Category Archives: Destinations

Fly Fishing for Lake St. Clair Bass

Sneak attack on Lake St. Clair bass! – Photo by Aaron Rubel

When the sun sets slow and fire flies rise in margins between fields, forest and still water, the spirit of kayak anglers awaken on marsh laden edges of Lake St. Clair in search of smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Lake St. Clair sits between Lake Huron to the north (upstream) and Lake Erie to the south (downstream) in Southeastern Michigan.  It is one of the premier smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States, where notably the healthy largemouth bass population is often overlooked.  Fortunately, access for kayak anglers in this large and popular recreational boating lake is ample via canals, river channels, by slipping the yak in along convenient road side pull offs, as well as little used and out of the way island launches.  The lake is divided between US and Canada shoreline options.  Adventurous paddlers, through studying maps and strategic launch points, can navigate narrow openings through high grass to out of the way freshwater flats fishing.

Image Credit: Google Maps

There are a lot of great sub-surface flies to lure Lake St. Clair bass into a tussle, but I’m a sucker for top water triggers like hoppers, poppers, and large foam ant patterns.  The surprise of a line gone tight on a meaty streamer in turquoise depth is thrilling, but there’s nothing like a heavy smallie or largemouth rolling on a fly you’ve presented upon glassy water on a warm and beautiful evening.

Author of IcastInaYak, Aaron Rubel, tying on a grasshopper fly.

On a normal day of fishing Lake St. Clair, when one bass is found, numerous others are there for the taking.  On one recent excursion, the night drew late and I left both smallmouth and largemouth feeding upon decision to make my way back through the marsh to the takeout.  It’s ironically a good feeling to have caught several nice fish and have to turn your back on others in hopes for that next trip out.

Releasing a largmouth on Lake St. Clair – Photo by Aaron Rubel

The prized bass on Lake St. Clair are the bronzebacks.  The average sized smallmouth on Lake St. Clair is three pounds, which is hard to believe unless you’ve actually experienced it.  On some days, the numbers of heavy fish will spoil the angler not residing close enough to call the lake their home water.

Lake St. Clair smallmouth at dusk – Photo by Aaron Rubel

If you are looking forward to a trip to Lake St. Clair, you should be prepared with fly patterns simulating forage of gobies, large crayfish (or crawfish if you’re from the deep south), and baitfish patterns with coloration of perch and bluegill.  The average depth of the lake is only eleven feet, and so be aware of approaching storms that could quickly change surface conditions.  Wear your PFD, and post a flag that makes the kayak visible in case very large and high speed boats that often traverse the lake approach.  Quaint communities dot the shoreline of Lake St. Clair, where festivals and old fashioned eateries abound.  Fish grow fast and thick in this fishery, so be prepared for an adventure that you will be wishing never had to end.

A fatty on the fly – Photo by Aaron Rubel

Copyright 2017 by All rights reserved

Brought to you by:

Kayak Anglers Supporting the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

The Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

The Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

The Flint River has for many years supported a productive smallmouth bass fishery.  It breaks my heart to learn that corroded pipes have reportedly poisoned Flint, Michigan drinking water pulled from the very river my good friend Ed Roden and I floated this past fishing season.  There will be those that root cause the issue’s concerns, but for this forum I encourage kayak and fly anglers to consider donating to the needs of the community as they grieve real impacts to life and home.  You can find information on how to contribute at the bottom of this article.

Over the years, I had probably made a quick glance below I-75 to the Flint River a hundred times or more on my way up to more fabled waters a bit further north.  However, my mis-informed perception of this fishery shouldn’t have been made so hastily even considering the close proximity to the nearly 4 million people residing in the Flint and Metropolitan Detroit area just to the south of the river.

