Saturday, November 13, 2010
The adventure is waiting to unfold
The pounding sound emulating from behind me was rapidly fueling my imagination. The repetitive beat began to echo across the valley and I turned to see what it was. As I turned and began to focus my vision in the direction of the commotion I caught what appeared to be playing card chucks of bark falling from half way up an already long dead oak. The tree appeared to have been stripped of its bark almost in its entirety. Intrigued by the on goings I continued to concentrate on the now pounding rhythm and falling bark as I ventured towards the tree. Then as if a switch was thrown the culprit appeared from around the tree. Unbothered by my presence the giant Piliated Woodpecker continued his laborious task of stripping bark in search of his next meal. The moment in its entirety was quite spectacular as it was the closest I have had the opportunity of viewing one of these large woodpeckers. As I reached for the camera I made a feeble attempt at capturing the image but with the low light and lack of zoom I was unsuccessful and put it back into my jacket. Almost ready to turn my attention back to another few drifts before hiking out my eyes were drawn to the sky just above the trees on the top of the cliff. There they were…a pair of bald eagles cruising the river valley. This time I made no attempt for the camera but decided to enjoy the moment.
With the light beginning to fade I hiked towards the access point and made the long climb out of the river valley. On my way back to the cabin I began to reminisce the days events.
With a limited amount of river time this trip I decided to hit some familiar water below the dam that morning. I have had good luck turning a fish or two there every trip and thought that would be a good starting point. Much to my disappointment the traffic was heavy and the flow was low. I dropped in to a few favored runs but decided to make the morning session short lived and not force the issue. I was after quality time and a nice fish would only serve as a bonus. I find my passion is as equally fueled these days by fishing prime water conditions and beautiful country as much as it is by banking multiple fish.
Back at the cabin I rested my tired body on the couch with a cold beer, a nice lunch and some WFN on the plasma while I contemplated the afternoon game plan. I toyed with the idea of dropping the tin can in at the launch and making a solo effort at the lower river but decided to error on the side of caution and decided on plan B. Plan B was another access point down lower on the river that I had visited before. The water as I had remembered it was beautiful and warranted another visit. With no greater expectations than a nice walk along the river I packed up the gear and set off to the access spot. From the high bank lookout I could see the deep run that lay before me. The river was running Gin clear and I could see the structure throughout its entirety. Soon I found myself making the hike down to the valley floor. Once again getting the lay of the land I could see a large tree in the middle running parallel with the river banks. It was a decent cast but I managed to drop my offering on the backside of the tree in hopes that a large chromer would be finding cover and shelter there. The float meandered along it's length as I focused on the small orange speck as if I were mentally willing its disappearance under the surface.
The loafer cleared the end of the tree and made it's way another 15ft and disappeared. By now I had already dismissed this drift and was getting ready to retrieve my offering. Surprised I set up to a small brief encounter with a fish. Frantically I retrieved the float and investigated my offering while wondering if the fish was now stung and educated. I could hear discussions coming from up river and I turned to witness a couple of gentlemen motoring down in their Hyde drift boat. Not wanting to risk the boat spooking what I now knew was a fish I made my second cast to the backside of the tree. Now even more focused than before I watched the Drennan in eager anticipation of it's disappearance. Once again I cleared the tree and the float dipped. This time I set up to nothing. With the drift boat approaching I frantically retrieved my line, put a fresh bag on, and made a final cast to the backside of the tree. Like two times prior the float cleared the tree. Now the voices in the boat were clear and the conversation was understandable. For the third time in as many cast the float made it's way 15 ft past the tree and dipped as if it were scripted to. With authority I set up and much to my surprise the rod loaded up nicely and the ever so familiar thumping confirmed success.
The fish ran up river and offered little resistance. I was beginning to questions its size. Looking up I could see the two gentlemen in the Hyde give me the thumbs up as they courteously made their way through the shallows on the far side of the river. Soon the fish began realize it was hooked and exploded from the smooth surface of the Big Manistee. I could feel my pulse increase and my body warm as I realized it was indeed a big silver chromer and my decision to explored this piece of water was rewarded. The fish in this river are quite a handful and I was pleased to have the room and time I needed to land this magnificent November buck.
Chasing these fish never gets old the validation one gets from finding them is very rewarding. A calm relaxing feeling set over my entire body as I watched the chrome ghost disappear back into the clear depths from which it came. With my adreniline at full charge I thought it best that I exercise my legs and see what lay before me along the river trail. As I walked the banks of the Big Manistee I became increasingly excited as I discovered multiple long seemingly bottomless emerald green sections all accessible by foot.
I was unable to hook any fish from them but missed one opportunity. I suspect they were well fished from the days river traffic and were most likely full of fish. What lay around the next corner had captured my sense of adventure and kept it at an all time high. I couldn't help but think how these runs will fish in the winter and spring and how I will need to invest in some good snowshoes. I couldn't help but anticipate Norlands excitement when I bring him to these magical pieces of water.
Arriving back at my place I opened the door to a warm welcoming cabin. I cracked a cold beer and dropped my tired yet relaxed body on the couch. Mentally I was recharged and at peace. Physically my body was sore. I began to to realize the more I explore this watershed the more I fall in love with it. The futures possibilities are endless and the adventure is waiting to unfold.