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!