Monday, November 24, 2008


I don't be the judge!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Early Winter in the Shire

As luck would have it I managed to weasel my way into another day on the water before returning to work. The weatherman was forecasting a reprieve from the onslaught of old man winter and I thought I better take advantage of the opportunity. Norland was sitting this one out so I was flying solo. From Wednesday past until late Saturday night the Eastern shore of Huron was being pounded by Lake Effect squalls that resulted in Highway closures and copious amount of the white stuff. Just how much snow I was about to discover. The ride up was fairly uneventful for the most part until the road turned into a bumpy mess of pot holes and ice. The snow banks lining the road grew from 6" mounds to 5' berms in some parts. Snow on roof tops was 2' high and cars were literally buried under drifts. It looked as if an entire winters snow had fallen all overnight. And as if it would never end it suddenly did and the snowfall dwindled until it resembled something more reasonable and manageable. Not quite knowing what to expect at my access point I was a little nervous approaching my turnoff. I was pleasantly surprised that it had recently been plowed and sanded and parking wouldn't be an issue. The morning was slightly overcast and fairly mild. It had the makings for a stellar day. After gearing up I started to make my way back towards the bush. As I stepped off the road I instantly new I was in for a long arduous workout. There was 12" of snowfall since my last visit and a new trail needed to be carved. Anticipating a great day lay ahead I sucked it up and set out for the river. The forest was filled with a calming silence. The Cedars were gently bowed from heavy snow loads. Off in the distance I watch two does bounce across a white ridge in full stealth mode. If for nothing more that being in the forest in winter this day had already proven a huge success.
Arriving to the banks of the river I was not surprised by the high flow or clear conditions. Our little river has decided to puff her chest this season and has run on the high side for the past month. I have grown fond of the big water and the challenges and opportunities it has brought. In desperate need of a rest I decided to start my morning at the wintering hole in hopes that some fish would have started to settle in. I was banking on this spot and "the new run" to end my extreme winter hiking adventure until I was done for the day. After blowing a couple fish early in and only landing a very small shaker the hiking boots were back on and I was carving yet more trail on my way to the top end. I guess it was going to be one of those "no pain no gain" mornings. It is a comforting feeling knowing you are the only one back in the bush and it affords you a lessened sense of urgency to get to your destination. This in turn allows you to soak in the stark beauty of winter in the Shire.
The top end proved to once again be my saving grace as I was fortunate to turn a few stellar specimens. I knew the hike out was going to be tough and timely so I decided to cut my stay early and double back to the wintering hole where I hoped to turn one more fish and get a rest before hiking out. I managed to get my rest but the fish were not cooperative. The fish have yet to set up in their traditional winter lies and I think a good part of this is due in part to the big water scenario and the unfrozen ground. Also temps have been moderately cool with positive predictions on the horizon which should keep them somewhat active. The big water will be around for a while yet as a regulated supply of snow melt runoff continues to enter the system. We should have an interesting week ahead of us. It would be nice to get rid of this snow and if the forecast stays true to their projections we just may. Winter fishing has a special place in my heart but I share Norlands sentiments in regards to the fact that we got cheated out of some prime November steelheading days. I just hope we don't have an early lockup. I'm not ready for the Ohio road trips just yet!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

15 love

O.K. Mother Nature and I are all tied up. We managed to sneak a good one past her yesterday and that must have really pissed her off because this morning she flexed her muscles and managed to cut me off at the pass. They shut down the hiway. Actually, they shutdown alot of hiways. I don't get it. It's only 4-5 feet of snow! Oh well there is a small flicker of hope for the weekend...

I was going through some of yesterdays video. Thought I'd share my pain with the rest of the world. ;0) Enjoy