Ed Roden fly fishing the Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

Ed Roden fly fishing the Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

The Flint is a wide, smooth flowing river with a bottom substrate that ranges from sand to cobble to breathing pockets of underwater grass beds.  The depth in the stretch we fished varied from knee-deep to holes that were clearly over the head of the wading angler.  We floated a five-hour stretch of river that began at a small township park to a take-out at an established access lot.  Ed cruised the river in the Hobie Pro Angler 12 and I paddled a Jackson Kilroy.  Skittering a small foam cone-shaped topwater fly, it didn’t take Ed long after launching before he hooked up with a nice smallmouth.

Ed Roden of the Hobie Fishing Team with a Flint River smallmouth bass. Ed is wearing Maui Jim Banyans in bronze toned lens.

Ed Roden of the Hobie Fishing Team with a Flint River smallmouth bass.

On a float just north of a large metropolitan area, you’ll of course encounter an occasional business or two along the banks, but I was surprised at how the river cut through mostly secluded forest that made for a pleasant fishing trip.  Smallmouth bass are generally considered a species that have a low tolerance to pollutants in the water.  The clarity of the stretch we floated varied from gin clear to slightly stained which seemed typical of good smallmouth water I’ve fished elsewhere.

Aaron Rubel with a smallmouth caught on a yellow popper fly. I was wearing Maui Jim Sunglasses in Wassup frames with rose toned lens.

Aaron Rubel with a smallmouth caught on a yellow popper fly.  Photo by Ed Roden

We had a successful day, landing eight smallies between us in the 12-15″ range with Ed landing six of those caught.  The Flint River smallmouth fed from the middle of the afternoon all the way through dusk.  It was a great trip and I look forward to another float on this river someday in the near future.

Flint River Smallmouth on the fly.

Flint River Smallmouth on the fly.  Photo by Aaron Rubel

I love the textured like pattern on the smallmouth bass species. The Flint River smallies also had a beautiful hue of light blue on their lower jaw.  And so, amidst the sad news surrounding the Flint River community, I hope the history of a quality smallmouth bass fishery can serve as an example of why this watershed remains a valuable treasure to conserve and visit in Southeast Michigan.

Smallie Horizon_300

A beautiful Flint River bronzeback. Photo by Aaron Rubel

If you’d like to consider helping the residents who are suffering a devastating health concern from lead poisoned water, reportedly stemming from corroding pipes, donations can be made to United Way of Genesee County, Michigan at the following link: .  When on website, click the “GIVE” button, and then there’s an option to support the Flint Water Fund.   You may also call 810-232-8121 for details.  I have donated in the amount I normally reserve for  spending on myself from my current paycheck.  I challenge you to also give to the desperate needs of Flint, Michigan residents.


Tri Narrow Logo 300

Copyright 2016 by All rights reserved

Kayak Fishing Upper Peninsula Michigan Wilderness Brook Trout Lake

Naomikong Lake Fishing 11 300Since beginning my fly fishing journey eighteen years ago, I’ve read stories of little known wilderness brook trout lakes nestled away for the adventurous angler to explore.  During my most recent trip to the U.P. of Michigan, I did some research in attempt to seek one out.

I found a potential candidate through studying maps and confirming with some local knowledge from native Yoopers.  My father, two sons, and brother-in-law set out on a hike where the creek crossed a backwoods U.S. Forestry road.  We were hoping for a trail, but quickly realized we’d be blazing our own atop a high bank on the west side of a creek.  The creek itself seemed to offer high potential of successful fishing, but our desire to find the lake kept us pushing upstream in hopes of discovery.

Boys Hiking Trail 300We trudged left and right across each fallen tree and low covering conifer.  Maps showed the lake to be due south of where the creek crossed the road.  In contrast, as we hiked our compass revealed the creek actually flowed from the southwest.  We knew we were likely close, but decided to call it a day and hike north from our location to understand where we were in relation to the starting point.  We came out just a short ways from a two-track heading directly south into the forest.

On day two, instead of parking the Jeep at the creek, we headed straight for the two-track in hopes it would lead us closer to the lake.  The two tracker ended 1/2 mile from the forestry road, where a foot trail picked up and continued south.  We lathered on bug spray, tucked our pants inside socks to prevent ticks from finding a cozy home on lower extremities, and set on our way with anticipation.

