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River Results from fall 2001 and Winter-Spring 2002

 Home Salmon Busters™ Great Lakes Info Tips and Trix Capt. John's Log

Results 2002


4/22/02  The "Jim & Don Show" was on today.  Jim wanted to fish the river for Steelhead even after I informed him, it might be a tough go.  High water was a problem, with plenty of debris that kept fouling our lures.  However, the biggest problem from what I saw today was, the spring run of Steelhead is over.  While there'll be some available at Tippy Dam until the end of the month, take it from me the "parties over."  Last week's warm spell cause a premature end to good fishing. 
                         Click here for winter-spring 2002 Steelhead synopsis
   Now, for the lowdown on how we did.  During the 9 hours we spent on the BMR, we missed two half hearted tugs, and boated a spawning hen in the 6 lb. class.  Don's fast reaction time, coupled with his great rod expertise made sure we didn't get skunked.  The river was completely deserted from the swarms of a few weeks ago, and both Don and Jim were very congenial and a pleasure to fish with.    Click here for Don's fish   

4/21/02  I'll be readying the riverboat on the for tomorrow's BMR adventure with Jim H.  A day off from the lake is maybe what I need, because I haven't been able to put together a reel good day on the Brown Trout thing yet.  Murphy's law has been in effect all during March and April thus far, I'm hoping for an improvement.
   The way things stand I've lost a minimum of 5 charters due to either super high water on the BMR, or miserable conditions on Lake Michigan.  It's often been said, "into each life, a little rain must fall," but why does it have to be a gully washer? o

4/12/02  Gene and Tom came back today for a second helping after yesterday's success on Lake Michigan.  In spite of my warnings about the high water on the BMR, they wanted to fish for Steelhead.  Well, the outcome as I expected wasn't so hot, because we caught 1 fairly decent Steelhead and had a micro Trout interested.  I explained in great detail that our chances were sparse before heading down river in the morning, but it fell on deaf ears.  Click here for Gene's fish
    Why? Because, you got to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.  Meaning, my style of fishing the BMR doesn't lend itself to extremely high water and heavy current flow.  High water expands the Steelhead's play ground and the entire river becomes attractive to them, just not the holes, or runs! 

4/8/02  Dan and Len were my illustrious anglers for today's expedition on the BMR.  We fished from about 8am to 1pm and hit 4 Steelhead, boating 2 fish in the process.  Dan scored both fish, while Len's 2 strikes were evil, nasty critters and managed to escape unharmed.  Dan did a masterful job on both fish, by handling his rod like a seasoned pro.  All in all, for the time we spent in pursuit of Steelhead, I'd say our action was reel OK! Click here for Dan & Len's catch

4/7/02  10:00am update Snow! is falling at 10:00am, snowy and a driving wind is the conditions right now, here in Manistee County.  It's just plain miserable outside, old man winter is dying a slow agonizing death and just won't let go!  
   Yesterday was busy, busy, busy!  Readying the Cherokee for it inaugural swim of the season, ate up a bunch of time (might be delayed today due to the snow).  Tackle is sorted and the reels were loaded with new 15 pound test mono, so to the Mr. Brown Trout family, get prepared, several of you will see the inside of my fish box very soon.   I'll be sending out an E-mail Updates letter soon, plus I stopped procrastinating  and built a much needed page called: Capt. John's Tackle Store

4/5/02  Larry Lisicki and his most excellent son, Russ were my anglers for today's undertaking on the BMR.  We had a better than expected day, boating 3 Steelhead from 8 to plus 10 pounds, for 5 strikes and 4 "hooked up."  Our day started about 7:30am and we headed for the boat launch by 1:00pm, so for the amount of time fished, we did pretty darn good!  The Friday crowd was just starting to build up as we left, and this Friday's multitude were a bunch more courteous, than the neophytes of last Friday's chaos.  Both Larry and Russ displayed an undemanding temperament and were really enjoyable to fish with. 
 Click here for Russ's 1st Steelhead of the day    Click here for their catch photo

4/4/02  Today was not my day!  Although, we had 2 line ripping strikes, neither one stayed hooked up for very long.  My guests were Pontiac Fireman, Kelly O'Brien and his 10 year son, Patrick.  Kelly was more than nice enough to bring his "famous" pineapple upside down cake, but the Steelhead weren't benevolent to us at all.  We fished from about 8am until noon, and slow fishing meant, I wasn't going to push Patrick's patience switch to the limit.  Then my brakes let go at the boat ramp, just to make my day even more miserable, not to mention the $$ repair bill. 

4/3/02  The father-son team of Rod and Jason were my guests for today's do on the BMR.  We had 6 very hard strikes and 4 Steelhead found their way into our net.  The "reel deal" was the monster Jason got "hooked up."  This fish was a gritty ruffian that tested all 3 of us to the max.  Patience was the key ingredient in landing this brute after a extensive hostilities, Rod expertly ran the anchor in a controlled drift, so I could net this "bad boy." 
    Click for Jason's Monster  Click here for Rod's large male   Click here for  catch photo 
Prior to the super-hog lunker. Rod landed a couple fish, including a large male.  Now, even including if we throw in the 12 hen Jason took later, nothing compared to the hog lunker, battle royal we all took part in.  Today's weather was a potpourri with snow, sleet, cold winds and sunshine, keeping the fair weather fishermen off the BMR. 

4/2/02  I had better than a great time today with Bishop Foley's leading algebra and physics teacher, Mr. David Stacknic.  Dave is a rare treat for me, because we both share the excitement of the strike, even if the fish escapes!  During the course of the 8 hours we spent on the Big Manistee River we had 6 especially explosive bites, and boated 3 Steelhead for his limit catch.  Dave never lost a hooked up fish, and handled all duties beyond pro-caliber, which I came to  appreciate fully.  Click for Dave's 2 striper male    Click for Dave's large hen
    The weather was ideal for a good day, being overcast and just snowy enough to keep most fishermen off the river.  It was an unparalleled outing!  I forgot to add, Dave kept saying to his brother Bill, "having lot's of fun, wish you were here!"

4/1/02  3:00pm The father-son team of Roger and Paul B. were my fishing partners for today's voyage on the BMR and did I enjoy their easy going company.  While it was kind of a chilly morning, but we got off to a respectable start with Paul nailing a 7 pound hen in our second "hole."  We then tried a few more areas until Roger caught another Steelhead, due to his quick reactions to a very soft strike.  
    We fished for about 4 hours before cutting the outing short, so that Paul and Roger can return later this month for another trip.  Besides, I needed more time to work on the lake boat before the 2002 season's inaugural launching for Lake Michigan Brown Trout, if it ever warms up? Click here for Roger & Paul's catch
    If you're over 21 and would like to see a "reel nude" picture of April's "First Mate" of the Month and not easily offended by full-blown nudity, click on this very exciting link: Hot, Wild & Completely Nude April First Mate of the Month   


3/29/02  5:00pm  Long time friends of Kings Charter, Andy and Char Grendes were my esteemed guests for today's passage on the BMR.  Even with Good Friday's traffic congestion we still had a successful outing, boating 3 Steelhead to 12 pounds.
                  Click here for Char's fish    Click here for both Andy & Char 
Both Andy and Char are successful anglers in their own right on Lake Erie and Lake Michigan, so these folks know how to fish and enjoy the day.  In fact, being with them was above enjoyable for me.  The Grendes are great fun to fish with!

3/28/02pm  Had the opportunity to spend the day with two accomplished anglers named Don and Kevin Pipe.  This father- son twosome knew how to fish as a team.  Kevin's alertness, coupled with Don's patience meant we landed 3 respectable hens and in the last "hole" of the today Don boated a hefty- sized male between the 10 to 12 pound mark.  Click here for catch photo          Click here for Kevin's female
   I thoroughly enjoyed the first class company of both Kevin and Don, as our 8 hours on the Big Manistee River flew by.  The weather was kind to us, and the only downside was, it was a little to windy to fish some of my best producing areas. 

3/27/02am  I'll be fishing the BMR tomorrow Don Pipe and company and the weather forecast is on our side for a good chance at a respectable outcome.  Plus, the water temperature has risen to almost 37 degrees.  By the looks of things we're finally starting to develop a spring pattern to our weather.  Click here for my electronics array  
    Because of a cancellation today (no big deal) I spent most of yesterday installing the electronics and batteries on my lake boat.  Thought you might like to see what my "office" looks like when I'm on lake Michigan.  Still hope to launch by the weekend. 

