Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Trip Report: Beaver Island TLTFF Style

An adventure never seems like and adventure when you’re In the middle of it…

Rarely does any trip go off without a hitch. It was a last minute cancelation of my ride to Beaver Island that is said “well good thing you got that out of the way right off the bat”. The weather forecast looked crummy, flying was out of the question last minute so the prospect of a 14 hour drive had me thinking how bad do I want to finally get this Carp skunk off?  Turns out I wanted it pretty bad, rods in the truck, water for the ride and a full tank of gas and I hit the road for the first leg up to stay with family in Ohio for the night so I could finish the second leg in the am up to Chalevoix, MI.

On arrival into Charlevoix I hopped on a puddle jumper for the ten minute flight to Beaver. A beautiful day for flying made the trip uneventful.  At the airport I was received by guide Kevin Morlock and trip organizer Evan Muskopf. I settled into the fisherman’s house to talk fish with the other two arrivals. I was told I could wade in just down the street from the house and take a few shots before sunset. I jumped into my wading boots and headed down to shore and sure enough I got my first up close look at the Beaver Island water and the Carp I travelled so far for. It is no stretch of the imagination to compare water clarity with anywhere in the Caribbean. Not a long leap to compare this fishing saltwater flats either.  First cast 30 feet…short, second cast 40 feet…spook… I thought I am just going to lay out all the line I can…lift the rod to load and SNAP the gut wrenching sound of rod parting in the wrong place. Spare rod is back at the house so back to the shop we go.  On getting back to the house I met the rest of the team, Steve Martinez and Austin Adduci and the BBQ was on. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating diner, and talking fish.

Day 1-

This is not a typical fishing trip. A late morning start by fishing standards.  Breakfast is served at 8am and launch is around 9am. Fishing for Carp improves as the water warms so no need for the early morning rise. I paired up with Steve and was off and ready to fish.  A 15 minute run puts us on the fishing grounds with rods in hand. There is no shortage of targets on BI, that was quickly apparent, the clear water is ideal for sight fishing but I will say this, if you go to Beaver Island expecting those Carp to be any easier than Carp you have come across before, you will be very disappointed. The challenges of distance, accuracy and spookiness of the fish add up very quickly. A poor cast, slap on the water or sound from the boat can scatter the school in a moment. Couple that with the wind and a fish that when on the move constantly changes direction leaves very little room for error. The spook factor will drive you mad. The favored technique is to not only lead the fish but to land the fly beyond and strip into the strike zone. Stopping the fly in the strike zone must be engrained in my DNA by now because I had hundreds of shots over the weekend where I stopped the fly landing directly in front of the fish. Landing in the strike zone will usually send the fish into high gear in the opposite direction never to be seen or heard of again…and by the way he is taking is buddies with him.

Steve is a top notch guide. Through the day he patiently coached without any pressure. We worked on the casting and presentation without too much instruction. I hooked my first fish and lost it about two minutes in. The second came in the next one 15 minutes and for the first time saw the backing going out on my Galvan reel. It is truly and experience to have the thought run through your head of “did I put enough backing on here, I’m not sure he is planning on stopping “. Day one ended with 4 Carp in hand, one break off and my first Smallmouth that can be hardly called “small”.

Day 2-

Fishing this body of water brings with it lots of challenges, mostly in the form of unpredictable weather that moves in at the blink of an eye. Blue skies and 10 knot winds gave way to overcast and blowing 15 – 20 overnight made for tough fishing conditions.  Despite having another great guide in Austin for the day, I sighted very few Carp. The smallmouth bite was hot and I pegged a few while taking shots at Carp to save the day.  Austin made the very best of a tough day of fishing, worked extremely hard at finding me fish. Day two ended with 4 Smallmouth in hand.

Day 3-

The third and final day was planned as a half day, the wind still blowing 15-20 and shifted overnight moving the fish again. Thankfully the clear skies made for spotting the fish a bit easier than the previous day.  Had the pleasure of fishing with Steve again and shared the bow time with Evan.  It took a bit searching but we located fish two hours into the day. Searching for water just a few degrees warmer than the surrounding water proved key to finding the holding fish.  A large shoal of Carp kept us busy for next few hours. I ended the morning with one carp in hand, one that came unbuttoned after his second run into my backing. Evan hooked and landed 2 and lost 1.

Indigo guide service is a top-notch outfitter. Kevin, Steve and Austin take great pleasure in sharing this unique experience with anyone adventurous enough to make the trip. Steve and Austin are some of the best guides I have had the pleasure of fishing with and I have no doubt Kevin is as well.

Check out Indigo Guide Service at:
Austin and Third Coast Outfitters can be contacted at:

A special thanks to Evan Muskopf for organizing the trip. On top of a being a skilled fly angler, Evan is one of most knowledgeable people I have met when it comes to fly gear. He puts his skill to good use every day as a member of the Feather-Craft fly shop team.

Contact Evan if you are looking to join next year’s Beaver Island group or need advice on that next special rod and reel via  

"I urge you to take notes, take photos and take chances, remembering that you will never regret things you do nearly so much as those you don’t." -Flip Pallot


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