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Fish local streams with an expert



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Go fishing with guide Jason Davis, of Oxford, and maybe you can catch a nice steelhead like this. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010 - Bumper sticker wisdom holds that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.

But when you earn a living by fishing, as Jason Davis does, every single day is a good day, regardless of how they're biting.

The 33-year-old Oxford resident is the owner and operator of The Downstream Drift Guide Service that takes fishermen on the Clinton and Huron rivers along with Paint Creek.

"My main goal is to educate the fishermen down here so they understand how to fish these rivers, and have people realize that we have a quality fishery in southeast Michigan," Davis said. "We have this resource here and it doesn't take three hours of driving and $50 worth of gas to get to it."

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Established last year, Davis' guide service focuses on going after steelhead, salmon, trout and smallmouth bass, the latter of which can be found in the Huron River.

He also offers guided fishing trips on the Pere Marquette, Rogue, St. Joseph and the Little Manistee rivers. Steelheads, skamania, trout and salmon are the targeted species. Davis has been working as a fishing guide for the past three years. He started as a head guide for a company out of Rochester, then decided to strike out on his own.

"I noticed there was a little more opportunity down here than (the Rochester company) was advertising for," he said.

Combining his 12 years experience in retail management with his job as a field assistant for the Clinton River Watershed Council and his active membership in Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited, Davis created a business that exposes fishermen to the joys and opportunities of angling close to home as opposed to heading north to places like the Au Sable River.

"I get a lot of guys that haven't fished the rivers down here before or didn't even realize that we had such a good fishery down here," he said. "Our fishery down here, I can't say it's comparable to those up north, but it's a lot better than most people think it is."

"We do get an excellent run of steelhead in the spring (on the Clinton River) and we have excellent trout fishing both on the main branch of the Clinton and the Paint Creek itself," he noted.

As a guide, Davis can offer fishermen a knowledge and experience of local streams they can't get anywhere else.

"I'm on the river (Clinton or Paint Creek) about six days a week," he said. "I have a pretty good knowledge of how the river works, where the fish are holding in the river."

"Going out once or twice, I can help guys with what flies to use, what type of presentation, what type of structure to look for, how the fish hold in the river down here versus how they'll hold in the river up north," Davis explained. "It's obviously different fishing our rivers here than it is up north."

"For people that are new to fishing these two streams, the rivers down here can be a little intimidating," he continued. "They're not like going up north where you've got wide open rivers and it's pretty easy to pick out where the fish are."

Davis' guide service is primarily for fly fishermen, however, he does offer spinning rod trips upon request.

"I don't do many, but there are some guys that are intimidated by fly fishing, so they just want to stick to their spinning rods," he said, noting he did four spinning trips this spring for steelhead on the Clinton River.

Davis has been fishing since he was about age 6 or 7. His mother introduced him to the sport. "It was mom, it wasn't dad," he said. "We lived in Waterford and fished the little local lakes for bluegill and small panfish."

However, it wasn't until he began fishing a little trout stream, while staying at his grandfather's place in Kalkaska, that he found his true passion.

"There's nothing better than being on a cold water stream fishing (for) trout," Davis said. "I got hooked so to speak and have been doing it ever since."

About five years ago, he devoted himself exclusively to fly fishing.

"It's just a little more artistic. It takes a little bit more patience," Davis said. "I was an art major in college, so I'm kind of into the whole artsy thing."

"It slowed my fishing down a little bit made me think a little bit more about what was going on in the water," he continued. "I find it to be a lot more relaxing, a lot more thought-provoking than spinning rod fishing."

Davis indicated the only time he spin fishes for pleasure these days is when he's going after walleye in Port Huron.

He even enjoys the artistic aspect of tying his own flies.

"I've got a couple flies that I tie that nobody else ties," Davis said. "They're effective flies on the rivers down here."

"I tie a different version of a Caddis pattern for fishing Paint Creek. It's been very effective," he continued. "I also tie a couple of different streamers for Paint Creek bait fish imitations that are pretty effective down here."

For steelhead, Davis uses variations he created of the hex nymph and classic pheasant-tail nymph. Both have been very effective on the Clinton River.

Whenever he takes customers out on the stream, Davis supplies them with his own flies.

"All the flies that I have are either flies I've developed myself or are proven to be effective flies on these rivers down here," he said.

Davis has an extensive knowledge of aquatic insects and is "bug certified" by the Clinton River Watershed Council.

Customers can either use their own fishing equipment or rods and reels provided by Davis.

"I can provide everything except the waders," he said.

The Colorado-based Ross Reels is his preferred reel-maker while his rods of choice come from the Clarkston-based Mystic Outdoors.

"They offer some outstanding product as far as fly rods go," Davis said.

For more information about The Downstream Drift, please visit Davis' website www.thedownstreamdrift.com or call (248) 535-6201.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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