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Mr. Richard and Karen Flowers (pictured above) from Nashville, TN who I had the pleasure of fishing with today, as well as their good friends (and mine) Dr. Mike Lewis and Ben Lasater who Lil David had the pleasure of fishing with today, enjoyed their “day 2” of their annual 3 day Muskegon River Steelhead outing and they are having the best season they’ve ever had in the years they’ve been coming up.  Not only has the Steelhead fishing been great, but there have been a lot of large Steelhead in the mix compared to past years.  The Muskegon River has been dropping on a daily basis, combined with the water temps hovering in the high 40’s, it’s been a perfect blend for great steelheading on the fly.  The river is still very dirty from all the run off from the flood that kept the river closed for almost a week.   We have yet to see the bottom of the river, but the fish are certainly here as the run is just getting started.  We have one more month of great steelheading in the books with just a few open dates.  This year is the best chance for you to catch a “career” Steelhead, and a twenty plus pound Steelhead is not out of the question.   As the late, great Tom Silver used to say, “Book often, book early!”

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 23

We are up and running on the Muskegon River in Newaygo, MI and all is well.  Evidence of “the flood” on the upper waters near the damn is almost gone.  Richard and Karen Flowers, Ben Lasater, and Dr. Mike Lewis, all from Nashville, TN are up for their three day Steelhead trip and they started it off on a great note today as the Muskegon River treated them very kindly.  The Muskegon is still up and dirty, but with warmer water temps, the river is in perfect conditions for our liking.  More to come tomorrow as I just got on line and settled in, in the great town of Croton, MI.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 20

It’s always fun fishing with Jim Downs from Lansing, MI.  He has been with us during the toughest of times and today, while not high in numbers, Jim managed to get another large Steelhead, the sixteen pounder plus, pictured above, that helped Jim and I celebrate Easter Sunday.  This fish was a mature spawning male that had we caught this fish a month of ago, no doubt would have hit the 18 pound plus mark.  Compared to the “Flies Only” stretch, the lower river was still quite dirty with less than six inches of visibility, but dropping quickly.  Most of the fish we caught and fought were hot, fresh fish, as well as a “drop back” female.  Evidence of the high water was readily seen everywhere as the river swept the river banks, leaving the ground almost clean with debris piled in bushes and trees.  Large logs have been moved; some large logs I never thought could be moved, disappeared.  Log jambs were replaced with open water and some areas the logs were piled up like chord wood that only Mother Nature could do.  The Pere Marquette needed a good scouring, and we certainly got it.  I’m already excited about this November when some of my old runs should be fishable again.  The Muskegon River is “open for business” and we’ll be on it in short order.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 19

Here we are with ten days to go in April and we’re still catching numbers of Steelhead on the Pere Marquette River, and it really feels like spring is here to stay with temperatures pushing the 60 degree mark.  Normally we are well past peak and on the Muskegon River by now but this past harsh winter and cold March has made great fishing for our mid April fly fishers.  Brothers Stan and Shawn Borlace (pictured above) from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been fishing with us for some time now over the years and today was one of the best times they’ve had fishing with Pere Marquette Outfitter’s guide Lil David today, putting several nice Steelhead to the net.  The river level is dropping quickly as the Pere Marquette is staying well below its banks and clearing nicely.  Easter Sunday, Jim Downs from Lansing, MI and I will take our switch rods and floating lines farther down river and see if the lower river has cleaned up a bit after the shellacking I took three days ago when the river was still a little over it’s banks.
Muskegon River:  There is mixed reports on whether or not we can get on it.  One word is that the only launch open is the Pine Street launch (the one we use).  One set of barricades were taken down, but a new set was put up by the DNR.  The river is well below where the State of Michigan allowed us to go on last year, however home owners along the river have been complaining so bad about the “extra damage” that “wakes” from jet boats running up and down the river could potentially make.   Downstream from Newaygo, MI the worry is about the amount of large, floating propane tanks that have not been recovered, that are lodged in log jambs or sitting at the waters edge.   Jeff Stuhan, owner of “Muskegon River Guide” is keeping us well informed and trying to get thru the red tape of whether or not we can get on.  One thing for sure, when we are able to get on, the fishing should be great as the Muskegon is holding at 44 to 45 degrees for water temp.  Until then, our home river, the Pere Marquette, is keeping us busy with plenty of Steelhead.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 18

It was good to be back in the saddle again on the Pere Marquette River, fly fishing for Steelhead.  After yesterday’s shellacking on the lower river, I migrated further upstream with Dr. Bob Starr and his friend Ed.  Dr. Starr also shared in the tough fishing conditions yesterday with me, so today was redemption and the reason it pays to book two or three days.  Originally Bob had three days booked, but due to excessive high water, we had to cancel his first day.  Today was a little different, what goes up must come down and so did the Pere Marquette River’s water level.  It has dropped close to 30 inches the past couple of days and today the river was in great shape as Bob and Ed had a great day putting some nice Steelhead to the net and watching a few come unbuttoned.  Most of the Steelhead today were fairly fresh, some had just started to work gravel, and we even caught a bright female in the gravel behind the redds that hadn’t even thought of spawning yet.  Adding to the great day of fishing, besides the beautiful weather, were some nice Brown trout and some smaller, aerial acrobatic “skippers”.
We’ve got another month plus to go chasing steelhead as we hope to be on the Muskegon River by the middle of next week, and it looks promising as the Muskegon is also dropping at a relative good pace.  This early morning the Muskegon was pumping out 12,600 cfs and by this evening it was down to 10,300 cfs with a water temperature starting to hover above 40 degrees, which should be a perfect start as we start fishing our ‘other’ favorite river.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 17

While the Muskegon River is still closed, were back fishing on the Pere Marquette River.  The lower river where I've been fishing dropped 30 inches in the past 30 hours.  Lil Davdi and Blake did well in the 'Flies Only " stretch.  We're back out again tomorrow.  It was slow for me on the lower end as we hoped to do better.  Mike Kaplowitz (pictured above) caught the only fish landed for the day as he fished with Dr. Bob Starr.  Bob and I will be back at it tomorrow.

Tight Lines!  David Roller

April 15

Normally I’m a day behind in my posting as I get up an hour earlier every morning to do “yesterday’s” report and answer some emails.  Since we are not fishing now, because of dangerously high water, I posted these pics that I took today around noon.  Compared to the pictures my son took yesterday, the river has come up another couple of feet. Notice the picture above, the Pere Marquette breaching it's banks, and then some. Blake texted me a picture of Gleason’s landing in which there is now 2 feet of water in the parking lot.  While the river is not coming up as quickly, it is not expected to crest in Scottville until tomorrow, which ‘should’ mean that it will crest in Baldwin by today or tonight (hopefully).  DJ and Lil D are fishing  the Grand River today, we’ll see how they do.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 14

I wanted the rain, but I sure got more than I bargained for as the river came up quickly, at one point 6 inches an hour.  Guides Blake Roller and Lil David started fishing the “Flies Only” stretch at daylight and by 9 a.m. were at the “take out” at Gleason’s Landing.  It wasn’t the high water itself, but the amount of grass, leaves, and debris that would wash into the line.   To make matters worse, the river continues to rise, so we could be down for a few days.  The picture above is Brad Turner’s drift boat at the “Green Cottage” and as you can see, the river is clear into the woods, over the flood plain.  The Muskegon River is on lock down, in other words, you launch your boat, and you go to jail.  Guide DJ is fishing the Grand River today, which did not get effected by the rain as most of the rain was to the north.  I’ll know more this afternoon on how that goes.   There was one drift boat that went down today (not ours) and Guide Brad Turner, who does some work for us in the fall, saved a man’s life by pulling him out of a log jamb.  The man really thought that his time was up.   So for the time being we are at a “wait and see” mode.  Until the river crests and starts to come down, we may not be fishing for a few days
On the lighter side, this part of the country needs this.  With the heavy snow falls and rain, Lake Michigan should come up a few inches (or feet).  With 90% of the Great Lakes frozen this past winter, they did not get the evaporation process that can take place in the winter.  Given the high waters and everything else, it should keep the marshes, Peré Marquette Lake, Manistee Lake, and other tributaries to Lake Michigan in great shape come this fall, which will be great for our waterfowl season.  We still have a month to go, on the Muskegon River, fly fishing for Steelhead, once we’re allowed to launch, we have lots of fish to catch yet.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 13

