Brian Kozminski of True North Trout has been fly fishing in Michigan for more than 30 years and now guides Michigan waters for numerous species. Koz recently sat down to take on some questions for the Venturing Angler:
Why do you guide where you do?
It is rather simple: Northern Michigan affords angler the opportunity to catch a tri-fecta (brown, brook, and rainbow trout), and at the same time, we can fish a nearby lake for splake, smallmouth, pike, or carp in the shallows of Lake Michigan. A short drive puts you in the heart of the UP, with endless brook trout waters and Atlantic salmon in Sault Ste Marie along with stellar steelhead fishing.
What is your favorite fish specie?
I am partial to the blue halos and orange flecks on a brook trout, but really, any fish that is rising to a hatch in front of me or my client is the most fun and exciting fish. Bonefish and tarpon have a special spot in my heart, mostly for the travel and warm latitudes they afford me.
What is your favorite thing about guiding?
Everybody will say “seeing the client catch a fish” — sure, there is that magical moment when everything aligns, but really, all the prep and planning — what section of water to float, what flies are going to effective, wind, rain, weather, pouring over maps and discovering new water, simply having a memorable day enjoying the gorgeous rivers we are truly blessed to have around us.
What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
The past year has already filled a small book of stories~ January 1, 34º and we had to cut through numerous downed cedars. My client had a nice smack on his streamer. We pulled back and took lunch, and forty minutes later he had a gorgeous native 24” butter belly brown doing a gator roll next to the boat.
Spring Break, Father & son (disappointed from lack of Florida sunshine in his spring break itinerary): We floated and both caught a couple of fish, but dad landed a hefty 25” brown. Two weeks ago, after a week of steady rain, rivers were well over the banks, all conventional wisdom told many to stay at home. The streamer bite turned on, a couple tweeners to get the day started and at the take out, a decent 12” trout came out to swipe at a streamer when a much larger shadow came out to chase the little guy off. Later that same day, on different stretch of water, another 25” slumbering giant erupted across the river to put a smack down on his streamer … these days … always the best memories.
What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
I had a client do a small spin and trip on the gunnel of the bow — she clipped her calf and went overboard. It was summer, I quickly took off my lanyard and dove in. She was fine, the current took us downstream a bit. We later found her hat a few bends around the way. Always carry a towel and extra dry clothes back at the truck.
What makes your guide service great?
We make it fun. Lunch is an experience. Fresh local baked scones or French pastries with fresh roasted coffee on the river … we try to make it unique. A client shouldn’t travel to Northern Michigan and get an Applebee’s venture. Fresh & local produce from farmer’s market, cheeses, fruit and sandwiches from nearby Boyne Provisions. It is also a great time to talk about the ecosystem and all the networking macroinvertebrates that comprise a healthy trout stream.
If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
Gotta get to New Zealand and chase those daytime gin clear water browns.
What are your favorite three flies?
Swishers Royal PMX #14-16
Mercers Missing Link Caddis #16-18
Schmidt’s Rattlesnake in Olive, Yellow, or black
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
My trusted 5 weight BVK from Temple Fork Outfitters, we have had many nights, so many memories, and so many great fish. She never lets me down.
Do you have any other passions?
I enjoy cooking, contrasting flavors, learning new methods of cooking and presentation. Gardening and watching fresh herbs and flowers grow and bloom.
Disclosure: True North Trout is in a professional relationship with the Fly Fishing Guide Directory and the Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.