3/26/02pm  I had the opportunity today to fish with two "Top-Notch" anglers named Bob and Scott Kietzman.  Bob won the photo contest and was here to claim his prize.  While Bob got the free trip, he also landed his largest River Steelhead thus far, it was a evil male exceeding 13 pounds, full of all-out aggression.  This was a tremendous slugfest for the 3 of us to contend with, with Scott earning the title "Ultra Pro" for the expertly maneuvering boat, so I could scoop up Bob's trophy Steelhead with the net.  Click here for catch photo    Click here for Bob's super trophy
    "Ultra Pro" Scott masterfully caught the first fish and Bob landed one earlier, but neither of these fish put up the scrap the largest male did.  The weather was civilized to us, and we fished in comfort from 9am to 2pm without the heaters running.  Imagine that........ finally a tolerable day, rather than the tundra express!  

3/26/02am  I'm fishing today with Bob, the winner of the photo contest who won this trip.  We're not gonna start fishing until at least 9am, because of the recent cold spell.  While I'm not going the serve any cheese with this whine, I'm at the end of my rope when it comes to this prolonged wintry weather we're experiencing this March.  I'm not going get snow blindness, or willing suffer from hypothermia in quest of Steelhead on the Big Manistee River anymore this year.  I hope my sentiments echo yours, because this winter stuff has lasted way too long!

3/25/02  2:00pm  The bottom fell out of the thermometer this morning with lows in the single digits.  Well, this didn't exactly help the activity level of Mr. S. Head, although we did have 2 strikes and boated a decent hen.   Sylvia and Gene have fished with me for many seasons, and we decided to call it a day at around 11am.  It was just plain cold! Good thing we did, because I broke the forward shift cable, then got a soaker of a wet foot, when I got out of the boat to jury rig the flap-gate valve on the jet-pump. 
   It never did warm up past the freezing mark and after last Friday's glacial episode on the BMR, my fighting the frigid weather is over.  Why, because it's just no fun and that's what my guests and I fish for.  Oh well, if the fishing business was that easy there'd be more folks foolish enough to do it.  Click here for Syl's fish

3/25/02am   Woke up the Cherokee from it's very long winter's sleep.  I took it home from the heated storage building in Wellston I use.  I'm on the river everyday this week, so check back later for results.  My guest today is Gene Commire and I'm hoping the brutal butt whipping the Steelhead took over the weekend don't completely shut the fish down.  We need a few Steelhead to strike.....reel fact!

3/24/02   I went to the zoo at the High Bridge boat launch on the BMR today, at about 3:30pm.  There was at least 25 boat trailers with no place to park.  The word "heavy traffic" doesn't describe what I saw.  Mailed several lure and snubber packs in Manistee also.  Let all hope, the winter-like conditions we've been experiencing will break towards spring reel soon!  

3/23/02  Catching up on this weeks tackle orders and a trip to the Post Office is in store for me today.  My 28 foot Cherokee comes out of it's winter storages long nap.  Next weeks weather in Manistee County looks much better that what we've experienced this week.  They're calling for temps approaching 50 by next Saturday.

3/22/02  Hockey's former 5 time NFL Super Star, Al Iafrate wisely chose not to fish today.  Falling water temperatures, poor weather and not an overabundance of Steelhead were good enough reasons not to go.
   The most remarkable thing about Al Iafrate is that, even though he's experienced fame and success, he is a down to earth "Reel Person."  Al the "Master Blaster" now offers personalized, or team orientated hockey training.  He can be reached at: (734) 612-7286 for more information about improving hockey skills. 

3/21/02  I was on the BMR with father and son duo of Barry and Tim Farr today in some of the worst conditions imaginable.  The weather was beyond pathetic, with wind chill readings hovering in the single digits, gusts to 25 mph and snow squalls.  Normal people would have thrown in the towel, but Tim is a Steelhead fishermen's, fisherman.  By the sounds of things, Tim was very conversant and has been fishing the complete Manistee River system for least the last 30 years.  Click here for Barry's Steelhead  
   Our action consisted of 4 strikes in the 6 frosty hours we spent on the river, with Barry boating a decent hen in our second "hole."  Looking for a place out of the wind, we found a semi-glory "hole" producing 3 bites for us.  Like I said, Tim is a reel Steelhead fisherman and played a cantankerous large hen, expertly!  If Tim wasn't up here from Alabama, I probably wouldn't have left my driveway, reel fact! Click here for Tim's fish

3/20/02  On the  first day of Spring 2002, the father-son team  of Alf and John Colvin were my well-regarded company for today.  We hit a couple of fish early in the morning, but unfortunately neither rascal stayed stuck for very long.  The word struggle best describes our day thus far, when the outside rod doubled over with a 8 pound hen on it.  Alf showed the proficiency with a fishing rod that runs in the Colvin family and whipped the hard fighting Steelhead after a dogged fracas.  Click here for Alf's Steelhead that saved our day!
    Getting back to the "struggle part" we decided together, the fish were not in an overly aggressive mood, so we quit very early and contented ourselves in the fact, we weren't skunked!  I'd like to thank for Alf and John for letting me have most of the afternoon off to catch up on long neglected paper work and tackle packaging.  

3/20/02  SPRING IS SPRUNG TODAY AT 2:00PM........................AT LAST!  
On today's calendar, Mr. John Colvin aka "Salmon Slayer" is going to be in the attack mode on the BMR.  Several Steelhead have heard that John C. was gonna be on the river today and have headed for shelter already.  I hope a brave few will whack our baits! As Paul  Harvey would say, "click here for the rest of the stories" 

3/19/02  Cindy and Roger Hicks were my honored guests today for a Big Manistee River Steelhead adventure.  Man, we had a heck of a magnificent time on the BMR, boating 3 Steelhead to the 12 pound range and only missing one bite.  Let me add, the weather was more than respectable too, with temps in the low 40's. 
    The "reel story" is how the day unfolded, we hit 2 fish right off the bat, then lockjaw set in until the very last hole of the day.  Then rod closest to the bank took a thunderous bash, with line ripping violently off the reel, as Cindy struggled to remove it from the rod holder.  We were in business with one mean, villainous Steelhead that tested her talent with a rod.  However, Cindy tolerantly wore the nasty critter down, as Roger handled boat positioning.   I cautiously slid the net under huge double striped male of about 12 pounds that could be called "Mr. Greased Lighting."   Click here for Cindy and Roger's double striped male

3/18/02  Finished up the Novi Boat Show in a grand fashion by personally meeting with over 50 members of the E-mail Updates List.  Thanks to all of you who took time out of your very busy schedule to drop by and say hello.......I appreciate it!
   I'll be fishing the Big Manistee River a bunch this week, so stay tuned for the "latest and greatest" about how the river and the fishing is doing.  It feels reel good to be back home again and I hope to have more than a few, very personal encounters, beginning tomorrow, with Mr. Steel Head.  I'll be starting the process to splash the lake boat for Lk. Michigan Brown Trout by the first week of April too.

3/14/02  I'll be at the Novi Boat Show starting today (the 14th) and running thru this Sunday, March the 17th.  Come on by if you live in SE Michigan.  I'll have the "Dirty Dozen" Streak deal and Stealth Snubbers available to E-mail Updates Members.  Plus, it's good to met folks on the other side of this computer screen.

3/13/02  I was supposed today fish with Ted Hensen, however car problems prevented him from making it.  Mr. Henson was more than decent enough to call and make sure I had received the deposit for today's date.  In a case of "tough luck" unlike most other charter operations, I'll forward the deposit to another trip.
    This evening I sent out a "inside info" message for members of the E-mail Updates List and getting everything "good to go" for the upcoming Novi Boat Show at the Novi Expo Center.  I'm in booth 81 and the show dates are: March 14th thru 17th, 2002. Come on by and say hello, if you're in the area.

3/12/02  "Gone Catchin' Today" the sign reads here at World Headquarters of Kings Charter.  I had the honor to fish with Bob Ladd and his long time friend, Walt.  We had an excellent time, boating 5 large Steelhead to the 12 pound mark in about the 7 hours we spent on the Big Manistee River.  Plus, Bob and Walt landed every "hooked up" fish and only missed 2 strikes for pretty darn good average.  Click here for Bob & Walt's awesome catch
   The day was beautiful for March, being sunny and temperatures in the low 40's.  The water was very high and was murky light brown in color.  To sum up our action, it more than I expected for the conditions. 

