Capt. Chad Dilts helps Brittany, a first time angler, bring in a beautiful pike on a tip up.
Experience the thrill of fishing one of Michigan’s beautiful rivers with a Sport Fish Michigan River Guide!
Sight fishing for northern Michigan smallmouth bass with Traverse City Bass Guide Service.
Fishing for trout on the Manistee River near Tippy Dam from the angler’s point of view.
Kevin’s biggest smallie to date! Fishing with Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan / Traverse City Bass on the Grand Traverse Bays in Michigan.
Fishing with Sport Fish Michigan on the Grand Traverse Bays, customer Evan battles his first lake trout with the assistance of Captain Chad Dilts.
A Wolfe Outfitters fishing customer catches a giant salmon while casting crankbaits on the Big Manistee River in northern Michigan.
Wolfe Outfitters customer Mark, with his father, Gary, battling a king salmon on the Big Manistee River. This fish was caught while casting crank baits, which is a productive and addictive technique for early salmon in Michigan rivers.
It’s a pleasure fishing with customers who book with Traverse City Bass Guide Service. I enjoy meeting new people and sharing in their special day on the water as we fish for smallmouth bass on the beautiful world-class waters of Grand Traverse Bays. Occasionally, opportunities that don’t involve bass fishing present themselves that I love to pass along to my customers.
Such an opportunity presented itself several days ago when there was a hard north wind for a couple of days in northern Michigan. Late summer typically means that salmon will make their way close to river mouths where they will run upstream to spawn. A hard north wind will often stack the salmon up in thick numbers, making them easy for boats not outfitted for trolling, such as a bass boat, to use techniques other than trolling to cast to, and catch, these awesomely powerful fish.
In Traverse City, the Boardman River empties into West Bay. Adjacent to this river mouth is deep water, known as "the hole." Salmon congregate in large numbers in the hole, bringing with them a set of opportunities for catching them that doesn’t have to mean trolling from a large charter boat. While trolling this is a terrific technique enjoyed by many, others prefer a more hands-on approach. I am definitely one of those-enjoying the challenge and adrenaline rush of catching salmon with rod and reel in-hand.
A few days prior to my bass trip with a couple of new customers, when I typically contact my customers, I knew that there would be an opportunity to vertical jig for king salmon in "the hole." My customer, Michael, seeking a thrill for himself and for his son, readily agreed that targeting salmon would be an interesting alternative to bass fishing. We agreed to meet in the pre-dawn hours, getting out early trying to hopefully take advantage of the first light bite.
Early morning fishing requires caffeine if you’re me. In fact, for me, every day requires coffee-especially if you own a coffee company, which I do. Deep Blue Coffee Company supplies coffee to Traverse City Bass for its customers to enjoy during their trip, often eliminating a customer’s suffering through hotel coffee. They get to show up at the boat ramp, and I’ll have a great cup of coffee waiting for them.
This day, I somehow forgot the coffee carafe, and sent my customer a text that I had dropped the ball and forgotten the coffee. "No worries," he said, "I don’t drink that much coffee anyway." Nevertheless, I felt terrible about my oversight.
We launched the boat in the pre-dawn darkness, and headed down towards the hole in hopes of being able to hook up with some salmon by jigging Jonah Jigs, which were designed specifically for vertical jigging salmon. Armed with my G.Loomis jigging rods, we were rigged and ready for business! After showing my customer and his 13-year-old son the proper techniques for jigging, we began our day by looking for schools of salmon on my sonar. Bingo, there they were!!! "OK, drop guys!" By dropping our Jonah Jigs to the bottom and reeling up to the depth that the salmon were holding in I knew that we were in a good position to hopefully get bit in short order.
It wasn’t long before I felt the telltale aggressive jolt from a salmon, but didn’t hook up. Shortly after my bite, Michael also got a bite, stopping his heart for a moment. "You weren’t kidding when you said that this was an aggressive bite!" Now we were on to something. No sooner had he finished sharing his experience about the sensation of the bite, he was hooked up, with drag peeling off of my Shimano reel. "Holy **Bleep**!" he shouted, "NO COFFEE NEEDED!!! THIS IS AWESOME!" After a 5-minute battle full of drag pulling and powerful thrashing on the surface, our king salmon was in the net, coming aboard for some photos. Perfectly hooked right in the jaw.
I’m pleased to say that we were able to boat 4 salmon, out of the 7 that we hooked up with. We had numerous other bites, including a dandy lake trout that Michael’s son, Justin landed. The entire time, Michael kept saying how exciting it was to catch a salmon with a technique that allowed him to feel the bite and fight the fish all on his own. It was a fantastic morning of fishing, and the added benefit was that they were able to take their catch home, something that we don’t allow when we bass fish. As a guide, it’s gratifying knowing that my customers had a day that far exceeded their expectations. And to be able to take advantage of a unique set of opportunities made it all that much more special. We can’t always jig for salmon, but when the circumstances present themselves…. Good things can happen!
I had an interesting grocery shopping experience two days ago when I went to pick up some groceries at a Meijer’s in Traverse City. A super blustery day, where it was a pleasure to not have a guide trip on a much-enjoyed day off, I ventured out to pick up some groceries for upcoming guide trips as well as forage for ingredients for dinner.
As I was looking for a parking spot, in the always-busy Meijer’s, the friendly face of a long-time local customer of mine called out “Hello Captain!” This was a customer, Chuck, who has fished with me on two of my guide services. I have enjoyed fishing with he and his grandson, Logan, on my Traverse City Bass Guide Service, targeting smallmouth bass, and have also enjoyed fishing with he and his wife, Janis, with my Manistee River Salmon Guide Service down in Manistee, Michigan targeting king salmon.
Chuck and I chatted briefly, catching up on the fishing and life in general. It was fun running into such a nice customer, and glad to hear that things continue to go well for him in his retirement.
While getting a hot cider, a woman recognized me from my television segments on WWTV’s Michigan This Morning show where they highlighted my 3 guide services and my Deep Blue Coffee Company. She asked how the fishing business was, and we spoke about a friend of hers who is a fishing guide in New Zealand. She was happy that I had been highlighted, saying that she thought that I had done a great job. Much appreciated praise, thank you!
Overhearing our conversation was a gentleman who asked about my coffee company. It turns out that this guy’s family owns a coffee farm in Hawaii, and owns a coffee shop/roastery in Homer, Alaska. We spoke a bit about the coffee business, and as many of my conversations do, we also spoke about fishing. What a small world, because not only does his family own a coffee farm and shop, he is here in the Traverse City area to attend the Maritime Academy. His love is on the water, and Traverse City seemed to be a great fit for him.
Spending so much time on the water isolates me a bit, but it’s days like I had a couple of days ago that remind me how small a world it actually is, and how we are all connected. Running into Chuck prompted me to put up a photo of a trip with his grandson Logan and one from a trip he had with Janis, fishing for salmon.
Thank you everybody, for making my passion my job, and for making my job such a pleasure.
Chuck’s grandson Logan with a dandy smallmouth he caught while fishing with me at Traverse City Bass Guide Service.
Chuck and Janis with a king salmon caught while fishing with Manistee River Salmon Guide Service.