Naomikong Lake Trail Hike 4 300The foot trail crossed two small feeder creeks and opened into a clearing another 1/2 mile from where we parked the vehicle.  We had made it to our first wilderness brook trout lake!  Dad and I decided to wake early the next morning around 4AM with a deer dollie cart prepared to accommodate the hike in with the Jackson Kilroy kayak aboard.

Dad Dollie Kayak 300

Dad is creative. He has brought out many a deer on his dollie cart, and so decided to adapt it for transporting the kayak through the foot trail.

Deer Dollie 300

I used to watch “The Red Green Show” on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation network.   Ole Red would be proud of our duct taping job of securing wood cross beams to the dollie cart for supporting the kayak!  According to Red, duct tape is “the handyman’s secret weapon!”

The extra height the dollie provided for clearance in gullies of the two creek beds worked great and we soon were at water’s edge.  Hiking a kayak in changes the mindset of how much gear to carry and how to transport it.  So, we were selective in only bringing what would fit in a backpack with an additional few lightweight items tucked inside the kayak.

Dad Hike Kayak 300  The water was glassy on a beautiful sunny morning.  Unfortunately, the lake was silent of any fish feeding, and I wasn’t able to entice a brook trout to take a subsurface offering either.  With all that work and no fish to hand, one would think it all a waste of time and effort.  Then again, exploration is an ongoing process and how can one say the view of tranquility a waste of anything?

NL Horizon 2 300

Backdrop of a wilderness brook trout lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as seen from my kayak.

Paddling Edited

Tri Narrow Logo 300

Photos by Aaron Rubel and Paul Rubel

Copyright 2015 by  All rights reserved

Sneak Peak of Kayak Fishing Chattanooga, Tennessee

Trout Stream_blog size

Nothing like spending a morning on a trout stream / Photo by Aaron Rubel

Lately, I’ve not been able to be on the water as much as I like, but recently had the opportunity to spend some time in Tennessee.  Along with picking up my new Jackson Kilroy, I kayak fished with Jesse Cochran and Andy Newman of Rock/Creek Paddlesports Shop in Chattanooga on a beautiful lake and trout stream.  I’ll save the details of the story for my September column in YakAngling Magazine, but here’s a sneak peak of fishing the Chattanooga area.

Andy Newman Kilroy_blog size

Andy Newman twitching a fly, anticipating a heavy strike from bass / Photo by Aaron Rubel

Jesse Cochran Release_blog size

TFO Pro Staffer Jesse Cochran, releasing a largemouth bass on quiet Tennessee water / Photo by Aaron Rubel

Aaron Rubel_Crappie on Fly_J Cochran_blog size

Oddly enough, this is actually the first crappie I’ve ever caught and likewise in my new Jackson Kilroy. More on this great performing kayak to come in my September column of YakAngling Magazine.  Wearing Maui Jim “Wassup” with rose tinted polarized lens  / Photo by Jesse Cochran

Chattanooga_blog size

A view of Chattanooga, TN / Photo by Aaron Rubel

 Copyright 2015 by All rights reserved

Tri Narrow Logo 300

Upper Peninsula Michigan Smallmouth Bass

There’s a place north of the 45th called God’s Country.  It’s a place my father and I have trod many a mile through forest, swamp, and highlands searching for whitetail deer.  It’s a place where most fisherman’s thoughts turn to brook trout.  It’s a place where moose, wolves, cougar, and black bear roam the wilderness.  It’s a place not easily reached by car, plane, or train and for good reason.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan (termed “the U.P.” by native Michiganders) is a special and wild place.

Cross north over the Mackinac Bridge that connects lower and upper peninsula’s of Michigan, and it’s difficult to believe you haven’t entered another state.  The topography suddenly changes and colorful flowers obviously not planted by man grow on both sides of what seems nearly every country road.  Table fare of various whitefish recipes, a delicious pasty, and strawberry shortcake can be found in out of the way, yet memorable restaurants.

