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.