3/11/02  Tippy Dam is at full bore, and the river is flowing around 4000 cubic feet of water per second and that means the water is over the banks, especially in the lower river.  For that reason I cancelled today's event with Len Mitchell, because the waters just to high for a successful trip.  I'm not going to fight with the debris and super high water.  Hopefully, the water will subside somewhat before tomorrow's trip with Bob Ladd, or more simply put, I'm not into exercises in futility.  Click here for recent flow data on the Big Manistee River

3/10/02  Tippy Dam is at full-tilt boogie, flowing at better than 2620 cubic feet of water per second.  Also, the water temp has risen slightly to 35.06 degrees.  High water means more fish, as the river enters into Lake Michigan calling more Steelhead home to visit with me, and my guests.  Monday should be pretty decent and most of the debris will be rinsed by then, but I'll need to add more anchor.  
   The message board is "VERY HOT" over the controversial subject of the before, un-allowed commercial netting that's facing all of us now in Mid-Lake Michigan.  
          Click here to read or take part in the dialog on the message board

3/9/02  The river temperature is holding stable at 34.7° and they haven't went to high water yet.  I do believe they'll be turning up the flow from 1,680 to 1,870 cubic feet per second water soon.  I'll be on the river with guests Monday thru Wednesday until I have to leave for the Novi Boat Show.  So, look for a "hands on" updated fishing reports soon and photos of the, "big one that didn't get away."  

3/8/02  We're getting hit with a gully washer today!  More water in the BMR means more fish and this is just what we needed to sustain the improved Steelheading.  Prospects for this coming week look outstanding.
   The message board is heating up over the controversial subject of the before, un-allowed commercial netting that's facing us now in Mid-Lake Michigan.  
          Click here to read or take part in the dialog on the message board

3/6/02  I was my honor and privilege to fish the BMR today with Jim Pena and his father Hector.  Hector was the "Champion Fisherman Supreme," because he fought and landed a reel trophy Steelhead in the 36 inch range and I estimated the fish at 16 pounds!  The was a large male, worthy of a great photo, but my camera died and no photo was possible.  Jim landed a hard hitting Steelhead in the 10 pound class earlier in the morning before the camera quit.  Click here for Jim's Steelhead
    Our 6 hours spent on the river, consisted of 4 strikes, 3 fish hooked up and 2  boated.  Which in all reality was more than OK, because the river had cooled down 2 degrees (to 34 degrees) and was low and clear, remarkable for the conditions! 

3/5/02  I'll be fishing the river tomorrow with Jim P.  At first it looked like he weather would be too nasty, but now the forecast for today and tomorrow is temperatures in the 30's.  Steelheading should be decent on Wednesday.  
   Spent yesterday shoveling 2 feet snow off my roof, and digging out from the weekend storm.  Also, I posted a calendar of remaining March and April open dates in case you might be interested in booking a reel-fishing event with me.

3/4/02  To anyone thinking it was gonna be an early Great Lakes Trolling Season, you'd better think again, it's still winter outside and not much improvement is in sight until next weekend when they're calling for much warmer temperatures.   
    Because of the near blizzard conditions and falling temperatures into the single digits, I cancelled yesterday's trip with Joe and Jerry.  Today looked like more of the same, so I contacted Dave S. and told him, "I wasn't into extreme sports."  If it's gonna be miserable, I'd sooner lose the pay, rather than ruin our day!  We've got hit by at least 18 inches of snow in Manistee during the past couple of days.

3/02/02  Pete Dwan and Mark were my respected fishing team for today.  To best describe what happened on the trip, all I can say is it was one of those days that tries your soul.  We had 5 of the tenacious critters hooked and not one of them made it to the net.  These were evil fish who knew exactly how to put a butt whipping on us.  I don't know what the deal was, but Pete, Mark, or myself understood why we were on such a run bad luck!  A major snow storm throughout the day might have caused our problems (being desperate for an excuse), or let's try this one: "that's why they call it fishin' and not catchin'!" Hey, at least we had 5 fish hooked up, and experienced decent action on a very snowy day.

3/1/02  Man, did we have a great time on the river with "Walleye Bruce" and Jim Baron, who booked the do.  Today's tag team both "limited out" in a grand fashion, going 6 for 6 on hooked up fish.  We fished from 9am to 1pm and had 7 extremely hard "Slam Dunk" strikes.  Click here for "WB" & Jim's catch photo
    In my 17 years of guiding, maybe only 10 sets of fishermen have scored a flawless record in rodsmanship, and these accomplished fishermen made it look easy in spite of my over-anxious coaching.   This perfect record can only be rivaled by the warm and good natured company of Bruce and Jim.  Great day, and terrific fishermen to boot!  It was nice to see some Steelhead in the BMR for a change.


2/28/02  I'll be getting ready for the pleasure of fishing to Big Manistee River with Jim Baron tomorrow.  Also, I checked out my dock at Solberg's Marina today.  I was not happy to see the water level has dropped least one foot since Oct. of 2001. 
I know, for the last 2 days the info I've been sharing with you, has not been good!

2/27/02  Disturbing reports from Ludington concerning commercial nets being set in shallow water, close to shore have been filtering in.  At this time, I'd say it's just rumors, but we don't know for sure.  Click here for dialog at the message board about this very important subject that concerns all of us.

2/26/02   Starting this Friday, I'll be fishing the Big Manistee River on a pretty regular basis.  March signals building interest to all Steelhead fishermen and I have about 5 open dates I'm willing to accept.  If you're interested in a river trip, now is the time to let me know.  I'll try to get a March and April calendar posted on the web soon, in case you want to see if something might fit into your schedule.
Spent most of the day completing neglected tasks from being away from home for 3 days.  I've ordered more Streaks for Capt. John's "Dirty Dozen," but all existing orders have been filled.  If you plan on attending the Novi Boat Show, March 14th thru the 17th, let me know if you'd like a dozen brought to the show.

2/25/02  I had a great time at the Flint Steelheaders Show, which I completed this past weekend.  I had the distinguished honor of meeting many of the members of the E-mail Updates List, including "Big Bob" who signs his messages "Sara Ann" (his boat name).  While some might have thought the "Sara Ann" member of the message board might be a highly eligible women with a well-rigged Salmon fishing boat (a perfect mate for marriage?).  Let me tell you, "Big Bob" is giant of a man and at least 6 foot 6 inches tall and sports a very thick beard.
   Also, made contact with George Richey and will be offering his product line soon.  "I had an enjoyable time in Flint with all of you dedicated Salmon fishermen who took the time to come to the show".......Thanks! 

2/22/02  Hi ho, hi ho, it's off the Flint I go.  I'll be at the Flint Steelheaders Sport Show at the IMA Area from February 22nd thru the 24th.  To quote the "Price is Right," "come on down!"  Hope to see some you dedicated Salmon fishermen there! 

2/21/02  I fished the BMR today with a couple of grand sportsman named Ed and  George.  Ed came all the way from Florida to experience winter Steelheading, all be it may, it was kinda the slow side for us today.
   In the first "hole" in the morning Ed tied into a decent fish right off the bat.  Ed handled the fish with ease, although the fish was on the cantankerous side.  We had 3 more strikes as the day progressed, but none of the other hits hooked up.  Good guys and a good day to be on the river, is my summation. 

2/20/02  Packing, counting spoons and addressing packages took up a bunch of my time today.  Wanted to get my first shipment in the mail yesterday, but needed to get US Priority tape and boxes.  First shipment is already addressed and ready to go now and will be in the mail before 5pm today.  Post Office being closed Monday slowed the process somewhat.  It will be a relief fishing the BMR tomorrow, compared to sorting spoons.  Hopefully, the light rain we got last night will help.

2/19/02  I'll be mailing via US Priority Mail some of the "Dirty Dozen" spoon packs today.  Pre-orders are being filled first.  Also, on the agenda is getting my "dog and pony show" ready for the Flint Steelheaders IMA deal this coming Friday.
   Thursday I'll be on the river with Ed from Gulf Breeze, Florida.  Rain is predicted for tomorrow and that should improve our ailing river fishery immensely.  So far, January and February have been a struggle for me and the rest of the guide fraternity for the most part.  Case in point.....In my last 2 river trips, I've only seen a total of 3 guide boats on the river.  Which is amazing low for this time of year. 