Roxane's Smokehouse Restaurant in Strongs Corner, Michigan makes the best strawberry shortcake with a homemade sweet biscuit.

Roxane’s Smokehouse Restaurant in Strongs Corner, Michigan makes a great strawberry shortcake with a homemade sweet biscuit.

The state fish is the brook trout and romance species of the great white north.  Yet my favorite species to pursue in this range is the smallmouth bass.  Our family has a cottage on an eastern U.P. lake that had been taken over several years ago by bullhead catfish.  Since then, careful management techniques to reduce the population of bullheads and balance it with smallmouth, largemouth bass, and bluegill game species have been successful.  During a recent trip to the lake we caught all three species of game fish, including juveniles up through well established adults.  The early morning alarm clock is anticipated in the form of a yodel from loon, signaling good fishing in an unparalleled wilderness backdrop of tall pine and hemlock surrounding the lake.

When looking for a good fishing lake in the U.P., seek those that have variable depths, with some natural and protective shoreline.  These lakes will provide shelter from the harsh winters.  There are lakes in the range that are shallow, and as a result freeze several feet thick in the winter.  Deep freezing in shallow lakes will reduce potential for game fish survival. Heavy snow pack in the U.P. can provide a layer of insulation, preventing fatal freeze depths in these shallow lakes and yet block valuable sun rays from reaching through the water column.

Once finding a lake that has characteristics friendly to smallmouth bass, cast to structure, drop offs, and transition areas such as pinch points that combine the two.  My favorite flies to catch adult smallmouth bass on lakes are top water concave foam poppers. I like to use a primary color of black with red accent at dawn and dusk, then switch over to chartreuse with black accent as the sun rises above the tree line.  I know sub-surface flies such as crayfish patterns are great for enticing smallies, but as an angler can’t resist experiencing a football shaped bronzeback rolling on a fly off the surface, doubling over a medium flex fly rod and on into a battle royale!

This 18" smallmouth bass was caught by Aaron Rubel on a U.P. lake. Photograph by: April Rubel

This 18″ smallmouth bass was caught by Aaron Rubel on a U.P. lake.

Smallmouth bass are beautiful creatures with hues of gold, brown, and black.  Keep them in the water when you take pictures.  Keeping the fish wet while snapping a photo will help to maintain protective slime and at same time share what kind of habitat you caught it in with those viewing the picture.

The beauty of smallmouth bass and the habitat they reside in.

The beauty of smallmouth bass and the habitat they reside in.

Releasing adult smallmouth bass is important.  Smallmouth take several years to reach lengths of 18″ and greater, and these fish are prime brood stock for promoting future generations of the species.  This smallie was released back into the lake that our family cottage is located on.  It is a testimate to the results of what careful conservation management techniques are capable of.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources have put together a great resource to the angler in providing maps of hundreds of lakes throughout the state.  Many of these lakes will take some effort to get to, but it’s part of the adventure of fishing the U.P.  You can find maps of Michigan lakes here:,4570,7-153-67114_67115-67498–,00.html

Photography by Aaron Rubel, and April Rubel

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved


A Day Fly Fishing the Huron River

Upper Huron River, Michigan

The Huron River in Southeast Michigan

The Huron River in Southeast Michigan is well known for quality smallmouth bass.  Last Saturday was my first time fishing these waters holding smallies and other great warm water species.  What I didn’t realize though was the charm of the surrounding area.

Nestled to the west of the hustle and bustle of Ann Arbor and Detroit is a small village named Dexter.  I’m not sure whether it was the pride evident by the natural preservation of Mill Creek that runs through this village, the sight of a vibrant downtown cast in a unique shape defined by the triangulation of the creek on the west side and the Huron River to the east, or the sight of an old fashioned music in the park event on Friday evening, but as I drove through this quaint community it felt like a place I wish more of America were like.

