Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Influence and Zudbubblers

I owe most of my passion for fishing to my dad.

Like many others, in my formative years my dad took me fishing every chance he could. It wasn't often enough, but he had to somehow pluck out a living too, which I would understand better as time passed. I remember those super early mornings stopping for breakfast while it was still dark and I was only half awake. After breakfast we would head to one of the lakes near our hometown of Plainwell, Michigan. I remember the early morning fog was usually so thick I was sometimes unsure of which lake we were on until it started to burned off and I could see familiar shapes.

My parents didn't have much money, but somehow we always had a pretty killer bass boat. My dad sure loved sparkly bass boats, and they had to be fast. To this day I'm not sure how he afforded it and I still wonder sometimes if his priorities were wrong, or right on because if it weren't for those special times on the water with my dad I don't think my career today would be so fishy.

We were bass fishermen. My dad was the best bass fishermen I knew and it seemed like he could pull a bass out of a mud puddle if he wanted to. In high school I spent many hours in study hall reading bass magazines and books by guys like Doug Hannon, The Bass Professor. In those days, we lived a short bike ride from (private) Lake Doster and I would spend many evenings along the banks casting my jig and pig landing bass after bass.

I was in my early twenties before I picked up a flyrod for the first time, and I don't even recall why I did but that moment changed my life. Within a few weeks of holding that flyrod, I had all my spin and bait casting gear for sale so I could pursue my new love. It was nearing fall and I expressed my interest in flyfishing to my newlywed wife and she bought me my first flyrod and reel as a Christmas gift... likely having no idea what she had gotten herself into. Over the next few years I poured myself into the sport with reckless abandon. If only I would have been that committed to learning in my school years who knows, I may have been a doctor or lawyer... but then maybe that was for the best after all.

In those early years of flyfishing it was still about bass for me. I really had no interest in trout, steelhead or even rivers at that time... this would all come later and with its own reckless abandonment. Anyway, in my pursuit of being a warmwater flyrodder, I started tying bass bugs in deer hair... I'm sure I would be embarrassed to show anyone today some of my early bass bugs, but they did catch their share of bass.

(photo: Gerbubble Bug, tied by author)

Back then I subscribed to every flyfishing magazine offered,  my favorite was Warmwater Fly Fishing. At one point, author C. Boyd Pfeiffer had written an article about the Gerbubble Bug, an early 20th century pattern by Tom Loving. Being a person who loved vintage things I took to the Gerbubble Bug like a duck to water. For quite a while, that fly consumed my vise and it caught bass better than any of my other efforts. My passion for both woodworking and painting helped too because the Gerbubble Bug involved both. They were pretty time consuming to make, especially  in comparison to most of my guide patterns of today and they were fun for quite a while, but eventually the luster of bass wore off and I became enamored with other facets of fly fishing... like trout.

After a few years of being obsessed with trout fishing, I found myself once again chasing the bass of my flyfishing youth. By this time I was doing some guiding as well, and I began carving popper heads out of cylinder foam, I even had a website for a number of years offering many of my original popper patterns. While they did work well and sold well too, they just never seemed to have the right sound like the old Gerbubble Bug did. It seems like that rectangular head had something special about it, but I just didn't have it in me to carve the balsa heads anymore, so for quite a few years I relied on the round foam heads. The cylinder foam was so much easier to work with and held up much better than the balsa.

One day I found myself walking through Home Depot and I came across one of those special deals they have in the middle of the isle, it was a pack of foam floor mats in assorted colors… you've probably seen them, the one's that connect together like puzzle pieces They were about two feet square and the same thickness as the balsa I used to tie the GB's out of.... it was one of those "lightbulb" moments. I bought the pack and started cutting heads that day. It was easy to cut, didn't need to be painted and I soon discovered it had the same great popping sound as the GB. Instead of the traditional side hackle I used on the GB's I opted for some creepy rubber legs since no bass can resist those. The "Zudbubbler" was born.

(Photo: Zudbubbler, tied by author)

As I write this, I'm on my 4th season using the Zudbubbler exclusively as my "go to" surface bug. I've probably tied a thousand or more at this point and I still enjoy every aspect of the tying process... and the bass haven't seemed to grow tired of them either. What's the point of all this? Well, I guess it's just my way of saying that I'm really thankful for the anglers that have gone before me and generously shared their knowledge which then influenced me, allowing me to create something I could call my own as well.

Boy, writing this sure makes me want to go bass fishing... this could be a long winter!

Wishing you a Happy New Year! 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12-3-13 Fishing Report

Yesterday I wrapped up my 2013 guiding season with one of the best steelhead of the year! Not bad, considering we put more steelhead in my boat this fall that were over 15 pounds than I've ever done in a single season.

When I made the decision several years ago to only offer swung fly fishing during the fall I knew I was in for some days that would be tough, and each season we always have a few of those days. When the difference between a good day swinging and a tough day swinging comes down to just a steelhead or two, there's not a big margin for error. I have to admit though, pursuing my passion for catching steelhead in such a challenging manner has been a great decision and I wouldn't have it any other way.

This fall had it's challenges with some days of horrible weather and high water for a couple weeks but overall the reward was big, and by big I mean really big fish! Many thanks to all my clients who trusted me with their hard earned money to get them in the right spots with the right flies for maximum opportunity. Thanks for your support and I look forward to seeing you again next season.

Congrats to Steve on a fantastic catch!

Also, this coming Saturday I will be one of the featured tiers at the 14th Annual Fly Tying Expo in Holt, MI. My class will be from 10am to 10:45am and I'll show you how to tie my best patterns for bass and steelhead. You can find more info at this link.  


I hope to see you there!

Friday, November 29, 2013

11-29-13 Fishing Report

A cold but absolutely beautiful day on the river today. A couple hookups made it even sweeter. Water is at a great level for swinging and very clear. Water temp is low 40's. Pictured is Chris with a great steelhead that crushed a wicked leech!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11-26-13 Fishing Report

It seems winter isn't holding off this year... after yesterday's brutal cold and snowy mess, today seemed like a dream. Back to freezing temps for the remainder of the week though. Water is at a good level for swinging again, good clarity as well, but the water temp is getting too cold very quickly. On the good side, there are a few new fish around now after the high water of last week, including this nice one that smashed Jeff's leech this morning. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, there is still much to be thankful for. -Z

Friday, November 22, 2013

ZFF Short Clip - The Hook Up

In our first of hopefully many short clip videos to come, my friend Matt Erny gets an awesome swung fly Steelhead hookup and we got it on the GoPro! This is one of the many reasons we love the swung fly... hard grabs! Check it out at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDsK8xSn2Pk
and be sure to change your settings to 1080HD in the bottom right corner for true HD quality!

11-22-13 Fishing Report

Plagued with high water from the massive rainfall last Sunday, this week was a pretty tough one for swung fly fishing. Very few runs had water slow enough to get the right swing. We did manage a few great battles and some even resulted in fish to the net. The water has begun dropping and I expect next weeks bite should be pretty good. Here are a few of the better photos from this weeks swung fly fishing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

11-14-13 Fishing Report

A day off today found me fishing with my good friend Matt Erny of Streamers Fly Fishing. Fantastic bite until our day was cut short due to anchor trouble. River Larry came to the rescue and all is well again. Here are some pics of the fine Steelhead brought to the net in our short day on the water.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

11-9-13 Fishing Report

Typical Saturday fishing today with lots of other boats. Steelhead bite was pretty good despite the traffic. The water is at a very good level for swinging flies. Pictured is Bill with a couple great Steelhead including one that went over 14 pounds on the boga. Congrats Bill!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

11-7-13 Fishing Report

Swinging for Steelhead in high water conditions has been a little tricky but we are doing alright. Seems to be a few more chrome fish around today and it was a good bite! Pictured are Rich and Al with a few nice fish from this week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

11-4-13 Fishing Report

Great day today running a trip for FGS. Started the morning off with the largest steelhead in my boat in the last several years. Bottomed out my 15lb boga easily. Approx 36" long beast. I couldn't believe the size of the tail on this SH... looked like a king salmon tail! Then landed one of the most mutated SH I've ever seen... looked like part dolphin, and took a couple pokes at the fly before getting ahold of it. This fish is by no means starving though:) Then finally a normal 8-9 lb chrome one. Good day swinging! High water brought in a few new fish and it's dropping to a good swinging level, but pretty dirty right now. Good luck! -Z

Monday, October 28, 2013

10-28-13 Fishing Report

Steelhead fishing is picking up but there are not a huge number available at this point. Today I ran my typical swung fly trip through Feenstra Guide Service with Tony and fishing was quite good with a number of fish willing to at least play with our fly:) Pictured are some memorable fish from today including a massive Steelhead that bottomed out my 15lb scale on the boga!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

10-19-13 Fishing Report

I ran a swung fly steelhead trip today for Feenstra Guide Service as I typically do mid October-December. Boy does it feel good to be chasing these beauties again... I love this time of year. This chunky hen was so full of energy and provided a great fight for James!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10-1-13 Fishing Report

Well, it's still pretty early in the salmon game but there are fishable numbers in most of the river at this point. Give it another week and there will be mass amounts of salmon spawning. Cloudy days are best by far in the overly clear water conditions. There are a few steelhead around if anyone is up for a swung fly trip... it's still really early for that but it can be done!

Water is still over 60 degrees, super clear and low... starting to miss having a jet a little:( The rocks are not kind to my lower unit but I still love how fishy my 17' stealthcraft is.

Pictured is my great friend Casey with a beast from today.

Monday, September 30, 2013

9-30-13 Fishing Report

Holy cow do we have a lot of salmon in the river this year! Some are even spawning already in the near 65 degree water. Water levels continue to be very low and clear so early mornings and late evenings are best, especially on clear sky days. We could really use some rain. Salmon are running extra large this year as well, with more 30 pounders than usual. There are even a few steelhead around that can be caught on a swung fly! Pictured is Pastor Ron with a nice king from the other day. I still have a few October and November dates available if you haven't booked yet. Email me at matt@zflyfishing.com

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9-10-13 Fishing Report

I've been working on a new streamer pattern of late and this morning my friend Tyler helped me do some final testing on it... fishing was very good and my new streamer "Zuddy's Flux Capacitor" is now online here: http://mattzudweg.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

9-4-13 Fishing Report

Quite a good bite and rather large fish... my favorite kind of day!
Pictured is my good friend Matt Erny and myself with just a few of our nicer fish from today.

Monday, September 2, 2013

9-2-13 Fishing Report

Today I ran a trip for Feenstra Guide Service. Despite a big cold front moving in and making for a fall like temperature, the bass fishing started with a bang. Pictured are Steve and his daughter Ashley with a few nice bass. We also had a very exciting encounter with a pike tonight on a popper! This week should remain very good with nice water clarity and warmer temps.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

8-31-13 Fishing Report

The popper bite early this afternoon was quite good, especially when we had clouds and minimal tubers. Pictured are Emerson and his son Patrick with some dandy's. Have a nice Holiday weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

8-28-13 Fishing Report

Fishing started off decent enough today, but when the clouds broke up the bite was pretty much done. Even the evening bite was pretty stinky. The water came up to nearly 1700cfs with last nights rain and my guess is the water caught up to us down river and shut the bite off. It happens:(

Pictured is Bob with a nice bass and pike from early afternoon.

New Video!

I didn't realize it until this morning, but those of you who receive my fishing report via email couldn't view the embedded video.

To check it out please visit my online report found here:



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Video!

So my buddy Matt Erny put this cool video together from some footage he took while we fished together and some pics from my fishing reports... pretty fun stuff!

Wait til you see the rookie move I pull at the very end trying to reach for the net while fighting a pretty large smallmouth. Enjoy... and as always, thanks for your support!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Three Day Bassin' Bonanza

So with an idea of a long float, camping along the way, me and my buds Matt "Streamers" Erny and John "Frenchy" Ridderbos made plans for a three day bassin' bonanza in some of the bassiest water the Muskegon has to offer. The weather was perfect, the bass were eager and the company was great!

This trip was so fun that I'm considering offering a two day guided trip a couple times during next years bassin' season. If any of you are interested... send me an email matt@zflyfishing.com

Here's a few pics from our journey.
In the end, I think we were well over 100 bass landed and a few lost as well.

Not a hawg, but it was the first of the trip.

That's more like it!
John's first of the trip.
Some even like blue frogs.
So we had a big rainbow chase a streamer several times, but this little gem is the only trout that was brave enough to commit.
Matt was happy on the inside I'm sure of it.
I even tried out a few new streamers with some success.
A big bass on my favorite frog.
I bought a "so called" one man tent for the trip. Turns out it was for 3/4 of a man.
Small Tent For Sale... make an offer:)
John and Matt were living large in their adult size tent.

Thank you, as always... for visiting my Fishing Report page! If you wish to receive Report's sent directly to your email, please be sure to sign up using the box to the right. -Z