2/18/02  I fished the Big Manistee River yesterday with Rob Tacey and Capt. Mark.  This outstanding team almost has a perennial hold on "Captain of the Year" honors with the Saginaw Steelheaders.  This conversant duo came to fish and were more than a sheer pleasure to be with.  Click here for Capt. Mark's "Whopper"
   We had 4 strikes in our first hole of the trip, but these Steelhead were cagey, wise rascals that eluded our hooks.  We fished many more holes during the next 5 hours before a whopper of a Steelhead, tore into the number 3 rod, manned by Capt. Mark.  Mark was "on the stick" immediately, and after a hard tussle landed a whopper Steelie, saving us from being skunked.  Both men made my day with their sociable company and displayed the patience, only well-seasoned anglers possess.

2/17/02  I'm fishing the Big Manistee River today with Rob Tacey.  The truth is after a very hectic week, I'm looking forward to it in a big way.  We'll be fishing the lower end in quest of the mighty Steelhead, possibly Michigan's greatest gamefish.  Check back later this evening for updated fishing report and fresh photos.

2/16/02 Capt. John's Dirty Dozen:  I just received my special order from Silver Streak, some of the spoons featured help win the "Big Boys Only" Tournament in July 2001.  The new "Glow Blue Tail" is only to be found in Capt. John's "Dirty Dozen" Streaks.  These 12 spoons are mostly new for 2002 and I wouldn't leave the dock without this fish generating mixture.  The price is $50 shipped to your door, tax included.  Please send a check to the address under "Hook Up Info" to purchase, or call (800) 552-2009 in the evening. 
 No  lure packs will not be split, take all 12, that's the deal!  Most are different from last years. 
                     Click here for custom painted Streaks 
The unique painted "Blue Tail" produced Kings from early morning on, but it's best during times when the sun is high and the fish seem to be "off the bite.".  This custom, special order pattern won't be found at your local tackle store, only here!

2/15/02   Nothing but grief from Microsoft's bCentral E-mailing program caused me to lose much of the morning.  Microsoft is the only company in the world that makes you pay for their mistakes, then charges you big $$$$ to fix them.
  I was supposed to be fishing the river today, but that fell through with a last minute cancellation.  Today's weather is slightly rainy and very warm for February.

2/13/02  Today is report is a "Special Warning" that Valentines Day is tomorrow. So, get flowers or candy for that extraordinary person in your life.  If you don't, they think you don't like them anymore and start squealing about you going fishing all the time.  An sound investment in a gift might be in order if you want to save yourself some grief later this season.  Don't say I didn't warn you, if you forget.

2/12/02  Yesterday's nasty weather was enough to have me wish winter was never invented.  It only prolongs my yearning to be on the big water chasing Browns this coming April.  Wind is howling at plus 50 mph at my house right now.

2/11/02  Wow, it's colder than a mother-in-law's kiss this morning in Manistee County.  Frigid below zero temperatures to the low teens, and factor in the 25 to 50 mph winds they're predicting, makes for reel vicious day you don't even want to consider being on the BMR! 

2/10/02  It was my pleasure to spend the yesterday with Steve, Doug and Corey on the BMR.  We started off great, having 4 strikes before straight-up noon.  Doug masterfully landed a pre-spawn, hard fighting male Steelhead in the 8 pound class.
   The downside to today's trip, we never had another sniff in the last 4 hours on the river.  Either I misjudged fish holding areas, or the Steelhead just plain shut down and were not hitting.  From my view point, it was a successful outing, because everyone had the opportunity to catch a fish.  Good guys, and a good time on the river is the way I'd sum up our day.  Click here for Doug's Steelhead

2/8/02  I'll be on the BMR tomorrow with Corey Shaw and company. Not much to report other than that.  In fact, it's the lull before the storm here in Manistee County, things will pick up, both for fishing and business before we know it.  

2/7/02  I'll be ordering the rest of "Capt. John's Dirty Dozen," from Silver Streak today.  I should have product in hand by early next week and be ready to ship.
The "Dirty Dozen" is my 12 best Streaks I wouldn't leave the dock without.  4 of the spoons are custom ordered with "special paint" jobs only available from me. 
  The price is $50, which includes tax, shipping and a very detailed instruction sheet.  If your in a hurry to order, send your check to the address under "Contact Info," located further down this page.  Pre-orders will be shipped first.

2/6/02  Sent a letter out to the members of the Updates Lists.  It has information on the July 6th, 2002 tournament, work shop and picnic.  My "Show" schedule and special lure offers were mentioned.  The new season is here and underway!

2/5/03  Almost ready to put the finishing touches on an in-depth article about hooks, sharpening and care of this important piece of terminal tackle.  I'll be fishing the BMR towards the end of the week, but busy with taxes and office stuff for the time being. 

2/4/03  Interest is starting to build for the 2002 season, as I've received  many inquiries in the past few days concerning several types of charters I offer.  This is a "good thing," because I'm in the charter business, along with taking care of this  mega-website, which eats up a whole bunch of my time.

2/2/02  I posted a picture of myself and the very first Coho I caught in West Platte Bay, about 10 miles north of Frankfort, Michigan on October 1, 1968.  The '67 Olds Cutlass was new car then and my vessel was a highly vaulted 14 foot runabout with a 40 hp Johnson outboard.  The 14 footer was considered mid-size in the fleet then, and many boats were much smaller.   Click here for Capt. John's 1st Coho 34 years ago

2/2/02  Ted and Stefan (who hails from Hamburg Germany) were brave enough to be my guests for today.  In spite of the poor Steelheading reports on the BMR they decided to "go for it."  Lady Luck smiled on us, because we had 2 strikes and both stayed hooked up.  Both anglers expertly  adapted quickly to plug fishing and handled everything flawlessly.         Click for Ted's Steelhead                  Click for Stefan's fish
   The high of the day is when Ted broke out the groceries, serving his wife's delicious potato, broccoli and ham soup.  Many thanks goes to Kelly (Ted's wife) for being so thoughtful and making our day.  Click here to see Kelly's potato soup  It tasted superb on a day that never broke freezing, yum!

2/1/02  Gonna try the BMR with Stefan E. and I hope some Steelhead have decided to come home to the big river.  Luck is needed to be successful, because the past 3 or 4 weeks have been very slow pickings.  "Maybe" I'll have a new fish photos and updated the fishing report this evening with better results, I hope!


1/30/02  Due to a request from the message board, I did a page on using the supplied swivel that comes with the Bechhold Flasher to attach your offering. The new page is at the members area of this website and online and available now!

1/29/02  Steelheading is slow on all the rivers that empty into Lake Michigan from the reports I'll been receiving, including the Muskegon and St. Joe.  It just means, when the runs begin, it will just last longer, because our winter-run Steelhead have not been entering the rivers in large numbers yet.  Gonna try it again this Friday with Stefan E. so, we'll see if any improvement has taken place.

1/28/02  Rob, Capt. Mark and myself attacked the BMR today and took no prisoners.  Translation: we fished until about a little after 1pm and then decided to re-book the trip, because of extremely slow fishing.  Nice day, great conditions and the  Steelhead weren't in any mood to take our lures.  Although, we did see 2 other boats towing one fish a piece.  Sluggish, describes the stretch we were on. 

1/27/02  Rob Tacey and friend will be my guests for today's reel adventure on the Big Manistee River.  Gonna launch at High Bridge, spot a vehicle at Bear Creek and fish the to Farm house.  That's a lot of river to cover (est. 16 miles), so we should encounter a Steelhead, or two.  Today's 50 degree weather should be a plus!  

1/26/02  I've come to the conclusion the Steelhead in the Big Manistee River are of the genius level, or escape artists.  Kevin and I tried several well known fish producing areas, and when we'd just about given up, much to our total surprise the #3 rod took a hard yank, of course being unprepared, we missed the rascal.
    So, we reset the lines and within 5 minutes we had another Steelhead hooked up!  Now, this was the Harry Houdini, or Albert Einstein of all Steelhead, because this fish figured out how to open up the split ring and remove the hook from the lure, as my woe's continue on the BMR.  We suffered the agony of total defeat, which in retrospect wasn't near so bad, because the scenery was good, the company was better and it was a pleasant January day to be out of the house. 
    This weekend's warm weather should help out.  The surface temperature of Lake Michigan is ranging between 38 to 39 degrees and that's not much inducement to get the Steelhead interested in the 34 degree river water yet.  Look for a drastic improvement by this coming Sunday, or at least let's hope so!