Music in the park on a Friday evening in Dexter, Michigan

Music in the park on a Friday evening in Dexter, Michigan

This past Friday afternoon and evening I drove along the entire length of the stream between Ypsilanti and Portage Lake.  I decided my day of fishing on Saturday would be enjoyed in the area around Hudson Mills Metropark.  The 47 miles of public land surrounding the Huron River is a great example of how the watersheds in Michigan are for the most part open to recreating and enjoying with good access.  By no means did I cover even a portion of the hiking trail system that runs through the parks, but I was impressed with the 1.5 miles of trail I did traverse during my Friday afternoon scouting adventure.

As fog rose off the head of a pool early Saturday morning, so did a smallmouth bass to a chartreuse popper fly cast to the center of the stream.  A promising start to a delightfully productive morning of fishing.

Thank you to River Bassin Tournament Trail for granting permission of use of this picture of this smallmouth I caught on Saturday, July 26th, 2014 on the Huron River.

A smallmouth bass caught by Aaron Rubel.  Thank you to the River Bassin Tournament Trail for granting use of picture.

During the first few hours of fishing, the river gave me four smallmouth bass, and a largemouth.

A 14" largemouth bass caught on a chartreuse popper fly.

A 14″ largemouth bass caught on a chartreuse popper fly.

When looking for largemouth bass, I found this one in a slower section hidden among a natural stream bank wooded structure above a river bottom lined with grass.

The Huron River isn't all about bronzebacks.  It has healthy largemouth too!

The Huron River isn’t all about bronzebacks. Healthy largemouth abound too!

All fish landed except for one were caught off the surface.  A rock bass pictured below went after a hopper imitation in the early afternoon.  After the sun came out, one smallmouth was caught in the shelter of a riffle on a sub-surface brown and gray crayfish fly pattern.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first day on bass waters of the Huron River. I especially appreciated spending a day on water that is protected for conservation.  Next time you visit Southeastern Michigan, take some time to visit this scenic and accessible river.

I also had opportunity to meet some other anglers as part of the catch, photo, and release format of the River Bassin Tournament Trail event that I was participating in at the same time on this beautiful Saturday.

Competitors who caught qualifying fish in River Bassin Tournament Trail - Saline event from left to right:  Kyle Moxon, Cameron Simot, Chris Lemessurier, Richard Ofner, Aaron Rubel, Paul Biediger, Mike Hurst

Anglers who caught qualifying fish in the Saline, MI stop on the River Bassin Tournament Trail from left to right: Kyle Moxon, Cameron Simot, Chris Lemessurier, Richard Ofner, Aaron Rubel, Paul Biediger, and Mike Hurst

Results of the July 26, 2014 River Bassin Tournament Trail event in Saline, Michigan:

1st. Cameron Simot – 53.5″ (Adjusted vs. website reporting for late to check-in penalty)

2nd. Richard Ofner – 51.0

3rd. Kyle Moxon – 48.5

4th. Chris Lemessurier – 46.5″ (Adjusted vs. website reporting for late to check-in penalty)

5th. Mike Hurst – 40.25″

6th. Paul Biediger – 39.25″

7th. Aaron Rubel – 33.0″

8th-14th. (Did Not Catch Qualifying Fish):  Michael Dusseau, Michael Heckman, Ashley Kuilema, Andrew Newcomb, John Ricciardi, Chris St. Pierre, Kevin Williamson

Team Results:

1. Cameron Simot & Chris Lemessurier (Yeah Buoy)

2. Richard Ofner & Kyle Moxon (Canuckbassers)

3. Mike Hurst & Paul Biediger (Wolverine Lake)

Click here to find out more about the Saline event of the River Bassin Tournament Trail and how you can get involved in an event near you!

Thank you to the Kayak Corral kayak shop of Saline, Michigan for hosting the tournament.


Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved


Red October

Angler: Landon Rubel, with Chuck Fisk
Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Fall colors peak along the Gulf Coast in October.  The color red, that is.  After enduring a long and muggy summer, the angler is rewarded with great opportunities to find redfish as fall sets in.