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Welcome to Ontario

Finally...For what seemed like an eternity the river had come into shape. was on the edge but that was good enough for us! Norland and I jetted up the lake early morning to arrive prelight. Why so early? I don't know as the recent foot of snow and looming threat of squalls was certain to keep "the element" at home in the warmth of their double-wides. Nonetheless that's are MO and why go against tradition. The morning had that cold damp feel to her and it made leaving the warmth of the car rather difficult. With the ever looming lake effect threat we were not sure what we were getting ourselves into but's much snow could we possibly get? We decided to bite the bullet and make the epic trek to the top and work our way back. The forest offers a special kind of calm when under a blanket of fresh snow and it's hard to describe the feeling one gets laying the first set of tracks down the trail. Arriving on the bank we could see we were in for a big water day. The river was on the edge and would prove to be a challenge for both fishing and traversing. It didn't matter. We weren't at work. We were in the Shire, with fishable water, a winter backdrop, and a river full of steelhead. All we had to do was find them. Not a bad life EH? The day would take us on a journey through raging river crossings, blinding snow squalls, and the occasional blue sky. The fish were scattered as expected but we did managed to find a mixture of fresh fish and wintered fish. Some of the fish had actually taken on a faded or washed look having spent the last week in the chocolate mess the river had succumbed to. As the day progressed the conditions deteriorated with the new precip and moderate snow melt. That was fine with us. We had exceeded our expectations and also had gotten word of a nasty squall coming off the lake imposing whiteout conditions on the highway. The hike out almost killed us and gearing down was terrible. When did we get so old?
Along the way home we discovered a new stop in the form of a Scottish Bakery. Let me tell ya...after a winter day on the water a hot Double Double and some Edinburgh Scones are to die for! Oh ya...we almost did when we drove into that squall. 15 mins of white-out conditions. Welcome to Ontario.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lake Effect

Welcome to Ontario...from one extreme to another...Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. What the crap happened? One minute we are getting pounded by rain putting our rivers at flood stage only to wake up the next morning to a foot of snow! For the past 48hrs a narrow band of Lake Effect snow has been reeking havoc on the eastern Shore of Lake Huron and southern shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Luckily I only had to contend with a foot of snow. Some poor NY'ers had to contend with 2 feet overnight.
Should make the next couple of day's steelheading with Norland interesting. I love fishing in fresh powder.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away...

Rain can be both a blessing and a curse to an avid Steelheader. We are a funny lot and are seldom 100% satisfied with the conditions we get dealt. Often we pray for rain and when we get to much we curse it to hell. Right now the waters I fish are raging high and muddy. As I sit here in the warmth of my home the river is carving out larger bends and trees are falling victim to it's wrath. When we do return to our little river I expect to see many changes. Some for the better and some for the worse. Nature will run it course and this cycle will repeat itself time and time again. I can only image the challenge the fish must endure to survive such extreme situations.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Seriously...I cannot pass this stuff without admiring the noble effort. As humans I wish we had half the spirt and determination that these magnificent creatures possess.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fish P@rn

What...Not quite what you expected?

Note to self...Make sure to have a firm grasp of Steelie when that POS Norland has the camera.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"into the grass emerald green water"

I fished with Norland today.
Wow...what a stellar day. Cold crisp air, a gloomy fall sky, and into the grass emerald green water... Seriously, what more could we have asked for?

With the recent abundance of water fishing has proven a little more challenging this fall season. Fish are scattered throughout the system. With new water comes new fish but these pushes don't seem to be prolific. However, the fish we are managing have been stunning and a compliment to our little river. One theory as to the lack of fish is that they have taken advantage of the unseasonably warmer water temps and abundance of flow and pushed hard up to the headwaters. I for one can only hope this is indeed the case. It certainly would be nice to know that we are in for a great spawning year. However hard I try I still cannot shake the image of our little river. When she comes into her own she truly is beautiful.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fishing outside the box

I fished with Norland today. I haven't had the opportunity to fish with him for a few weeks so I was really looking forward to it. The river was poised to be in good shape and when we arrived this morning she was nothing shy of magnificent. The flow was slightly into the grass and she was glowing that mystical emerald green. Now all we needed to do was confirm a decent push of fish had come up from the lake. Already being privileged to info from the prior days events I was not expecting this to be the case.
As we made our way to the top end we could hear the shotguns in the distance. Fishing this area during Deer season is a little nerve racking to say the least so we took precautions. We must have looked like a couple of lost parking lot attendants parading through the forest in our hi-vis orange vests but if it meant keeping a 1/2" x 1" chuck of lead out of our bodies so be it.
Our little river has reinvented herself this year. The fish are not holding in the typical haunts and it has made for fun and interesting outings. It's nice to be forced to "fish outside of the box". This morning we did just that.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Taking it on the chin...

