North To The Future

Adventure is out there. | Fly fishing, Hunting, & more.

Great Start to the Year

So I have not updated a lot, mostly because life has been hectic, but it has been a great start to the year in terms of fishing. Opening weekend was a lot of fun for me, caught quite a few fish and the family and I really enjoyed being up north.

Memorial weekend was even better though, as I caught my biggest trout ever.  The pictures below are of my second one, the smaller of the two. This one was about 14″-15″ and quite a bit smaller than the bigger one, which is why I couldnt get a picture of that one. I am awaiting my net, so I had to be quick to let the other one go, no safe way to get a pic.

Brown Trout Memorial Day

I have a lot I want to catch up, but the Michigan season is definitely going well. It was somewhat cold to start, but the heat has really kicked in. I wont be going up until next weekend, but I got to fish Hendrickson’s and Brown Drakes so far, so I am pretty blessed. I don’t know if I will get to fish Hex, still havent had a chance to do so, but being up on the North Branch, I dont feel comfortable going to the Main to fish by myself, in unfamiliar water, at night.

I do have a few products to talk about, but that will have to wait for another post.

What has been the biggest blessing though, so far, is that my kids and I have had the chance to spend quite a bit of time together on the water. Watching kids catch and reel in fish is honestly better than catching them yourself. I swear, a 10″ brookie to a kid is like a 24″ brownie on the end of my line.

Right now, to beat the heat and beat the anxiousness of waiting to get back out there, I am busy tying. I am really attracted to fishing older classic patterns. I really dont know WHAT I am supposed to be fishing outside of reading blogs and books about what people use when. Hopefully that is enough… Can’t go wrong with Rusty Gates and Jerry Regan patterns.

The Long Weekend

So here we are at Memorial Day Weekend. A weekend first and foremost of honor and remembrance, and how fitting it is that it welcomes us to summer. The family and I packed up (probably too much stuff) and headed #UPNorth, as so many Michiganders before us, and still to this day, do for this holiday weekend.

We are doing double duty this weekend. Normally we are up here, but we are also celebrating my brother-in-laws 40th, so that should be fun as well. No one really fishes in that group, so I will once again be frequenting the river by myself or with the kids.

The one downer about the weekend is that it is supposed to be SOUPY.

Weekend Weather Image

This forecast is actually better than what it was yesterday but a combo of HOT and rainy, doesn’t lend itself to much fun when you are wearing waders and rain jackets. But, these are complaints that need not come on a weekend we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.

The river reports from Gate’s Lodge and Old Au Sable have been teasing all week that the weekend should be very productive.

I acquired a new toy for the kids to try, I am not certain it was a good decision, but it has been tickling my mind for a year now and I wanted to see if there was a way to make fishing with them something we could both do at the same time. I got a Tenkara Rod for them to try. I know, I know, this is a lightning rod of a subject for fly fishermen, but for a kids learning tool, especially when I have a  team that is 6, 4, & 2, you have to explore all options. It is a rather expensive experiment in the grand scheme of things but I wanted to see…

So now the big question seems to be: Sulphurs, Brown Drakes, Mattress Thrashers, Nymphs (so hard on the North Branch), or some wets? Heh, that’s the fun though isn’t it? Sidenote: This may be the weekend I finally give in and abandon my super cheap rubber waders, and invest in something actually breathable.

2016 Trout Opener

It is finally here – the Michigan 2016 Trout Opener. While this is somewhat of a misnomer, in that many waters are legally fishable all year, there are some streams that do indeed open this weekend. Plus, it is a ceremonial start to the dry fly season, one which is historically significant and treasured.

This year my family has been especially looking forward to, and excited, because last year was somewhat of a difficult season. I lost my mother 2 weeks into the season after a long battle with cancer, and we moved shortly after that. Needless to say, most of May, June, and July were out of sorts for us. But that is what is wonderful about fishing and hunting — your life and the seasons correspond. There is a constancy to life as it comes in the seasons. There are things to look forward to around the next bend, regardless of how things are on the particular stretch you are on.

The older I get, the more sentimental I get. The classical things in life are classics for a reason.

This year my kids who are all still 6 and under, have their own Feather Lite Eagle Claw fly rod to start the season. They also have a set of waders to share from Oakiwear. And I have a few more surprises up my sleeves for them, to make the opening weekend special for them. But that is what it is about for me right now — making it something special for my family. My wife cant fish right now, because we have a human tornado still, but the older kids can fish with me. But as I mentioned last year — fly fishing with kids is like falling over and swamping your waders, and then getting up and trying to fish when someone suddenly hands you a kid. Yes, it is that … interesting 🙂

But I cherish it. While I read blogs about all-day and all-night adventures, I look forward to the hour or two I might spend with each kid on the water. Sometimes I go out by myself, but for me… I’ve always felt that fishing is better with a friend. There is something about talking about how to best get that picky rising fish, or deciding together which fly to use. Plus, it is always nice to have someone confirm that your fish was indeed “way more than 10″ inches.” Pro-Tip: Kids are always willing to get excited about HOW HUGE a fish is… that is until you get home and they say, “it wasn’t that big.”

