Wednesday, January 06, 2010
#7 Stars and Double Stripes
I have lived on the border to Michigan almost my entire life and it wasn’t until the past 3 years that I actually took advantage of the Steelheading opportunities available on the West Side. It all came about as an alternative to another trip I had considered to Elk Creek PA. We had just returned from the Penn State Steelhead Factory and an acquaintance from work asked if I’d be interested in returning for another round of that madness. In talking to those in the know and doing a little web detective work it was questionable as to whether or not the 7 hr trip would be worth the efforts being later in the season for that side of Erie. I started to weigh my options and a little research had me in contact with Hesperia Sport Shop in Hesperia, MI. I had called them for an update on a little river I was intrigued about for some time. That river being the White. From what I had gathered the White was a very easily waded river and had a decent wild reproducing population of Steel. This was right down my alley. With favorable reports from the Sport Shop and the fact that they also hosted accommodation for travelling outdoorsmen I found myself on my first Michigan road trip in search of Steel.
I was pretty much going in blind. My only plan of attack was to check in to the hotel upon arrival, get a non-resident license, and directions to the rivers access points all in one stop. Upon arrival to the first access point I fell in love with the river immediately. The White is a very intimate river. She runs strong, cold, and clean with a tremendous amount of gravel and deep dark runs. There is an abundance of shore foliage so one can find themselves in pretty tight quarters at times. I learned that really quickly having brought the 15’r. The first run we started at produced a large fish within 5 or so drifts. This fish dropped down in a fast water section never to be seen again. 0 for 1…but it was a very encouraging start. We ventured up river around the corner to a large deep and dark bend full of lumber. It was hard to tell just how deep this pool was but judging by the blackness I knew it would hold fish. We fished it hard for about an 1/2 hour when my companion decided to push further up river in search of fish. I held my ground and knew there had to be at least one fish in there for me. About 10 mins after he left the little orange speck jetted down into the blackness and I set up on what was to be my first Michigan Steelhead. Little did I know just how stunning this fish would turn out to be. There I was in extremely tight quarters with a rod way too long for the encroaching forest and a Hot MI Steelie having his way with me. I was extremely eager to land this fish and really only had one small window of opportunity before being forced down river and becoming tuned in the fast water again. I took my time, said a little prayer, and hoped for the best. When I managed to swing this beast into the little sandy cove amongst the scrub brush I couldn’t contain myself. This fish was awesome. A completely unique fish far from what I had been used to on the home waters. The colors were insanely beautiful. It was my first Michigan fish and a stellar double striper to boot. I had seen these fish on the guides web sites before but to actually be fortunate enough to encounter one first hand was a crazy. The feeling was indescribable and the fish was one I’ll never forget.
On a side note: The White River is a special place. Norland and Harv can attest to that. It is a river that leaves one longing to return. If it's not on your list...It damn well should be. Just leave the big sticks at home.