Monday, December 31, 2007

Sausage, Scotch, and the Years End

It's a weird world we live in filled with irony and mystery. Today was a reminder of just how ironic and mysterious life can be. I opted to close out the 2007 season with Norland. Having experienced first hand how congested the river was the day prior we decided to deviate from our usual approach and take it to another level. We arrived 1 hr and 15mins prelight to an empty access point. About 10 mins into gearing up 3 vehicles pulled in behind us. A cold chill ran down our spines as we feared the worst for our last home river outing. We quickly locked up and made the long dark trek back to the river. Today the approach was simple. Arrive at the holding water and park ourselves for the morning. We arrived to a long deep run to find it unpopulated. It was not long after that the crew from the access point came down the trail. They respected our presence and made their way to the run above us. It was a good thing as there were 6 of them gang fishing. :0( As they made their way across the river another shadowy figure emerged from the forest and slide down the bank towards us. As he came into focus I could see it was a recognizable character..."the Sausage Man". Another chill ran down our my spine as I was uncertain on how this would play out. The Sausage Man has quite a reputation on the river as being downright rude, onary, obnoxious and ignorant. We have yet to experience his performance to the fullest but were not prepared to on the season ender. As it played out he remembered me from our last encounter and had taking a liking to me. I introduced him to Gene and the grounds were set for a civil steelheading experience. We turned a few fish and had some laughs. The conversation turned to Scotch. I informed Sausage that I was not a scotch drinker but Norland was in training. Out came the Scotch and we all shared a snort. I must admit that it sure was smooth and quickly warmed the body. The conversation drifed in and out of topics which included Bob Izumi, The Meaford Midget, landowners, arming of boarder guards, Atlantics, Grand River Resi's and 18 year old Scotch for the next 2 hours as we struggled with the fish we did manage to turn. It was not until late in the morning that I successfully put one on the bank. Another very busy day on the river but nonetheless an enjoyable end to a fantastic season. The 2007 fall season came in like a lamb and ended like a Lion. The fish were nothing short of spectacular. I will miss our little river over the coming months but have many quality memories to get me through. Stay tuned for future State side adventures...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

High Traffic Sunday

Hit the river with Wallace today. Was nice to meet up with David once more this season before it's demise.
I hadn't really planned on fishing today but with a more than favourable report from the day prior and pretty incredible late December weather I felt an itch to get out there while the gettin is good. As per our routine we arrived pre light only to find our access point populated with 2 vehicles. This turned out to be the theme of the morning as the river traffic resembled that of a spring weekend. We managed to find some lonely water up top and worked it hard for a couple hours. Dave managed a couple but I struggled. I was only good for a morning fish so we decided to slip back down to the wintering hole and hope the run had been vacated. On the way I managed to meet up with an older gentlemen that I met last year on the river. George is a very nice fellow in his early 70's still putting quality time in on the river. I truly hope to be as fortunate when I reach those years. We arrived at our destination to see it had indeed been vacated. This is a special place to me and it has provided me with a tonne of memories over the years. Today it was to add a few more ;0) While I fished here I had the pleasure of meeting up with a couple of decent steelheaders that as it turned out share a mutual acquaintance. We actually fished 4 wide in the wintering hole sharing a drift and conversation. I have almost forgotten what it is like to fish with others around. Today was a reminder that with the right crowd exercising angling etiquette it can be an enjoyable experience.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Life is Good

Had the opportunity to fish with Norland this morning. It had been a while since we shared a drift and I was really looking forward to it. With the fair conditions and Dec 31st looming around the corner it was pretty much mandatory that we be there. I had the privilege of fishing the day prior so I wasn't putting to many expectations on this outing. I was more so looking forward to a day in the bush, company of a friend and an occasional steelie appearance. We had a few laughs and managed to persuade a few our way. Life is good indeed!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

As the end draws near...

As the end of the 2007 extended season draws near we experienced a Christmas miracle of sorts.
Well, a miracle if your passion is winter steelheading. A major warm front pushed up from the south and dumped a fair amount of rain. This combined with the warm temps melted the snow base in the watershed and brought the rivers up to this seasons highest levels. I had the joy of fishing my little piece of heaven today on the drop.