Well I took it on the chin today. Well not totally but it sure felt as though I missed the bus and was late for the show. You know that feeling you get when you just retie your rig after casting in a tree only to snag bottom and break off your very next drift. Well that kinda summed up my day. Let me rewind...With a favourable report coming from my home waters the day prior I convinced myself that I should make the drive up the lake and get a nice relaxing Sunday morning drift in. I had not put any huge expectations on the outing...Just wanted a few nice fish and some decent fall weather and scenery. The exact recipe to get my head in order to return to work Monday. As per my usual MO I arrive very early and make the 25 min hike back in the dark of the night. I arrive at my starting point and have the river to myself. I wait for decent light and start fishing the big wintering hole. With the water somewhat subsided from the blow out and running on the clear side I figured there would be a few fish held up in this local. After beating it to death to no avail I decided there was a lot of decent water to cover so I slide up to my next choice. The water looked grand with an ever so faint tinge of green. Convinced this would be my saving grace I relentlessly drift every square inch of the run but once again to no avail. Now I start to get that uncomfortable feeling. You know the one where you just know that no matter what you do it's gonna be one of those days. After shaking it off I decide it's time to put the leg work in and find those fish. Before I could get out of the run I began hearing the gun shots in the distance. Norland had told me that the early shotgun deer hunt started on Monday but after hearing multiples of 3 and 4 shots per session I was pretty much convinced it was on today. These shots were well off in the distance so I proceeded on my way with a goal in mind. I reached the river crossing run to discover a couple of fellow drifters beat me to the punch. No worries there is lots of river for all of us so I proceeded to the top end. By now the gun shots were getting louder and in the general direction of my travel. Convinced they were still a ways off I decided to trek on up and try my hand at the Sausage Run as we refer to it. Arriving there I could see that nobody had fished it this morning so hopes of redemption ran high. About 6 drifts in and not so much as a snag my spirits began to wither. The 7th drift the tiny drennan breaks the surface and disappears. I set up hard immediately followed by a chrome missile launch from the run and a hook and float at my feet. First fish of the morning and I blew it I thought to myself. It was a small 2lb fish but nonetheless a very fine specimen and much better than anything else I had on my line that morning. I shake it off and move 1/2 way down the run. Another 8 or 9 drifts and my float dips below the surface again. This time I set up and the fish runs straight at me. Determined not to blow what could very well be my redemption I scramble to keep the line tight and start to walk backwards. As I regain control I see that it is yet another small chromer. With lady luck on my side I managed to bring her to a shallow gravel area for a quick pic and brief admiration before releasing her back into the run. By now I'm beginning to think that this morning just may be salvageable and the gun shots ring out again however marginally closer. I slide down to the bottom end of the run where it empties into a somewhat smaller swifter run. First drift through and my float dips. I set up to yet another miniature chrome missile that spits the hook followed by more gunshots. Starting to get an uneasy feeling about running into Jed and Jethro with guns I decide to return down river and fish along the way. At my first stop my cel phone rings and my wife informs me that work has been frantically trying to get a hold of me and that both sites have been calling for assistance. Figuring I'm over a hour and a half away from work there isn't much I can do. I tell her that there really is nothing I can do for them and they will have to wait until I return or get someone else. Ten minutes later and the phone rings again. Work wants me to call them. So here is my predicament. I'm on my day off in my happy place waist deep in the river and work wants me to call them long distance on my cel. I have to chuckle to myself as it kind of fits right in with the theme of the day so far. My day can't possibly get any worse so I give them a call. As it turned out they were looking for some reassurance on a fairly large asset they were troubleshooting. I told them what they needed to know and we parted ways. Another 10 mins pass and the phone rings again. Oh again wanting me to call them when I get home to see if I can come in. By now it's about 12:30. I have only managed to land a baby chromer. I got chased out of the shire by gun shots and it's not looking like I'm gonna manage a decent fish so I decide to cut my losses and make the hike out of the bush. On my way out I see an odd fellow walking the bush with a hunters orange hat and blue coveralls on in the direction that I need to go. Oh great I think to myself. These guys are now driving the bush that I have to walk through to get back to my car. Now I have that feeling back in my stomach that just won't go away today. I cautiously make my way up the steep hill constantly checking all directions. I managed to get to the summit and see no hunters. Cautiously I high tailed it out of there without incident. I went looking for solice and comfort this morning and found stress, angst, frustration, and work LOL!!!!!!! Well at least the weather and scenery were beautiful.