1/25/02  I'll be trying to catch some fish today on the BMR with Kevin Herman from Traverse City.  Hopefully, we'll be successful, besides this is a fishing website and I desperately need a Steelhead willing to star in a new photograph, just for this site!  My feelings going in, are good, because another angler had cancelled today's date (slow fishing reports might have scared him off).  Tune in later this evening to see if Kevin and I accept the thrill of victory, or suffer the terrible agony of defeat! 

1/24/02  I'll be fishing the BMR tomorrow to see if the recent unseasonably warm weather has brought a fresh run of "stupid" fish in from Lake Michigan.  I say "stupid," because it seems like I can't catch the smart ones or holdovers from last fall.  I need a decent day on the river as a confidence builder, and I've turned down a few trips lately, as I've considered it to slow to take paying guests.

New Product Intro for 2002:  Featured in the above upper left hand corner photo is the "Stealth Snubber" from Wolverine Tackle, the Silver Streak folks.  The new snubber is almost invisible when compared the other two "fatso" Jensen Snubbers.  I've used the "Stealth Snubber" before, when it was available to only the Big Jon Pro Team members, and can highly recommend it.  Less profile in the water is a definite plus for spooky Tuna-Sized Kings.  You saw it here first, on this website!
I will have these snubbers available to the members of the E-mail List soon. 

1/22/01am  When I had Chip Cartwright on the phone yesterday I ordered the first 36 of Capt. John's "Dirty Dozen" Tackle Packs.  The packs will have at least a dozen of my best Streaks from last season in painted custom colors, only available from me.  I'm accepting pre-orders at $50, which includes tax, shipping & a very detailed instruction sheet just like last season.

1/21/01 New Product Info:  I recently spoke with Mr. Chip Cartwright from Wolverine Tackle, the Silver Streak folks and I'll be débuting a brand new product for them.  I'm pretty excited about this new product item myself, so you'll just have to wait for me to post the photos of this new revolutionary item, we'll all soon be using!........reel fact, beyond a doubt!  Hint, I can't wait to see it myself.

If you're interested in getting out on the river for a Steelhead catching trip, please call, if fishing is slow.......after a few hours, I'll reschedule it for March or April at no charge.  Ya see, I want to go and catch fish too, and you're not gonna have to pay for something that isn't there, or won't hit, unlike most other charter outfits.  This offer is in effect for future bookings secured this week.
January was only 10 days left, and that's a good sign, because January always seems like the longest winter month to me.  Soon, Steelheading will pick up on the BMR and we'll all be turning our thoughts to catching Brown Trout and spring Kings on the Great Lakes.  You see I'm suffering from a wispy case of "cabin fever" and I want to make sure you don't come down with a bad case of it too! 

1/18/01  The below link is of my best fly during the 2001 season,  I featured both the Seaweed Horse Fly (used) and Capt. Len's "King Fly."  Upon close and careful examination  (Click here for a visual comparison) you'll see there both made out of the same material.  Capt. Len's fly will be made with betters hooks, choice of hook set-ups and a 50 pound test leader.  Possibly, Capt. Len will be looking for field testers from various ports, for an honest evaluations for the best colors.  

1/17/02  Great News today!  Brown Trout season on lake Michigan is only a little over 2 months away.  Before you know it, the 2002 season will be in full swing.
   Not much to report other than winter has a firm grip on Manistee County.  Snow, cold and the usual miserable wintry weather that northern Michigan is known for.  

1/16/02  Patience is what's needed to improve the Steelheading on the BMR.  I've been paying the price for the more than decent fall fishing we experienced.  I suspect that many of our winter run fish came in, during late November and December, or the winter-run Steelhead haven't made their way in from Lake Michigan yet.  This has been evidenced in the many darker fish I've seen caught.
    Coho are being caught off the mouth of the Little Manistee River on spawn.  This is a fresh run of Coho, just in from the big lake..........figure this one out? 

1/15/02  Dan, Capt. Len Mitchell and myself tried out the lower end of the BMR for Steelhead and had a tough go of it.  We hit numerous good spots with no luck, then towards the end of day, we had two lethargic bites in the same hole.  The reel problem was neither fish ever got a hook stuck in their face, so we missed our only opportunities of the voyage.  High point of the day was many Bald Eagle sightings, but I run fishing business and not sight-seeing tours.
The Steelheading has been slow on the big river for the past 2 or 3 weeks for me.  It's a mixed blessing though, when the fish do come in, it should be a run and not a trickle.   

1/14/02  Met with Capt. Bud Raskey today and started the research for a new article called, "Capt. Bud's Story."  Everything went very well, as I interviewed Bud about methods and techniques use to catch Steelhead back in the 1930's.  His knowledge and cordial company was a welcome change of pace from my hectic schedule.  I took some photos of Bud's ultra professional fish cleaning station too.
   I'll be fishing the BMR tomorrow with Capt. Len Mitchell for an updated fishing report.
     Click here for the "Hot Delavan Spinner" for Steelhead trolling in 1938. 

1/13/02  The deer cam is back online and working like a well oiled Swiss watch.  I had to move the website to a new hosting company to have a working web cam, because my former web host locked me and my ftp protocols out.
This was my 5th web hosting service in 2 1/2 years for this site.  In order to bring you the best info possible, I won't tolerate inadequate service from an inferior company. 

1/12/02  Spent most of yesterday dealing with Verisign, the former Network Solutions people, who handle assigning web addresses.  After much runaround and several calls to tech support, the dns server number are changed, meaning the site will be down for a period of time over the weekend as the network propagates the new address  This computer stuff is major, big time heartache! 

1/10/02  My guests for the BMR today were Jeff Gunther and our Muskegon River Reporter, Michael Kirchner.  While we didn't set the world on fire with the amount of action experienced, the company was warm and friendly.  We held a Steelhead party and almost got stood-up, then at about 2pm we finally, had one show up.     Click here for Jeff's fish
    Jeff was exceptionally quick to the rod and stuck a multi-colored, double striped male in the 10 pound class, full of his lush spawning colors.  Hey, we were in business!  Finally the slugfest was on, even with Jeff's expertise, Mr. Ironhead was a determined, wicked thug with a awfully bad attitude who tried every trick in his book to escape.  Jeff's persistence and ultra-professional rodsmanship wore the rascal out, as I slid the net under our only fish of the day.
   The bottom line for today was the camaraderie and just plain good company I spent the day with named, Jeff Gunther and Michael Kirchner. 

1/10/02  My guests for the BMR today is a Manistee native, Jeff Gunther and our Muskegon River Reporter, Michael Kirchner.  We'll be on a scouting mission to determine if this warm spell has improved the fishing.  Check back later this evening for new photos and fishing report.  We'll need some luck for a good day.
   Tech problems has raised it's head with my web host,  The server is locked and won't accept ftp from any other source other than FP200,  and it's preventing updated images from the deer cam, I'm trying to remedy the situation.
   I'll be shopping for a new web hosting company today, this will be the 4th one where the tech support has proved either slow or nonexistent.  Moving the site is a pain, however having a company I can work with is very important when I get the webcam installed, focusing on the Manistee Harbor this upcoming April.

1/9/02  Wow, it was 40 degrees in my front yard yesterday, could be just what the doctor ordered to improve the BMR Steelhead fishery.  I should be on the river Thursday to see if this recent warming trend is helping bring a fresh run in from Lake Michigan.

1/8/02   The temperature of the BMR is 33.8 degrees at the dam and the flow is 1580 cubic feet of water per second.  Look for Steelheading opportunities to improve soon, should be a few fresh run fish in the lower end by M-55 bridge.
    Capt. John's  Encyclopedia of Fishing Tips & Trix can only be accessed by members of the E-mail Updates List now.  Sign up at the bottom of this page to have the private addresses of 31 articles covering 34 of years of my personal experiences.  Once you sign up, the welcome message will contain the necessary links. 

