It’s ugly — too ugly for fishing. The trees are bending to their roots from a wind that is white with pellet-y snow. I tried to talk myself into it but I just couldn’t think of what to do, so I didn’t do anything. Well, John and I messed around with some deer hair. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to cut it and settled on a little battery-powered circular saw. Voila! It’s looking good, folks, and it won’t be long until the first batch is live. So far we have Iso spinner and Purple Daze hair done and getting cut. The belly hair we have is some of the finest parachute hair we’ve ever had. When it’s ready to go it’ll be at www.gatesflyshop.com.
The next week I’m sure there’ll be some fishing to be had. Today Lance and I are going to go do something. Not sure what, but something. Usually we will try an unusual technique just to see if we can catch a fish doing it. Once you know how to catch them in the winter, you start to experiment. The last few years I’ve done a fair bit of upstream streamer fishing. That works. Now I want to play around with a subtle indicator rig that can be fished upstream to sighted fish while also functioning as a blind fishing tool. One thing I have learned is that trout in the winter — particularly early or late in the winter (this being early) — are much more aggressive in their feeding positions than one might expect.
Todays fly is a classic. It’s not my favorite fly to tie, and truth be told I’ve never tied them commercially, but I gave it a crack. This is one of a dozen suggested flies I received to tie on video this winter. So here goes one of the best night flies that’s ever been tied: The HLS Blaster. This is my friend Charlie’s take on the Houghton Lake Special. The deer hair head makes a bigger wake, but it also gives the trout a bit of a target, and I think having a target on a fly is important, and is a feature I’ve incorporated in a number of my flies, and especially my night flies.
And, finally, it’s time to talk about the proposed National Guard expansion here on the Fishing Report. To summarize, the proposed expansion would double the size of Camp Grayling (which is already 230 square miles).
This expansion is no good for the river or the area, or your ability visit and enjoy the river and the area. That’s why virtually no one up here wants the expansion. I mean, in the world of bad ideas involving the Au Sable and Manistee, this might be the single most unpopular one yet. Yep, it might be more universally unpopular than fracking, the fish farm, Kolke Creek and the Savoy Gas Well combined! I’ve included my open letter to Governor Whitmer and DNR Director Eichinger below.
If you need more information, I think the Au Sable River Property Owners page has a great write-up with concerns, and the website 230 is Enough (and their Facebook Page) is completely devoted to stopping the expansion. If you want more specifics, send me an email and we can chat. I’ve included below a letter I’ve written to Governor Whitmer and DNR Director Eichinger. If you feel confidently opposed, I hope you’ll check out and sign this petition. You may choose to write your letters directly:
An Open Letter to Governor Whitmer and DNR Director Eichinger
Re: National Guard Expansion
As we are likely approaching a decision date regarding the proposed expansion of the Camp Grayling National Guard Base – a proposal that would double the size of Camp Grayling, which at 230 square miles is already the largest National Guard Base in the country – Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer and DNR Director Dan Eichinger must consider the following:
Hardly anyone in Northern Michigan wants to expand Camp Grayling. Not one township has come out in favor of the expansion. Not one outspoken citizen group. Not one conservation group. There is no pro-expansion…anything.
There are, however, thirteen (13!) local governments that are formally and publicly in opposition to the proposed expansion. There is a petition with over 4,500 signatures (and counting). An anti-expansion Facebook page with over 5,000 members. Numerous conservation and environmental groups at the local and state level that are steadfastly opposed to the expansion. From my perspective, here’s why such overwhelming opposition exists:
- Already: Camp Grayling is already the biggest guard base in the country and Crawford County is the county with the most National Guard land in the entire USA.
- Public: The land the expansion would occupy is public land, the access to which has been a summer saver for many visitors and locals alike when large swaths of other public land are closed to Guard activity. And…it’s public land!
- Bait and Switch: The expansion land use – which is supposedly going to be “low impact” – can be changed through agreement between the DNR and the Guard.
- Incompetence: The maps released in the proposal featured 5 new artillery firing points even as citizens were told there wouldn’t be 5 new artillery firing points (“a mistake,” said Colonel Meyers). In August, boats laden with Guard-members did operations on the Manistee river (“a mistake,” said Colonel Meyers…again).
- What?: A paid DNR staff person has been lobbying, on the public’s dime, for the expansion through a series of wildly ineffective town-hall pro-expansion sales pitches.
- Unnecessary: This expansion has been and will continue to be a major resource drain on the already underfunded DNR.
- How we survive up here: Our Northern Michigan economy relies on access to rivers and lakes and creeks and trails. Many of these features are already closed or compromised for large parts of the summer due to current Guard activity.
- PFAS: We are still struggling, as a community, with PFAS pollution from past National Guard endeavors.
No county in America has more National Guard land than Crawford County, Michigan. This isn’t a Not In My Back Yard situation, because it is already in our backyard. Like the townships, petition, website, Facebook page, yard signs, editorials and letters are trying to tell you: 230 is enough.
Used Rods and Reels:
Hardy Zenith Sintrix 9′ 5wt – $400
Hardy Pro Axis Sintrix 9′ 7wt – $400
Orvis Helios 8’6″ 5wt Mid Flex – $350
Sage Xi2 9′ 9wt – $400
Sage Xi2 9′ 8wt – $500
Orvis Superfine 7’6″ 3wt – $300 (Newer Style)
Orvis Hydros 9′ 6wt Midflex – $250
Tibor Everglades with 1 extra spool (Black) – $700
Abel Super 8 (Black) – $450
Ross Evolution 2 (original style) with 1 extra spool, black – $400
Sage 3400D with 2 extra spools, black – $350
Sage 3400D with 1 extra spool, Black and silver – – $300
Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor II with 1 extra spool – $200
Winter Hours: We are open every day from 9 am – 2 pm except for 11/15, 11/24, and 12/24, 12/25, 12/31, and 1/1. We also have open rooms through the winter.