Thursday, November 29, 2007

Status Quo

With a desire to fish and time off to burn I decided to venture North for the morning drift. Keeping with the 2007 theme the river was in extremely poor shape which left my options limited.
I arrived on the edge of a cold front that was harbouring 50-70km gusts of Arctic like air. Down in the river valley there was minor reprieve from the gale force winds and infrequent snow squalls. Today was indeed Winter steelheading and I wouldn't of had it any other way. Perseverance and sheer stupidity rewarded me with my quarry.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

being alive...

As a child I often dreaded the onslaught of the cold snow laden wintery months. The barren frigid cold, the solemn isolation and the decreased photo period would pay its toll on my youthful spirit. Funny how we evolve and our lifestyles and personal preferences change. I had one of the best days ever on the water recently. Not due to optimum conditions or number of fish but more so due in part to the entire collective package this day would deliver. The company of a gentlemen as equally irrational as I, the lengthy anticipation to fish home waters, the fresh powder blanket in the forest, the crisp grey winteresque sky, and the sense of complete and utter isolation all culminated into one of those days we often pray for but seldom get to experience. We all have our passions and we pursue them to the fullest but it is those special days when all the elements come together that we truly appreciate being alive.

Friday, November 16, 2007


After a very disappointing trip to the Niagara earlier this week I decided to deviate from my comfort zone and try something completely new. I have recently been keeping my eyes on the Ohio tribs and they were calling me. Recent precip events left the big players unfishable so I opted for a smaller system that had received its largest rain event this season earlier in the week. This river was on a major drop for the first time this season and I anticipated a fresh push of fish. I did my homework and decided on a starting point based on a kind tip from a fellow steelheading fanatic. I arrived at a beautiful access point to find the river all to myself. The sky was dark and full of snow and the wind was moderate and crisp.
The flow appeared to be decent but was off colour with a vis of approx 8-12". Enough to catch fish but not my personal preference. I did manage a few fish but was unable to fill a void I have been feeling this season. I miss my Huron fish :0( On a positive note I can now add OH to my list of steelheading accomplishments. I look forward to my next trip to the Buckeye state for it will most certainly be a Grand affair.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The value of a smile

I fished the cool crystal waters of western MI again this week. As usual we went in anticipating multiple hookups of fresh run steelhead. But we quickly discovered that these rivers still have yet to experience a decent push of fish and surprisingly are still winding down from the salmon runs of 07. Late in the morning something happened to me. I hooked into a large fish at the end of a drift. We were just joking about how we would manage a fish from the wooden platform we were perched on and I hooked up. Over the railing,down the rock laden bank, and into the river I went in pursuit of this fish. I had a pretty good suspicion this was a large Hen Chinook and looked reasonably fresh for this time of year. My imagination quickly began to drift to images of fresh tangerine gold. I did not want to loose this fish and she had an obvious opposing opinion. The manistee river is a large clear system laden with gravel bars and ridges. The river is running so clear right now that it is difficult at times to gauge the depth. This combined with her swift flow can get you into a predicament if you over commit. This fish was heading towards the lake and I was well into the river on the move after her. I started to run out of wadeable depth when my feet started to go out from underneath me. For a brief moment time stood still and I had no foothold. I am so overdue to take a plunge that it is not funny but by some saving grace this day was not my time. By now this fish is well down river and I had no other option than to put the brakes on and put faith in my knots, hook and the 15' Frontier. I managed to get her stopped and slowly started to make ground. I got her steered into some slack off to the side where Gene was waiting to tail her. It was a good thing because my body was spent. I am no good at estimating weight but she was a big girl and my wishes about her stage in the spawning cycle were correct. LOOSE as a GOOSE! Some of you tree huggers might now want to stop reading as it will get horrid for you from here on in. We harvested this fish. Oh the horror!!!!!! We need roe and what better a fish than this to selectively harvest for our piscatorial passion. She was to provide an estimated 3lbs of pure gold that will keep us in business for quite some time.
The entire ordeal left me with a sense of great accomplishment that I have yet to experience on a river this fall season. I will not kid anyone here about the fact that it was fun. Very fun and very exciting. I remember smiling for quite some time and laughing aloud while Gene reminded me over and over again of how much a piece of s#%t I was for hooking this fish from the wheelchair access platform. I think he even said I was drooling heavily at times in anticipation of the roe kill. LOL!!! What a friend ;0) It has been a long time since I had that much fun on a river. Earlier in the morning I hooked and landed a magnificent 26" steelhead that jumped no less than 8 times. I have practically forgotten that battle already but will never forget the Big Manistee Hen Chinook of Fall 2007.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


For my entire life Michigan has been at my doorstep. Literally a hop skip and jump across the BlueWater Bridge. My mother originates from Michigan and I have spent a great deal of my youth there visiting with family members. But for some reason it has only been until recent that I have begun to explore her Steelheading >opportunities.In particular Western Michigan and all her glory. It is no secret that Michiganders are outdoors enthusiasts but once you experience her northwest you can truly begin to understand why. Huge rolling oak forests dotted with towering white pines. Clean deep gravel laden rivers with cedar strewn banks. Thriving deer and turkey populations. Blue Ribbon trout streams and yes...oh yes...huge Steelhead.
Michigan has a long successful history of steelhead management and can boast of steelheading opportunities all 4 seasons of the year.
We had the opportunity to spend 2 days on the west side recently. With Ontario conditions in near drought state we opted for a larger MI system to ensure adequate flow.
Reports from insiders were coming back poor with indications of the season just starting so we were not quite sure what to expect. The fishing wasn't epic but mixed with the experience and surroundings made for another memorable trip. My highlights were a healthy fresh in chromer pushing 30", the impromptu stop at the M37 Meat Shack, and the panoramic view over the PM. I'm already planning the next trip back to the west side. Stay tuned...