1/7/02  The semi balmy weather for Manistee County with daytime highs in the 30's this week should improve the Steelheading in the BMR.  Plans for the week include, sending out a "State of the Fishery" report in my E-mail Updates Letter.  A trip the Capt. Bud Raskey's house to photograph antique lures used and get the reel story on the Steelhead fishing in the 1930's till now, for a new article.  I'll be on the river also, towards the end of the week for a "hands on" updated fishing info.  

1/5/02  All my "hot plugs" have been shut down.  Any fast, wiggly wide action baits have been of no use.  I've hit a very few fish on warts, but it's been "no big deal."  Water temperature is 34 degrees at the dam and colder further down stream.  Fishing will improve, but your guess is as good as mine when it's going to happen.  
    My sentiments echo Michael K's Muskegon River report completely only he said it first, let me add.
Click here for Michael K's 1/3/02 Muskegon River Report 

1/3/02pm  It's was my honor the fish the BMR today with Capt. Harold "Bud" Raskey.  We started about 11am and fished until 3pm and found one bright, silver bullet hen will to accept our offering.  Capt. Bud put a masterful whipping on the fish in short order, in spite of my urgings on how badly I needed a new photo to update the website.  Click here for Capt. Bud Raskey's Steelhead photo
   The 4 hours flew by, as I was more than amazed at Mr. Raskey's historical knowledge of Michigan's Great Lakes Fishing.  The quality of the company far outweighed the amount of action, as Steelheading continues to be on the slow side.  Oh yeah, the one fish we took was Capt. Raskey's lure choice, and he saved us from getting skunked.  Today was an extremely enjoyable happening for me!   

1/3/01am  It's my honor the fish the BMR today with Capt. Harold "Bud" Raskey, his fishing accomplishments are beyond legendary.  He's a true pioneer in the annuals of Michigan Fishing History.  I believe he caught his first Steelhead in the BMR in the 1930's.  Now, that's reel experience.  Today, I consider it my privilege to fish with Capt. Bud.  If you're interested, check back this evening to see how we did. 
   The deer should be thick out in the back yard, because I replenished the feed pile with carrots, shelled corn and hay.  Click here for deer viewing today  It's a veritable deer smorgasbord out in my backyard! 

1/2/02  Need to get some more bales of hay today, because the critters (deer) have chewed it all up.  Tomorrow I'll be research fishing on the BMR with Capt. Bud Raskey, hopefully  the weather will be decent.  Capt. Bud has over 35 years to his credit as a charter operator and is the very respected father of the Manistee Fleet.

1/1/02  The promise of the newly arrived 2002 season is upon us and from what I witnessed last September and October our King fishery should be a vast step up over the 2001 (east wind) fishery.  In my next E-mail Updates letter I'll have my "State of the Fishery Report" available to the members only.

Fall 2001 Results 


12/31/01  Deer have been hitting the feed pile regularly during daylight hours now.  As long as I keep the hay out there, the deer will stick around.  I had 7 or 8 critters on camera at 8:30am this morning.  Click here for deer viewing today. 

12/30/01  Spent most of yesterday digging out from the 2 foot of snow we got.  Went into Manistee on M-55 in white-out blizzard conditions.  It's winter up here!
   I'll be spreading hay by the deer feeder, because the ground is covered and the deer can't easily get at the acorns. 

12/29/01  My lack luster performance as a guide on the Big Manistee River failed to impress me, and I'm sure my clientele this past week.  Reasons?  What Steelhead that are in the river now, for the most part are dark winter holders and fresh run fish are not moving into the system.  The forecast for next week is even worse than last weeks, so I'm going to take some time to prepare my tax returns and get "Capt. John's Online Tackle Sales" shopping cart technology up and running in preparation for the 2002 Great Lakes Trolling season.
    Look for specially priced package deals on exclusively painted spoons from Streak and DW, custom taped Bechhold Fish Catchers, Luhr Jensen Dodgers, Dipsy and Slide Divers, plus trolling lines deals from Ande or Mason Tackle complete with the proper snap swivels.  I'll be ordering inventory soon and should have everything good to go by the first week in February.  Like last year, all packages will contain specific "inside info" instruction sheets only available by purchasing products.

12/28/01  I fished today with Bill King and company and had a very difficult time again, in getting Steelhead to strike.  My first-rate guests were Corky and Tom, while Bill and his buddy fished with Capt. Mike Cnudde.  My entire day consisted of one hooked-up fish, which managed to pull free, almost within netting range of the boat!  It's been a severe struggle for me ever since last weekend when this snowy Eskimo weather started to settled in, ruining my long streak of productive river fishing adventures.  Click here for Bill King group photo
    Capt. Mike's day faired much better than mine, as he hit a "honey hole," pulling 3 Steelhead all in the same area.  I was happy to see at least one of us do decent.  Also, I'd like to thank Tom and Corky for the extreme amount of patience they exhibited. 

12/27/01   Dale and Robby Hagan our my guests for today event, which was colder than a mother-in-law's kiss and the barometer was a dreadful 29.43, but we still ended up with 3 fish.  Dale battled it out with a brilliantly colored 12 pound rogue male, that put up a heck of a brawl before it was vanquished to the net. Click here for a nasty big headed Lake trout.
    Desperate times, call for desperate measures when we found a huge 36 inch  hen floating downriver, which we promptly netted and boxed.  Then, we us being on a lucky streak, a Lake Trout decided to test Robby's  prowess with a rod and reel before he expertly landed it.  
    I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the father and son team called the Hagans.  Dad, Dale treated Robby to today's adventure, because Robby has enlisted in the United States Navy and will be departing this coming February.  These were more than first-class anglers to have a board once again.  Click here for Dale's male  Click here for the 36 inch freebee hen

12/26/01  Fished the BMR today with Kevin and his friend Gary.  The fishing was absolutely phenomenal, but the catching was nonexistent.  We had one decent strike and boiled 2 or 3 fish and that was it!  Both Gary and Kevin were very understanding anglers and deserved much better than I was able to show them.
   Reason for the slow day?  The Steelhead haven't adjusted to the polar bear conditions we're now faced with, and this is first time this year the river has been below the 38 degree mark.  What fish that are there, are dormant with a terminal case of lock jaw, to boot!  The daytime high temperature was 21 degrees (maybe) and the barometer started off low and fell further to 29.56 inches.  

12/24/01 3:00 pm  I had a magnificent time today with Dale Brown and his good-natured son, John.  We found 3 Steelhead willing to attack our lures (in spite of a very low barometer 29.59 inches), boating 2 of them in very winter-like weather on the BMR.  Both Dale and John landed their  Steelhead with no difficulty, although both fish were very determined scoundrels who fought gallantly.           Click here for Dale's Steelhead.
    The value of today's trip was enhanced by the amount of humor and laughter  that came across, on what many would consider a slow day of fishing.  The part Dale and John liked best was, "when I taste tested the water to see how many fish were lurking upstream!"  It was easy for me to relax and enjoy the superior quality of both of my guests. 

12/24/01am  Dale Brown is my guest for today's exploit on the Big Manistee River.  Dale has fished me several times before and I'm looking forward to trying out the new colors of Flatfish.  Weather could be a slight problem, with 3 to 6 inches of the white stuff forecast.  Look for new photos and an updated fishing report tonight.

12/22/01  Winter snuck in like a lamb, the temperature at 3pm in my front yard was 42 degrees.  I'll be fishing Monday with Mr. Dale Brown from Tennessee.

12/21/01  Joy, joy joy!  My order that I placed at Yakima (Flatfish folks) came today.  I ordered off their website at: special winter colors that have produced for me over the past many seasons.  If you're looking for some of lures, the size to order is T-4 and I spoke with Barb at: (509) 854-1311.  Please mention you got the info off this website.  The spreader bars and extra hooks are an option you'll have to order separate if you want to the tremendous hook setting power of the 4 treble hook model I've been using.  These baits got here just in time, because tomorrow heralds the first day of winter.

12/20/01  Paul Beilfuss and I concluded our two day exploration of the Big Manistee River today.  We fished the lower river hard, and only had 2 strikes.
Paul did a masterful job on the fish that did stay hooked, even with it being tangled up in another line.  Reason for the tangle?  This Steelhead was clever rascal that cut cross current on it's initial blazing run, before you could even blink an eye!  Click here for Paul's fish
   Paul and myself had to tag-team this evil hooked-jawed monster to bring it within netting range.  Also, I'd like to state, Paul was a fisherman in quest of knowledge and a sheer joy to have aboard.  He understood the varied intricacies of Steelhead fishing, plus handled everything like a seasoned veteran with many years of savvy experience. 

