlap, Niles utilities manager, said the city is in the process of writing grant applications for funds that would be used for the removal of the dam, located north of Niles on the Dowagiac River.
“That will go before council to submit the grant, or grants, at the next [Niles City] Council meeting,” he said. “We would anticipate council approval to move forward in the next stage to competitively make applications for all the available grants and funding.”
Dunlap said removal of the dam is in the city’s five-year capital plan.
“It is on our radar as something we will actively pursue with the best available resources and the least amount of tax dollars expended as possible,” he said.
Andy Selle, fisheries biologist, engineer and dam-removal specialist with Inter-Fluve, Inc., of Madison, Wisc., gave a presentation concerning the removal of the dam at Monday’s council meeting.
Selle said while it is difficult to predict the success of a grant application, there are a number of things working in Niles’ favor. One being, a recent study ranked the Pucker Street Dam as No. 1 in regards to being a barrier of fish passage in the St. Joseph River watershed. The other thing going for Niles is there’s currently a restoration effort underway of the Dowagiac River upstream in Pokagon Township area.
“That shows not only are we going to remove the dam and reconnect the river so to speak, but when the fish move upriver they will have some place to go that’s better than what it is now,” Sell said. “Those two factors in my mind would rank it fairly high in terms of grant competition.”
Removing the dam would benefit Niles and the surrounding communities in several ways, according to Selle and Dunlap.
Selle said the Dowagiac River without the dam could attract more water sport tourism and improve fishing.
From the city’s standpoint, Dunlap said the dam is a liability that has to be either repaired or removed. It was last used by the city as a hydroelectric dam in 1995, but has been around since the mid 1800s.
The cost to bring the dam back online was estimated at $3.5 million in 2009.
“It is cost prohibitive to restore it,” Dunlap said.
Dam removal comes with some risks. Selle said sediment collected behind the dam could flow downstream and cause some issues for the first couple years.
“If you look long term, in a scale of decades, the long-term outlook is you actually have a restored river flowing through that section again,” he said.
Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it even rains every day for a week. WNY has been getting hammered this year, which is a distinct difference from the draught conditions the area was stricken with at this time last year.
It has been messing up the spinner falls this year. I even got chased off by lightening right as a big green drake hatch started on the Wiscoy. It was my first experience there. We watched single drakes pop off and get dive bombed by swallows, only for them to explode into a heavy fall that finally woke up the fish. It was like God was playing a cruel joke as we saw the storm move in, complete with ground-crashing lightening. We ran out with broken down rods, scared to death that the next roll of thunder would lead to a demise inducing crash.
But all things end. Between these storms we have had moments of clarity. Like a day on the Oatka when the black caddis were so thick that your daily value of protein was satisfied simply by breathing. The fish were hungry that day. Loving the cold water, high flows and lack of fishing pressure.
Life can be a lot about perspective.... and sometimes it rains.
Got a new toy today. It's been a couple months of searching Craigslist, local marinas and the paper before I finally pieced together a total package. I wanted to get a boat that I could motor up larger rivers with, but be able to row it when water gets skinny. Plan on using it a lot this fall on the Niagara. The boat is a 14ft Landau jon boat paired with a 7.5hp Mercury 2 stroke. I plan on putting a deck on the front and repainting it, but it is water ready as we speak.