Steelhead Fishing – Bead Fishing 101

In the next few weeks, I am going to share some of my favorite fishing – Fishing for Steelhead. There is nothing more exciting than feeling that mighty tug and hearing your line scream as the fish begins to run. This post will show you how to rig your line using beads. The video uses already designed beads, but many who fish enjoy painting their beads using nail polish to match what is in the river at present. So sit back, pour a coffee, grab a beer or whatever beverage you enjoy and watch this short video on rigging your line with beads. 
Landing my Steelhead


Fishing Guides and COVID-19

In this life, we often have difficulties in this time of COVID-19; 
don’t forget the other individuals that may be struggling.
I have to admit I was extremely disappointed when my annual Steelhead trip was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 virus. It is a trip with a bunch of Flygirls – a Michigan based fly fishing club – something that I look forward to all winter. 
Though, in my disappointment, I began to think about the guide service – This trip was scheduled through Feenstra Guide Services on the Muskegon River. Most of the guides through this service are men with families and young children. As with many other “non-essential” businesses, the DNR required the guides to stop guiding. This time of year is the Steelhead season and is generally a hectic time for our Michigan guides, and many of them are taking a hard hit financially. So when canceling your trips this year or when thinking of your summer plans – don’t forget our local guides. 
Thinks to Consider:
  • If your scheduled trip is canceled due to COVID-19 reschedule the trip.
  • If you have given a deposit for the guiding consider rolling that over to your next trip – it is hard for the guide to repay the deposits – though they will – it is a burden on them at this time.
  • Take the time to learn some fishing etiquette – watch the rather funny video below. 
The author with the guide Frank – from Pere Marquette River Lodge
If you have any thoughts on helping our local guides please comment below.


As people are panicking, running to stores buying up the toilet paper, soap, chicken, and eggs.  Why not take the time out and spend some reflective time in nature?  What better way is there to soothe your soul from all of the chaoticness.

Author Spending a quiet day on the river

Author hiking with her son
It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry 
of nature which uplifts the spirit within us.
John Ruskin

Tiger Trout

I caught my first Tiger Trout in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. At that time, I had no idea what I had found but was amazed by the intricate swirls gracing the body of this fish.

What is a Tiger Trout?

The Tiger Trout is a hybrid cross between the brown trout and a brook trout. It can be reproduced reliably in fish hatcheries, though it does happen naturally in the wild. The fish I caught in The Driftless would have naturally occurred – which is unusual as it takes two different species of parents. The Tiger Trout is a sterile fish, so the tiger itself cannot reproduce.

The video shows Bridget Fabel catching an awesome Tiger Trout and below is an article by, Spencer Durranion, The Tiger Trout Takeover – should we be concerned?

In the comments below share some of your thoughts, pictures of a Tiger Trout you caught or great stories.


Learning to Use a Float Tube or Belly Boat

         Fly Fishing from a Belly Boat or Float Tube

The author in Float Tube Fly Fishing

Sometimes it is difficult to fly fish from shore. The float tube is an inexpensive, great way to get you out on the water.
Susan has spent hours peacefully fishing remote lakes in her float tube. If you are thinking of investing in a float tube, there is a great instructional video at the end of this post.

                                                                            Curious Turtle Checking out the FLoat Tube



 The day was cold, and the wind howled, on occasion, I was warmed when the sun managed to sneak between the clouds. I had been on the river for over six hours and had only caught a small brown trout. It measured no more than twelve inches. Along with that, I had caught multiple stumps, rocks and whatever else I managed to find on the bottom of the river.

My fingers felt swollen as I continue to cast and strip my line back in wrapping it tightly as I tried to maneuver my line in the wind. Cast, strip, cast strip I was getting extremely exhausted. I had already bandaged my fingers where the line had worn through, but I continued. Hopefully that this next cast would be the one and I would be met with success.

    I felt the tug and was sure I had caught a tree and started to state this when I felt it – three head wags reverberated up my line, and I shouted Fish-On! I was excited. I sensed that it was big and strong and the battle began to wage. The line screamed as the fish started to run pulling my line and rushing down the river. Suddenly the fish turned, and it was coming back toward me as fast as it had left. I began to reel as fast as I could, then after a moment the fish reversed again and headed back out again. The battle was waging human against fish – I was hot now, my muscles strained against the mighty fish. Who would win?

    The battle continued for what seemed like a long time. My excitement rose as I watch the fish jump into the air and continue its back and forth charging. I stayed intense pressing and slowly watching as the fish began to tire, realizing that I was rapidly gaining on the fish it was quite possible that I would win. Then it happened one final jump and a run toward me. I now had it at the side of the boat, and the fish was finally netted.

High-fives ensued throughout the boat along with happy smiles and quick pictures. The fish was amazing. Once we were done, we placed the fish on the side of the boat allowing her to rest. I watched as she gracefully swam away to continue her journey and maybe give another person the battle of a lifetime.

