Thursday, March 26, 2009

Silver Immigrants

Retro footage put out by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the early 70's. This is true "back in the day" footage. With the recent collapse of the Salmon fishery in Lake Huron and talk of it's ultimate demise in the Great Lakes this video couldn't have surfaced at more suitable time. Have we run full circle?

Silver Immigrants from Seeking Michigan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Steelhead Paradise

Dare to dream...The Damdochax River in Northern BC. This water is stunning. Check out this very sweet video I stumbled across. Sure to get your blood pumping.

Steelhead Paradise from B.H2O on Vimeo.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I am Canadian...

With the ever so constant reminder of the declining state of the world economy and the realization that everything we thought to be sound, secure, and solid has been proven otherwise, one realization has stuck with me throughout the ordeal. I am Canadian and I am damn proud of it. Don't get me wrong...I am not your flag waving, chest pumped, anthem singing patriot but more so your run of the mill average Canadian dude. This country if filled with "Average Canadians" like myself that when forced to look deep inside are ever so proud of our nationality and identity.
The world's view of that identity can portray us as people of little intellect and sophistication but I'm pretty sure that view has changed in recent times. Our banking system is rock solid and our nature of living within our means is very honourable. Perhaps we are laid back and tend to take a "wait and see" approach as a nation but there is something to be said about living relatively stress free existences in the grand scheme of things. We just want to pay our bills, feed our families, have beers in the fridge, fish in our rivers, gas in our trucks and the odd week day off for that quality time on the tribs Eh!

Friday, March 20, 2009


These fish are truly magnificent. They conjure up memories of my youth chasing specs at a family friends cottage. I never tire of their beauty and ability to instantly disappear into their environment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crooked River

The Big Man...the Ojibwa knew her as the Manistiqweita or "Crooked River". In her prime she was full of Grayling. Catches in the 1000's were reported in the late 1800's and like many of the Lake Michigan tribs the Grayling were to meet their demise when extensive logging operations across the state ruined prime river habitat.

With the collapse of the logging industry and the formation of the Manistee National Forest in 1938 the river has rebounded wonderfully. Couple that with man's foresight and divine stocking intervention and the Manistee has become a world renowned fishery once again. The Grayling of past are long gone but today the Manistee abounds with resident rainbows and browns, huge fall runs of Chinook and Coho Salmon, and most importantly a 4 season fishery for Oncorhynchus mykiss.

Today I had the pleasure to visit this great river once again. March has proven a tough time to approach this river in my limited experience but has always proven well worth the effort. Today was to be no different. Arriving on the heels of a early spring thaw the river was marginally stained and flowing strong. Big water is always best approached with big gear and the big sticks were the order of the day.
The fishing was tough, the scenery stellar and the experience once again unforgettable.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Pere Marquette - Bowman

The spring season couldn't come soon enough for me this year. I cannot recall ever having had such a difficult time with winter. With the incredibly early lockup and the recent Arctic blast it just seemed like it was never going to end. I had been eagerly awaiting a break in the cold for a much needed road trip to get my head in order and perhaps find some chrome. I had been longing to fish the Big Manistee but a recent rise and projected warming trend had me opt for plan B. For the past month I had been getting reports that the Pere Marquette has been fishing exceptionally well. Watching the weather and water graphs closely I noticed that the little river was holding her own and in excellent shape. A guide friend of mine fished from Rainbow Rapids down to Upper Branch bridge on Monday and did exceptionally well. He informed me that the Sulak access road was impassable due to hold over snow so I would have to seek an alternative access point to the river. Typically this river is fished from a Hyde drift boat. There is a great deal of private land and you can cover alot of water while fishing the best of the best runs and holes. Not having a Drift Boat I have always fished the public access spots on State Land and walked the river. Today was going to be no different but my usual haunt was out. I had decided it was time to find some new water and decided that I'd drive down river to Walhalla and put in some leg work. Arriving in Baldwin later than anticipated I made my way down the side roads towards my destination. The PM is open year round from M37 to the Lake but the section between M37 and Bowman Bridge is deemed "Holy Water" catch and release flies only. As I approached the Bowman bridge I decided to pull into the State maintained access facility to have a look. To my surprise there was nobody there. It was about 8am and I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised as we have come to realize that first light is of no significance to MI fishermen. The lure of the desolate manicured asphalt parking lot was too much to resist and I put the van in park and began to get the gear in order. This section of river is a heavily timbered low lying area. Very different from the high banked, hilly Sulak section. As a result the river is literally full of wood. The river was flowing clean and well within her banks. The forest floor was covered with ice from a previous high water event. Hiking today was not going to be of concern. I had only fished this section once prior for about an hour on a bright spring afternoon and managed a few resident browns.