Well the rains have come and the rivers of western Michigan continue to rise.  As in the picture above with Dr. Greg Meadowcroft, you can see the muddy stain in the river.  The Peré Marquette River in Scottville, MI is in flood stage now and is expected to hit the 6 foot level with in a day.  All is not lost however as we’ve fished in worse conditions last year at this time and caught fish so we’ll continue to do so.  Today Dr. Meadowcroft and I started in the rain, but by 8 a.m. the rains stopped and the temperatures continued to rise as it became a very enjoyable day in the upper fifty degree range.  The first run we hit we hooked two Steelhead and then the work started as we went about two hours or so with out a fish.  We would work some secondary areas that have produced all week and started finding Steelhead and by days end the Peré Marquette River gave us three nice Steelhead and we did battle with six others.   Farther up river, guides Lil David and Blake continued to do well.  Pete Waleskowsk and Lil D had a great day including one of the largest Steelhead for Pete.  Blake had a father and two sons, approximate age 12 and 14, and they all managed to land Steelhead despite the high water.  Cooler weather is expected for a day or two then we pop back into the 50’s.  Tomorrow’s weather prediction is rain, snow, and wind.  With the rivers rising, it wouldn’t surprise me to get one more good push of Steelhead as we are a week away to transition from the Peré Marquette River to the Muskegon River as we look forward to another month of chasing chrome.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 12

In case you forgot that we get weather up here, the picture above with Dr. Scott from Minneapolis, MN in the rain that we got all day yesterday is just a little reminder.  Thankfully it was a warmer rain, and well needed as the river was getting just a little too clear for my liking.  A little spike in water should give us a few new fish on gravel as most beds were empty today, although Dr. Tim Gavin and Dr. Scott and I pecked our way down and were able to put 4 adult and one “skipper” Steelhead to the net as well as a couple of browns.  It was a little odd, as we’d come to an area we wanted to fish, hit one fish, maybe roll another and that was it.  We’d go to the next spot and more the same, so we’d hit a fish just about everywhere we fished, but could find nothing that was hot, a fun day none the less.  The other five guys of the group who fished with Peré Marquette Outfitter guides Lil David and Blake, did extremely well farther up river as that’s where the majority of the fish (and people) seemed to have migrated to with the high water we had.  We’ll see what the water level looks like tomorrow after an all day hard rain and rain through out the night.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 11

Brian Rooks (pictured above) and Peter Mans enjoyed another beautiful day on the Peré Marquette River fly fishing for Steelhead and they did it in style.  As they caught Steelhead through out the day, their wives would come up late in the afternoon, from southeast Michigan, to meet them at Barothy Lodge where they will enjoy a nice weekend at the “Elkhorn” cabin, one of Barothy’s luxurious, large lodge pole pine, log cabins.  And trust me when I say these are not you average little log cabins in the woods.  They are as nice in the inside as they look on the outside with indoor hot tub, pool table, and a kitchen that would make any chef happy.  Brian would start the morning off with our first steelhead as the guys traded back and forth staying even through out the day as we worked our way down the river, basking in a sunny 60 degree day.  The Peré Marquette River steelhead have not only been on the bite, but so has it’s brown trout as we have been catching some of the nicest browns I’ve seen in years, and some are fat and chunky, stuffed with  eggs and salmon fry as they sit behind Steelhead redds, gorging on what ever gets kicked off the gravel.  Peter Mans would end our day with a nice buck as we fished a nice little pocket where Brian also landed a couple of nice Steelhead.   Peré Marquette River guides Lil David, Blake Roller, and Dan Card continue to do well further upstream.  The river has been coming down nicely as water clears to a nice stain on a daily basis.  A little rain at this point would be welcome.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 10

Another busy day for Peré Marquette Outfitters fishing Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River as the “Strike Indicator boys” are back in town from Minnesota. Seven guys anxious to fish Steelhead, and the Peré Marquette River didn’t let them down as it was all hands on deck as we had boats through out the upper two thirds of the river.  Veteran patrons of Peré Marquette Outfitters Dr. Larry Vorlicky and Jed Persson shared my boat today as we poked and prodded our way down the river in perfect water conditions.  With in the first few casts of the morning, we would ‘double up’ on a nice brace of Brown trout before hooking into our first pair of Steelhead.  After loosing the first two steelies of the day, the guys honed in and we lost very few after that.  We would hook fish on gravel as well as some extremely spirited, bright steelhead in the runs, keeping the day exciting through out the entire day.  In one of our final runs, Jed would hit an explosive, fresh run, Steelhead that smoked an egg pattern as the strike indicator sunk underwater in a smashing fashion.  Once hooked the fish was out of the water more than it was in as Jed’s fly line went tearing up river.  The Steelhead would quickly find our anchor rope, swim around it, and jump into the bush we were anchored near and spit the fly.  It was all exciting, it was all good, and all we could do is laugh about it.  It was another great day, fly fishing for Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River.  More to come tomorrow!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 9

We have been busy, busy, busy around here and the Peré Marquette River is blooming nicely with spring as we just had three beautiful days in a row as we encroach the 60 degree mark and the Steelhead fishing gets better and better.  .  The upper river may even be seeing its peak.  Lil David guided Malcolm Royce and Dr. Dan Kiddy from the Ozark Fly Fishers in St. Louis, MO and they could have very well had their career day today.  Dr. Dan landed an 18 (eighteen) pound Steelhead yesterday and a 19 (nineteen) pound Steelhead today.  I had the pleasure of fishing with Jim Fox, his son Marty, and his son’s friend Tyler.  We hooked several fish but had a hard time bringing them to the net until days end when Marty saved the day with the 9 pound steelhead pictured above.  While the lower river is well stained and hard to see gravel, it is still coming down and in a couple of days, visibility should be getting better.  Water temp is coming up in mid afternoon as the “Tiny Winter Black Stoneflies” are hatching nicely.    The Muskegon River has been fishing slowly as their water temps are barely above the 36 degree mark due to the ice left in Croton and Hardy ponds.  But when it pops, they should have a stellar season, and we’ll be there.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 7

