N3 ShopLocal Suggestions: The Muskegon River Fly Shop
A safe port in the Blizzard
Story and photos by Charles Chandler
We Michigan winter steelhead fishermen call this week the in-between times. The Siberian Express has us socked in. I am looking at my kitchen window and the backyard wind chimes sounds like the White Cloud Band, the birds are flying aerobatic maneuvers as they try to latch onto the feeders, it is snowing sideways and the temperature and wind chill is insane and dropping.
I have reread my entire collection of Matt Supinski books, watched YouTube steelhead fishing tips and techniques until I am blind, drank a pot of coffee and munched up all Christmas cookies and it is only 9:00 AM.
I know those beautiful chrome bright steelhead are in the Muskegon river and I have that unrelenting need to fish. I also know...
...the boat ramp is iced over, and if I do beyond all reason go anyway, the eyes on my fly rods will be iced up by the third cast, and regardless of the number of hand warmer packets I put in my gloves within thirty minutes my hands will be as stiff and numb as a stick of firewood.
So what to do, what to do?
For me there is only one thing that will monetarily relieve this addiction?. Get dressed, retrieve the credit card from where I hid it the last time, and get in the truck to head on downhill to the Muskegon River Fly Shop located at 8382 Mason Drive, Newaygo, MI 49337.
For those outside our coldwater fishing community a local fly shop is a gift from on high and lets us know that we are truly loved. A fly shop is the hub of the local fishing culture, sort of like an al- in-one meet up place and a people-based Google site. Most retail stores have a tough time from Christmas until around Easter and in a former life I worked in a Bass Pro Outdoor World Destination Store and know how competitive this sporting gear business is. With online shopping and mega stores these local family owned fly shops are precious indeed.
The Muskegon River Fly shop operated by Charlie and Justin Atkinson and Frankie the new Wire Haired Griffon is the quintessential local fly shop. Not some big crazy mega mall store, it is right sized, cozy, and filled with an incredible soup to nuts inventory.
The centerpiece of the shop is the large fly-tying table and once there you can sit and chat with Charlie and Justin about the latest in fly fishing gear or learn a new tying technique with some new secret material.
Note; all fly fishermen believe in magic.
Here we catch up on the latest gossip about who is fishing on the Muskegon or just back from Alaska or heading down to Belize for some warm weather fishing out of Johnson’s Blue Bonefish Lodge. On these crazy weather days, shoppers, fishermen and guides will drift into the Fly Shop like the snowflakes that are swirling outside. When that happens, you can get the good stuff, the latest fishing jokes and the stories about the big ones that got away or some new technique someone is trying or who just bought a new boat or banged theirs up and is next door at Tracy’s Custom River Boats getting some emergency repairs.
At the table all smartphones are loaded with photos of beautiful Muskegon River steelhead and when you’re in a slump and can’t buy a bite you may get a little sympathy or a reliable tip to help you figure out the current steelhead plat du jour.
The Muskegon River Fly shop is currently stocked floor to ceiling and wall to wall and is the place to restock your depleted fly box, or buy that new Center Pin Outfit that you have been wanting for so long. For those that are looking for a Christmas stocking stuffer or that major I-can’t-believe-you-did-this gift for your favorite fisherperson the ever helpful Justin or Charley will explain it all and help you make that perfect, perfect gift selection.
My shopping plan for today is simple; sit and gossip while petting Frankie into a spoiled rotten mess for Charlie to deal with later, then buy two of everything I think I will need for the coming year, leave around noon and suffer buyer’s remorse until I get to downtown Newaygo and have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. Head home after long therapeutic lunch, hide the credit card again and carefully place the new tackle in my fly boxes, then check the weather reports for the 110th time.
For more information call Charlie or Justin at (231) 652-5386 or click on http://muskegonriverflyshop.com/ For your shopping convinces store hours are: Monday – Friday: 9AM to 6PM, Saturday: 8AM to 5PM Sunday: 9AM to 12PM