Trout Opener is special in Michigan regardless of how or whom you fish with. It is the sign of spring, it is the time of renewed chances and optimism. The Hendricksons will surely show, even if they don’t do so while you are on the water. Opener is the promise of new goals, and hopes and dreams. And if nothing else opener is a time to enjoy Pure Michigan and our #RiversofSand.

River Song Nets

River Song Nets have always caught my attention – check them out here. There are a lot of net makers out there, and a lot of nets you can can buy. But because of the name (Whovians will get my attraction) and the way John utilized social media, I felt like once I had saved some fishing money they would be the way I would go. I am getting close to making my purchase.

River Song Small Stream

Small Stream Net – River Song Nets

I have never really used a net while fly fishing. I have on occasion, but the main reason is that I have always tried to be very minimal with my gear. But as I am catching more fish, and bigger fish, I realize that handling them in more responsible ways is important.

River Song Nets have a full line of nets from small stream, curved handle, medium nets, and even boat/guide length nets. John will also do custom nets for you, and while those are a little more pricey, I have seen some of his work on Facebook and Instagram, and if I was a guide or had the coin, I’d be picking my wood, and getting some sort of inlaid image.

Curved Handle  River Song Nets

Curved Handle Net

Right now I am deciding on the small stream version or the curved handle which I just really like the look of. I honestly don’t know which way I’d want the curve though, because I have all my reels Right-Hand Winds, not because I am a lefty, but because I fishing bait casters so much in Alaska that I just got used to RHW.

The Importance of Quality

One of the reasons I haven’t bought a net, is that a lot of the nets that are, less expensive or value nets, are often a poor quality or made over seas. Now, not everything I fish with is top quality, MADE in the USA, and I wish it was, but all of it is quality gear in the sense that either the company or the brand backs it up. I believe that certain things, deserve to be of high quality with a bit of legacy or heirloom built into them. River Song Nets, by my impression, seems to be a company just like that.

Here is a description about the company and the effort and artistry put into the crafting of each and every River Song Net:

Each Riversong net is meticulously handcrafted, one by one, at a small shop in rural North Western New Jersey. Locally sourced hardwoods are used when available to construct handles and hoops. If a net calls for it, or it is requested Riversong will use certain species of sustainable sourced exotic woods as well.

Each net is hand signed and numbered, as John considers them to be a piece of functional art. From the small stream model, all the way up to our steel head models each one is designed to be a perfect match of form and function with the goal of landing your catch, and releasing it will minimal handling and harm.

Each net to be a labor of love, a combination of John’s love for fishing, watershed habitat and woodworking. We look forward to seeing each and every one of our clients enjoying their nets for years to come.

A cool promotional video was also made, and is worth watching:

Fly Testing: Stacked Hackle Hendrickson

This Stacked Hackle Hendrickson pattern is one I am learning to tie. I love tying dries, but this one is a touch more complicated. I am doing some with the hen wings, and some without, simply adding more of a dun/spinner look with added hackle. Anything with deer hair bodies, you really need to make sure you measure correctly. The tail can get wild and bushy, like on this one if you place the hair too far back. This was my first attempt, the subsequent ones were much nicer.

I think one of the most important things I learned about tying flies is that you have to tie several of the same ones in a row. I have such a tendency to tie a pattern, then change up the next one – new size hook, alteration to the pattern, different materials. But to really nail and refine a pattern, you have to keep tying them. Place them in order, and after each one take a look at what you are doing better, and what you still need to improve. I like to imagine I am going to brag to the person whose pattern it is, or a fly guru I know that I can tie a certain pattern. Then I look at them and think where the fly is problematic — we can always improve.

What do you all think? This pattern catches fish, even through the middle of the summer — just need to make them a little tighter, and more streamlined. They have a great profile.

Seasons on the Au Sable

I am so excited — I finally got my hands on a copy of Seasons on the Au Sable, by the late Rusty Gates of Gates Au Sable Lodge fame.

The book isn’t that old but from what I can tell, it only went through one (possibly two) small print runs. Because of that, and Gates’ unfortunate passing a few years later, it is possible that we may not see another printing for a while. The secondary or “USED” market is quite sparse. While at the Mid West Fly Fishing Expo I asked the two book sellers there, and only one had a copy recently, and that sold immediately. (Just under $100 if I remember correctly.) So when I searched Amazon, and finally found one that didn’t cost the price of a fly reel, I bought it.

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The Dry (Fly) Season

We are approaching the most wonderful time of the fishing year: Dry Fly Season!

The most wonderful time of year! #dryflies #hackle #flyfishing #riversofsand #trout #yeti

A photo posted by Joe 🎣🇺🇸 (@north2thefuture) on

Now I know some of you are probably stream junkies, and part of the #SmallJawSyndicate – and while I don’t discriminate, I do have to say I both love TYING and Throwing dry flies – which is why DRY FLY Season is my favorite. I have my particular favorites; I am a big fan of parachutes but I also tie a little bit of everything. There is something very rewarding in tying a dry fly – the knowledge that there is balance, flotation, vision, and mimicry involved.

But I think the fact that because of the nature of my fishing to this point in my life, the dry fly season is when I get to go to my favorite waters and get frustrated there. I know there are fish and so I know when I dont hit them, I am doing something wrong.

My goal this year is to do much better with 3 things:

Stacked Hackle Hendrickson - Dry Fly Season

Stacked Hackle Hendrickson

  1. Tie in better wings / posts with deer hair. (See: Borcher’s Parachute )
  2. Tie better deer hair bodies Robert’s style (See: Stacked Hackle Hendrickson)
  3. Tie a better Stacked Hackle (Ibid: Stacked Hackle Hendrickson)

As for fishing the dries, my biggest nemesis is going to be continuing to push myself to fish new water. I am somewhat limited in my ability to do this, and as I either fish alone or with my young kids there is a certain hindrance to the exploration that I can do. That said, getting out on my “home waters” is more than enough for me most days. I love hitting the same water and trying to pull fish from spots that I know they are sitting in, but it is just unlocking the code.

That is what makes dry fly fishing so much fun. With a rising fish, it is outsmarting them at their own game. It is doing all the things you tell yourself you must do, and executing on it. Or, if the fish aren’t rising, it is fishing out what fly, what drift, and where to put that fly to make that magical rise come out of nowhere and strike!

It all starts with the tying though….

The River of Life – Catching Up

It has been a while since my last post. Fly fishing though is so integral to whom I am at this point, that I knew I would pick this back up at some point. But let me catch you up quickly…

Around the time of the post just prior to this, which was actually last summer/fall I started having some (for lack of a better explanation) health issues. Nothing serious per se, but it knocked me out of the fall fishing game, and hunting had its issues as well. Into the winter, I refocused my efforts and energies on getting better and more stable with work and family. I know the rivers will be there, and while I found a few opportunities to fish, I wanted to be able to hit the ground running this year, and so I took it easy.

As I work in digital and online media, I know how these things work: most people wont read this post. But, since I don’t know what my next posts will be, some may stumble on to it after the fact, and I would like to write an update for posterity.

Recent Update:

We recently made a trek down to Florida, and I did  a little fishing there, nothing serious. Some canal time and a little bit of surf and flats-on-foot fishing. Nothing much to write home about except some bass, some puffer fish, and almost a shark. (I won’t mention catching the pelican who ate a puffer still on my line.)

I went to the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo this weekend with my son, and that got me rolling again. The next day we watched The River.

So, now I am ramping up to Trout Opener in Michigan. That means tying and getting things all set up. I’d really like to ramp up this blog with lots of cool things, but honestly with my job, my family, and fishing — this blog is going to be much lower on the priority list. Plus, I am looking to (and may have some) help some on the side clients within the fishing world with digital media.

Finally, I thought about scrapping this blog, because you don’t really want PRODUCT out there that doesn’t put your best foot forward, but I got a note from someone on some forums about how much they enjoyed a post on here and wished I would pick things back up. So — that’s what I will do. I will try and keep things simple, rather than over-reaching and falling short.

But please, if you read I have two requests:

  1. Spread the word. Please link to my posts, Tweet at me, about me, and link my posts, and let others know I am willing to help with digital media. I will explain about that in future posts.
  2. Tell what you like to read! A blog is for both the writer and the reader. I was thinking of doing more product reviews, cross-posting, and was even thinking of putting some flies up for swap and purchase. I love tying, but I really do over-tie at this point, so I would love to find a home for some flies.

Look forward to getting things going again.

The New (to me) Fly Rod & Reel Setup

So while it is surely the dog-days of summer, I will be giving The New (to me) Fly Rod & Reel Setup its maiden voyage this week on the #RiversofSand this week. I know it seems weird to be breaking in a 4wt in August, but I lost dry fly fishing. I almost exclusively do it. Mostly because I love it, and secondarily because I am quite dreadful at other types of fly fishing (nymphing, wet flies, etc…). I guess I can swing and strip a streamer but when it comes to the more subtle and technical methods, I just dont fish waters that are easy or conducive to it.

I have teased my new rod and reel set up quite a bit, and while I am not ready for a FULL post on the full list of details until I get to fish it on the river (the North Branch of the Au Sable) I purchased it for, I can say that the one time out on an urban stream is making me excited.

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So much foam!

So much foam! I could probably tie these together and have a raft. So much fun to tie!

So much Foam!

Foam Flies!

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