It has been a long time since I have seen Father Joe Fix pictured above.  He used to be the priest in Baldwin, MI thirty plus years ago and some how, through Ken and Cathy  (aka the Egg Lady)Zimmerman, who just so happens to go to his church, St. Agnes Catholic Church in Marion, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Evart, MI, we managed to get together.  I can remember Father Joe Fix walking down the main street in Baldwin, MI with his two Labrador Retrievers in tow.  Father Joe Fix isn’t your ordinary priest, he is also a devoted outdoorsman, spending what little ‘extra’ time he has hunting and fishing and today the Zimmerman’s and I had him in my boat.  He showed up with a Loomis IMX 10’ 8 weight that Joe Sedlecky and Aines Borsum, the original owners of “Ed’s Sport Shop” in Baldwin, MI had given him some twenty five plus years ago.  It was a great day for steelheading as the weather was absolutely beautiful.  We had a little ice in the guides at daybreak as the temperatures barely dropped down to 32 degrees, but as the hazy sun came up, before long we were shedding layers, basking in 60 degree temps, and hooking plenty of Steelhead to keep a rotation going between the Zimmerman’s and Father Joe as we fished out of my drift boat in the murky, high waters of the Peré Marquette River.  Father Joe would be the first to hook up with our first two Steelhead of the day that came unbuttoned and Ken would step up and land our first eleven pound female Steelhead to the net.  Cathy would hook up several times and managed to put a small, bright male Steelhead to the net.  As we worked down the river Father Joe would finally scored with a nice male Steelhead, sporting spawning colors in the seven to eight pound class, after rolling a few more.  It was a “reunion” type of day as Father Joe would tell stories of people that we knew back when I was in my late teens and early twenties, a day of reflecting on memories as well as creating new ones.
Farther up river, Peré Marquette Outfitter guides Lil’ David and Blake ran the Ozark Fly Fishers, Malcolm Royce, Dr, Dan Kiddy, Dan Ehlmann, and Bill from Kansas to another great day on the river as they hooked several Steelhead and landed their fair share.  Slowly the river is trying to clear up and warms up on a daily basis as is evident by the tiny winter black stone flies that have been hatching during the early afternoon.  Spring may be trying to take hold after all.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 6

The upstream rain and run off caught up with us today as the river rose about two inches, fortunately it didn’t get much muddier as the Bob (pictured above) and Shirley Brock were on their second day of fly fishing for Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River.  Bob has been fishing with me the past 18 years and is quickly approaching his 400th Steelhead landed with me.   The Brock’s have seen great fishing and they have been on a few trips in which we were dealt tough conditions, but they fish hard and are good at it.  While we are still under less than ideal conditions and visibility zero, Bob and Shirley got it done as we picked the river apart and ultimately put some very nice Steelhead to the net as well as a few Steelhead giving them the slip.  Shirley put it best at the end of the day, “This was more fun than the law allows.”
Farther up river, Peré Marquette River guides Lil’ David and Blake Roller fished with members of the Ozark Fly Fishers, Malcolm Royce, Dr. Dan Kiddy, and friends Dan and Bill.  Dan and Bill are new to the Peré Marquette River and Steelhead fishing, but not anymore as everyone landed some very nice Steelhead.  We’ll all be at it again tomorrow.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 5

Last nights snow blanketed the forest floor nicely as we started out the day with Bob and Shirley Brock, from Canton, MI.  While a little chilly the first hour or so, and a little ice in the guides, it didn’t take Bob long to get us into our first couple of Steelhead and finally put one in the net.  It was nice starting the morning off with fish on and we wouldn’t stop there.  While the fishing wasn’t exactly hot, we would work down the river, finding  more than a couple of spots that held Steelhead that were willing to play and by mid afternoon, the sun would warm up, melt the new fallen snow, and make it comfortable to fish as Shirley would add a couple more Steelhead to the boat.  It was a classic Steelhead day with ‘enough’ fish to make for a very relaxing, fun day considering a water temperature of only 39 degrees.  Hopefully this is the start of the lower Peré Marquette River starting to rev up in its high, muddy conditions.  Tomorrow will be a little warmer as spring is finally starting to show a little more compassion on us.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 4

We finally broke the ice today and put a couple of Peré Marquette River Steelhead to the net after loosing the only three we had on yesterday.  Steve Haywood, owner of Focus Business Solutions Inc. from Taylor, MI and David Allan also from Focus Business Solutions Inc. fished hard in the all day, cold rain as we watched the water slowly rise.  The river did minimally clear a bit as I could barely see gravel that was in water 2 feet or less.  By days end the rain had turned to snow, as we just can’t seem to shake what’s left of winter.
Lil David and Jim Downs from Lansing, MI also fished and by 2 p.m. had only rolled one Steelhead,  However they would hit the jack pot as they fished a redd that they thought only had a pair of Steelhead on and in within an hour and a half, landed five nice  fish out of eleven Steelhead on.
The “Flies Only” Stretch has been doing well with the high water and there seems to be a bigger concentration of fish there, however it means very early start up times and watching a parade of drift boats, upwards of thirty to forty boats coming through.  If things don’t start popping on the lower river, we may have to migrate that direction.  Guides Lil David and Blake Roller will be up there tomorrow to give me a full report.  Better weather is coming as the extended forecast puts us above freezing in the mornings and in the high 40’s to may be 50’s in the afternoon…what a pleasure that will be.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 3

The only thing I can say today is that it was one of the toughest day’s I’ve had to fish.  Cold, dirty water was not giving us any slack as the early spring run off continues.  Steve Haywood and fishing partner Dave were with me today and the best we could do is hook into two Steelhead.  With water too dirty to fish runs and see gravel, we worked all the gravel we could in a long days time.  When we found ‘a’ fish, we worked the area even harder.  “Certainly there has to be more than one” would go through our minds, but that’s all we could muster.  Lil D had Dona and Dwight Montgomery and they would turn five Steelhead today and could not manage to put a Steelhead to the net, even with Dona’s luck.  The good news is that the river came down a good three to five inches through out the course of the day, and I would expect it to drop even more through the night.  If it clears up just a bit (not too much I hope), we should be able to see gravel instead of fishing it blind and hoping.  Weather wise we are at least starting to warm up, although on a small incline.  One of these days, sooner than later, everything will gel up just right and we’ll be will on our way to some great fishing as the Peré Marquette River is on the cusp to retain it’s great, spring reputation…maybe even tomorrow!

Tight Lines!  David Roller



April 2

The waters of the Peré Marquette River is running icy and dirty as the run off continues, and the 17 degree morning didn’t help.  Visibility  is poor,  about 12 inches at best and today the fishing was a little tough, but not with out a few Steelhead to keep our anglers on the ready.  Thom (pictured above) and his brother Tim finished the last of their four day Steelhead trip today as Thom managed to land two steelhead through out the day.  I had the privilege of fishing with Dona and Dwight Montgomery from Columbus, OH and while Dona was the only one that could put Steelhead on the end of the line, we couldn’t put one in the net, but she did manage to put an 18 inch Brown trout to hand, one that we would be proud especially during the dry fly season.  As the river continues to come up, almost bank full, it has taken out a lot of the shelf ice.  We still have plenty of snow and plenty of Steelhead to come up the river, when we finally warm up.  In the mean time, we fish, we fish hard, fishing everything we can in a days time and finding fish.  Some days, like today, we find only a few, and others like a couple of days ago with Bill Todd and Dan Kopp, we are into double digits…in the net!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 1

It was a heck of an April Fool’s Day played on us by Mother Nature today after yesterday’s, beautiful, almost 60 degree day.   Bill Todd, Dan Kopp, and I started the morning with a balmy 48 degrees but you could almost feel the temperature drop by the minute.  By late morning, the wind was blowing and the snow was flying as we hovered around the 32 degree mark.  Add to the mix the river coming up another four inches (and rising) and the water visibility to near zero inches, and our spring “run off” is finally happening.  All was not lost though as Bill and Dan, representing the Ozark Fly Fishers from St. Louis, MO never missed a beat after their stellar performance from yesterday.  Bill Todd (pictured above) would get us on the board with a ten pound male Steelhead sporting spawning colors, but in the end the Steelhead would win as they would either give us the slip or run us deep under submerged logs and break us off.  Ironically, it was the secondary gravel areas that would pay off today as we fished everything we could hitting one fish here, two fish there, and so on.  The great fish that was caught today (and they are all great) was an 18 pound male caught by Thom Ries from Columbus, OH as he and his brother was guided by Lil David.  I’ll have that picture tomorrow.  I would expect tomorrow morning, the river will come up even more, making wading near impossible.  But that’s ok as we love these conditions as it will surely bring more Michigan Steelhead to the Peré Marquette River for us to fly fish to as we look forward to tomorrow.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 31

Today was one of the nicest days we’ve had to fish weather wise, in a long time as the snow and ice slowly (but still there) melts and drips off the banks of the Peré Marquette River, giving it a little more color and rising every so slowly.   For the first time this spring, I left the heater home and we’ve had no ice in the guides.   Visibility is getting a little tougher, but redds are still seen if they are in two foot of water or less.  While most of them are empty, they are being worked at sometime as they keep getting larger on a day to day basis.  The Ries brothers from Columbus, OH were with me again today as we enjoyed another great day on the river.  This was their second day of their four day event and they’re love every minute of it.  Thom put two nice Steelhead in the net and Tim would get the slip on the fish he hooked.  Lil David had a stellar performance with Bill Todd and his friend from the St. Louis area and members of the Ozark Fly Fishers.  They could do no wrong today as they put over a dozen Steelhead to the net.  I’m hoping some of their luck rubs off on me as I have the privilege of fishing with them tomorrow.  Another warm morning in store for us tomorrow, but the temps are suppose to drop through out the day, but the forecast looks good as we’ll dip just below freezing in the morning and average around 40 degrees during the day, which should keep us fairly comfortable as we fly fish for Peré Marquette River Steelhead.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 30

Steelhead are not coming easy these days, especially on the fly fishing end as brothers Tim and Thom Ries from Columbus, OH joined me and steelhead veteran Bill Todd and his friend from the Ozark Fly Fishers fished with Lil David.  Bill’s friend was the first to score in the morning as they boated one and lost one and the work would start for them. Mid afternoon, Bill Todd would step toe to toe with a hot Steelhead in which all he could do is hang on and enjoy the ride for a while until he finally got it to the net.  As the morning warmed up Tim Ries (pictured above) would finally score a nice Steelhead for us.  One he lost would run to and around the boat as the dropper fly would find the anchor rope and break off.  Weather wise, one would think we were in the middle to early March vs. a couple days before April as the snow covered snow banks and large, thick shelves of ice are still clutched on to the banks of the Peré Marquette River, not wanting to let go as the sun slowly works on them.  The river crested today and remains an off color as it tries to warm up, but with the constant drip of ice and snow, it won’t warm up too quickly.  It is a pleasure however to fish in conditions in which one does not have to consistently knock ice out of the guides and warm hands every five minutes. Tonight could be the first night in a long time that we stay above the freezing mark instead of dipping down into the upper teens like this morning.  It will be another nice day to fish tomorrow as the mentioned steelheaders above, will enjoy another nice day, pursuing Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River in Michigan.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 29

Father and son team Rob and George (pictured above) Glessner, from the Grand Rapids, MI area are no strangers to what the Peré Marquette River drainage has to offer.  From Steelhead fishing to Waterfowling, this duo has been with me and has had some great times.  Today was no different as we worked the runs of the Peré Marquette River for spring run Steelhead.  The river came up another three to four inches overnight and stained up more so than the day before.  After working our first three runs of the morning, we never turned a fish, so the fact that the off colored waters and cooler water temps were of concern to me as we kept working the river.  Finally George connects with a Steelhead and our day got started.  We fished some great water that didn’t produce as much as a bite, but by fishing everything we could, by days end the Glessner’s put 4 nice Peré Marquette River Steelhead to the net out of 10 fish that doubled over the rods.  The bright Steelhead pictured above was definitely the “drama queen” of the day as it twisted, turned, and ran in Steelhead fashion, only to double back, swim under and around the boat before George finally had control and gently slid it to the net.   It certainly hasn’t been easy fishing, but that’s the mystery of Steelhead.  However by fishing the river and enjoying the day, great things happen.  I’ll see these guys again in November, in the duck blind.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 28

After an all night rain, sometimes hard, I was surprised the river was in good shape.  It had only come up about 4 inches and had great looking color.  With the water up, we were hoping it would drive a few new fish up river, and it did.  While not in big numbers, enough to keep the day interesting and keep us on alert.  We were out in full force today with all hands on deck.  Guide “DJ” and Blake ran Dr. Vincent’s group, and Lil David ran Tom Smith and his buddy running Plug trips.  One thing I haven’t seen in a while was a spring Coho, in which Tom Smith caught while running plugs.  My guys ran floating lines and “Indy rigs” working the Steelhead runs and pools with the Nashville group, in which indecently the Nashville group is now spread out from Nashville, TN to Seattle, WA.  I had Bruce Hackett from Nashville and Jim Lohn from Seattle, WA and we started out in great form.  On our second run of the morning, Bruce landed a bright female Steelhead and with in minutes he would yell “I’m on!” as another Steelhead started ripping fly line out of his reel and soon his second fish would be in the net.   Not much longer and Jim would connect and put our third Steelhead to the net.  The afternoon bite was a little slower, but not with out the occasional take with a head shake or two and gone.  We still have a lot of snow on the ground and heavy, thick ice shelves remain along the Peré Marquette River’s banks, remnants and reminders of just how cold (and long) of winter we had,  making it hard to believe that April is just around the corner.  A few fish are starting to show up on gravel, but very few.  With the almost 24 hours of rain that we had, and the river up a bit, it  should give us a few more fish in the system everyday and we’ll be out looking for them.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 27

It’s hard to believe that this morning was 41 degrees warmer than yesterday as we started the morning at 35 degrees.  It was just a pleasure fishing and rolling fly lines with out the rod’s guides being choked up with ice even though we started it out with a pretty good snow fall.  The snow quickly turned to rain and drizzle through out the rest of the day.  The fishing still wasn’t easy as we poked and prodded our way down the river finding a Steelhead here and there.  Chuck Robinson would start us out with the first fish of the day.  Newbie and quick study to fly fishing, Christian again would land another large Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River, finding a 12 pound female (pictured above).   For the day, the guys landed 3 adult Steelhead, one Skipper, and a Brown trout.  Lil David plugged the river with Dr. Steve Vincent and friend, and while not as stellar as the frigid day before, they managed to put some nice Steelhead to the net as well.  Guide Blake Roller was in the “Flies Only” Stretch with a couple of beginners, with uneasy conditions and he managed to get the guys a Steelhead to the net, while the guys “learned” on six other nice fish. 
It is going to rain all night, so it will be interesting to see what the water conditions will be tomorrow.  A rising river with warmer temps, and we could see the runs fill up with bright, new Steelhead.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 26

Minus 6 degree temps for a morning start up, fly fishing Steelhead  day, isn’t easy, in fact a little insane. But the boys from Nashville were here to fish and we were in it.  Not only in it, but in a matter of less than ten casts, Chuck Robinson (pictured above) put our first and only Steelhead to the net.  It was a little frustrating as with in the first two hours of the day, we had landed one Steelhead and lost two others, despite the frigid, unfriendly temperatures.  The temps warmed to a cold, mid twenties range, and we had a hard time finding other fish through out the day.  Just the opposite happened for Lil David as he and Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Baird, from Muskegon, MI had to wait for the slush to disappear to run plugs.  By 10:30 a.m. the river was somewhat fishable and in short time there after, they managed to put six Steelhead to the net, or should I say Mrs. Baird managed to out fish her husband, putting 5 Pere Marquette River Steelhead to the net.
It certainly hasn’t been easy, but we are catching fish everyday and some days are better than others in these crazy swings of temperature, especially on the fly fishing end of things.  Tomorrow will be forty degrees warmer as we could see morning start up temps slightly above freezing.  Only one way to see how the fishing will be and that’s being out there fishing for our great Michigan Steelhead on the Pere Marquette River, and we’ll be there in full force.  More tomorrow.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 25

Despite the single digit temperatures for starting out this morning, Jim and Christian came to fish.  Ideally this time of the year, we’re fishing swollen waters, throwing “amnesia” to fish we can barely see on gravel, but with winter seeming to not let go, with single to sub zero temps, the river is low and clear.  Throwing floating lines in these conditions is not easy, and throw a couple of beginners in the mix, with these conditions and it’s almost crazy, but one has to be ‘steelhead’ crazy to be out anyway, and we are.  The guys not only did great, Christian (pictured above) also caught a beautiful 13 pound female who did not get the message the water temp was cold, as she fought with reckless abandon.  This would be Christian’s first time ever, fly fishing for Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River, any where for that matter.  He was a quick study and by the second run of the morning, he would experience his first encounter and why we love this game so much.  His father-in-law, Bob, from Seattle, WA feared no cold as well and before lunch, he would have a nice Steelhead to the net.  The guys did great, all things considered as they put four Peré Marquette River Steelhead to the net and fought at least four others.  The river has gotten extremely clear as it has dropped three inches in the past couple of days due to frigid temps.  No matter where you have been on the Peré Marquette River the past few days, the morning temps has been anywhere from -3 to 7 degrees at day break and I don’t believe it got above 23 degrees today.  We’ll start out at 0 degrees again tomorrow, but we are suppose to hit 30 degrees for a high, with a few 40 degrees days coming soon…I won’t know how to act with it being that warm!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 24

It was one of the coldest mornings we’ve had with a start up temperature of 0 (zero) degrees, but that didn’t stop the hardy from fishing.  I had the tougher day today as the kids out did me hands down.  Josh and I couldn’t put a fish to the net.  Peré Marquette Outfitters guide, Blake Roller, guided Wayne Baird and his wife, fly fishing, and did extremely well, given the temps as they put 4 steelhead and Wayne’s largest river brown to the net.  Lil David fished Pete Waleskowski and Bob (pictured above), running plugs and also did well putting 5 large Steelhead to the net and fought seven other fish, including a large male that Lil D said could have easily pushed 18 pounds.  Fighting the ice and cold is tough on everything, from gear, fly lines, and terminal tackle, as well as the body if you’re not prepared for it.  Heavy 5 mill boot foot neoprene waders with 1600 grams of thinsulate are the way to go in such frigid temps.  It’s hard to believe that two or three years ago we had 85 (eighty five) degree temps and we were peaking out while getting sun burned.  The Peré Marquette River is low and clear, but a few fish, despite the cold temps are showing themselves on gravel, however we are catching most of our fish in the runs.  Warmer temps are coming as spring tries to find a way to get a foot hold, in the mean time, we dress warm, have plenty of propane for our heaters, keep knocking ice out of the guides as we fish one of Michigan’s premier Steelhead destinations, the Peré Marquette River.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 23

Josh Ranum from North Dakota and I started the morning with a chilly fourteen degrees and the high for the day barely crept above twenty two degrees.  Fortunately there was no wind, and with a dry air and our heater we made the day work.  Throwing heavy “switch lines”, which should be an easy task, only created more ice in the guides often, like every 4 or 5 casts often.  With the Peré Marquette River water temps still staying warm enough to see an occasional pair (or one) Steelhead on redds, one could dip the rod tip in the water for about five or six seconds and it would melt the ice out of the guides.  We started the day on a good note, as the third run we hit, Josh landed a nice Steelhead and two beautiful Brown trout, after that, he just could not stay connected on the fish that we turned through out the day.  It will be a cold the next three days, but according to the forecast, we should be back in the forty degree range by weeks end.  In the mean time, we dress warm, make sure there’s enough propane for the heater head, and knock ice out of the guides as we pursue one of our greatest sport fish, Peré Marquette River Steelhead.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 22

The morning started out comfortable as the large group of thirteen guys continues their quest at “Steelhead camp”, staying at Barothy Lodge in Walhalla, MI.  Today I had Mike Chiuchiarelli (pictured above) and his friend Dan as we felt the temperatures drop through out the day, until it hit 22 degrees, a fifteen degree drop from this morning.  The temperatures seemed non-important as Peré Marquette River Steelhead kept us busy and on our toes through out the day, including the “big one that got away” that kept us talking for a while.  While we only saw two redds with active spawning fish, spawning is taking place as I notice redds on gravel that get larger on a day to day basis.  We continue to fish the runs and are doing just fine.  With another cold front coming in for a couple of days, we’ll keep knocking ice out of the guides of our rods, warming our hands on the propane heater, catching Steelhead, that quickly provides warmth and makes us forget, for a brief moment, how cold it really is as we start the day in single digits.

Tight (and frozen) Lines!  David Roller


March 21

This morning’s 16 degree start up on the river was no big surprise as the temperatures keep swinging not quite knowing where they ‘need’ to be.  By 10:30 this morning the temps kept climbing to a comfortable 40 degrees.  However by this evening, a heavy wet snow started flying and should continue through the night.  Mike Chiuchiarelli and his band of friends, staying at Barothy Lodge in Walhalla, MI have been here since Wednesday night and fishing Steelhead no matter the weather, they are here to fish.  While we are far from the peak, and very, very few fish on gravel we keep pounding our favorite Steelhead runs with fly gear and having a good day.  The past two days, Mike “Chooch”, Craig Chamberlain, and Dan Crabtree have put 6 Steelhead and a few nice browns to the net, plus putting another dozen or so on the end of the line, knowing something big was at the other end. The other guys have been fishing the “Flies Only” Stretch and also finding a few Steelhead as pictures are exchanged each night.  Craig Chamberlain, new to fly fishing, took his experience from fishing with us in Alaska last summer and applied it well the past two days.  After a small refresher course, he was casting and mending efficiently and when it comes to fighting Steelhead, he was near flawless.   Fly fishing for Michigan Steelhead is a mad man’s game, an addiction if you will.  We’ll fight lots of ice in the guides of our fly rods, cold hands, fingers, and toes as we await the next drift, the next run, and ultimately the next fight of a Peré Marquette River Steelhead and with persistence and patience, it happens through out the day.  The guys staying at Barothy’s will be hot on it again tomorrow.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 18

Today was one of the more pleasant days we’ve had to fish in a while although we did start the morning with temperatures in the low 20’s hitting a high of 45 degrees.  Ironically we did better in yesterday’s cold temps.  For some reason today, Steelhead were not on the bite and we worked hard for the five fish we hooked today.  Ken and Cathy (aka “egg lady”) Zimmerman were with me today and the three of us have caught a lot of Steelhead together, but today as in other days (fortunately not too many) Steelhead have a way to humble you.  We started out in fairly good fashion as the third run we hit this morning, we had a good slam on the plug rod, a few more runs and we missed another fish.  By early afternoon we had hit ‘only’ four Steelhead and could not put a fish to the net, and we began to wonder if we would.  Persistence paid off, as finally a rod went down on Ken’s side and he connected, not with out the Steelhead wrapping into another line and fighting too close for comfort near a suspended log.  Within a few minutes however we won the battle and finally put a Steelhead in the net.  The Zimmerman’s will be back in April and I’m sure we’ll get out averages back up. 
The river looks in great condition with just a little color to keep it from being “gin clear”.  We still have lots of snow and ice on the banks and one good warm trend could get us well on our way.  There are a few redds being worked and everyday some redds have increased in size, telling me there are active spawning fish.  Tomorrow is my last day off until the 20th of May, so we’ll keep the reports coming.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 17

It was another bitter cold morning, with temperatures dipping down to 3 degrees as we started the day with Columbus, OH brothers Tim and Scott Shremshock, Scott’s son Noah, and good family friend Joe Blankenship.  Lil David would guide Scott and his son Noah and I had the pleasure of Tim and Joe in my boat.  With the bitter cold morning, we decided to run plugs today.  We’d deal with less ice in the guides, keep our hands dry, and be effective on the water.  It wouldn’t take long to start the day out right, as within the first hour, both boats had put their first Steelhead to the net.   As the sun climbed higher, the warmth (high of 32/34 degrees) was noticeable and combined, we were almost tied for the day as we hooked 18 Steelhead and put five to the net, plus three or four Brown trout.  The steelhead were surprisingly active given the colder water temp.  While they didn’t get completely airborne, they thrashed and cut the water in Steelhead fashion, some taking us to the wood, breaking us off.  Every day more and more redds are becoming visible as I’m sure during the peak of the water temp, on any given day a few Steelhead are trying to spawn.  The ten day forecast calls for a lot of low twenty to mid 30 degree temps as we try to reach warmer temps.  The good news is there seems to be plenty of Steelhead in the system and they are not going anywhere.  If you are willing to deal with the cold, Steelhead will definitely warm the heart when they are bucking and thrashing at the end of your rod.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 14

Today was one of the more enjoyable days on the river we’ve had in a while to fly fish, during a balmy 44 degree day.  Even this morning wasn’t bad as it held just above freezing.  After postponing and rescheduling, twice, Mr. Al Hemerling and I finally made out to fish together, after all, he wanted to test drive his brand new Sage ‘Method’ 8119 (11 foot, nine inch, 8 weight) custom built Switch rod, that I built  him.  Armed with a Sage 4200 series fly reel, and Rio’s new “Switch Chucker” line,  and a little instruction on the first run of the morning, Al got the job done.  Given this was his first time out throwing a fly line for Steelhead, he was a quick study, and through out the day, the sun glistened off of the magma red colored rod, as it was bent fighting a Steelhead.  Tomorrow’s is suppose to be a little cooler, but tolerable, and Al and I will be at it again.  The river was in great shape as the shelf ice has disappeared and with every warm up, there is more and more gravel starting to be worked. More tomorrow!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


March 12

The arctic, cold temps are somewhat loosing it’s grip on us, it certainly hasn’t let go as we are going back to below zero temps tonight.  It’s hard to win at this game sometimes, but Peré Marquette Outfitters guide, Blake Roller teamed up with Trent Rogers and Ian Kailing from Reed City, MI and decided to float last weekend, they could only take not fishing for so long.  While I was at the rod building bench last Saturday, Blake had called me at 2:00 p.m. to tell me he was already home, and the guys had landed seven nice Steelhead, hooking into a total of eleven.  A great day, any day, but the fact they did it in a little over a half day was outstanding.  The short day was due to shelf ice that hadn’t yet melted off as sheets of it would cover almost half the river, enough in a lot of places that inhibited fishing those particular runs. 
The temperature swings have been fluctuating like the stock market.  One day we are pushing 50 degrees with an overnight low of 30 degrees, then a day or two later we are back to low 20’s for highs and tonight we are again dipping down to below zero.
With the warm weather, if you can hit “the” day, Steelhead are showing up on gravel in the “Flies Only” stretch as the water warms, but given a cold night, the next day they drift back into the deeper runs and pools.
Warmer days are on the horizon.  We have plenty of snow on the ground and the Peré Marquette River, below Custer Bridge is still completely frozen over as I witnessed today.  When the spring rains come, the river will be high and muddy, with plenty of fish in the river system looking for a fight.  For now, if you can pick your days, the fishing should be great.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


February 24

Despite the cold temperatures barely hitting 20 degrees for a high, and the harsh 30 mph winds to go along with it, the Roller boys were out in fashion, doing well on our Michigan Steelhead.  Peré Marquette Outfitter’s guide Lil David smoked’em on the Grand River in Grand Rapids, guide Blake Roller kept the rods bent, fishing plugs on the Peré Marquette River with Randy Buys and Trent Rogers from Reed City, MI, and my guys, Thom Ries and Ed Ball from Columbus, OH did extremely well running floating lines and indicators with Redington Switch Rods on the Peré Marquette River.
The day for everyone would start relatively fast.  During the coldest part of the day, sunrise, it didn’t take long for Thom Ries to hook into our first Steelhead of the day.  While he lost the first one on Saturday, Sunday he hooked into a nice fish and finished the deal as we slipped the Steelhead into the net.  To give you an idea how cold it was, we would take the fish out of the net, take a couple of quick pictures and release the fish.  In that time period, the mesh on my landing net would be frozen solid and I would have to immerse it back into the water so I could collapse the mesh to put back into the boat.  When it was time to net a Steelhead, I would have to do the same as the mesh of the net would be frozen flat.
It’s hard to believe that weather we fished in, COLD, will actually be the warmest weather we will face in the next few days as the temps are again going to plummet pushing the zero degree mark and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a little anchor ice floating down the river again before weeks end.  The warm 45 degree weather we experienced last week was just a tease, but a sneak peak of what hopefully is just around the corner next month.  I love fishing Steelhead in the winter months, but I have to admit, when your constantly fighting ice in the guides of the rod that your fly line is trying to slide through, and your trying to kick out that last mend to drift into the sweet spot and everything freezes up and your “indicator” starts to swing, it gets a little frustrating.  However we were Steelhead fishing, we caught some very nice fish, and it was good, great in fact, to see moving water with out anchor ice floating down or ten feet of shelf ice protruding out from the bank.  Despite cold fingers working rods and lines and stinging cheeks from the harsh winds, there were many brief moments in time, when fighting Steelhead, knowing you were in the sweet spot, waiting for the strike indicator to dip below the surface, or a plug rod to go slamming down, that you didn’t know it was cold, nothing mattered, and the fixation of many moments were worth the frigid day on the water.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


February 20 p.m.

As stated this morning, I was going to head out this afternoon and fish a bit, to get a closer look at the conditions of the river, and as expected it was in great shape and our Michigan Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River were on the bite.  Even with the past couple of days in the mid 40’s, the snow is still deep in the woods and along the river.  The difference now, instead of light and fluffy, it is dense and heavy, making for tough walking.  The other noticeable, sometimes unnoticeable is the 8 to 10 inch thick shelves of ice overhanging the river bank, in which some are camouflaged nicely under 6 to 18 inches of snow.   Some of these ice sheets have broken off the banks and lie at a 45 degree angle to the bank, covered under snow.  It looks like the river bank.  BE CAREFUL walking on this stuff!!!.  With the rain and warmer temps it’s slippery and easy to slide unwantingly into the river, tweaking your back, breaking an arm or worse, your rod.  I broke a rod years ago slipping on ice as the rod landed between my elbow and ten inches of ice.
Now the rest of the story:   The first run I fished got the best of me, the first time around.  I fished the run thru fairly well, with no detectable ‘feel’ even at times the “strike indicator” went down.  So I switched patterns, made my lead longer between lead and indicator and fished the run again and it wasn’t long and I was into my first good Steelhead, maybe even the one that is pictured above.  The fight lasted no longer than a minute and it just came unbuttoned, but not before I saw his handsome face, blush cheek plates, and its light crimson sides, a male no doubt.  I kept fishing and a few casts later, literally, and I was into my next Steelhead, another good one, and I was winning.  As the Steelhead tired, it wasn’t long and I had it near my feet, but with a 4 high ice shelf behind me, I had no place to go.  My strike indicator was pegged about the 7 to 8 foot mark and with the indicator kissing the rod tip; I had no lift left on the 11’3” ~ 8wt.  Redington Switch rod.  I was able to get my hand on the leader and for an instant, I thought I was going to be able to pull the peg on the indicator, to enable me to shorten the leash a bit, but the Steelhead had other plans as it headed back for deep water.  I let go of the leader as it shot out of my hands and quickly grabbed the rod off the ice shelf, it was game on again.  The forth time I got it near me, I grabbed my short handle net, put it in the water waiting for the fish to turn its head.  It shot back out, but not before part of the leader crossed the edge of my net, my lead weight catches the mesh, and it was all over, broken leader, heart, and almost my mind.  A few more casts and I was into my third Steelhead, a little lower into the run and too close for comfort near a known snag.  Another sixty second fight, all fun of course, and  in the snag went my third Steelhead…could I be jinxed today, it happens.  After I fished the run thoroughly for another 20 minutes, I headed for the next run, not the easiest run to fish with indicators with its erratic boils and swirls in the current.  When the indicator went down, I set the hook and felt a head shake, many quick little head shakes, and I finally land a fish, a 12 inch Brown trout.  The wind was picking up and the temp dropping, but not enough to turn the rain to snow, but enough to feel a little raw on my hands.  I fished another 30 minutes without a known strike.  It was getting colder, and I maybe had 45 minutes of daylight left as I trudged back up through 18 to 30 inches of snow. As I started to pass my first run in which I hooked three Steelhead, heading back to my truck, I slipped back into the water.  I didn’t make six casts, and right where I hooked the first two Steelhead, the indicator went down again, set the hook, head shake, head shake and it was a good one, as it raced up river.  When it stopped, I rolled it back down river and when it rolled, there it was those rosy cheek plates and deep bodied, crimson sides.  Could it be the first one I hooked some 2 hours ago?  This time everything worked, even with the long lead to the indicator.  I slipped the net in the water, the fish rolled lazily towards my feet and into the net.  It was a solid ten pounds, if not a touch larger.  I only know I couldn’t get my fingers completely around the base of the tail.  I took a few “timed” photo’s  and the it wasn’t long this large, born and raised Michigan Steelhead, kicked out of  my hand, as he will continue his journey up the Peré Marquette River, to his spawning grounds.  I clipped my leader off, broke my rod down, and headed through the deep snow, back to my truck with my Labrador “Karma” breaking the trail.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


February 20, a.m.

It’s been a long month or so since I’ve been on the water and on my web site (sorry).  While I haven’t been able to fish, there certainly has been enough work to keep me busy as we prepare to fly fish for Steelhead here in Michigan.  I’ve been building rods practically in my sleep.  Getting mesmerized in the work as each wrap of thread cinches guides on to rod blanks that will at some point and time, be in direct connection with some nice fish, whether it be Trout, Steelhead, Salmon, Smallmouth, Bluegills…  well you get the message.
We finally hit a break in the weather and after looking at the river last night, the Peré Marquette is opening up quickly.  From Walhalla Bridge upstream, it looks open with virtually no shelf ice.  We’ve had to forty degree plus days back to back, and did it feel good to experience a little warmth outside and to actually see water dripping from trees, my house, etc.
So with that being said, “cabin fever” is about to be cured as I’m heading to the river this afternoon.  Lil David and Tyler Piper is on the Muskegon River today (which has been fishing as of late) and I’ll be joined by Thom Ries from Columbus, Ohio this weekend as we hit the river, fly fishing for Steelhead on the Peré Marquette River. It all won’t be fun and games as our little warm front will be short lived as we are expecting single digit for lows for a few days after the weekend.  But if we have open water, we’re going to fish.
I’ll keep you posted on the next few days!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


January 29

Not much to report as we wait for another day to fish.  The past couple of days, like most of the nation saw us in sub zero temperatures, reaching highs in the lower single digits.  I was actually a little surprised that the Peré Marquette River at Walhalla Bridge (pictured above) and Lower Branch Bridge was not completely frozen over, all though not far from it.  We have a small warm up coming where we will be in the mid to high teens, but that won’t be enough to rid the amount of shelf ice.  So in the mean time, I’m at the rod building table, and working Karma, my Black Labrador Retriever who is just a little over a year old.  She came a long way this past duck season, and I expect she will be close to stellar next year.
Our spring season is filling up quick both on the Peré Marquette and Muskegon Rivers.  With the amount of ice and snow we have, both rivers should fish well past their perspective seasons.  It’s just around the corner, and will be here before we know it. 

Tight Lines!   David Roller


January 21

Here we are at high noon and back in single digits for temps as we set at 7 degrees.  I’m sure there is slush coming down the river again with shelf ice starting to develop.  When the mildly cold temps hit, we try and take advantage of it as we did yesterday.  With Lil D’s jet sled, Lil David and Tyler Piper (pictured above) decided to beat the cold front one more time and fish the Muskegon River.  At 8 a.m. they hit the high of the day (20 degrees) and the Muskegon River Steelhead were on the bite.  They managed to catch some very nice fish and some very LARGE STEELHEAD, as two surpassed the 15 pound mark, one tipping the scale at 16 pounds.  A great day, any day, but the two guys managed to hook 9 Steelhead, boating 6 in about six hours, getting off the river before the temps plummeted.  I did not fair as well as I decided to walk in to the Peré Marquette River, fishing late afternoon to early evening, trying to repeat what I had done the day before.  I did not beat the cold front.  It was 18 degrees when I headed out in the late afternoon.  It wasn’t a total bust, as I landed an 18 inch “skipper” and a couple of brown trout.  I had one nice Steelhead on just long enough to know that it was a decent fish, giving me four or five nice headshakes before giving me back my flies.  I knew it was getting colder as about every five drifts, I had to knock the ice out of my guides.  With a heavy fly line coming through the guides, there is a lot of water that get’s picked up.  If I let it go ‘one more drift’, the ice would be so bad; it would freeze my line into the rod.  Walking back to the truck, I knew the temp was dropping quickly, the thermometer in my truck read 10 degrees.
While this winter has been cutting our winter Steelhead short, unless you are willing to fish in slush and single digit temps, the isolated warm fronts (20 degrees and above) have been far and few in between, but when it hits, we go to the river.  I’m back to the rod building bench, anxious to chase more chrome, hopefully in a few days, as the frigid weather takes another grip.

Tight Lines!  David  Roller


Janurary 19

With the next cold front knocking at our back door, to get back into the single digits, I knew if I wanted to fish in somewhat comfortable conditions (30 degrees), that I had better put my waders on and Go Fishing!  So I glued my last set of cork rings and reel seat on a Sage ONE, 9’ 4 weight that I am building, put it on the glue clamp, and grabbed my waders.   With the lower river still locked up, it makes it impossible for me to put my Go-devil in and fish for a few hours, and putting the drift boat in makes for committing to the day.  So I wadered up, and walked in to an area that I knew I would be able to fish two or three runs with out having to cross the river, which would be tough.  The walk through the woods in deep snow would be good for me as well as let my Black Labrador have a good run.
Donned with my “switch rod” rigged with a floating line and indicator rig, it didn’t take me long and a small “skipper” came to hand.  Moments later a brown trout was landed and then another.  The evening was already a success but I wanted that bigger tug my 11’ 7 wt.  Switch rod likes.  Fifteen minutes later, as I worked my way down the small curvy run that the Peré Marquette River is full of, my indicator went down, and as I lifted my rod, I knew I had on something substantially larger.  Four or five nice head shakes were evident as my 11 foot rod bowed over and bucked.  It was short lived however as moments later my rod straightened out and the line went limp, it was gone, it came unbuttoned.  Could have that been my one and only chance?  I only had about another hour to fish and it would be getting dark.  It didn’t take long however to repeat the last performance, only this time the chrome Steelhead hung on.  This one surprised me.  It wasn’t the largest fish but it was definitely looking for a fight as it worked upstream, looking for any piece of debris it could slip under.  The rod was no match and soon I slipped in the net.  Too much fun!  I could have easily gone home at that point, but the next run was just around the corner.  With in thirty minutes, the fight was on again, this time a little bit larger fish, a nice female that had a little bit of color.  It fought nice (anything does this time of the year), I had a wide open river, and soon I had it in the net.  It was time to go home, and back to rod building.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


January 11

This latest warm front (and it’s been a while) came in quick yesterday and in 24 hours we went from single digit temps to above freezing.  The rain started yesterday evening and rained steady all night.  At this time (12:45 p.m.) a very light snow is coming down as temps drop just a little at 33 degrees.  I took a quick drive to the Peré Marquette River at Walhalla and Lower Branch Bridge to see if the river had loosened up a bit, and it did, just a bit.  There was open water visible below Walhalla Bridge, but up river of the bridge (pictured above) it was still locked up, as was Lower Branch Bridge.  About the only piece of water fishable is the “Flies Only” Stretch in Baldwin, MI however the guys running boats still have to run their boats up on ice to get out at “Gleason’s Landing”.
The Muskegon River is fishable.  Lil’ David and Tyler Piper are fishing it as I am posting this and at 12:30 p.m. today David had texted me to let me know that they had put two nice Steelhead to the net and had lost 3 others, so far they are having a pretty good day. Our spring Steelhead season ramps up in less than two months, while a few of us are taking advantage of any moment we can to get on the river, especially when it is a comfortable, above freezing temperature conditions.  Don’t let the moments slip away, get on the river when you can.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


January 7

What a difference a couple of days make, coupled with below zero temps for highs yesterday, high winds, snow, and a high of five degrees today.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Peré Marquette River completely locked up, especially at Walhalla Bridge (pictured above) and Lower Branch Bridge.  It’s hard to believe that I actually tried (and did) to fish this past Saturday.  They are still predicting a warm up in the mid to high 30’s this weekend, but it will take more than a couple of days to rid the shelf ice that has now accumulated clear across the river.  The river sleeps and that’s not a bad thing as when the river opens back up to fishable conditions, ill tempered Steelhead should be on the bite.
In the mean time, cork dust is flying and thread is spinning, building rods and tying a few flies, gearing up for another great fishing season both here in Michigan and Alaska.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


January 6

This morning, on this Monday, January 06, 2014, it is 4 degrees outside, snowing, and blowing and we are suppose to get winds upwards of 40 mph.  God only knows what the wind chill will be.  This past Saturday we jumped up to 31 degrees (after several days of 9 to 12 degree temps) and I had to get out of the house, knowing the river would still be in pretty rough shape.  My Black Labrador, Karma, was getting antsy, as was I, so donned in waders, I grabbed my 11’ Switch rod, rigged with an “indicator rig”, and we jumped in the truck and headed for the river.   Driving over “Lower Branch Bridge” the river looked dismal, with six to ten feet of shelf ice creeping off of both banks as well as large chunks of anchor ice flowing down on the surface.  I parked the truck and we trudged through sixteen inches of snow as I headed for a couple of my better steelhead runs.  While fun, the fishing was hard as it seemed like the more I fished, the more slush/anchor ice came floating down the river.  Wading was not an option, as I would stand on shelf ice as I casted in between ice bergs.  Snags weren’t an issue as most of the logs and woody debris that one would snag into was encapsulated in slush.  Some of the logs underwater that are 6 to 12 inches in diameter, were 10 to 20 inches in diameter with ice and slush, so if I hung up on a log, a quick tug and the hook would rip through the icy, sediment dusted sludge.  Not a fish was hooked, I got outside for a while, and after knocking ice out of the guides several times, Karma and I took the long walk back to the truck.  I wouldn’t recommend going out and walking out on shelf ice, especially if you don’t know how deep the water is under you.  There were several places I noticed where the water was bubbling through the shelf ice and if one broke through, you’d have a heck of a time getting back on the ice to get to shore.
We have severe cold temps forecasted for the rest the week with warmer weather (mid to upper 30’s) forecasted for this coming weekend.  We’ll see how the river fairs by then, but we’ll need more than two or three days of warmer weather to rid the banks of shelf ice.
So as I watch the wind blowing the snow around, I’ll put more wood in the wood stove, stay warm, build rods, and occasionally tie a few flies, while thinking of the potential 20  pound Steelhead I could hook into as soon as the weather turns a bit.

Tight Lines!  David Roller



Mrs. Karen Flowers with a bright Steelhead on a cloudy day.  4/24/14Richard Flowers with another great Muskegon River Steelhead.  4/24/14Lil D putting  the net to a nice Steelhead for Ben Lasater from Nashville, TN. 4/24/14Karen Flowers with a nice Muskegon River Brown trout.  Notice the eggs coming out of it's mouth.  4/24/14Richard Flowers with a female Steelhead full of spawn.  4/24/14Karen Flowers from Nashville, TN with one of our last fish of the day.  4/24/14Dr. Mike Lewis from Nashville, TN with our first fish to the netg, a large buck just missing the 16 pound mark.  4/23/14Mr. and Mrs. Richard Flowers enjoying one of many days spent on a river.  Fishing with Lil D today on 4/23/14.Ben Lasater having a great, warm day on the Muskegon River.  4/23/14There are some large bucks in the Muskegon River this year!  4/23/14Ben wih another large Muskegon River Steelhead.  4/23/14Dr. Lewis from Nashville with a large female full of eggs.  4/23/14Ben Lasater having a hot afternoon on 4/23/14This spawned out hen was our first Steelhead of the day as we rean floating lines and indicator rigs most of the day.l 4/20/14.Jim Downs from Lansing, MI with a Steelhead that inched passed the 16 pound mark, that he caught on the Pere Marquette River  with me on Easter Sunday, 2014Jim Downs with a healthy buck that he caught in the drity waters of the lower PM on Easter Sudnay.  4/20/14.This fresh buck smoked an egg pattern as the 'indicator' slammed below the surface.  4/20/14Evidence of the extreme high water we had as the river swept the river banks leaving sand deposits and debris in the bushes.  4/20/14Five feet lower and dropping as you can see a prominant line on the grassy bank where the river level had been just a few days ago.  4/20/14Pete adn Stan Borlace, from Michgan's U.P., having a stellar day with Lil D on the Pere Marquette River.  4/19/14Shawn Borlace with one  of many Steelhead  he caught today on the Pere Marquette River guided by Lil David on 4/19/14.Stan Borlace and Lil D ahving a great day on the Pere Marquette Rver.  4/19/14Bob Starr with our first  fish of the morning.  4/18/14Ed, fishing with Bob Starr and I with his first Steelhead of the morning.  4/18/14One of our nicest Pere Marquette River bucks of the day on 4/18/14.Chrome hens were showing up and we even saw some chrome fish pushing up river, migrating through.  4/18/14Ed with a very nice male on 4/18/14.Ed with a very nice fish that slipped out before the pic was taken.  4/18/14Mike Kaplowitz with our only fish landed in the muddy, high waters of the Pere Marquette River.  4/17/14.Lower Branch Bridge on the Pere Marquette River on 4/15/14.  You can see the difference from today vs. yesterday as you scroll through the "film strip".Where I normally drag the boat to the launch at Lower Branch Bridge.  4/15/14Looiking up river from Lower Branch Bridge.  4/15/14M-37 Bridge  as the high water closes the gap on 4/14/14.A true 18 pound Steelhead caught by Dr. Dan Kiiddy from  St. Louis,. MO   4/9/14Chris Thompson from Niles, MI wth our largestr Steelhead of the season, a large, girthy, 17 pound hen.  11/8/13


April 24, 2014

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