12/19/01  I was lucky enough have as my guest, angler beyond compare, Paul Beilfuss aboard today.  While we were supposed to cover all aspects of Steelhead tactics, Paul is already an accomplished spawn and wiggler fisherman.  So, we concentrated on pulling plugs and the places to use them in the upper river.  Click here for photo
    We fished about 7 spots effectively and hit fish in 4 of them.  I say "effectively," because the boat was positioned correctly and noisy boat traffic wasn't a problem.  We boated 2 Steelhead in a mutual team effort, releasing one.  Paul was a pleasure to spend the morning with and he was amazed at the slam dunk hits.  I'm looking forward to his agreeable company again tomorrow when we fish the lower BMR.  

12/18/01  Temperatures in 40's is a blessing for Steelhead fishermen at this time of the year.  Reports coming in are decent and I'll be fishing tomorrow and the next day for a "hands on" updated commentary on the Big Manistee River.

12/15/01   Interest is building in January Steelheading from the number of phone calls I've received the week.  My overall attitude has improved about the Big Manistee River, because the numbers of Steelhead are up, re-doing the riverboat and using the more productive T-4 Flatfish.  Yes, life is more than good!
My words can't describe the enjoyment I experienced December 11th and 13th, 2001   Being connected with the great outdoors was a re-affirmation to the sport I've spent my most of life at trying to  It's easy in the charter business to loose sight of the total gratification of just being there.
    I'd like to offer my sincere gratitude to Mr. Steelhead for cooperating this week and demonstrating what a truly majestic gamefish is all about!

12/13/01  I took my number 1 deckhand and longtime good fishing buddy, Capt. Mark Pefley fishing on the Big Manistee River today.  We fished only 8 runs or holes and had strikes in 5 of them.  3 of the fish were hooked-up (1 briefly) and we shared the duties wrestling a exquisitely colored double striped male.  This Steelhead took us at least 15 minutes to subdue after it viciously slammed, like a ferocious 30 lb. King pounding a diver rod.
   While 1 for 5 is no "big deal," today we dealt with a low barometer, turning into a cold front.  I suspect that's the reason why the fish didn't stay stuck, but with the conditions offered, it was a surprise to have that many fins and scales interested.
    Mark's photo has been featured on this website before many times before, but I think this is the probably the best one to date.  We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly!

12/12/01  Yesterday's guest was reel fisherman.  He went 3 for 3 and caught his limit in a big hurry.  I think he had prior experience, because he listened and took directions very well. 
                        Click here for Capt. John's report for 12/11/01

12/11/01  Because there's been about as much interest in the charter business lately as climbing aboard a plane filled with Iranians and Iraqis, I gonna take myself fishing today.  Nobody else, just me......go ahead and be extremely jealous now!
I started on a new article called Preseason Preparation that should point you in the right direction when it comes to formulating a plan for 2002.  Also, I featured maintenance and winterization routines I used for the past 14 seasons on my 1987 Cherokee.  This is just a sneak peak, the article is in major need of proof reading.

12/9/01  A light winter snow settled over western Manistee County this morning.  Voting at Capt. John's Poll is in full tilt for your favorite photo. I didn't lock down the over-voting from the same IP (your computer address), because it would provide a way for someone other than yourself to disqualify your photo.  
   Please keep this mind, "let's ALL try to be fair when voting."  Let every picture stand on it's own merit and not a willingness to wear out the clicking mechanism in your mouse, besides there's about 3 weeks left before the December 31st deadline.

12/8/01  The lower river from M-55 to the "Farm House" just above the "Mile Run" is producing a few fresh run Steelhead on spawn bags.  Look for the weekend crowds to diminish as winter sets in.  Next week's weather is forecast is decent.

12/7/01  Pearl Harbor Day, I'll be building the page for the 10 photos chosen as the "Top 10" to vote on at: Capt. John's Poll.  Voting will be a no holds barred, off the top rope and free for all "toughman" contest.  The highest count on Dec. 31st (New Years Eve Midnight Eastern Time) wins.  Hope to have the poll up by this evening.  I'm choosing only 3 of the photos and the other 7 will be drawn out of the hat.  This way everyone has a fair chance to make the final draw, because I think  every photo is a winnerClick for: Contest Photos

12/6/01  Unseasonable warm weather was deal here in Manistee County.  While it's not improving the Steelhead Fishery, it's sure nice outside, so enjoy it!  The inshore waters of Lake Michigan are 47 degrees, unheard of for this time of year.

12/3/01   The Mitchells ended their 2 day episode with me today, we hit 4 Steelhead and boated 3 of the villains before 10:30am.  Then blue skies and unseasonable warm weather (56 degrees) shut down the fish (we quit by 2pm).  
    Anita did battle with 2 of the rascals and put them both in the net with grace and distinction.  Len landed a wild hen that put on a "reel show" for us.  All in all, I hated to say good bye to that grand couple called the Mitchells. Only 1 Steelhead was kept due to a severe gash caused from our hooks, the other 2 were released.  Click here for Anita

12/2/01  I had a superb time today, enjoying Len and Anita's exceptionally good company.  Even though it was a busy weekend day on the river, we still managed to entice 5 Steelhead with our T-4 Flatfish.  3 leaping Steelhead to the 9 pound mark, stayed stuck as Capt. Len Mitchell expertly landed his limit.  While Len had the "hot hand,"  Anita was snake bit and missed her only strike when she was being kind enough to help me re-line a reel.  
    Today was part one of the 2 day saga with the husband and wife team, and I'm sure Anita will be will be out the even up the score, because she going again tomorrow with me.  I'll put her on fish, as she's one of the most capable angling ladies I know.  We kept one fish for the table and released 2 hens back into the Manistee River, unharmed and ready to go a few rounds with someone else.    Click here for Capt. Len's photo

12/1/01 Getting ready for tomorrow's 2 day river event with Anita and Capt. Len Mitchell is the deal for today.  The Mitchells are a great fishing couple who more than enjoy the "art of angling."  We will have fun and catch fish, promise!  Hey, I've got 2 days to accomplish the "catch fish" part of the last statement. 

11/30/01  More rain today is just what the doctor ordered to keep improving an already awesome Steelhead Fishery on the Big Manistee River at a record pace.  Yesterday's 3 fish we boated does not reflect the amount of action we experienced in just a few hours on the river.  The entire river is holding Steelhead now!  
    I missed the estimated weight on that huge jumbo male Steelhead Gary Allen caught yesterday by 3 pounds, it's corrected scale weight was over 18 pounds.  

11/29/01  We bent the rod today with long time friend and Mr. Nice Guy, Gary Allen.  He is a supreme Steelhead angler and his limit catch today speaks for itself.   We had a fantastic day on the Big Manistee River with 5 Steelhead hooked up and 3 landed by 1:30pm.  Plus, we fished in a very leisurely fashion and never beat up on any one "hole." 
     The Steelhead were on the "bite" and the nonstop action included at least 10 solid rips on energetic, skyward bound fish that just plain, tore us up!  Oh yeah, Gary masterfully landed a beautiful jumbo male that pushed past the 18 lb. mark.
                          Click here for Gary's jumbo 18 lb. trophy Steelhead

11/28/01  Wet, rainy and damp best describes the weather here in Manistee County.  Be fishing tomorrow, so look for new pictures and fishing report on Thursday.

11/26/01  Plans for this week include taking Mike from Manistee Auto Electric fishing this Thursday.  Dec. 2 and 3 Capt. Len Mitchell from Lucky Charm Charters will be my fishing partner, along with his wife Anita.  Reports from the river remain rock-solid. 

11/25/01  Fishing for Steelhead in the Big Manistee River is fairly decent, depending on the crowd.  As far as I can see, we have more fish available at this time of year, since 1996.  To see the reel inside story on the lures I've been using and how to tune them click on: Flatfish Tuning.  Fishing should be "Hot" this week with the recent rainfall.  Life is good in Manistee County.

