Welcome to the PM River Lodge – Baldwin Michigan. I knew I liked Frank Willetts the moment I layed eyes on him… standing well over 6 feet tall, rake thin and a pony-tail which rivals that of Willy Nelson, he extended his hand saying hello on that beautiful September day. The lodge was rocking! People were everywhere putting on waders, lacing up boots, buying flies and generally talking fishing. The shop was alive. Frank instructed us to “Get some rest boys, tomorrow is a big day” – we all obliged.
4am (the next day) we piled into Frank’s FJ, custom made drift boat in tow and headed on the long and winding road to our put-in. After 26 seconds of driving, we were there, backing the boat into the Pere Marquette River. I was instructed to hold the boat in place in the river and without a word of a lie, you could feel the salmon swimming between your feet. It was pitch black and we were in for an epic adventure.
The Pere Marequette river is a very unique drift. Designed with the angler in mind, there are put ins strategically stationed by approximate time it takes to drift the river. you can do a 4 hour drift, 6 hour 8 or 12 hour drift depending on your time, and the amount of pressure on the river. When we were there, there was hardly a soul fishing (the norm according to Frank) and let me tell you the river is alive! Chinook salmon are everywhere while brown trout skillfully dart up the backside of the red stealing an egg or two.
We fished the day away, landing Chinook after Chinook with the addition of a feisty brown trout here and there. Frank shared stories, adventures, tales of his kids, and his journey to where he is today, from white collar executive in the automotive industry to trout bum and lodge owner in Baldwin Michigan. It truly is a fascinating story, one of determination and hard work. It is our first show of this season’s Guided series.
We returned to the PM River Lodge later that fall to sample some of the world class Steelhead fishing. It was incredible! 2 days drifting the PM and I hooked and landed my biggest steelhead each day 12 and 13 lbs respectivley… what a fishery!
Check it out April 19th at 12 noon et. on WFN.
You can book Frank or other great guides at the PM River lodge at: www.pmlodge.com