An effective way for the adult fly angler and child to enjoy a day on the water together was introduced to me by good friend, Chuck Fisk.  We brought both fly rods and conventional fishing gear to the beach.  Chuck and I started the day by wading in the shallows and catching ladyfish on clouser minnow flies.  The ladyfish went into the cooler.  Later, they were transformed into cut bait and drifted just beyond the surf on conventional rods to entice bull redfish.  Bull redfish are adults of the species that have grown on average above 26 inches and made their way out of the marshes, into the larger bays and open waters of the Gulf.

Red October 2Ladyfish on the fly

The technique of combining fly fishing and conventional tackle proved successful as Landon caught a tremendous redfish on the coast of Mobile Bay.  We also had the opportunity to teach him that although we sacrificed one species of fish, releasing another is important to the preservation of future generations of game fish.

Chuck Fisk, Gulf Coast Council Conservation Director of the International Fly Fishing Federation,
demonstrates proper release of a redfish.
Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Do you want to seek more secluded water in search of Redfish?  Close encounters with big reds are possible in backwaters by use of kayaks specifically designed for fishing.  The low profile construction enables opportunities for sight fishing and short casts.  The kayak also serves as cushion to the tension of line between angler and the strength of Redfish.

Angler: IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Champion, Benton Parrott, with a nice Mobile Bay area redfish
Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Whether you enjoy the breezy beach or tranquil marsh, Red October is the time to reach the water for one of the Gulf Coast’s favorite species.

A Mobile Bay area marsh redfish on the fly
Angler and Photographer: Aaron Rubel

Thank you to for running this story:

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved

Rocky Mountain Tree Monkey

I’m told altitude sickness can do some strange things to the mind.  A severe headache and disorientation to name a couple.  Disorientation, otherwise known as a confused state of mind, can result in hallucinations.

I had a few days before having to conduct some business upon landing in Denver, Colorado and so with travel rod in tow, I made my way west up into the Front Range of the Rockies.  I had read about some of the productive creeks in the foothills and had reserved a quaint stream-side cabin.

Upon checking in, the owner of the cabins gave me a few complimentary flies he tied.  A nice touch, considering the effort and care that goes into tying flies.  I’ve found that even if I think I’m prepared for a trip, including flies, I’m really not.  Locals tie patterns that are specific for the water they fish, and I was thankful for not only the flies but also a very good fishing report.

Quickly unpacked, I strung up the fly rod with a #14 buckskin nymph, as recommended by the expert local knowledge acquired just a few minutes before.  The stream’s flow was lively, dancing over and around rock formations.  Towering pines canopied the stream’s width that spanned three or four lengths of a fly rod.

Spending the afternoon fly fishing to willing trout slips by quickly.  Sometimes this happens before realizing the need for drinking fluids.  Unfortunately, for a lowlander such as myself, fishing at altitude without hydrating can have negative consequences.

A headache set in and a nap was in order before an evening wade.  A couple hours later I woke to not only a throbbing headache, but sick to my stomach.  So, the only way I could think of to expunge the miserable feeling was to hit the river again.  This time I packed a little water into an inside vest pocket.

Fly anglers have a sixth sense.  We can hear a fish feed that only dimples the water from 200 feet away.  Have you ever approached a stream’s bank, took a deep breath, raised your eyebrow, exhaled and exclaimed, “What a day this is going to be”?  If you’re a fly angler, you know that sixth sense while on the water.

Casting upstream with a reach cast from left to right, my fly made a drift through a good seam.  Upon picking up the fly at the end of the drift, I made a false cast and then something interrupted the process over my left shoulder.  It was that feeling you get when you discover someone was watching you, even though you haven’t confirmed it.  You just know somehow, something isn’t right.

