Humminbird makes the best fishing electronics on the market, whether it's on the open water or on the ice. With a wide variety of products to choose from spanning many different price points, Humminbird is a proven leader in easy-to-use electronics that are also the leader in technology. The new Helix series is a game-changer in sonar, both on the ice as well as on our Sport Fish Michigan boats. Sport Fish Michigan uses the incredible Ice-Helix 7 units on its ice trips. These Gen 2 ice units feature both traditional sonar graph readouts as well as improved flasher style readouts, and ease-of-use. Other Helix units, like the 9 and 10 series, will be on our Sport Fish Michigan boats.
Minn Kota makes the best trolling motors on the market without a doubt. The long-standing gold standard on bass boats has been a cable-driven Minn Kota trolling motor, but with the new Ultrex, the game is about to change. No longer will anglers have to make a choice between the ability to use the Minn Kota iPilot system or use a cable drive foot pedal like that on most bass boats. The Ultrex marries the two technologies together, and anglers can now have their cake and eat it too! With the immediate response of a foot controlled cable-drive coupled with the ability to spot lock with an iPilot system, anglers will have the best of both worlds. All 3 of Sport Fish Michigan's Ranger 621 FS boats have these incredible Ultrex trolling motors mounted on them, giving us even greater fishability and control. And that helps to translate into more fish for our customers.
Shimano is the maker of the world's best fishing reels, and makes the fishing reels that Sport Fish Michigan's Captains rely on every day for every trip. Shimano produces a large variety of reels to suit a large variety of styles of fishing. For anglers preferring to cast, there are spinning reels and baitcasting reels for every budget. Our SFM customers use the awesome Stradic Ci4 spinning reels and the Curado baitcasting reels. These are true workhorse reels that have never let us down. For trolling lake trout, salmon, and walleye, Sport Fish Michigan Captains prefer the Shimano Tekota reels. The Tekota is a heavy-duty reel that is suited to the rigors of trolling, and its smooth, yet powerful, drag is second to none.
G.Loomis produces what has long been arguably the best bass fishing rod on the market. Known for its amazing bass rods, G.Loomis also has a stellar lineup of rods suited for many other species. Some of the G.Loomis rods that we at Sport Fish Michigan use are the salmon and steelhead e6x lineup, and the walleye e6x series of rods. Both are workhorses for our guide trips and charters, not to mention the sensitivity, which is unparalleled. From casting rods to walleye trolling rods, G.Loomis has the best and most versatile rods available.
Rapala is much more than a lure maker. Rapala brands together some of the industry's best names. As a maker of lures, they make some amazing lures that catch boat-loads of fish for us here at Sport Fish Michigan. We use a variety of Rapala lures to target smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, and even lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, and ciscos. In addition, Rapala makes some of the best jigging lure options for ice fishing, and along with their sister company, VMC, who manufactures some of the best hooks and jigs on the market, there are plentiful options for hard water anglers.
Costa Del Mar's tagline is #SeeWhatsOutThere for good reason. With the absolute clearest lenses available, Costa Del Mar produces the world's best sunglasses. Available both in prescription and regular lenses, there are numerous lens options to choose from. The 580 lenses are what Sport Fish Michigan Captains use, allowing us to see just about everything. With a huge array of frame styles designed to fit a large variety of face sizes, there is something for everyone.
Flambeau Outdoors is a premium manufacturer of high-quality tackle boxes and accessories. Flambeau has been a name in the outdoors industry for generations, and my first tackle box was a Flambeau! Not only do they make a huge line of boxes and accessories for fishing, but they also have a huge line-up tailored to the hunters and other outdoors people. We are proud to partner with Flambeau Outdoors, protecting our valued tackle and gear with their patented Zerust technology. Flambeau Outdoors’ Zerust technology helps to ward off rust formation by creating a protective barrier on metal parts like split rings and hooks. And with a large variety of boxes designed to fit every angler’s needs, Flambeau has something for everyone! Flambeau’s Zerust boxes and accessories are what you will find in our boats and garages, storing the gear waiting for your next trip!
Smooth Moves Seats makes the best suspension seats for the marine industry hands-down. Smooth Moves Seats is an industry leader in this category, and we here at Sport Fish Michigan are incredibly lucky to be able to have work with them to outfit our Ranger boats. Suspension seats like these provide a much smoother ride on the water, absorbing the shock of waves so that the driver and passenger can ride in comfort and style. Gone are the days of being sore from boat rides in rough water, and these seats are built to last. We are excited to be able to provide these seats to our customers and are looking forward to continuing to work with Smooth Moves Seats well into the future!
T-H Marine is the industry leader when it comes to providing premium products for anglers and boaters from bow to stern. We are proud to team up with such a great company, and already use a variety of T-H Marine products on our boats, including Atlas Jackplates, trolling motor jackets that help to protect our trolling motor cables, Oxygenators for our livewells, and more. T-H Marine brings so many great products to help ease everything from fishing to boating to even documenting your adventures on the water with select Yolotek mounts and lights for action cameras.
Yeti Coolers are what is in many of our Sport Fish Michigan boats, not only because of their amazing ability to keep cold things cold, but also for their superior durability. These coolers are the workhorses that we rely on to keep our catches cold in the larger 125-175 sizes, and our snacks and drinks cold in the smaller Roadie-35 sizes.
Under Armour is the maker of a wide variety of outdoor gear and apparel for a huge array of sports. With season-specific wear as well as sport-specific designs, Under Armour makes a superior product from top to bottom. From hats and gloves to shoes and boots, and long underwear to outerwear and everything in-between, Under Armour has us covered. Literally. Sport Fish Michigan's Captains are lucky enough to be able to wear this awesome apparel, staying cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter during our ice fishing trips. After 5 full seasons of wearing UA gear, we can say that-without a doubt-Under Armour is a great company with fantastic products.
Fish Hawk Electronics is the gold standard in fishing probes used by nearly every charter boat that plies the great lakes for salmon and lake trout. Fish Hawk Electronics is the leading probe manufacturer, whose probes provide critical data to anglers needing real-time information when trolling such as speed of lures, and temperature at the down rigger ball. This data gives anglers a better understanding of how their lures are performing, and how to adjust their boat speed and fishing depth to help increase their effectiveness in targeting fish when trolling. Fish Hawk probes are incredibly well-built and are designed and manufactured entirely in the USA, and we are proud to work with Fish Hawk.
Ranger Boats makes a full spectrum of spectacular fishing boats, and Sport Fish Michigan is proud to offer their customers fully-loaded Ranger 621 FS boats to fish from whether they fish with Capt. Ben Wolfe, Capt. Chad Dilts or Capt. Ron Dohm Jr. Not only are these boats incredibly comfortable and stable, they are also very roomy, allowing anglers plenty of space for casting, jigging or trolling. Capt. Ben has relied on Ranger boats from the very beginning of his guide career, and has no hesitations in taking customers aboard these boats no matter what body of water they are fishing, be it Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron or the many inland lakes or Great Lakes rivers across Michigan
StealthCraft Boats are built right here in Michigan, and we are proud to offer our customers a chance to step into one. Roomy and extremely stable, these drift boats are also incredibly light. These StealthCraft drift boats are super easy to row, which means that we can pay more attention to our customers, giving them the experience that they deserve.
Simms Fishing Products makes the best waders. Period. Simms has been the benchmark in wader technology, quality, and innovation for years. Coupled with their varied superior wading boots, these are the go-to waders for Sport Fish Michigan's Capt. Ben Wolfe and Capt. Chad Dilts. Capt. Ben is also a Simms Fishing Products Ambassador, using many of Simms' products throughout the year. From tackle bags to waders, and just about everything in-between, Simms is an outstanding company that we are proud to work with.
Titan Tungsten is one of the largest manufacturers of tungsten fishing weights, and we are thrilled to partner with them for a pro staff position in 2020. Spanning a huge variety of worm weights, flipping weights and drop shot weights, Titan Tungsten also offers these selections in different colors as well. Not only are all of their weights chip-proof, they are also labeled by weight. Gone are the days of trying to figure out what size and weight a sinker is based solely on size. Easy to read labels make identifying weights a snap - not only for grabbing the right weight for the fishing application, but also for putting them away at the end of a day. Tungsten is denser than lead, and is quite a bit smaller as well. Not only does this give a smaller over-all profile for weights, the increased density also gives anglers the added benefit of additional sensitivity.
Traverse City Tourism is the driving force behind much of the tourism in the Traverse City area. We have been blessed to have worked with the great people at the Traverse City Tourism for several years now, including a few photo shoots, article mentions, and now in 2017, our Traverse City Bass Guide Service has 5 great photos in its Visitor Guide publication. There is an accompanying article, and we were fortunate enough to have some fantastic centerfold photos taken by local photographer Dan Shepler.
Angling Buzz was created by Lindner Media in 2016, including a new website as well as a new television show. Sport Fish Michigan is a proud sponsor of the news-style Angling Buzz TV show. As a new concept in fishing television, Angling Buzz TV hosts up-to-date information and fishing reports from a wide variety of guides and anglers around the Midwest. Sport Fish Michigan's role was Michigan's only reporting source for the entire state. Sport Fish Michigan's Capt. Ben Wolfe fished and filmed with Al Lindner during the 2017 season, putting together 2 different Lindner's Angling Edge television shows which aired in 2018.
StrikeMaster Augers is the leader in ice fishing augers. With a wide array of augers ranging from hand augers to power augers to electric augers, StrikeMaster has an option for every budget and angling need. Sport Fish Michigan has partnered with StrikeMaster Augers and is proud to showcase these reliable, efficient and outstanding augers on each and every guided ice trip. With dependability that Sport Fish Michigan Captains & Guides rely on for every guided ice fishing trip, StrikeMaster has always been our choice.
Cannon Downriggers are another product that Sport Fish Michigan Captains Ben Wolfe and Chad Dilts rely on for all their down-rigger trolling needs. With motors built to last year after year, Cannon builds a truly superior downrigger.
Otter Outdoors manufactures the best well-made portable ice shanties-hands-down. Otter has incredibly well thought-out designs for both their flip-over style shanties as well as their hub-style shanties. Sport Fish Michigan uses both styles, and we absolutely love the insulated 1,200-denier fabric that doesn't drip condensation as so many other shanties do. Our customers are toasty warm, even on the coldest and windiest of days. Built to last, these are truly fantastic shanties, and every customer has been impressed with their roominess, comfort, and quality.
Hatch Premium Fly Reels makes the most amazing fly-fishing reels. From an aesthetic standpoint, they are second to none. Sleek, eye-catching reel designs stand apart from the rest, while top-notch performance makes them the choice for Capt. Ben Wolfe for all of his fly-fishing customers and personal use. With absolutely butter-smooth drags capable of stopping salmon, bonefish, tarpon, and everything in-between, these reels are American made works of art!
Sage Fly Rods continues to make the best fly rods in the fly-fishing marketplace. Innovative designs in rod tapers and actions offer rods for every experience level. And with rod designs for a large variety of species ranging from fresh water to salt water, there is a rod for every angler's desires. Sage fly rods, are the premiere fly rod for a reason, and we are proud to work with Far Bank Pros to bring these awesome rods to our customers' hands during fly-fishing guide trips.
Aqua Vu has long-been the top manufacturer in underwater camera technologies. With a large variety of underwater cameras, Aqua Vu cameras provide high definition looks at the water below. With different models to fit different budgets, and a variety of accessories, your own creativity is the limit in how to use these incredible cameras to see the underwater world.
Trout Unlimited was founded in northern Michigan, and plays an important role for several of the Sport Fish Michigan companies. TU, as it's known, are some of the best advocates and resources we have for helping to protect our fisheries, environment and our favorite sport. Trout Unlimited also keeps us informed about changing laws, upcoming rule changes, and in general, helps us do what we love to do!
Customers need products to work, and they need them to work extremely well, without issues. Rio makes premium fly lines, and in our opinion, these products are the best available.
Benzie County plays home to not only Crystal Mountain and to Wolfe Outfitters, but also has the Betsie and Platte Rivers meandering through its beautiful landscape. The Benzie County Chamber of Commerce is a group dedicated to furthering the business and recreation in and around Benzie County, and are some of our biggest fans. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce to chat, introduce yourself and see what other activities are available in the area.
Lamiglas rods offer our salmon and steelhead customers that are fishing with traditional gear the opportunity to fish with the best rods in the industry when it comes to salmon and steelhead specific rods. Lamiglas cut their teeth fishing the Western coastal fisheries for huge salmon and steelhead, and these rods' ability to fight a fish, and turn it away from snags, is second to none. Are we confident in these rods? Oh yeah.
GoPro has been making sports action cameras for a lot of years now, and is still the leader in this category when it comes to innovation, ease-of-use and durability. Many companies have followed suit, but GoPro has managed to stay ahead of the pack. With the new voice-activated commands, the new GoPro 8 cameras are simply amazing in every way. Sport Fish Michigan captains can now even more easily capture video footage of our customer's fish as well as video footage from a huge variety of angles. Coupled with the new Karma stabilizer, our videos will now hopefully look even better. These stabilizers do an incredible job of helping to eliminate shakiness often associated with small hand-held cameras and pitching and rolling boats! GoPro has a huge array of mounts and options to capture video and photos from many different angles, and with their versatility, it could be anything from a drone to an underwater shot! Sport Fish Michigan relies on GoPro cameras almost on a daily basis on guide trips and charters because of their amazing quality, simplicity, durability and also because they are what we believe to be the best.
Lindner Media developed Lindner's Angling Edge and Lindner's Fishing Edge television shows to feature fisheries and educate anglers. Created by Al Lindner, Ron Lindner, and James Lindner, the shows have grown to include other family members and personalities such as Jeremy Smith and Ty Sjodin. The Angling Edge series showcases in-depth tips and how-to educational segments covering the full spectrum of topics of interest to anglers: fish locations and seasonal movements, electronics, bait and lure presentations, and more. The Lindners bring their extensive experience and enthusiasm to each show. Sport Fish Michigan is proud to have filmed several shows with Al Lindner which aired in 2018 to great acclaim. In 2019, Capt. Chad Dilts and Capt. Ron Dohm Jr also had shows air that featured each of them fishing with James Lindner. Spring of 2020 saw Capt. Ben Wolfe once again film with Lindner Media, showcasing the incredible flathead catfish fishery that is available on the Saginaw River, as well as highlighting SFM's seasonal opportunities throughout the year. Capt. Ben and the entire SFM team remain excited about continuing the great working relationship with Lindner Media both on and off of the water. Capt. Ben Wolfe and the entire Sport Fish Michigan team are excited about our continued working relationship with Lindner Media both on and off the water.
Knox Marine is a central Ohio boat dealer that has customer service nailed. Despite living here in northern Michigan, Knox Marine is our choice of marine dealer for Ranger Boats because their customer service is second to none. Capt. Ben Wolfe knows each employee personally, and each one of them has gone out of their way to be helpful in one way or another. Whether it's staying late to fix a boat or to drive overnight to bring parts up north, the team at Knox Marine has always been there. There are a lot of marine boat dealers out there, but Knox is the simple choice for Capt. Ben Wolfe and Sport Fish Michigan. From buying a Ranger Boat to marine mechanical service, Knox can do it all.
Hook n' Look is hosted by noted bass professional Kim Stricker. Primarily a bass fishing show, Kim showcases the underwater environment, educating anglers from a fish's perspective. This is an incredible learning tool, and Sport Fish Michigan has been a proud sponsor of Kim's popular show for the past few seasons. Additionally, Sport Fish Michigan and Traverse City Bass Guide Service's Capt. Ben Wolfe has also filmed a few shows with Kim, in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the Traverse City area of northern Michigan.
Captain Steve Hatcher is a 3rd generation Collier County native, and is one of the top-producing guides in the Naples and Marco Island area of Florida. Captain Hatcher, the owner of Hatcher's Guide Service, is as knowledgeable as they come, and knows the waters he fishes like no other guide in the area. Casting for snook in the mangroves of the 10,000 islands area and around Marco Island is Steve's strongpoint. That being said, Steve is absolutely no slouch when it comes to guiding customers for other species such as redfish, grouper, triple tail, sea trout and even tarpon. Personally, I've fished the Marco and 10,000 Islands areas with Steve frequently over the years, and consider him to be a good friend. Casting into the snarly mangroves, trying to haul trophy snook out, is one of my absolute favorite things to do - and Steve has never failed to show me a fantastic time on the water. It's hard to know how many fish we've caught together over the years, but suffice it to say it hasbeen a lot! And Steve and I even filmed a segment for a television show's pilot episode. A great Captain, a great guide, and most importantly, a great friend. I know that next time that I find myself in Naples, Florida, I'm calling Steve for some time on the water casting the mangroves for snook and redfish.
Captain Chris Jones, owner and operator of Mud Puppy Charters in Islamorada, Florida, is a good friend of mine, and he owns one of the busiest guide services in Islamorada. Captain Chris guides his clients to a variety of species in his flats boat surrounding Islamorada and Florida Bay.
Chris is at home on top of his flats boat's poling platform, poling the shallow flats for bonefish, redfish, snook, permit or tarpon. Equally adept at putting fly customers in range for a shot at a tailing fish, or guiding conventional anglers to a hot bite - Chris is seemingly always on fish.
A regular in tournaments, both Chris and his customers regularly place high. Captain Chris even guides for sailfish on fly for those anglers seeking an offshore thrill. For this, however, he ditches the flats boat in favor of a beautiful See Vee, capable of handling the Gulf Stream.
When I fish with Chris, which has been a lot over the years, it's always a blast. It's non-stop fun, and a laugh a minute as we share stories, tell jokes, and recount past fishing trips. My favorite style of fishing when I'm out on the water with Chris is to sight fish. I'll sight fish anything - redfish and snook are favorites when we're around the mangroves of Florida Bay. I'm also completely addicted to sight fishing bonefish and permit up on the flats. The challenge of making accurate casts to tailing fish is undeniably a big part of this method of fishing's success, but the payoff is often tremendous. Stalking these fish on the shallow flats surrounding Islamorada is as addicting as can be. And when the day is done, it's hard not to analyze my casting, going over every presentation and every fish trying to determine if I could have been better. Some days are humbling, and some days the stars all seem to align.
Next time I know that I'm heading to the Florida Keys, Chris Jones is on top of my list of calls to make and friends to see.
Mad River Outfitters, located in Columbus, Ohio, is owned by my friend Brian Fleischig. Brian, an avid fly angler and former guide, runs a great shop. It is, without doubt, Ohio's preeminent fly shop.
The employees that Brian has are knowledgeable in many aspects of fly fishing, and can talk "shop" with anyone as well as help customers find their next fly outfit. Additionally, Mad River Outfitters has made a niche for itself with adventure trips. Places such as Belize, Brazil, northern Michigan, Alaska, and beyond are just a few of the places that MRO will send their guides to accompany customers. Acting as facilitators, MRO's staff ensures their customers have the best of everything and enjoy every aspect of their trip.
If you're in Columbus, Ohio, stop in and say hello. Brian and I have known each other for years... trust me when I say that guys this nice don't come along too often.
Cheeca Lodge and Spa in Islamorada, Florida, is an absolute favorite of mine, and for great reasons! Not only are the accommodations extremely comfortable, Cheeca is located right on the water, so the views are fantastic.
Located right in the midst of the "Sport Fishing Capital of the World," Cheeca is a saltwater angler's dream come true. Close to spectacular offshore fishing for mahi-mahi or dolphin fish as locals refer to them as, sailfish, deep-water swordfish, and a plethora of other species, Cheeca is also a quick boat ride from some of the best saltwater flats in the entire Florida Keys. Poling a flats boat is the name of the game on these flats, and the species are hugely varied. Permit, bonefish, tarpon, redfish, and snook are just some of the fish that frequent these shallow flats. For these reasons and more, Cheeca Lodge and Spa is home away from home for me when I'm in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. I've spent many days at the Lodge, and each and every time I'm sad to leave.
The Gallatin River Lodge, in Bozeman, Montana, is the perfect place for a fly fishing getaway or, for that matter, a relaxing getaway of any sort.
My interest in the Gallatin River Lodge is its close proximity to many of fly fishing's well-known rivers. The Gallatin River is just a short walk from the lodge, which property graces its banks. The Yellowstone, Madison River, Big Hole River, and Jefferson Rivers are all within a relatively short drive. To those in the know, this is about as close to fly fishing mecca as one can get!
The lodge itself is extremely comfortable, and the staff is downright fantastic, making people feel like they're family. From top to bottom, everything is well-thought out and the owner, Steve Gamble is not only a friendly proprietor, he's also a fishing guide! And as a further testament, Steve's staff has been working at the lodge for years, turnover almost nonexistent - they're as happy as the guests!
Gallatin River Lodge isn't a large place - in fact there are only 10 rooms- but that helps to keep things intimate. When I was there, I got to know several of the other guests, and thoroughly enjoyed conversing with them over drinks at the lodge's bar.
A short drive from downtown Bozeman, and the Simms Fishing Products headquarters, the lodge is indeed, in Big Sky country. With three busy guide businesses, it's hard to plan enough time time for vacationing here! Rest assured that I will find my way out to the Gallatin River Lodge again before too long. If it's not for the rest and relaxation, it'll be for the fishing!