It sure felt nice to be on home waters again and fish her in all her emerald glory. The fish were scattered but I managed to find a few. ;0)
It was also nice to break in the new pin.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Toy

I have always been a fan of Islander Reels. As a matter of fact my main runner for my 13' GL3 has been a black IS that I will never part with. I had been sitting on the fence some time deciding when I was going to acquire a silver version when I heard rumour of the green and slate grey limited releases for late in the 07 calender. Having recently liberated myself of a reel from my collection I decided to do some electronic leg work and try to secure a Slate Grey version. I was fortunate to run across a terrific Islander Dealer out of Ohio who secured one for me. I picked it up this morning and must say I was pleasantly surprised at how aesthetically appealing this version is. I have said it numerous times and will continue to do so...The IS is the best all around production centre pin on the market. If I had to rid myself of all my reels the Islanders would be the last to go. I hope to break it in tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas 07

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope to share a drift or two with some good friends over the holidays and document a few more adventures for the 2007 winter season. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Crow...The most foul taste that can touch ones pallet. Today I had to eat a little.
You see I ran up the lake and made the brutal hike back into the bush to fish water I was certain would be unlocked or I could unlock only to face the brutal reality that I had been told two days prior. The river truly is shutdown. I arrived to find the slow wintering runs were locked up with ice and could not be persuaded and to top it all off what was normally a 25 min hike almost doubled with the 14" snow base in the bush.
What kind of passion drives one to ignore reason and logic and endeavour and persevere without hope. I'll tell you...that passion is Steelheading.

There will be no treadmill for me tonight. I've earned my reprieve for the week!
And for Itchy and Scratchy who are living vicariously through me today...You two fatties don't have to do your cardio either ;0) I got it all covered! ;0)

Now what does Norland say? Oh ya..."Where's my Scotch!"

Friday, December 14, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

Decent water levels, promising weather forecast, time off work, and an opportunity to hook up with a fellow Steelheading Machine drove me once again from my warm bed at 5am. On the heels of a rather successful outing it wasn't too difficult to muster up the ambition to hit the cold highway with little more than 4 hrs sleep. I looked forward to this trip as I did the day prior but today was different. Rewind 3 days earlier where I received an email from Dave Wallace asking if I would be so inclined to hook up for a day on a favorite trib. I would have been solo otherwise so I welcomed the idea and we made plans to meet Friday morning at the access point for first light. Fast forward back to Friday morning where having fished the day prior with much success I felt pretty confident that I could put Dave on top of a fair amount of stellar fish. All of the factors were aligned and it seemed like a straight forward venture. We met at the agreed time and made our 25min hike back to the Wintering pool where we would start. I had fair success come first light the day prior so I figured we would start there. There is a reason why it is referred to as Fishing and not catching. I have said this numerous times but I will say it again, Once you think you have it all figured out it changes ;0) We worked the best pool on the river diligently without so much as a sniff aside from a small shaker that was long distance released. We talked our options over and committed to the hike up to the top end. If it had been untouched I was confident that we would have much success. Once again we were faced with a rough go. By this time the weather made a turn and the cold front had moved in. The wind was increasing and couldn't decide it's preferred direction. The temp dropped well into the negatives. To top it off I hooked a nice fish only to blow it shortly after. Have I ever said how much I love blowing the first two fish of a morning. :-/
Well desperate times call for desperate measures so out came the fly box and caution was thrown to the wind.
As fate would have it a rather long and handsome chromer couldn't resist a bead head Olive Wooly bugger and I was on the board. Many a time the old fly box has gotten me out of a funk. I don't try to figure it out I just go with the flow. Besides it drives Norland crazy when things like that happen. Dave was soon to admit it drove him over the edge as well. :0) YES!!! Two homo's with one stone.
Shortly after Dave hooked up only to suffer my similar misfortunes.
Well, we're back to that whole fishing vs catching thing again. By now we had taken it on the chin big time this morning and decided to drop back down to our starting point and finish the day off but not before fishing a swift run below the river crossing. This run has changed substantially this year and affords a clean deep swift drift along a large 1/2 sunken tree. A few drifts in and I hooked up on a 29" Monster of a Buck in pristine condition. This fish couldn't have come along at a better time. My day was complete right then and there and I had to take a few moments to absorb it all in. Dave soon hooked up with a nice hen and put himself on the board. I was happy because the funk was now shaken and our day would only get better from there on in.
We made our way back to the wintering pool where my suspicions were to be realized. The pool was now on. We managed a fair amount of fish and salvaged the day. Considering the front that pushed through and the lack lustre start we sure tied it all together for a memorable winter steelheading experience. One predominate theme that played out today was how fiesty these fish were for December. A couple of days of above zero temps sure recharged their batteries. My thanks to Mr Wallace for his company, conversation, and sharing a drift. I look forward to the next time..