My New Toy – A PackFish

       So I bought myself a new toy. I have found that my Kayak can be cumbersome and downright heavy to maneuver. So my answer to this problem was a raft. After researching many different rafts and examining my pocketbook, I decided on a Sea Eagle PackFish. The Packfish is a one person raft that holds about 300 pounds. It has many pockets to store your gear, a built-in fish ruler, and rod holders. It comes with oars, and a foot operated pump. Which will put you on the water immediately I ordered the floorboard for extra stability. It is very lightweight, and I efficiently managed to hike with it on my back from my car to the lake and had it set up within a few minutes. Overall, I am thrilled with the raft. This short clip shows my first voyage, and since this time I have taken it out and landed some nice Bass – I am looking forward to spending time on the river with my new toy.

Steelhead – A cold day in April

Getting Ready for All Weather
The excitement was great as I began to pack for my long awaited Steelhead trip. I was going with a group of women from our local group called Flygirls – to me; these were the most exciting trips. The trip would include hours of laughter from this group of women anglers and to top it off we would have a great day spent floating on the Muskegon River chasing the allusive Steelhead.
My Face Barely Showing
But Happy
I had been counting down the days to my trip, but as the time neared my concerns were rising. Weather forecasters were predicting a four-day snowstorm. It was going to hit the Great Lakes in waves – ice, sleet, snow, and rain. As I finished my packing, I found myself watching the forecast. I prayed the fishing prayer, “Lord let the fish bite.”
I arrived at the cabin on Friday night, joining the many women who had arrived earlier. The weather was already showing some of the changes predicted. Inside the cabin, the mood of the group remained lighthearted in spite of the dismal forecast. Stories were shared around a crackling fire, and frequent laughter filled the air. As the flames began to diminish and the shadows grew longer, the crowd around the fire began to disappear. Women made their way off to their rooms to ready themselves for tomorrow’s adventure. They were turning in for the night – dreaming of the adventures that would unfold the next day.
April Also Had An Awesome Catch
Morning came quickly.  As soon as I opened my eyes, I felt the cold and realized the glaring brightness was newly fallen snow. The guides called, warning us that many of the booked trips had canceled for the day. I knew this group would not cancel – we were excited about this trip and a bunch of diehard fishing women.
Breakfast hurried along as woman ran to get ready — packing on many layers of clothing, winter coats, waders, and rain gear. We prepared for any weather that came through. Soon everyone was ready. The guides began to arrive, each arranged to pick up the ladies that would be floating with them that day. For myself and April it was an awesome guy named Luke. 

We got out on the river, and within what seemed to be only a few minutes, the wind and hail started. Jackets were pulled tight as we battled the cold that was bearing down on us. In efforts to stay warm, hot chocolate was sipped with whatever else; mine had the taste of Rum warming my throat as I sipped. The wind was so strong that it became dangerous to fly fish. We soon began to do what is referred to as Chuck and Duck. True to its name we were doing precisely that – ducking and hoping the wind would not push the fly back into our faces. 
The wind was changing, as was the weather – sleet one minute, then giant wet snowflakes the next. The fish seemed as cold as us – we already were several hours into the float and had not even felt the tug of a fish. I changed my gloves for the third time – each time sliding a dry hand warmer deep into my glove. Suddenly, as the wind had changed, so did the bite. I nearly lost my fly rod it came so hard. The battle had begun! We spent the next two hours making an event that would stand out in our memories. Even the guide service talks about the trip as the worse weather endured with the best fishing. For me, the steelhead landed after a phenomenal fight was well worth the cold. It would indeed be a trip I would remember for a very long time.


 In Michigan, we are starting to see the sunshine longer.  We are by no means out of the cold, but at least heading in the right direction.  As the weather changes, the excitement starts to build.  Soon Steelhead will be aggressively making their way out of the lakes into the many rivers to spawn. A fisherman’s delight – after a long drawn out winter finally days on the river and not just any days – days spent fighting an aggressive fish – Michigan Spring Steelhead.
This year I am beyond excited – after last year’s catch I am anticipating the fight again and just typing this starts story, my heart racing.

Beginning Fly Fishing

Everyone starts somewhere – for myself it was at a quiet lake up north. The day was perfect, warm, sunny, no breeze to speak of – just a beautiful, early summer day. I was standing out at the dock casting – spin casting – yes, hook, sinker and worm.  Relaxed and watching a man on shore swinging this rod back and forth, my curiosity got the best of me. I meandered over and asked the man what he was doing – fly fishing – seriously people do that! I honestly thought it was something from the movies, the olden days.  I am sure he felt my reaction was hilarious.
That was my start in fly fishing, on that quiet lake fishing for bluegill, and I have never looked back – my spin rods are collecting dust these days, and I am continually looking for my next fly fishing adventure.