One thing that stuck with me from that outing was the deep black timber laden bends and I set out to find some. I didn't take long to find a suitable spot to start the morning. It also didn't take long to find some wood. I re-tied and cast back into the run only to snag up on another piece of wood.
This was to replay over and over throughout the day and without a word of a lie I re-tied no less than 25 times in 6 hrs. The second spot I stopped I managed to hook a nice resident brown. The Pere Marquette Resident Browns are very beautiful fish. The first Brown Trout to be stocked in the US were stocked on the PM in 1884. That initial stocking lead to the self sustaining Brown Trout fishery of today.
After releasing this fish unharmed I carried on down river where I managed another brown but struggled to locate that big chromer I was longing for. The PM winds back and forth like no other river I have fished and the deep prime water always seemed to be at my feet or best fished from the opposite side. After hiking what felt like a few miles down river I decided to fish one more bend and then attempt a river crossing to fish the prime water on the way back. The last bend proved unfruitful and I made the turn to double back. I got a different look at a small deep slot surrounded by wood and decided it warranted one cast. Not three feet into the drift and the float drops. My instinct take over and I set up fully expecting yet another re-tying opportunity but this snag exploded from the water and was chrome.
Fully expecting to lose this fish in the plethora of lumber that lined half of the river I took my time and hoped for the best. Much to my surprise after a worthy battle I managed to swing a nice 6 lb chrome PM hen to the bank. Just what I needed to cure my head and shake the re-tying funk that had set in. After a few photos she made her escape into the darkness. By now I was getting very eager to cross the river and fish the prime deep water bends that I had passed on the way down. I located a suitable river crossing and made my way to the other side. By now I have spent about two hours on the river and have not seen a single soul. There can never be enough said about solitude on the river.
The first spot I stopped on the way back I hooked and landed another brown. I slowly made my way up river fishing the prime locals when I came to a very deep section.The top of it had a log across the entire river with water spilling over the top providing interesting seams. I drifted this section about 4 times when I decided to lengthen the lead as it looked very dark and deep. First drift through and I hooked a hot steelie. I only managed to get a quick glimpse of it and it looked to be about 4-5 lbs of chrome. After a about a 45sec battle my knot gave on my swivel and she was gone. For as much re-tying as I had done this morning I would have thought that I had it figured out. It stung a little but I had a good feeling I'd find some redemption in the mile or so of river I had left to fish. Rounding another bend I found a fast deep slot on the inner bank. I positioned myself back from the bank and pitched the float to the top of the slot. The float dipped and I set up on a big fish. All I could see was this huge tail sticking out of the bronze water as she spun and spun herself up in the line to the point where she was immobilized. Having just lost a nice fish I was not about to take any chances and I let the current unwind her so the battle could ensue. With lady luck once again on my side I managed to bring her to a sand bar near the bank where I dropped in and tailed her. She was a magnificient fish. Dime bright and pushing 9 lbs. After a few choice pics she was returned to the run unharmed.
The day carried on with numerous snags and the odd resi brown.
The last spot of the day I managed my best brownie both in looks and size and it was a nice way to close out the outing.

The PM is a special river. Just walking her bank you know there are trout in those wooden abysses. Bowman offers a unique fishing experience totally different than the water you will find down at Sulak. Sulak affords high rolling terrain with huge hemlocks and cedars where Bowman is low lands with Ash, Maple and scrub. I can only imagine what the "Holy Water" is like and hope to fish it some day soon. Once one fishes this river they can clearly understand why it is a world class destination and why the steelhead and trout fishery is so healthy. I can't wait to do a float down in a drift boat. I will definitely put that on the list. Who knows...maybe even in 2009. And to think its only 3.5 hrs from my front door.