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Sausage Man...

At five A.M. the alarm beckoned. Time to shower and hit the road for some much needed solitude and reflection. As of late my work weeks have been short by measure of days but long by measure of burden. It had been an interesting week to say the least and I was looking forward to a day on the trib by myself. I watched the conditions fall into play nicely and on the heels of a decent report from Gene I was really looking forward to catching a few fish. As per the usual game plan I arrived pre-light and geared up for the hike. I arrived early enough to have a few minutes to relax, have a leak, and admire a big doe I kicked up across the river. I suspect she was bedded down there for the night and I was her wake up call. Temperature wise is was leaning towards the negative but nothing to be overly concerned about. The deep wintering hole I chose to start at looked very nice and I marvelled at it's overall condition for a few moments. This poor river has hardly been in shape the entire season and it really felt good to see her come together again. There was even a trace of a mild stain to her. The bite has swung over from roe to artificials the last few outings with the onslaught of negative temps so I jumped right into the pinkies. The fish were more than willing to take my offerings but the bite was ever so light. Numerous times I set up only to have a 4.5g loafer in my face. I had much success in the wintering hole but I thought I should move on to the top end and enjoy this run with the ideal conditions. Half way to my destination I realized I was once again not alone. The ATV tracks sent chills down my spine. The "F'in Sausage man" I thought to myself.I arrived to validate my concern. The top end had been fished hard for the past couple of hours. Not one to give up I slid up to a large bend above the two gentlemen and waited for them to finish up. When I heard the ATV head up river past me I slid back down. One of the gentlemen stayed there but was more than willing to share the run with me. We managed a few fish and parted ways. A few hours had passed since I left the wintering hole so I decided to slide back down and give it a decent go now that it was mid day and the temps had increased 1 or 2 deg. I arrived back and had the hole to myself once again. I set up on a spectacular buck which gave me an unexpected workout and some beautiful pics. Then I heard the footsteps followed by a distant ATV. The gentlemen from the top end came down and slid into the run with me. I was determined to not let this ruin my day so I made the best of it and offered to share the drift with them. My good deed rewarded me exponentially as the bite swung back to roe.
My day went from a high to horror to finish up with one of the best days I have had on our little river. These fish never cease to amaze me with their raw beauty, power and grace. I even amazed myself and made a new friend. The Sausage man ;0)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Winter Solace

With a reprieve from the frigid temps of earlier in the week I found myself contemplating a Sunday morning adventure. The river level was trending low and there was a certainty of crystal clear conditions. For nothing more than a quiet walk through the snow filled bush I decided to embark on the drive north. I made my mind up that this would be a morning session which dictated my approach. The hike in was peaceful and I could clearly see there had been no traffic since our last visit as a recent dusting of snow had covered our tracks. I arrived at my destination to confirm my hopes that I was indeed alone. The temps were mild, the wind was non existent, and the forest was silent. True winter solace on a December Sunday morning. You cannot put a price on fishing a decent piece of water all to ones self.
Today success was measured by peace, tranquility, and solitude.
On the way out I had an epiphany.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Man! That was Cold

Just when you think you have your game refined there is always a little reminder that mother nature has the upper hand. Today we arrived to find a slushed out flow. All the elements were perfect except for the surface layer of slush. We toughed it out far longer than we should have before packing it in and hiking out of the valley. Persistence and sheer dumb luck granted me one opportunity. To say these fish are lethargic is an understatement. Today even the camera slowed down. Hopefully we will get the temp increases as predicted and get another kick at the cat before the season ends.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"with much hope and anticipation"

Instead of fishing this fine December Sunday afternoon I sit here with much hope and anticipation that the largest storm system to hit South Western Ontario this fall will actually deliver a fraction of the promised precipitation. The conditions this fall have been poor to say the least and the desire to pursue my passion increases exponentially as the season dwindles away. Travelling in pursuit of chrome has a novel appeal but quantity prevails over quality when one is not fishing Huron or Michigan Tribs. I have had but a mere sampling of my home waters this season and truly hope this system brings a few days reminiscent of last years experience.
In keeping with the "timing" theme this season the second Shotgun Deer Hunt will be underway next week. Norland is somewhat concerned. I probably should be as well but my passion will put me on that river.