11/24/01  Gary Bishop and his son, Berto were my respected fishing guests for today.  Gary is a long time veteran of the "Steelhead Wars" with Kings Charter on the Big Manistee River, also he's a retired Army Colonel.  We hit 5 Steelhead and landed 3 mean, acrobatic daredevils to 9 pounds during the course of the trip. Click here for Berto & Gary's catch photo
    Both Berto and Gary are seasoned anglers and handle a fishing rod like a pro.  The biggest disappointment was that wild 10 buck that became un-stuck just inches from the net, causing Gary a brief setback.  Berto had the "hot hand" and boated a handsomely colored, double stripe male and a bright hen.  Gary got his revenge in the last hole of the day when he whipped a irate battling hen that didn't know what the word quit meant.  

11/23/01  From a hero to a zero best describes my day on the Big Manistee River.  Barry Pines and I hit 3 Steelhead before 11:15am and none of them stayed hooked, then the fish went on strike as boating pressure put them off the bite.
   Today would have been a good day to go shopping for a new boat, because every make and model was well represented in the "Manistee River Flotilla" on the water boat show........what a mess of aimless boating traffic we endured!!

11/22/01  Today was the 10th annual "Thanksgiving Steelhead Fest" with Barry Pines and his son, Rich.  Overall, we had a decent day, hitting 6 fish and landing 4 Steelhead to probably 12 pounds.       Click here for Barry and Rich's most excellent mug shots
    My guests today handled the rod with skill and dexterity, boating every hooked up fish, which is no easy accomplishment considering the wild nature of the "Bad Boys" that dwell in the stump filled Big Manistee River, called Mr. Steelhead.  Fun was had and shared by all during the course of a very pleasant day, with highs in the low 50's. 

11/21/01  Getting ready for the annual Thanksgiving fishing with Barry Pines is at the forefront today.  Tying up loose ends on the Cherokee winter storage project is what I plan to accomplish.  Steelhead fishing in the river should be good.

11/20/01  I've been on a 2 day downstate quest searching tackle outlets for the 4 hook model of the T-4 Flatfish.  I found some new colors that should work fine in the Big Manistee River.  I'll be returning to Manistee County early tomorrow morning.  Angler supreme Barry Pines and friends will be my esteemed guests for the next 3 days of the Thanksgiving weekend.  

11/16/01  Today's trip was a 2 boat team effort with Capt. Mike Knudde.  Our guest list included Dominic, Andy, Dan and Tony Samurkas, who booked the do.  The Steelhead in the Big Manistee River were not "on the bite" as bluebird conditions contributed to a very slow fishery.  Mike and I ended up with only a couple fish.         
    Now for the "reel story," after me using 15 miles, of river and showing my anglers only a couple of half hearted  tugs.  We took our best shot at last hole of the excursion.  So, now it's the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded and it's a full count.  A skunk was facing me " big time," when the number 2 rod exploded with a giant, angry Steelhead with a mouth full of gang hooks from the T-4 Flatfish. Click here for Andy's Trophy Buck Steelhead 
    In close quarters and brutal combat, Andy masterfully steered a 14 pound hook-jawed male away from the snags, fast current and tree trunks...unbelievable!  We ended our efforts for the day with  what could be considered a highly valued trophy Steelhead.

My well-regarded guests today were Henry Nabors and friend of Kings Charter since the eighties, Ron Omar.  Well, we had a pretty decent trip, because these anglers were out and out experts.  They never missed a strike or lost a fish and that says it all.   Both these men process the wisdom of Yoda, when it comes to handling a fishing brag, just fact!   The death toll was 5 Steelhead, from 6 to 13.5 pounds and the total live weight of their catch exceeded 50 lbs.
    The saga of the T-4 copper Flatfish continues to be on a tear and amaze me.  Meaning, 10 hits in 2 days on the river, and 9 Steelhead boated.  We never had a sniff on anything else.  Charlie Helin (inventor of the Flatfish) had his act together when he designed this lure back way back in the 40's. Click Ron & Henry's photo

11/13/01  I made up for yesterday's fiasco in a big way!  Fished the Big Manistee River today with my guests, Warren Knapp (aka "Dottie Kay") and long time patron of Kings Charter, John Milbourne.  We spent 6 hours on the river and had 5 hits and boated 4 wild, mean and thrashing  Steelhead from 8 to plus 12 pounds.
    Everyone caught and landed fish, including me, because John Milbourne was feeling sorry for me on my 55th birthday (today) and graciously passed me the rod.
Both John and Warren are some of the best "dyed in the wool" fishermen you could ever imagine spending the day with.  Today was reel fun for everyone!  
    I fished T-4 Flatfish on the river for the first time for Steelhead at this time of the year and was impressed with the job the spreader-nibbler hooks did.  Plus, I'm just plain tired of beating the river to death with the same stuff everyone else is using.  I just about forgot to tell you, all fish were released to the river unharmed!
               Click here for John Milbourne's Beautiful 12 pound Steelhead

11/12/01  Tried to fish the Big Manistee River today with my guests, Mark Wasniak and his friend Eugene.  Launched down by the M55 bridge and there was enough boats to make an "Invasion of Normandy Movie," the fleet was out in force.  We finally found some decent water (not crowded) about 2 miles up from the "farm house" and the action was non-existent.  So, we cut our loses early and put the boat back on the trailer before noon.
    This river fishing thing can be a iffy situation, even during the best of times.  But, I'm not going to beat on a dead horse trying to make a buck. Today's guests were not, and should not have been charged to put up with the jumble of boats hindering any chance of success.  We seen one fish caught in 4 hours.  It was a mess! 

11/8/01  Today's guests were the "Mickley Clan" and river trip was a surprise gift to their father, Ray.  His sons, Phil, John and Steve made up the rest of the "Clan."
   Nasty, cold rainy weather and enough wind to post "Gale Force Warnings" is how Mother Nature treated us, but we still caught Steelhead!  This was a 2 boat team effort with Capt. Mike Cnudde and he had the "hot hand," boating 3 Steelhead (one was released) and a spawned out Brown Trout for 5 strikes....Good Job Capt. Mike!
   The action on my boat was 4 very hard rips (one broke off), and a 8 pound hen that stayed stuck.  Ray's masterful rodsmanship on a wild, silver bullet brought the fish to the net after several skyrocketing leaps.  Everyone had a hold of fish and experienced the reel thrill of fall Steelheading on the Big Manistee River.  Let me add, all the Mickley's were a sheer pleasure to fish with, in spite of the dreadful conditions.

11/7/01  I'll be fishing and testing the riverboat for tomorrow's guests, the Steve Mickley Crew.  It's going to be a 2 boat extravaganza with Capt. Mike Knudde.  
Click here for the link to Capt. Mike's website.  It's going to feel good to be on the river again and hopefully, all the extra effort in remodeling my RiverMaster Jet Boat will be worth it.  All my equipment has reached the stage where major maintenance is more than necessary.   Plus, the "Surf Master," Warren Knapp stopped by as I was loading up my truck with river tackle, with a dandy 12 pound Steelhead.  He was surf fishing off Bar Lake and using fresh tied spawn with floaters.

11/6/01  Pulled the Cherokee yesterday afternoon and it's now being readied for new engines and a thorough cleaning before going into inside winter storage in Wellston, MI.  Should be testing out the riverboat for it's maiden voyage this fall on the Big Manistee River this afternoon.  I've been rebuilding the interior for the past 2 weeks, bringing it back to a "new condition."

11/5/01  The weather over the weekend was great, being sunny and nice.  Almost
finished with the riverboat and my 28' Cherokee Sport Fisherman comes home today for it's winter snooze.  Don't worry!  It will be nice and rested for the late March and early April Spring Brown Trout Fishery of 2002.

11/3/01  Joy, joy, joy, I finished the new floor for the riverboat.  It was a pain in the butt job and I glad it's over.  Wiring and installing the new winch is on the agenda next.  I'll be fishing the river soon when the Cherokee comes home.  

11/2/01  It rained almost all afternoon, preventing the installation of the seats and the floor in the riverboat.  So, I worked on the new winch wiring and I should be done with this week long project tomorrow.
    I'll be doing a E-mail Updates letter sometime soon and will be offering a contest for the most popular photo sent to me on the
Your  Photos page.  The winner will get a free pass for one of my 2 day seminars or a Big Manistee River trip.  More on this, and the rules will be in the letter.  You must belong to the Updates List to enter.  Be sure E-mail me your photos at: