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The guys come from all over, once a year to fish the Peré Marquette River, and to reunite with each other as well as reunite with me and our guides that have served them over the years.  They come from New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Missouri and they always have a good time and today was no different.  With seven guides on the water, the tables switched again as to what was hot and what was not adding to the inconsistency of our salmon run.  But it’s getting better as a few more Kings have been showing up in the river and reports of Peré Marquette Lake filling up with Kings, which means we are just a day or two away from a major push of Kings…they are coming.  Again the fish we are catching have been ranging from 16 to 22 pounds and fight with every once of their body, putting our anglers and their/our equipment to the test.  It may be a late season, but I still feel it will be a good one when we close the fall salmon season of 2014. 

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 18

A few more fish today for all of us, as each one of our guides landed and had on a little more than we’ve had the past week.  I fished below Scottville again with Dr. Robert Starr and his brother-in-law John Axelberg.  I witnessed more activity in the early morning hours by Kings, than I have in a while, with Kings boiling out in front of us while we were rigging rods.  It didn’t take long for Bob and John to hook up with fish, and with in the first hour, it was nice to have a fresh King in the net.  Rumor is out that Peré Marquette Lake had a lot of Kings rolling on the surface and fish were on the move near
“Twin Bridges” in Ludington.  We’ll see just how many in the next day or two and hope to report more numbers.  In the mean time, we are hooking low teens to high twenties on any given day with any given guide.  Today my guys hooked around a dozen nice fresh Kings and we landed two, with two others that should have been landed.  We continue to have all hands on deck spread out through the PM river system as we all await the new arrivals of our next push of Kings.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 17

Luke Vincer (pictured above) and guide Blake Roller surprised us all when they showed us a picture of this twenty one pound lake run Brown trout that they had caught in the Peré Marquette River a couple of days ago as he was part of the Shepperson group that comes up every year for their annual salmon outing with us.  The group and Blake also gave us a laugh on a heroic net job yesterday in which Blake, standing on a log in about 6 feet of water nets the fish, looses his balance, swims for about six to eight seconds and comes out with the King still in the net.  With the Kings not coming easy, every fish possible counts, and this King was no exception.  We hope to post the video soon as it was priceless.  The Kings continue to be somewhat thin as we still await a major push of Kings.  We are getting a small “trickle” effect of new Kings pushing up the river.  There is nothing consistent as everyday one or two of our guides have a great day while the others hit a minimum number of Kings only to turn around the next day and the guys that hadn’t done so well hits the high numbers.  So we continue to be spread out through the Peré Marquette River system fishing our favorite runs and let the day progress as it may.  We are all having fun, enjoying fall like weather as sun noticeably rides lower in the horizon.  While the fishing still remains on the slower side to our standards, we’re getting our guests into fish with lots of laughs along the way, having a great time, enjoying our days on the river with many more to come as autumn unfolds.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 15

Today was another tough day on the river for me as I headed below Scottville, looking for perhaps another push of fish that could be lingering downstream, below my normal fishing grounds.  While we hooked some nice fish below Scottville Bridge, we couldn’t get anything consistent as we would hook a fish or two in just about every run that we fished.  The good news is that most of my guides farther upstream did do better than they had the past few days. Brent Martin (pictured above), guided by Blake Roller was one of those anglers.  One of our guides actually had a normal day of salmon fishing on the Peré Marquette River, and two of my other guides were not far behind them.  Guides DJ and Crockett were on the lower river as well, and they reported seeing a few fish on the move, more so than what they have seen in the past few days.  The rumor mill is winding up with reports that we lost some of our mature fish in Lake Michigan this past spring, that some of our fish went to another river, etc., etc.  I am still optimistic that it will be a later run, especially since Lake Michigan, on average ran ten degrees colder than normal this summer.  Ten degrees doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a huge swing to our migrating Kings.  I’ve seen late runs before, some lingering well into late October, as I recall just a few years ago, I never put my drift boat in the water, fishing pre spawning Kings through the 20th of October on the lower river.  This year could be no different, and could be great fishing, especially for our mid October guests.  All of our guests so far have been appreciative of the hard work our guides are doing, understand that’s its fishing and not “catching”, and enjoy a fun day on the river, and by the end of the day, they’ve put there equipment to the test battling some nice Kings.  Tomorrow is a different day, and we’ll be hot on them again.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 14

Today was Jerry “Holly” Hollingsworth and Cliff Neuse (pictured above) 28th (twenty eighth) year fishing with me.  It’s hard to believe I was 23 years old when I had these guys in my boat for the first time; it was just a year or two later when Holly introduced me to duck hunting in some of the prime duck clubs of St. Louis, MO.  They have seen a small handful of tough days, and a lot of great days including the past couple of years, and we finally got a little tougher season dealt to us this go around.  While we all want to catch fish in large numbers, spending the day together, laughing about the years gone by, hooking a ten Kings that kicked our butts, and catching a couple of Kings made for a great day.  We genuinely had fun, and I’m just not saying that because we had a tough day fishing.  The fishing has been tough, to our standards, while we continue to fish hard as we average a dozen fish on a day, but it’s still a dozen large fish on the fly, fish in a small river that will challenge the most ardent, experienced fishermen and their gear.  Right now the Kings are winning (well, they always win most of the time), but our day is coming, sooner than later.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 13

All we can do is have fun as in the picture above; when that was the only fish we landed for the day, a four inch sculpin.  Jim Lagerbloom from Georgia and Ramzy Bathish from TX, were with me as we searched and searched for a decent school of Kings, which has been more and more difficult to find the past few days.  The large pushes of Kings that we had earlier this month have distributed themselves throughout the river system, in which some are starting to work gravel and spawn.  In the mean time, we keep searching the river, which took me below Scottville Bridge; the first time I’ve done that in a couple of years.  Other than seeing a different part of the river, it made no difference as the lack of new Kings showing up continue baffle us.  We’ve been averaging a dozen fish on a day and putting one or two in the net.  With six to seven guides on the water everyday, spread through out the river system, a couple of us seem to get into much heavier numbers, but the two guides that do well, that particular day, changes the next day. So everyday we put our waders on, hitting our beats, thinking that today will be the day, and one day it will happen.  We’ve had it very well the past few years in September.  This year, with Lake Michigan running on average ten degrees colder, it may take our Kings just a little longer to get here.  In the mean time we fish, we have fun, and we work for every King we get or hook into.  We look forward to the next day thinking it will be “the day”, and tomorrow just might be.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 11

We’ve been covering a lot of water on the Peré Marquette River lately as we try and find the Kings that have moved through the river system this past week or so.  The fishing has not been easy.  After the storm front moved through the area the past 24 hours, I was a surprised that we didn’t get a large push of Kings on the lower river.  In fact, for the most part the Kings on the lower river has migrated, no new fish have moved in, leaving us a few Kings distributed through each run and pool.  After running two different stretches of river today, guides Blake Roller and Crockett pulled out early and met up at M-37 Bridge in Baldwin, MI to float the entire “Flies Only” stretch of the PM, just to see if the fish we had, migrated that far, they had not.  The two had seen a handful of fish on gravel and very few fish in the pockets and runs, and even fewer fish on with the handful of anglers and boats they had encountered.
With the cloud cover and misty conditions, we could see things change overnight, so we’ll stick to our guns before we make any drastic changes, moving to other parts of the river.  Hope springs eternal, and fisherman are one of the most optimistic groups around, so tomorrow could be the day, stay tuned and find out.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 9

The past couple of days the Kings that ‘were’ on the lower river have migrated upstream with not many fish to replace them as if the migration has shut down for the moment with just enough fish on the bottom end to keep us their.  Meanwhile our other guides further upstream have had stellar days including one Steelhead that guide Blake Roller and his guys hooked into. 
While the lower river is at a stand still, with just enough fish to make a day, this could all change in a hurry as this next weather front approaches with predictions of up to two inches of rain.  If we get a spike in water level of six to ten inches, we could get our first major push of fish that will spread great fishable numbers of fish from top to bottom of the Peré Marquette River.
The size of the Kings this year has been good with fish ranging from 16 to 22 pounds.  Our biggest fish to date was today, as Peré Marquette Outfitter guides DJ and Crockett put (and landed) two of our guests into Kings that weighed twenty eight pounds. 
We’re off to a good start for the season, a season which could linger well into late October and if you’re not here to enjoy it, you could be missing another epic season like the ones we’ve enjoyed the past two years. 


Tight Lines!  David Roller


September 7

It was a busy Saturday on the Peré Marquette River as our 2014 Salmon season is starting to hit all gears.  With the amount of Kings still a little thin on the upper to mid sections on the Peré Marquette River, and everyone out fishing for them, it makes our lives a little tougher on the river trying to move around, but we manage.  Today we had another very big push of Kings on the lower river as more and more fish enter the system from Lake Michigan.  This morning the river was alive as the surface of the river was full of wakes as our Kings pushed water through the shallow sand flats as they migrate up river.  Some would stage in the deeper pools for a while then continue their journey.  It’s during that brief staging or resting period that we are able to take advantage of most of the time.  This morning the Kings were on the bite to just about anything that moved.  Within the first two casts this morning, Jerry Shremshock, stripping a larger egg/streamer pattern, hooked two Kings and within ten casts managed to put our first King to the net.  For the first two hours we were busy, really busy.  By 10 a.m. we had three Kings landed and had hooked a dozen Kings.  As the sun got higher and the day got brighter, the Kings slowed down their migration and then we had to work a little harder as more and more boats would drift by in search of Kings.  While I wasn’t in my prime location due to a lot of people up for the weekend, we decided to stick with pools that we had to finish out the day, we were all happy.
The nights are getting cooler as we have been dipping down into the lower 40’s at night.  As the water temps cool down a bit, more and more Kings are pushing forward and I would expect that in the next week more and more of the upper river should have more Kings staging in the deeper pools.  In the mean time, we’ve made some adjustments to give our guests some very good fishing.  Some days are better than others, but we’re enjoying great weather, great fish, and great company.

Tight Lines!

David Roller


September 5

I don’t have time to write much, but the words of the week have pretty much been the same, “too hot to handle”.  While we are putting a few or better yet a couple of fish to the net everyday, they have been nothing but tough.  A lot of these early Kings are not staging in Peré Marquette Lake as they push on through to the river awaiting their turn to take anyone to the wood shed that is willing to tangle with them.  Dr. Robert Starr and his fiancé, Dr. Kate was with me today and we had are share of drama with each and every King that we put in the net.  We are at “all hands on deck” starting tomorrow as our season is in full bore.  The run is starting, but we are no where near peak.  Some days are better than others as one day a run can be full of fish and the next day they move, forcing us to look, but each day more and more fish enter the system…it will be a good season!

Tight Lines!

David Roller


September 3

After one day off from coming home from Alaska, we hit the ground running on our home waters back here in Michigan as we start our fall salmon season.  Late August was a little on the slower side but as September launches in so did a pretty good push of Kings.  Yesterday I spent the day with Ken and Cathy (the Egg Lady) Zimmerman and their friend Mike.  While there were a nice handful of Kings on the end of the line, there was no question they were hot and fresh as we only managed to put one nice King to the net.  Today was no different as Neil Hirshberg and I hit the lower river.   The river had come up an additional three inches overnight, and with the little spike in water came a much bigger push of fish.  Most were chrome and some copper in color and there was no doubt they had not staged in Peré Marquette Lake, they came right from Lake Michigan and shot up the river, a much bigger push than the day before.  They were hot, tenacious, and sometimes down right vicious.  Size compares very much like the past two years, on the large size.    Water levels look great.  This summer (some say we have had no summer) was on the cool and wet side and with last springs flooding and heavy snows, Lake Michigan is also up over the past few years.
We’re off to a good start as we start leaning very quickly to “the Fall of 2014”.  It’s going to be exciting with so many things to do outdoors and a little over two months to do it in; I’m looking forward to it!

Tight Lines!

David


August 29
Week 4 & 5 Alaska

Too many pictures, too little space on this web site, and certainly too little time as we clean up gear, pack up, and put gear back in storage, as we end a very successful 2014 Alaskan season.  The past ten days we finished up with another 10 day excursion that beats a guy getting in and taking out, but the fishing was fantastic, which we certainly hope so as we planned on fish to eat for at least 6 days and due to the Silvers coming in nicely and more concentrated than the previous 10 day trip, we managed to eat fish 7 nights.  5 nights of the sweet meated Dollies, and two nights of Silver Salmon, including and thanks to our Chinese guests, fish head soup.  Bert Yen and Bing Fong, whom have been with us before in past years, joined us for the last 10 days, along with Mike Bell from Nashville, TN and Jim Downs, doing 20 days down his favorite creeks, knowing how grueling it can be getting in and getting out.  While I’m getting out of sequence here (time), Crocket and I were getting ready to pitch three Silver Salmon carcasses in the river, when Bert inquisitively and perhaps apprehensive to our response asked about the fish heads, seeing that fish they  were just caught.  He also mentioned how good “fish head” soup can be, and Bing Fong also couldn’t say enough good about it.  Being they were our guests, what the hell, fish head soup for appetizers.  Don’t knock it, because after it was all said and done, the plates and forks were passed around, broth was sipped, and the heads were almost picked clean, I must admit, I liked it.  Bert Yen said that next time, we would have the proper Chinese spices to go with, but no one complained with a touch of pepper, salt, and garlic powder added to make the broth, it smelled pretty darn good before it was time to serve.
Starting out the trip on the 18th of August, we made life a little easier getting in through the small creek, that led us to our destination, by building the rafts a little different.  Once in on the misty day, we turned Mike Bell and Jim Downs loose to start fishing to get us enough Dolly Varden/Arctic Char for dinner while the rest of us floated further down river to set up camp.  By the time we had camp set up and coffee on, the guys showed up with plenty of fish for dinner, our first of the 10 nights we would spend out in the Alaskan bush.  As the previous ten days, the Dollies were many and large, some exceeding 5 pounds, and it was obvious the Rainbows had been feeding heavy on eggs and salmon flesh as they were the fattest rainbows we’ve seen, the largest one caught by Bert Yen, coming in at 28 inches, and no doubt pushed the 8 to 9 pound range…Steelhead size.  There were many more Rainbows caught in the four and five pound range, and who knows how many in the 18 to 22 inch size. 
While the weather worked out a little for us on the first 5 days, it seemed to get a little nastier the last 5 days as its obvious the Alaskan fall season was setting in.  The willow leaves were changing quickly from pale yellows to brown, the sun was setting before 9:30 p.m. and it was still dark at 5:45 a.m. when I needed my head lamp to get the coffee going.  The mornings would be a cool 45 degrees, and add a little wind and mist and it felt colder and the warmer clothing was worn.  By afternoon however, one could shed a layer or two and enjoy a comfortable day of fishing.
Once we floated down to our second creek, the Silvers were more noticeable.  Jim Downs, Mike Bell, and I walked about a mile up river to fish for Dollies and Rainbows, when half way down, Jim hooked into a large fish, unsure what it may have been.  Jim had dropped back to re-fish the pool as Mike and I worked farther down river.  Jim yells at me knowing I was within hearing distance to assist him; our first Silver was soon landed.  As we started to notice the slow pool he was fishing, it was loaded with Silvers.  After a quick 5 or 6 Silvers landed, I went down a few bends to catch up with Mike to get him in on the action.  Before we finally put the Silvers down, we had hooked a solid twenty fish and put eight to ten to the net.  We knew our plans for the next day…more Silvers.  In the meantime, back at camp, Lil D and Bing Fong had caught a couple Silvers as well, and we had plenty of fish for an all you can eat fish fry, and this is when the fish head soup came into play.
After plenty of Silvers, and a couple of days left, we headed for our final creek, an area we could have easily spent three days.  The Silvers were plenty and the Rainbows in which we sight fished most of them were fat and sassy and eager to bite.  Bert, Bing, Crockett and Sharde’ hung in camp and caught plenty of Silvers, and kept a couple of large ones for dinner.  Mike, Jim and I ventured up river in pursue of more rainbows and it was almost heaven to say the least.  Small water no more than 10 feet wide in places, a nine foot, 5 or 6 weight rods, and the proper tackle and in places one could almost catch very nice Rainbows at will.  They hit hard and with reckless abandon.  In one small riffle, I had about 20 chums spawning, and in about a 20 foot stretch, I caught 8 nice Rainbows in about 10 casts.  One jumped high and landed on the grass on the opposite bank before flopping back into the creek.
As I was walking a  ridge to try and find Jim way up stream, I couldn’t help but notice a rainbow in a pool that would go at least 5 pounds.  I watched him mill back and forth eating eggs and at one time taking a bite out of a salmon carcass.  Being on a thirty foot high bank, I slid down just a bit and made a couple of casts from the ridge 20 feet above the river’s edge.  Twice the heavy winds caught my line, while trying to mend it, and right into a small, bush that ultimately I had to break off without spooking the large rainbow that was still wildly eating.  While rigging up my third rig, strike indicator and all, Jim come from the upstream side and jokingly said, “How’s the fishing up there”.  
“Perfect timing” I replied, “come down here and catch this fish.”
As the Rainbow made his rounds, hovering over about 15 feet of river bottom, both the rainbow and Jim’s cast were in the perfect spot, and so was I like standing in the grand stand of a stadium watching the whole thing take place.  Soon after, Jim’s line tightened up and a 5 pound Rainbow come jumping out of the water, as much as it’s distance cousin, a Steelhead in November.  It was an epic battle for Jim, and fun to watch for me.
The weather was nasty at times as the fall season rolls in, bringing the rafts in for the start of the trip, tough but we made it a little easier the second time around.  The day getting to and the “take out” can be grueling.  It’s 5 plus hours of floating with no fishing involved in the glacial fed, silty stained river.   Once at the “take out” the real work begins, getting everything to the top of the hill, then a solid 800 (eight hundred) yards across the tundra to a large lake where the float plane can pick us up.  The fishing however was priceless, a dream for die hard trout fisherman.  Where else can one catch forty plus fish a day, fish that will make a 6 wt. bend to the last graphite strand holding everything together, remote Alaska that’s where.  Being that it takes a half day to get in and a day to get out, we spent 10 night and eleven days in a wilderness, that very few people ever get to see and even fewer get to experience the kind of fishing we do.  In future years, if we ever did a 10 day venture on our creeks back to back, I would definitely take a day off in between and I’m looking at different options of taking out, but the bottom line, the fishing was epic to say the least if one is willing to do a little walking, and that we did, we had no problem sleeping at night.  The pictures seen above are just a small taste of what we experienced.  I could have involved a full page of pictures and would have still needed to cull some out to make room. I plan on putting many more pics on our “Facebook” page of Pere Marquette Outfitters, but that is a few days away, or it may even be this winter when “cabin fever” sets in.  We finish off the AK season in great success and AK 2015 is 10 months away.  In the words of the late, great Tom Silver…”book often, book early, hell just be booked!”

Tight Lines!  David Roller


August 17, Week 4...10 day Float Trip

It was another epic adventure enjoyed by another great foursome fishing with Pere Marquette Outfitters. Gary and Lloyd Modine, two brothers, one from Kansas and the other from Oklahoma, Jim Downs from Lansing, MI, and eighty year old Charlie Fudge from Polson, MT.  While I mention Charlie’s age, he’s tough as a mountain goat and jumps in and out of a raft easier than most.  He and Jim Downs have not missed a year in Alaska with us in the past ten and the Modine’s are no stranger fishing with us here in Alaska as well.
Some great things come with work, and this trip was no exception.  Getting in was no easy task.  With this year’s low water table, due to lack of rain and snow fall, a struggle getting our gear and rafts in is an understatement.  We knew that there were places where the creek leading into our destination as narrower than our rafts and we would have to drag them over small gravel bars, but we didn’t plan on having to drag them over several yards of gravel often.  The whole crew worked, pushing and tugging to the point of exhaustion, until we finally made it in.  While making camp and getting fishing gear ready, we were greeted by our first Alaskan Brown bear as he quickly snatched a 20 pound King.  We needed a few Dollies for dinner and it wasn’t long camp was made, fish were caught, and we had our first of six dinners of Dolly Varden, all in one day, our first day of work and a little evening fishing, with some of the most beautiful scenery surrounding us.  We had ten more days to go. 
We stayed on our first creek for four days, fishing the upper end the first two days which does get some “day trip” activity.   The only time we stopped fishing was when a bear peaked through the brush “close” by or ambled up the river looking for fish.  They had run of the river and they knew it and the bear viewing like the fishing was second to none.  Watching an Alaskan Brown bear stalk and catch fish is something they have done for thousands of year and witnessing such events first hand, several times over, was as wild as it gets.
We were going to spend a third day on the upper end, but as the float planes zeroed in on us, we decided to quickly exit.  After a mile downstream on day 3, we soon had the river/creek all to ourselves, found a great place to camp and caught a lot of beautiful fish in the two to five pound class, and again I reiterate the scenery.  It was second to none, and with large Dolly Varden/Arctic Char, and a few trophy Rainbows to boot, it was first class fishing.  Minimum twenty fish per angler and most topped well over forty fish per day…a trout fisherman’s dream!
As the days ran, we found ourselves on the next clear water stream, hoping to find a few Silver salmon.  When we first arrived, Gary Modine and Charlie Fudge landed a couple of trophy rainbows in the 4 to 5 pound class.  Later in the day, Gary, while fishing for Silvers, hooked into a 35 pounds King, fishing 10 pound test line, in the large river that the clear water stream fed.  Twenty minutes later, and about a ¼ mile downstream that the low water banks allowed us to walk, he landed it.  Later that day, he landed a nice Silver salmon that we enjoyed as part of our dinner; supplemented with more sea run Dollies… we ate well! 
Three days later, we would float a few hours to another no named stream, that Jim and I investigated last year, we deemed Rainbow Creek for a reason.  Upon entering it, the mouth was full of a school of fresh Chums that held a few fresh Silvers as well, and sight fishing for Rainbows was an understatement.  If this creek got fished three times a year, it would be a lot and the guys spent a full day on it, and it was, putting it plain and simple, fun stuff!  The stream was 6 to 10 feet wide, full of spawning Chums and Pinks, and we would walk slowly up the bank looking for rainbows setting among the Chums, eating eggs.  A small roll cast, and if the cast was anywhere near close, a 16 to 24 inch Rainbow would tear out of his feeding lane and eat the egg pattern with reckless abandon.  While most of us would hike up the stream at least a mile, Charlie Fudge, after catching about 20 Rainbows, would stay closer to camp, and he would eventually hook into a few Silvers after weeding through the hundreds of Chum that would push through.  Charlie even landed a trophy, five pound Rainbow, fishing within 50 feet of camp.  We would spend a full day at our little creek, but as quickly as our trip started, our work would once again begin as we floated some 5 hours to our take out where the work would again begin.  We would unload the rafts, pull them up a four foot bank, then all of our gear (and we have a lot) would have to go up a 75 foot, 45 degree (at least) brushy hill, then 800 yards (yes eight hundred yards) across the tundra, to a lake large enough to get a float plane in to pick us up.  It wasn’t easy!  We would get a “chain gang” started to get everything up the hill, then everyone, at their own pace would carry gear to what would be our last camp.  Everyone worked hard and for the exception of a couple of loads, we got most of the gear to camp by night fall.  As I come in with the last heavy load, Sharde’ and Lil’ D had our spaghetti dinner almost ready to serve.  Hungry and tired, we all ate like Kings and retired for the night, the trip was over as we waited for our float planes to arrive to take us back to King Salmon, AK, to the King Salmon Lodge.
It was a great trip with some 900 to 1,000 fish caught.  While we had rain every day, we were fortunate with the weather catching the breaks in the rain at the right time.  We were able to take down and put up camp dry every time.  The rain would tend to come in the morning; clear up nicely at times with sunshine, the winds would start to blow by evening pushing another front in.  A couple of nights it rained as hard as I’ve seen it rain in Alaska, and at times the large, wind thrown rain drops splattered on the rainflies of our tents, to a noise level that would keep a person up, but to us it was like soft music putting us to sleep.  We were all warm and dry, as our gear and tents did exactly as expected.  We are headed out again tomorrow with three guys coming in, and Jim Downs, who has to do this trip ‘at least’ twice.  Will there be more Silvers, will we find that 30 inch Rainbow trout, or the “largest Dolly” that Lil D ever saw, in which Charlie Fudge hooked up with and unfortunately broke off.  Stay tuned as we head out for our final ten day trip in Alaska.
Michigan News:  With a mild cool summer, to say the least, we’ve seemed to have plenty of rain and cooler temps as the our Kings our starting to show up on the Pere Marquette River, and Blake Roller is hot on them as he transitions from chasing brown trout to Kings, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, that at the time of this posting, he’s already found a few nice schools of Kings.  September is coming upon us fast, and another season of the year of 2014 is quickly approaching!

Tight Lines!  David Roller



August 7, 2014  Week 3 Alaska

Not time to write much, but had a great time and an Alaskan first with us, as we had four beautiful women on this past trip, and as usual they did outstanding, with Dona Montgomery coming in with big fish of the week.  13 year old Ellie Montgomery always shows her fishing prowess and tenacity as she nev er gives up and will fish all day.  Dwight's cousin Jennifer, experienced her first time with us and will never look at a smallmouth bass the same as she looks forward to joinning the team next year.  Sharde', Lil D's fiance', joined the team as she works netting fish, cleaning fish, adn working in teh kitchen area.  All is well as we get ready for next week.  Stay tuned!

Tight Lines!  David Roller

July 30, Week 2 Alaska

The Columbus, Ohio boys were back and it was great having the guys all back together again.  Dwight Montgomery, John Parisi, Rich Conie, and Craig Conie (all pictured above) are no strangers to the Alagnak River in Alaska, and of course spending a week with us, doing what we do best.  They have seen it all when it comes to the fishing and the weather in Alaska.  Since 2005 the guys have been fishing the Alagnak, sometimes taking a year or two off.   Three, four years ago, Craig Conie proposed to his now wife on the banks of the Alagnak, on one of our favorite camp sites. This will be Dwight’s 8th consecutive year and this year he’ll spend two weeks with us.  Last Thursday we were awaiting word from Van Hartley, owner of Branch River Air, our float plane service, on when we could get out.  Low cloud ceiling and rain had stalled out the morning, but by 12:30 p.m. we caught a break in the cloud cover and we headed off.  Our pilots are first class, and they stayed low, flying under the clouds as we headed to the head waters of the Alagnak, and before long both DeHavilland Beavers had made it and our week had started. The mouth of Noni had fished slowly again, but once we started our float, the Rainbow fishing had picked up a bit as we hit and turned some nice Rainbows.  At the confluence, I kept the raft in the current seam as long as I could back row, as the boys fished indicator rigs to a small school of Kings, and as the current pushed us down, one last cast by Dwight produced a strike and the drama started.  At first the strong current pushed us downstream quickly as the fish swam up river, creating a lot of distance between us and him, but the fish finally turned and quickly made it near the raft.  After several attempts to try and net the fish (and steer/control the raft), I finally gave the net to Rich as I repositioned the raft to all of our advantage, and soon our first King of the week, on day 2 was landed, and it would be one of several to see the net.  We had everything for weather but for the most part it was all good.  The first few days were clear and sunny, clear to the point we saw our first frost, two days in a row, the first being a hard frost.  On day 5 the weather turned and we fished through a 40 mph wind with rain and temps barely exceeding 50 degrees.  If you owned it, you wore it.  If we had to have a day like that, at least we were hunkered down, camped on fish, not having to float.  By the next morning it had blown through and back to a nice day.  We were never short of Kings, and when a large King wasn’t on the end of the line, the immature “jacks” were there to keep us busy.  We moused and beaded for Rainbows, swung streamers for Pinks and Chums, but the center of attraction of course were the Kings, and they were everything the guys remembered.  John Parisi landed the largest Rainbow of the trip, a chunky 25 inch Rainbow that made it to the net, but slipped out of his hands while trying to take a picture, but the memory is burned in his mind forever and that’s what counts the most.  This next week we’ll have the most women on a trip in our 17 year history on the Alagnak.  Dwight Montgomery’s wife Dona (hasn’t missed a year in 5 years), their 13 year old daughter Ellie, Dwight’s cousin Jennifer, and Lil D’s girlfriend  Charday, who will be helping us for a few weeks.    We’ll see if the girls can out do the guys.  Stay tuned next Thursday and find out.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


July 24, Week 1 Alaska

This is going to be short and sweet with no editing due to time on our turnaround day.  Tim Gavin from MN and his 75 year old father Chuck joined us on our first trip down the Alagnak River.  While the Rainbow fishing was a little disappointing on the upper end ( a lot of small fish 8 to 12 inches), we managed to catch a few decent Rainbows on the bottom end  of the float, especially on the bottom end, which normally doesn't fish to well.  The Sockeye run is about over, but there was just enough for Lil D to  catch a few for dinner for us as he would run down river ahead of us to put up camp.  Bears were plentiful and we had this little mink or maybe a pine marten that almost wanted our fish that we were cleaning for dinner.  It was a fun week, created more stories, and memories as this father and son duo teamed up with us on our first week.  This would be Chuck Gavin's first time in Alaska, and he got to see some of Alaska at it's finest, from Bears to fighting a 35 pound King, to seeing even larger Kings breech the surface.  Tim even caught a small King on a mouse, fishing the surface for Rainbows...something that I've never seen.  We'll be out on our next week so stay tuned next Thursday with more pics and current info on the Alagnak River.

Tight Lines!  David Roller

July 10

Clint Fowler from Muskegon, MI (pictured above) and his buddy Mike Zerlaut from Fruitport, MI, couldn’t have had a better “Father’s Day” gift from their wives, than a gift certificate from Pere Marquette Outfitters, to do a little Brown trout fishing with me.  The way our scheduling came together, today was the best day for us all, just before I head to Alaska.  There was no question as we started the day, the morning bite was on, as the coolness of the 45 degree daybreak temps lingered on and was slow to warm up.  Most of the morning we caught or moved Pere Marquette River Brown trout in the 16 to 21 inch range and by 11 a.m. we had landed 5 very nice Browns, some smaller ones, and the ones that chased but didn’t eat.  After lunch, is when the work started as the guys put countless casts in the sweet spots, only to have a few fish chase, and an occasional small one brought to hand.  The guys kept working, not missing a beat (or a cast), and in the mid-day sun, Clint connects with a 16 inch Brown that would top off the day.  This will be the last Brown trout day for me as I get ready to head to Alaska this Sunday, but Pere Marquette Outfitters guide Blake Roller will be hot on them throughout the summer whether throwing streamers or mice, he can’t get enough of them.  To contact Blake Roller, call his cell number at (616) 540-8979.
Also, out fall bookings are filling up fast for Salmon bookings, so if you are not in the books, get in contact with us as soon as you can.  It looks to be another stellar season.  My next report will be from Alaska.
Tight Lines!  David Roller


June 28

Here we are the end of June already.  The summer solstice is past and yes, the days will and are gradually getting shorter.  It’s Brown Trout time now and one of the hatches we all wait for, which can be somewhat of a mystery, the “Hex” hatch.  Hexagenia Limbata, the largest mayfly in North America, and we have them in spades.  The past couple of weeks we’ve endured warm, somewhat hot, muggy weather, which is what we need to set up nicely for “the hatch”.    Mike Chuchiarelli and his friend Damon Larrs were with me the past two nights on the Upper Manistee River as we looked and awaited “the hatch”.  We weren’t looking for the average Brown; we were looking for a giant, and anything over 25 inches I would say fits into that category.  The first night the three of us were out, we started out fishing a few streamers between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.  After that we switched over to large “Stimulators”, large dry flies imitating a large adult stonefly.  Damon Larrs had one large fish come up and take it down, but the hook didn’t stick and all we could do was get more excited of what we hoped to come.  By 10:30 p.m. we were posted on one of my favorite pieces of water for big fish.  We waited patiently as the evening turned dark. While we saw no evidence of bugs on the water, a couple of fish in front of the boat started feeding, and we could here another one some 40 yards below us.   Repositioning the boat just a little to make casting easier, Damon started casting a large Hex pattern.  On the third cast, he found the feeding lane, and seconds later, the loud slurp, and Damon’s rod doubled over.  “Oh, this is a nice one” is all we heard from Damon as the fish started to take line, not able to turn the fish.  Suddenly it was al over, the rod went limp and the large, elusive Brown was gone.  Regretful, yes, but the experience was priceless, to witness the hatch, see the fish rising, and fooling him into a strike, and feeling the heft of such a fish.  Mike was up next working the other fish we saw feeding, and within a couple of casts, it was game on and this time the hook stuck and we had a nice Brown trout to the net.  Mike’s first Brown trout on a hex.  It didn’t last long and the hatch was over and the cooler temperatures of night were upon us.  We tried to run mouse patterns for a while in the dark, to no avail and at some crazy time past midnight, we started our 45 minute float out.  On Day 2 we started up stream a bit farther to fish streamers, and it was work and a lot of casting.  We landed one Brown and turned a few more fish, but not what any of us was expecting.  Not that we were expecting a lot as this time of the year isn’t the best for streamers, let alone the heat and brightness of the mid day sun.  We welcomed the heat however.  The hotter the day and evening, the more conducive a good hatch could be.  Just like clock work, a little past 10:30 p.m. there were bugs and lots of them, enough to start a good feeding frenzy.  Up stream a little farther than the night before, we noticed what appeared to be three or four nice fish feeding and one seemed substantially larger, although very large fish can seem small during the rise.  The fish were rising in an untimely fashion and hard to figure out.  The inside, closest fish quit and the fish farther out started rising again.  After several casts by both guys, Mike connects and our first good Brown is in the net (pictured above).  Soon after, with fish still rising, Damon would have fish hit his fly, but come up empty and Mike would “stick’ a good one, only to have his fly dislodge a second later.  On a long down stream cast, to another fish, Damon would finally connect and we put our second fish to the net.  It was thirty plus minutes of intense fun, but soon the amount of spent hex’s would dwindle quickly, a few more rises, and the river went silent for the exception of a maddened beaver that didn’t like us in his territory and the several slaps of his tail that we heard proved it.  We tried mousing a couple of favorite spots, but the Browns were full and nothing broke the surface for us...  By 2:30 a.m. we were at the launch, loading the boat, and the day was done…that’s fishing, not for the week at heart.

The past 10 days have been decent trout fishing no matter what we did.  Steve Haywood and his cousin Dan fished with me the other day on the PM and we casted Rapala’s during the day, and it was good fishing, not with out work though.  We would have times the guys would cast for 30 minutes or so and turn nothing, and then we would land and turn three or four fish within minutes of one another.  We caught eight or nine nice Browns, tuned a few more, and landed a few smaller Browns in the 7 to 10 inch class.  The largest was a Brown Don caught in the 17 to 18 inch range, a nice Brown anywhere.

Earlier this past week, we had a five father and son teams from the Chicago area, which never had been in this area and decided to spend four days at Barothy Lodge.  To see the river, they decided to try and fish with us, some of whom hadn’t fished much.  We spread out in different stretches of the Peré Marquette River , throwing Rapala’s and spinners, and everyone had a great time, caught some fish, and saw more of the Peré Marquette River, than what just went by Barothy’s  Main Lodge, where they were staying.  We were off the water by 2 p.m. and by 4 p.m. guides Blake Roller and Tyler Roselle decided to go fishing again.  They put a drift boat in and decided to strip streamers and had a fantastic trip as this duo would take turns on the oars while the other fished and had a fantastic day of streamer fishing putting six or eight, 16 plus inch Browns to the net, some smaller ones, and moved a couple of larger fish, an epic days worth of fishing in a matter of about 4 hours.  A week earlier, these two guides did some mousing, not starting until about 10:30 at night and fishing until about 4 a.m.  They moved a lot of fish that night and caught some nice ones.  Some days are better than others as the guys had went a couple of days later, only caught one and moved three other fish…but they had went fishing.

One never knows from one day to the next what the fishing will be like, weather and fish temperament are main players and I thing the latter is more so.  However, the only way one will find out is to actually go out and fish.  And as guides Blake and Tyler has shown, some days you get them and some days you don’t, but the only way to find out is being on the stream and at some point and time good things happen, and some days…great things happen.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


June 13

A couple of days ago, I may have just caught my last Steelhead as we vastly approach summer.  It was perfect conditions, a little rain, no wind, and mild.  Do my faithful companion, Karma, and I headed for the Muskegon River for the morning.  The first forty five minutes of the day, I spend motoring to our favorite areas and then some and found two active redds, one with three Steelhead on it and a ½ mile away, another with a pair.  With “Switch” rod in hand, rigged with an indicator rig, I went to work.  The Steelhead were not exactly on the bite as was proved by the several casts I made, but then the “skipper” pictured above, decided to play.  It was fish, and it was all fun.  The other three Steelhead on the redd went undisturbed, until, of course, I rolled the hen.  She hit, I came back with the hook set, and immediately she came up headshaking, a sight I never get tired of seeing.  After about the fifth headshake, and rolling back off the shallow gravel, she spit the hook.  It didn’t take long after that for the males to seek deeper water.   I fished around the pocket for a while, hoping to convince one of the males to eat, but to no avail.  About 20 minutes later the hen slipped back up on the redd, and cautiously the males would drift on and off the redd.  I changed flies, colors, leader, every trick in the book, and they wouldn’t eat.  Once bitten, twice shy!  So I bid them a safe return to the big lake and headed up river to the next redd, a pair, but tactfully working a redd, tight behind a rock, which would not permit my drift to go thru the ‘sweet spot’.  After thirty minutes of playing both sides of ‘the rock’, I reeled up and it was “Karma’s’ turn to play as she watched so patiently all morning.  We beached the boat on a quiet, slow, inside bend, and the ‘fetching’ started.  Last year was her first year in the duck blind with everything brand new to her, from swimming in ice cold water, ducks, high winds, and river currents.  With the waterfowl season less than 4 months away, working with her is ongoing and daily until I head to Alaska (July 12).  She is a gem and I really am looking forward to this coming season with her.
We’ve had some beautiful evenings the past few days, in which I should have been on the water with a fly box full of brown drakes.  I heard the fishing was great.  We now have a cold front moving through which could stall it out for a few days, so I hope you made it out.  When the “big bugs” start coming off, I’ll be out there, and looking forward to it.

Tight Lines!  David


June 7

Joyce and Lyman Wine, from Cincinnati, OH has been a precious couple that lives life to the fullest and I can’t tell you what a pleasure it has been to know them for all of my adult years and then some.  They are not your ordinary couple and Lyman at 91 years old and Joyce living large at 83 years, they have been married and true to each other for well over 60 years and they have been fishing together for as long.  Lyman has been coming to the Peré Marquette Rod and Gun Club since he was in his teens and has been a member there for his adult life.  They both remember when M-37, heading north to Baldwin, MI was a dirt road.  Another year older, for all of us, The Wine’s and I had the pleasure of being able to fish again as we tried one more day on the Muskegon River to see if we could find a few Steelhead.  The river had dropped quite a bit since I was there only 48 hours prior, but we still managed to find a few fish.  It’s always a delight to have Joyce in the boat, because she always comes through for me.  Her casting is effortless and accurate, and when she hooks up on a Steelhead, she knows how to fight them and her and I always manage to put fish in the net.  Today was no different as she was the one starting us out today, putting our first Steelhead to the net. She has caught many fish in her lifetime, and every time we are out on the stream, her face lights up and is as excited with the fish she has just landed as it was her first.  The day was good for us.  They each landed three nice Steelhead, a couple of skippers, and hooked a couple that just came unbuttoned.  We had a beautiful day, no wind, no rain, and the company… of exchanging the many memories we’ve shared together, making new ones, and the thoughts of fishing together for years to come.  The river and the special people it brings together is a unique force of nature at work.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


June 4

When I pulled into the Peré Marquette Rod and Gun Club this morning, I was expected to meet 91 year old Lyman Wine (yes ninety one) and his friend John Kirby.  Instead it was just John and me that could make it out today and Lyman is going to try and fish with me towards weeks end.  John was quick to jump in my truck as he said, “it’s just me, and I’m ready.”  So to Newaygo, Mi we drove to look for a few more Steelhead.  I first fished John and his friend Jared, on the 15th and 16th of May where the learning process began, and it stuck.  When we finally found a ‘few’ Steelhead, John quickly stripped out an appropriate amount of line, made his first cast and within minutes, he had his first Steelhead to the net.  Three Steelhead later, he was batting 1,ooo as he had put the first 4 steelhead to the net that he hooked.  We were soon humbled by loosing a couple, but for the morning, that was all he lost was two.  After lunch, the fishing slowed a bit, but not for the lack of fish, but the lack of fish that would eat.  Going small and natural on the flies, we would soon start hooking fish, but after loosing 4 in a row, we started wondering ‘when’  we’d land our next Steelhead…it wouldn’t be long.  To add to the mix, John landed a nice 4 pound plus Brown trout and later in the day a three pound Brown that would regurgitate a fair amount of sucker and steelhead eggs onto the floor of the boat as well as a few decomposed, very small minnows, perhaps salmon smolts.  We had a perfect day!  Cloud cover in the morning to keep the morning glare down to spot fish, NO WIND, a little rain, enough to put our rain jackets on for 45 minutes, then the sun burned off the clouds and it got warm.  Add to the perfect weather, plenty of Steelhead, and for the 4th of June, it was nothing short of spectacular!!!   Hopefully Lyman Wine, his lovely wife Joyce, and I can make it out later this week.  Stay tuned…we’ll see!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 31

As we wrap up another Steelhead and season, despite the cold weather early on and of course “the flood”, it was a great, great season on both of our rivers, the Peré Marquette and the Muskegon.  And we are not completely done on the Muskegon River, Crockett was on the Muskegon River two days ago and he and Pete Waleskowski put nine Steelhead in the net out of twenty hookups…not bad for the last days of May, not bad any day!  I’ll be down there soon, looking for a few Steelhead, just to catch one more.  Looking ahead, we are doing a few trout trips on the Peré Marquette River and the Upper Manistee.  Guide Blake Roller couldn’t help himself the other night as he went mousing on the Peré Marquette River.  Although not quite warm enough to his liking, he landed one Brown in the 20 inch class and turned three other “really nice fish”.  The Brown Drake hatches are trying to come off and the “Hex” hatch is not far away.
Mid July through September 1, Crockett and I will be in Alaska spending time to the Alagnak and King Salmon Rivers.  This year Alaska is setting up nicely for the King Season and if the warmer temps prevail like last year, it will be another stellar year.  Right now I have an opening for two people on an “extended” week of July 16 to July 23rd.  We are going to key in on Rainbows and Sockeye Salmon on the front end of the trip and then key in on King Salmon on the back end of the trip.  It will be a good one.  In addition, while I am not planning the first two weeks of July, if there is any interest out there for a last minute “need to go to Alaska” let me know…I can change my airline ticket!
A lot to think about, a lot to do, as there always is as one season bleeds into the other and as usual, the season present slips away so quickly, as does “time”.  Don’t let another season slip away!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 26

Every now and then I get pictures sent to me that are worth posting and such were these of ten year old (I think), Aiden Parsons.  Aiden’s father, Brad Parsons from the Columbus, Ohio area got referred to us by Tom Sneary (Thanks Tom) shortly after Tom returned from his trip with us on the Muskegon River.  Brad called us, we had a boat open on Sunday, May 4th, and Brad was quick to jump on it bringing his father, and ten year old son Aiden.  The look on Aiden’s face is priceless on the picture above and I must say that Peré Marquette Outfitter’s guide DJ is pretty darn happy as well, the two got along famously that day.  Obviously the good fishing adds to the experience and that’s what brings our priceless, well appreciated customers to the area, but more important is the experience and the memories that are created during such a day.  Here a young boy, with no clue of what is to happen as he boards DJ’s boat with his father and grandfather, that morning, absorbs the day like a sponge.  As the day progresses, large fish on, large Steelhead landed by all, and memories of Aiden’s day with his Dad and Grandpa will be etched in his mind forever and I know his Dad and Grandpa won’t forget the excitement, joy, and the look on Aiden’s face as this young boy got to go fishing with the “guys”.  I wasn’t there but the picture grabbed me and the picture tells it all.  That’s why you take a kid fishing.

May 24

Well the great Steelhead season of 2014 has finally come to an end for me as far as the everyday guiding, and I ended it with good friends, Larry Green and Jeff Green, brothers from the East side of Michigan.  They had one goal in mind, to want to learn and use floating lines and indicator rigs.  We had an arsenal of rods from 9 ½ 8 weights to 11 foot “Switch Rods” and we used them with floating lines, no matter the wind conditions.  We had plenty of fish to work with and sometimes it was frustrating… to all three of us as we all went in knowing this was a work/instructional/learning in process.  The neat thing was the guys didn’t give up.  We could have just as easily put a “chuck and duck” rig together and caught “a lot” of Steelhead, but as Larry said it best… we know how to do that.  So for the last two days, floating lines were casted, tangled, really tangled, hooks piercing “thingamabobber” strike indicators, and of course hooking and catching fish.  We all had laughs and enjoyed the company.  The weather was warm and our faces got plenty of sun.  With the Muskegon River still holding a solid foot (or a little more) high, the Muskegon bid me good bye with plenty of fish just as she had welcomed me on the 22nd of April.  How time flies when you’re having fun.  While I pack up and head home today, the Mighty Muskegon River has not seen the last of me this year, nor has its Steelhead.  After this holiday weekend, I’ll just have to go back, and do a little fishing myself… No I’m not tired of it…that’s just how we roll!  My greatest thanks to all of you out there who have continued to support Pere Marquette Outfitters.  You have certainly made this spring enjoyable despite the few hiccups along the way.  Thank you for a great season!!!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 21

Rich Conie (left) and John Parisi, from Columbus, OH are no strangers to Pere Marquette Outfitters.  We see these two just about every spring and fall on the Pere Marquette River and about every two years in Alaska. This year we introduced them to Muskegon River Steelhead, and they liked it! Yesterday they fished with Crockett, and today I had the pleasure of fishing with them, and the guys had a great time, landing plenty of fish both days.  The standing joke between Rich and I was that if there were two steelhead left in the river, they were coming up.  Periodically over the past month, Rich would call me and say, “Is there still two fish in the river?”  I’d answer “at least three.”  The guys headed home today soon after their last Steelhead was caught, I’ll see them again this July, in Alaska.
The Muskegon River is in the best shape I’ve seen in a long time, this time of the year.  With the amount of snow and ice left late this spring and the heavy rains we’ve had, the Muskegon River basin is still draining lots of water.  The three flood gates are still open on Croton Dam, keeping water levels at least a foot above normal, if not a little more.  A lot of redds are empty, but there are still plenty of hot redds going strong, and we know where they are.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 20

It was another great day Steelhead fishing on the Muskegon River, with great friends, from the Columbus, OH area, Charlie Kuhlman and Jim McArthur (pictured above).  We weren’t quite sure of the weather, as the morning started out with rain, but warm.  We didn’t care, especially after the first Steelhead that Jim hooked into (and landed).  It was hot, it jumped, it took very long runs, and then jumped some more…it was the base or what was yet to come.  The fish we hooked into today were hot, fresh, and strong and were willing to prove it.  Thankfully we were on the “openness” of the Muskegon River and had the room to fight such large, aggressive Steelhead.  Right now, every day is different as the Steelhead run starts to wane, however there are enough fish as one has to look around, hunt and peck, and fish the whole river, but some of these fish are fresh and looking for a fight, the kind of fight that a ten foot, eight weight likes!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 19

It was nice to finally put some fish in the net again today after yesterdays somewhat of a shellacking.  However, at first I thought it was going to be another repeat, as long time veterans of Pere Marquette Outfitters, Charlie Kuhlman (pictured above) and Jim McArthur joined me on the Muskegon River for their annual spring, two day Steelhead trip.  Today began a lot like yesterday, loosing several fish in a row as we would get two to four nice head shakes out of a Steelhead and the fish would come unhooked.  It come to a point of disbelief until we finally landed a couple of nice “skippers”, at least it was fish in the net.  Then the tide turned and it wasn’t long and we would start beefing up our average and by days end, we had a very good Steelhead day.  This morning was one of the warmer mornings we’ve had in a while, and before the hazy cloud cover set in, in the afternoon, the sun was starting to feel pretty intense.  For some odd reason, the Muskegon River spiked up about four to six inches as more water was released out of Croton Dam, and perhaps that made the fish more active.  Regardless, there is enough fish in the  Muskegon River system to make a great day and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, with the right weather front coming in, we could have a few stellar days left before the run is over, which could be the second week of June this year.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 18

Busy busy evening, grocery shopping, etc.  The steelhead today, were not on the bite as well as they’ve been.  Some fish are gone, but new ones are still showing up.  The day wasn’t a complete loss, just a little tougher as we would cast and cast to fish.  The guys landed six or seven Steelhead today; we were consistently casting to fish which kept the day interesting.  We hooked a very fair amount of fish, but some were on for about two or three headshakes and gone.  That’s fish’in and I’m certainly looking forward to tomorrow. 

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 17

Dr. Steve Cohen, owner of Parkside Dentals, down state and his friend Marvin have been making this annual event to the Muskegon River fishing Steelhead with us for a few years now, on this very weekend. We’ve had great fishing for the most part but we couldn’t help but reminisce about the time three years ago in which we decided to fish for trout because the Steelhead season was over.  The 90 degree weather we had back then, the third week of March kicked everything into high gear and by the second week of May, the run was over.  Such is not the case this year and the guys did very well today.  With three flood gates open on Croton Dam, water temps holding at 53 degrees, cool mornings (frost this morning), and moderately cool days have kept the Muskegon River Steelhead coming in, kept them from spawning in 24 hours and leaving, and kept our fly rods bent for the most part of the day.  The Muskegon River is in great shape, the fish are here, and so are we…you should be too!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 16

Today was another perfect example, why you book two to three days on a Steelhead trip.  One, the weather turned for the better today, cool, but no wind and no rain, pretty comfortable really.  And two, after yesterday’s learning curve, knowing what to do with the rod, casting, etc., John Kirby and his friend Jared Phillips, both from Cincinnati, OH got the job done on their second and final day on the Muskegon River.  The past two days is the first time either anglers experienced Steelhead and after several learning experiences yesterday (including the tough, tough weather); today they were Steelhead fishermen.  The winds blew out and with it, it took the rain and it was a beautiful day.  While the Steelhead are thinning out in a few areas, there are still “hot spots” throughout the upper Muskegon river system.  With three flood gates open at Croton Dam, the Muskegon River has been holding at 4600 cfs the past 24 hours and fluctuating a degree or two from fifty three degrees.  It’s all good and we should be sitting pretty throughout the duration of our trips, and then some.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 15

And the cold winds blew and the rains came, as John Kirby and friend Jared was introduced to Steelhead fishing on the Muskegon River with me today.  I don’t think it hit fifty degrees, and it was just a fine pissy, Alaskan style mist that wouldn’t quit.  Throw some wind into the equation for a couple of beginners new to this sport and it wasn’t easy.  With the almost cold weather, if you owned it, you wore it!  But the guys wouldn’t stop trying and eventually got  enough casts into the sweet spot , that we ultimately landed a couple of Steelhead, trout, and of course, a few Suckers that have just arrived.  Today was their learning curve and by days end, the guys had gotten their casts a little more dialed in.  Tomorrow they will be in good shape for round two and so will the weather.  It will be cool tomorrow with a low of 34 degrees predicted, but no wind, and a high of 54 degrees.  The Muskegon River spiked up today about 2 inches…still in great shape with a water temp dropping to 53.5 degrees.  Tomorrow, we’ll have a great time!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 14

It was good to be back in my boat again and after complying with the inspection yesterday, Jerry (Holly) Hollingsworth, Cliff Neuse and I had a great day of Steelheading on the Muskegon River.  We had big shoes to fill after the St. Louis duo did extremely well with guide DJ the day before.  We met the challenge, and although we didn’t do quite as well, we scored high marks.  Lil David fished with the Ken and Cathy Zimmerman (egg lady) and their friend Theresa Borawski.  Theresa fished with us during the late Salmon season and I couldn’t quite deliver the amount of fresh Kings on the lower Pere Marquette River, but this go around, she was like an old pro and put some very nice Steelhead to the net, as did Ken and Cathy.  While the Muskegon River came up a bit the past two days, it has receded about six inches in the past 18 hours but holding steady and in great shape, delivering fresh Steelhead daily.  With intermittent rain showers predicted over the next few days, we’ll still be in great shape for at least the week to come…if not longer, I bet longer!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 12

It was a thunderous, rain as hard as it can day, but the boys made it out, braved the weather and caught Muskegon River Steelhead.  New Jersey boys Dean Thompson and his son Harrison fished with guide DJ and as the picture above shows, at the crack of dawn, Dean put’s the first fish in the net. It was a glorious sunrise with all the pretty colors, but as the saying goes, “red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”   Throughout the day, isolated thunderstorm cells loomed over the Muskegon River, to the point the guys would quit fishing, put the rods down, and park the boat near some low lying trees.  At 3:30 p.m. the thunderstorm really caught steam, the lightning was flying and shortly after Lil David and DJ called it a day.
Columbus, OH was also represented today by another father/son team…Tom and Todd Ewers.  Today would be their first time fishing Steelhead with us and the Muskegon River showed them a good time.  They have been fishing Kings with us in early September the past 4 years, and they figured once a year was not enough for Michigan fishing. 
The Steelhead fishing on the Muskegon remains solid and with the rains continuing to keep the river up to a very nice level, I don’t see it tapering off anytime soon.  The fish are here, we’re here and you should be too.  We are starting to open up on a boat or two from here on out, so if you get a chance, contact us and get out on the river.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


Mother's Day

First and foremost, Thank You! Mrs. Dean Thompson (or as Dean refers to “Sweet Kelly”) for letting me fish with the boys on Mother’s Day.   Celebrating Mother’s Day on the Muskegon River was great as Dean Thompson and his thirteen year old son Harrison (pictured above), from New Jersey, flew in this morning, rented a car, drove from Grand Rapids, and met me at the Pine Street launch on the Muskegon River at noon.  Soon after, we loaded gear in the boat, put their custom built (by me) Sage ONE rods together, and by 1 p.m. Harrison had our first Steelhead to the net.  Dean Thompson is no stranger with the ventures of Pere Marquette Outfitters, as he’s been fishing with us for the past 20 plus years, on the Pere Marquette and Muskegon River, and has also fished with us in Alaska.  The past five years, he has started another tradition, bringing his now thirteen year old son Harrison, on “their” annual father and son trip to the Muskegon River to fish Steelhead.  Starting at noon, we fished until a little after 9 p.m. and did well as Harrison finished off the evening landing a nice little female shortly after dusk.
Going back a couple of days, Ed Gibbon, who has fishes with us in September for Kings on the Pere Marquette River, put a small group together, as we introduced him to Steelhead fishing on the Muskegon River.  Pere Marquette Outfitter guides, “DJ” and Lil David guided them this past Friday and Saturday and they did well, catching some very nice Steelhead, a “May” experience they’ll not forget and are definitely coming back next year.
The river conditions remain cherry as we keep getting these hard rains/thunderstorms about every 3 or 4 days, which is keeping the river up nicely, giving us just enough new Steelhead, making for great days and I see the trend continuing for the next couple of weeks.  With the harsh winter conditions we had, everything is running a couple weeks behind; including the leaves on the trees, and the Steelhead are no exception.
My 20 foot Go-Devil passed the dry dock inspection in fly colors and I’ll be up for the “wet dock” inspection on Tuesday afternoon.  It will be so nice to have my boat back on the water. 
Thunderstorms and more rain predicted for the next couple of days…I couldn’t be any happier.  Oh and I took my stiches out of my lip… the ER Doctor did a mighty fine job!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 9

As Bob Starr and I motored up the Muskegon River, it was nice feeling a somewhat warm breeze in out face rather than the beating rain drops of the morning before.  The morning was quiet and free of wind which made casting easy and it didn’t take Bob long to connect, including the nice male he landed pictured above.  The first couple of hours was good fishing, but as the sun got higher, the air warmer, almost too warm, some of the Steelhead we were fishing just got too stale and getting hooked once or twice, really put them down.  We bounced around a bit hitting a fish or two, then we hit an area that hadn’t been touched in a couple of days, an area that hadn’t really been fishing all that well, until this afternoon.  Unable to see fish, we just started fishing, and after losing a fish or two, Bob landed a nice lake run brown trout that was regurgitating steelhead eggs…there was a female in there somewhere.  Before long the boat was drifting down with fish more than it was setting idle.   The air temperature was hot and so were the Steelhead, which helped us end the day (and Bob’s two days of steelheading) on a great note. 

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 7

A lot has transpired since the last time I’ve posted a few days ago.  My 20’ Go-devil was dry docked by the DNR, but she should be back in the water as soon as Saturday, in the meantime, I have a new appreciation on how well Lil David runs his 17’ jet sled (and others who do it so proficiently) as I had the pleasure of running it today, and is there a learning curve there!  So yesterday morning, getting ready to fish Terry Ohlms and his girlfriend Susan, I had put Lil David’s jet sled in the water, and while the trailer was still in the water, I’m grabbing gear out of the back of my truck to put in his boat.  I grab the heater, turn and take one step towards the boat, trip, and I’m on my knees with a burning sensation on my upper lip,  as I lick my teeth and make sure they were all right.  As I’m on my knees, I thought, “well that hurt”, but I guess I’m ok.  I get up, finish loading, pull the truck out of the launch when I can feel blood dripping down my chin, to keep the story short, when Terry Ohlms looked at my face, his only response was, “you need stiches buddy.”  I had taken the rim of the 20# propane tank right on the lip.  Lil David was like a fireman.  I quickly called him (on his only day off) and within 50 minutes he was there to take Terry and Susan out while I went to the Fremont Hospital and get stitched up.  God Bless the Doctor at the ER…he saved my mustache!
Terry Ohlms, 25 plus year veteran of Pere Marquette Outfitters, brought his girlfriend Susan up to Steelhead fish for her very first time, unsure if she would enjoy it.  After a day with me and Lil D, I’m not sure if Terry will be coming again without her.  She had such a great time, was a quick study and landed some very nice Steelhead, the biggest with Lil David, coming in around 12 or 13 pounds…Great job Susan!
Today I had no stranger either, Dr. Robert Starr who fished with his ex-brother in law, John Axelberg.  We started out the early morning as hard rains, thunder and lightning circled us, not to mention the harsh winds.  It was not an easy morning but the guys persevered onward, cast after cast, and had a great day despite the weather.  Most of the big ones got away today, but they will be back tomorrow in search of a couple of the giant Muskegon River Steelhead that showed their face.
In the meantime, Kudos to Mike Batche, from Stealth Craft Boats and Baldwin Creek Lodge, who took my Go-devil in, got it retrofitted to keep the State happy, and sent Lil D down with a smaller sled for me to use, so I wouldn’t lose a day on the water.  I have great friends, great customers, and a great team here at Pere Marquette Outfitters, and thank you to all!

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 4

Robert and Shirley Brock from Canton, MI finished up there 2014 Steelhead season today on the Muskegon River.  The morning wasn’t fast and furious but Shirley Brock got us started early with a skipper and a large fish that come unbuttoned.  We had to work a little afterwards, and as we stuck with it, things went our way including the 33 ½ inches, 13 pound male that Bob caught, pictured above. The morning air was a bit chilly despite the sun poking out as the winds blew fairly brisk throughout most of the day but by midafternoon, the sun’s warmth won over and it was nice to shed some layers.  We’re sort of between runs as some fish have left and a few new females are starting to show up.  Some redds that were once covered with Steelhead are now empty, but there are still plenty of Steelhead to go after to create a very good day and with the right weather pattern, more Steelhead will be showing their face. 

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 3

After spending the first weekend of April on the Pere Marquette River for Steelhead, Robert and Shirley Brock return to the Muskegon River to finish off their 2014 Steelhead season.  While much warmer now than the first of April, we were greeted with a little bit more than a fine mist for the first hour or two, but as the rain come and went, so to came the wind by noon, and as some of you know, the Muskegon River is a wide open wind tunnel which can make stripping in line and casting a little on the taxing side.  That didn’t stop the Brocks however and Shirley was in rare form as she started the morning off and kept it going, putting some nice Steelhead to the net.  After giving his darling wife a nice head start, Robert hit high gear in the afternoon and towards the end of the day put five Steelhead in a row to the net.  Brian Sharpy and his friend Gary, also from down State, fished with Lil D and had a decent day.  While the morning was a little slow for all of us, I watched them put three or four nice Steelhead to the net before heading down river for most of the day.  They came back up for “one more cast”, hit a couple of more fish and headed for the ramp.  The Muskegon River is still holding above 4,000 cfs, a very nice flow to fish in, and has been staying at the 48 degree mark, temperature wise for the past three days.  While the fish have thinned out just a bit, and we’re catching an occasional spent hen, the fishing is still great and I’m expecting another push of fish in the near future.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


May 2

Today started out a little bit warmer, a little less wind, but a fine mist came down for a bit as the first casts were made for the morning; a perfect Muskegon River Steelhead morning really.  Unlike yesterday morning, it didn’t take long for Steve to hook up with the first couple of fish that came unbuttoned, but shortly after that, he put a Steelhead to the net, and then another, then Jeff Hill followed suit.  The morning bite was on and as I looked around (more boats than usual) everyone seemed to be hooking up with a fish every now and then, even in runs where I had seen boats yesterday where no fish were caught. The largest fish of the day, was the 13# hen pictured above, by Steve Wareham, a long beautiful female Steelhead.  Some were bright, chrome Steelhead and some were ‘drop backs’ that were gearing up for their journey back to Lake Michigan.  By late morning, the river had dropped some five or six inches, but still retaining a great flow for throwing longer distance with heavier lead.  The river has gotten back its normal, dark, tea colored stain in which a few more gravel humps are starting to be seen. With the cooler temps we’ve been experiencing, the river should remain fishing well for the duration of the season.

Tight Lines!   David Roller


May 1

You never know from one day to the next how it will go and today was no different.   For the first part of the morning, Steve Wareham and Jeff Hill, both veteran Pere Marquette Outfitter patrons and Muskegon River Steelhead fly fishers, had to work a little bit this morning to get the day started.  But once the guys got a taste of the first fish or two the day came together.  Ironically we caught  a lot of hens today, but new fish are showing up as indicated by the bight male that is pictured above caught by Steve Wareham.  I love the water level, which in most places again, especially the deeper gravel, the water is too stained to see, so I see boats often passing up areas that are holding fish.  All is well on the Muskegon River as both water temp and air temps remain cool, warm enough to keep new fish coming in and cool enough to keep them here for a while.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 30

This morning was one of the nicest mornings that we’ve been on the river as Ken and Cathy (the egg lady) Zimmerman and I enjoyed a morning that was well above 45 degrees.  For the first time, one of my lite, down jackets, didn’t go on for the last layer, and it felt nice. To add to the morning’s warmth was a beautiful sunrise which would lead to cloud cover, and of course the nice Steelhead  that Cathy caught at dawn to start the day.  Shortly after the morning got started, the river kicked up another six inches, so in a period of three days, the river has risen a foot, a very nice level to fish in.  It has also brought in a few chrome, fresh hens, full of spawn like the one CAthy caught pictured above. After a nice lunch and a couple of more fish, we headed in, ending a great day on the river.  To add to the excitement of the day, after I had gotten off the river, Lil David, who was fishing with Ken Davis and Tim from the St. Charles, MO area, were continuing on with a fairly normal day, until they hook into a six foot plus Sturgeon.  At first they had no clue what they were into, and after the fish took them for 3/8ths to ½ of a mile ride along the river, the fish finally got next to the boat, yet at which they could not see because of the stained water, one of the oldest river creatures of the Muskegon River.  When the large, prehistoric like creature rose from the depths, right next to the boat, there was a moment of jaw dropping silence as the head came up next to Lil David’s oar locks on his jet boat and the large tail, that swept back and forth was back by the motor.  Netting was not an option, everyone was too dumbfounded to grab a camera and as everyone was sizing things up, the fly came out and as quickly as it appeared to the surface, it submerged to not be seen again. 

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 29

Jim Downs from Lansing, MI is no stranger when it comes to fishing Steelhead in Michigan, and he loves both our favorite rivers, the Pere Marquette and the Muskegon.  The past two days, he fished with us, yesterday with Lil D and today with me, and he always has fun as he tried to top the sixteen pound Steelhead he caught on the “PM” this past Easter.  The male Steelhead in the picture above is a newer fish as the winter fish are just about done and the new “spring” run of Steelhead are just coming in.  Both Lil David and I noticed some of these fish today were exceptionally hot and eager to take a fly.  It’s always a pleasure fishing with Jim as I actually get to do some fishing myself and today I had my Switch rod out running some indicator rigs.  While I didn’t do as well as Jim, I still managed to test Jim’s net skills as he put a couple in for me.  Yesterday’s hard winds almost blew out by this morning as we were greeted with rain and 15 to 20mph winds, however it didn’t last long and by the afternoon, we were shedding layers.  We all ended the day at the right time as a severe thunderstorm hit about 4:30 p.m. in the Croton area and some reported one inch hail.  Fortunately none here as I stay at the now closed “Riverside Resort”, so our boats remained safe as the dark, thunderous clouds, with heavy lightning rolled over.  A little rain in the forecast for the next few days, but nothing serious, and it should only help add to the new fish coming in.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 28

With gusts up to 45 mph, and blowing a steady 25mph out of the east, we battled the wide open Muskegon River for Steelhead.  Casting through a cross wind wasn’t easy and at times a heavy gust of wind would put a belly in your line so bad, it would blow you through “the drift” to where you could not feel or hit bottom.  We foul hooked a few fish with the same reason as heavy winds would pull the lines and leaders across the backs of Steelhead in the somewhat shallower waters as the river drops.  As bad as the winds were, and with all hands on deck, our whole crew did extremely well.  Tom Sneary (pictured above) and his friends, Steve Bush, Mike Borica, and Mike’s brother, all from the Columbus, OH area finished up their annual two day event on the Muskegon River today in good fashion.  I had the pleasure of fishing with Tom and Steve today as guide DJ took good care of the Borica brothers.  Guide Lil David and Jim Downs from Lansing, MI also did well as they bounced around catching fish almost everywhere they went.  While the heavy rains missed us (so far) that was predicted the Muskegon River did come up about 6 inches this afternoon, maybe in preparation of rain to come.  The Muskegon is in great shape and she clears a little bit more every day.  Word is Muskegon Lake is full of Steelhead and those “new” fish should start showing up any day now and we’ll be here when they arrive.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 27

John Gossett, from Indianapolis, IN and I found the morning a little bit on the chilly side and the strong east wind didn’t help any.  One had to bend over and strip the running line on the floor of the boat or else the wind would whip it anywhere it could, including around me.  This weekend was extremely busy on the river as trout fishermen, walleye fishermen, and steelheaders alike were on the Muskegon River, some I swear were fishing all night.  As the cloudy skies brightened up a little after sunrise, for the first time, for me anyway, some of the gravel that I’ve been fishing, I could  actually  see, while difficult to see fish (some are able to sight fish), John had no problem ending his two day annual Muskegon River steelhead trip on a great note, with a large, slightly humped back male Steelhead, with a nice brightness to it, that hit the sixteen pound mark dead on my new “Boga Grip” scale.  The way it fought, there was no doubt John was into a large fish.  While it lacked the aerial acrobats and hard to and fro head shakes on the surface, it made a couple of hard runs and stayed deep.  For a slight instant we were not sure what we had a hold of until john was able to work it next to the boat, even then with the stained water, it remained invisible until it turned sideways, giving us a little flash of just how bright and large he was.  With the large hex nymph deeply planted in his jaw, John finally lifted enough to where I could net and ultimately take his photo before a clean release.  There is no question; the amount of “catch and release” is helping given the size of some of our Steelhead the past two years.  I have never seen as many 14 to 16 pound Steelhead in a given season as this year, let alone a small handful of 18 pound fish and one fish I saw a picture of breaking the twenty pound mark.  If a few of these large fish make it back next year, who knows what we’ll see, maybe an old State record of 26 pounds will be broken, who knows, maybe even this year.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 26

It was another beautiful day on the Muskegon River with longtime friend, John Gossett from Indianapolis, IN.  John has fished a lot of years with me on both the Pere Marquette and Muskegon River, and for him, the Muskegon River is his favorite.  Lil David fished with Tom Smith and Mike, who have always fished the Pere Marquette River with us.  This was their first time on the Muskegon River, they had a great time, and they will introduce Mike’s son to Steelhead when they come back in a week.   The Steelhead fishing remains good as the river dropped 10 inches today and the water temperature tries to hit the 49 degree mark.  Some of the really shallow gravel is starting to become visible, while the river in general still has a sandy stain to it making sight fishing next to impossible in most areas.  Today was exceptionally busy as it was also the opening day of the general trout season and walleye season.   For years I have caught Walleye up until opening day and today John caught a 5 pound male.  Tomorrow he and I will put it on the grill for some scrumptious fish sandwiches.  Another nice day is predicted for tomorrow, and then it looks like rain is in the forecast for the next few days after.  That will be a good thing, it could remain at its current level, or a little higher and we’d be quite content with that.  I’m looking forward to another great day on the Muskegon River tomorrow and the weeks to come.

Tight Lines!  David Roller


April 25

Sean O’Brien from AZ and his buddy Greg, from Grand Rapids, MI had a very good day fishing Steelhead on the mighty Muskegon River with me today.  What started out to be a cold, rainy morning, ended up to be nothing short of beautiful as the sun came out and warmed up.  The Steelhead felt it too as they were on the bite in the much stained waters of the Muskegon River.  Sean’s friend Greg has been a lot of places in this world, and adding to his list of experiences was his first time on fishing Steelhead in a river, and the Muskegon broke him in nicely.  This would also be our guests from Nashville, TN’s last day of their annual 3 day event of Steelhead and they ended it as well as they started as they fished with Lil David and DJ today.  Of course Mrs. Flowers wasn’t leaving this state until she finally landed a 38”, 18 pound Steelhead.  I said this was going to be a great year for big fish and it is, as we are all on the hunt for that one over 20 pounds.  The Muskegon has gelled up just right with slightly high water, very stained, and a water temp that is hovering in the upper 40’s.  With conditions like these, it makes for some very exciting times on the river.

Tight Lines!   David Roller


April24

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




Dean Thompson from  New Jersey with our first fish, of what would be my best day in a while. 9/19/14Eric Merchant from Florida with one of our sunrise Kings on 9/19/14.Dean Thomson with another nice King as a few more fish start to show up.  9/20/14Mike Steponavich with a mid morning King on 9/19/14.Three of the nine guys that come up every year, Steepo, Deano, and ERic Merchant.  9/19/14John Axelberg with another bright hen as trhey were deifinately on the bite this morning.  9/18/14Robert Starr with our first fish of the day on 9/18/14.Brian Miller with a nice King, on one of our better days fishing for Kings with one of our guides farther up river.  9/17/14Luke Vincer with a  21 pound lake run brown trout, guded by Pere Marquette Outfitters guide, Blake Roller.  9/16/14Another look at Luke Vincer's 21 pound lake run brown. 9/16/14The Miller brothers on day 2 of there 3 day annual trip wtih us on 9/17/14.Brian Miller on day 1 of theri 3 day event fishing Kings on the Pere Marquette River.  9/16/14Mark Miller on 9/16/14.Guide Blake Roller, putting his guys into some nice Kings.  9/15/14Brent Martn from the St. Louis area on the 15th of September.Cliff Neuse (left) and Jerry "Holly" Hollingsworth with our first King we finally put in the net today. 9/14/14Cliff Neuse putting a nice fish to the net on the afternoon of 9/14/14.Forced to fish a tough log jamb,  and hitting a few kings, this was the only fish we put in the boat, a four inch sculpin. 9/13/14Jim Lagerbloom form Georgia-Pacific on their groups annual outing with us on 9/11/14Bob starr with our last fish of the day, a fish full of drama all it's own.  9/5/14Robert Starr with our first King landed of the morning.  9/5/14Jerry Schremshock wiht our first King of the morning, stripping streamers.  9/7/14Mike Sharpy with a nice King starting our morning on 9/6/14.The Kings are bright ajnd hot makin g them the toughest fish to put to the net on the Pere Marquette River.  9/6/14.Brian and Mike Sharpy, father adn son, making memories on the river.  9/6/14Brian Sharpy geting  it done as he and his son put seven Kings to the net that day.

9/6/14Bob Starr with  another great King, King's that are not easy to put to the net... too hot to handle.  9/5/14Bob Starr and his fiance' Dr. Kate Damm with another great, early King on the PM.  9/5/14Crockett and Joy Gardner with a lower river King on the Pere Marquette River.  9/5/14Neil Hirshberg with  one of two Kings we landed all day as Kings run us violently into the logs.  9/4/14...and success, a fair catch, one of many salmon the bear will eat in a day.Jim Downs with a very large Rainbow on 8/20/14.Bert Yen with our largest Rainbow of the sesons coming in at 28 inches.  8/21/14


September 19, 2014


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