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Driftwood Outdoors, A West Michigan Fly Fishing Adventure by Brandon Butler

The article "A West Michigan Fly Fishing Adventure" appeared in many Indiana newspapers as one of Brandon Butler’s syndicated columns around November 26, 2007.  You can visit Driftwood Outdoors or view the article on the Driftwood site here.

A West Michigan Fly Fishing Adventure
       Thanksgiving has come and gone, taking with it what I consider to be the greatest season of the year. The trees are nearly bare, the wind is turning frigid, and my pants are fitting a little tighter. Yes, winter is just around the corner. I sincerely hope all of you had a great holiday.
            Some how, I managed to hold onto a few of my precious vacation days until later this year than normal.  Few things matter more to me than time off, and finding special ways to use my too few days of freedom, is always a fun challenge. I was up at FlyMaster’s on the north side of Indianapolis last month for their customer appreciation day, and met a steelhead guide from West Michigan. Kevin Morlock owns and operates Indigo Guide Service out of Walhalla, right on the banks of the famous waters of the Pere Marquette.  After telling Kevin how interested I was in learning how to fly fish for steelhead, he invited me up for a two day float. There was no way to pass up such an invite, so we set some plans for the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
            My wife and I dropped our two daughters off at grandma and grandpa’s Sunday evening and shot up the coast of Lake Michigan to the town of Ludington. Arriving just in time to watch the sunset behind one of Michigan’s famous lighthouses was an early added bonus to the trip. We were booked at a beautiful Bed & Breakfast called the Lamplighter Inn. The accommodations and food was a definite step up from my normal fly fishing shelter of a tent and gas station breakfast sandwiches. Kevin arrived early enough to join us for breakfast, before heading off to the river.
            My first reaction to the Pere Marquette was disbelief. I questioned how I could have lived most of my life in Indiana without realizing rivers as beautiful and pristine as the PM were only a few hours away. I just never realized what amazing fisheries the West Michigan Rivers are. Runs of Steelhead, Salmon, and Browns, along with the resident trout, make for year round fishing excitement. Especially for fly fisherman who covet these cold water fish. The Pere Marquette, Manistee, Muskegon, and White Rivers all provide excellent fishing and Kevin can guide you to success on any of them.
            Kevin was honest before we left, telling us to expect days of 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. His predictions were right on. Melissa out did me on day one with her spinning rod, landing a beautiful 10 pound, 30 inch Coho Salmon. I hooked one fish, but never saw it before the big guy spit my fly. The highlight of the day for me was learning how to use a spey rod. Spey rods are two handed fly rods of extra length and strong spine. These long rods allow a fly caster to “roll cast” as opposed to the traditional motion of throwing the line from behind. With brush along the river’s edge, a roll cast saves many hang ups.
            On day two, Melissa must have felt sorry for me and decided to stay and explore the shops of Ludington. This left me a chance to seriously get after the steelies. The fishing was still a little slow, but I did land two nice brown trout and had a steelhead on long enough to see him at the surface. Just the quick fight and sight of that fish was enough to hook me. I’ll be hunting steelhead from now on.
            March, April, and May are hot months for spring runs. If a few days of drift boat fishing for over grown trout on pristine waters, within a half days drive of Bloomington, sounds like fun to you, give Kevin a call at 231-898-4320. You can check out the Indigo website at www.indigoguideservice.com. If you need a wonderful place to stay, contact The Lamplighter Bed & Breakfast at 800-301-9792 or visit their website at www.ludington-michigan.com. For more information on steelhead fishing, stop by Indiana’s finest full service fly shop, FlyMaster’s of Indianapolis. Their website can be viewed at www.flymasters.com.
See you down the trail…………