Glancing over my left shoulder and across the stream, the hair on the back of my neck suddenly stood tall as two eyes and a pale face entered my periphery view.  Before I could gain a clear picture of the life form in the trees, it disappeared.  I have spent a lot of time in the woods, and never before had I seen anything like it, even considering my poor view.  Initially, my thought was this might be a curious child climbing in the trees.  Then again, the situation just didn’t add up.

Using a method I learned years before while deer hunting, I continued on with what I was doing so not to spook whatever it was.  I remained aware out of the corner of my eye only, and didn’t allow myself to be focused in the direction of the strange sight.  Within minutes, I again caught view of the pale face with large eyes that seemed to look right through me.  This time I flipped the line upstream as if to fish another drift, but then turned and focused on the image in the trees intently.  My thought was, “A monkey in Colorado?  Impossible.”  I am not native to the Rocky Mountains, nor have I studied in detail the wildlife that reside in the high hills of the Front Range, but this couldn’t be.  But it was.

Over the next ten minutes or so, I watched the funny monkey jump from tree to tree, as if to gather information on me from different angles.  Eventually, the monkey scurried away on a long branch, and I never saw him again.

That night as I turned in for bed with flu like symptoms, a debate waged in my mind as to whether I would tell anyone of the experience.  Would anyone believe me if I told them anyway?  How loco would locals think I was if I were to tell a story of a monkey peaking through pine branch needles as I fished below.

Curiosity got the best of me.  The next day I ran into the owner of the cabins.  Stumbling over my words a bit, I finally got the story out.  He nodded his head and responded, “Rocky Mountain Tree Monkey.”  There was silence between us, and I likely gave him the look of a very confused individual.  But he didn’t waver.  He convincingly told me of the occasional sighting of Rocky Mountain Tree Monkeys, although not commonplace.

I walked away from the conversation half feeling sheepish for telling the story, but half believing I was lucky to have witnessed such a rare event in the wilds of a Colorado mountain stream.  Either way, I say long live the Rocky Mountain Tree Monkey.  After all, I saw one don’t you know.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved


Jubilee!!! is the call that residents along the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay anticipate during nights of summer when east winds blow.  Separated by 6,900 miles, Mobile Bay and Tokyo Bay are the only known locations that the rare phenomena exists.In nights past, residents living along the shore would inform neighbors by the calling of the Jubilee.  In modern times the announcement is more widespread on social media networks and texting between friends during the hours of darkness.

According to the Auburn University Marine Extension & Research Center, a Jubilee occurs in the summer months on a rising tide, with a light east wind.  Salinity stratification builds due to stagnation, and prevents the oxygen from the air to penetrate through the water column.  The result is flounder, blue crab, shrimp, sting ray, eel, and various other fish pushed to surface, gasping for oxygen along the shoreline between Daphne and Mullet Point in Mobile Bay.

On a warm muggy morning I woke to the alarm of a Jubilee from a friend’s thoughtful text!  The boys and I got ready as fast as we could to gather a bounty of seafood ready for the taking.  Prime time for the Jubilee are the hours preceding sunrise.  This is due to the continuous depletion of oxygen levels during night hours, along with the conditions previously stated.  Quite frequently, the predominant species of a Jubilee will be flounder, blue crab, and shrimp.  These are typically bottom dwellers that have difficulty elevating above the stratified bottom of water column.  We arrived after peak, but still were able to capture enough flounder, shrimp, blue crab, mullet, and black drum to have a great lunch.

Even though there are well known, typical conditions that favor the Jubilee’s occurrence, locals have clued me in on some other not so well documented observations.  A long time resident says that they tend to occur during the night after a later afternoon thunderstorm, in combination with other well known conditions.  He reports the location could be in the vicinity of any freshwater creek that flows into the bay.  His theory is that the influx of freshwater from a creek is carried by the tide and wrapped around an area of shoreline, encouraging salinity stratification to occur in a localized area.

Also, I’ve been told that there are times around a neap tide (slack tide) that a Jubilee can occur due to the stagnation of the water.  Much is made about the Jubilee’s that occur on the eastern shore, but I also have heard of events welling up on the western shore too.  Given a set of circumstances that are just right, they can occur just about anywhere along the bay’s quaint sandy beaches.

We feel honored to have had the opportunity to partake in a Jubilee and look forward to being lucky enough to encounter another in the future.

For more information on the science behind the phenomena of the Jubilee on Mobile Bay:
Click here for further information and illustrations by Auburn University Marine & Research Center on the Mobile Bay Jubilee

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved

Her Season

Fly fishing with someone special can be a great experience.  Introducing the sport to them can be a rewarding journey.

The 2004 fishing season was the third since introducing my wife, April, to fly fishing.  She wasn’t sure if she had the coordination to cast a fly-line.  But after practicing in the backyard, sitting through hours of Fly Fish TV, and being an enthusiastic listener, she became a quick study.

We decided to make a trip to the beautiful northern lower and upper peninsula’s of Michigan that season.  The Black River near Bessemer, MI was our first destination.  Bessemer is a ski town in the winter months, and an outdoor playground during the summertime.  The Porcupine Mountains were the initial reason why we planned a week’s visit, but we quickly realized the Black River Scenic Area alone offered unique opportunities for activities and relaxation.

Her Season 1Potawatomi Falls of Black River
Photo by Aaron Rubel

We stayed with Stan and Sue of the Black River Crossing Bed & Breakfast.  Stan and Sue own a beautiful two story log cabin on the shore of the river.  We woke to classical music and enjoyed a hearty breakfast every morning.

Her Season 2Black River Crossing Bed & Breakfast in Bessemer, Michigan

We were thankful for the local area knowledge Stan and Sue volunteered to share with us.  We enjoyed hikes to many magnificent waterfalls along the Black River, and Powderhorn Creek.  We kayaked the shore of Lake Superior, and found our first agates on pebble strewn beaches.

Her Season 3
Gorge Falls of Black River
Photo by Aaron Rubel

The kayak trip bears mentioning.  Lake Superior lies on the north side of the Upper Peninsula.  The lake is very large, deep, and that means cold.  At the time I sit here writing this blog, Lake Superior water temperature rests at 48ºF along the shore nearby where we kayaked.  On that July day, the water temp might have been in the low 50’s, but no higher.  The trip was both our maiden voyage in a kayak, and April sat at the bow in our tandem paddle craft ready to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.  We launched, and so did an incoming two foot roller, cresting the bow and into my brides lap.  We learned lesson one in kayaking: Dress for water temperature, not air temps.  It was cold trip for her, but an extra change of clothes from a friendly camping couple got us through, and we laugh about it today.
Her Season 4

April and I after a refreshing first leg of a kayak trip along the very cold Lake Superior shoreline.
Photo by Stan Carr

Among all the adventure, we managed to get in some fishing too.  Upon making our first step into the river near the B&B, we were excited to see trout rising to Blue Winged Olives.  Our success, or I should say April’s, came on a #16 pheasant tail nymph.  April’s practice and study paid off by catching a Rainbow, Brown and finishing with a Brook trout to complete a hat trick in one evening!  Impressive.

Her Season 5Fly Angler, April Rubel, catches a Brook trout
Photo by Aaron Rubel

Later in the summer we went fishing with Jon Ray, Guide of Hawkins Outfitters.  It was on this trip that April realized she had successfully trained muscle memory in her casting stroke.  Jon worked with her during the trip on the Manistee River to make subtle improvements as we swung wet flies.  April landed three nice trout including a very nice sixteen inch Brown.  What a great season of experiencing the out of doors with someone I love so much.
Her Season 6Fly Angler, April Rubel catches a 16″ Brown trout with Hawkins Outfitters Guide, Jon Ray
Photo by Aaron Rubel

For more information on Black River Crossing Bed & Breakfast in the beautiful west Upper Peninsula of Michigan, go to:
For more information on a Michigan Lower Peninsula fly fishing adventure with Guide, Jon Ray, go to:

 Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved