Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter River

I had an opportunity to visit the river this morning.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  I stepped out to the garage and a sudden chill almost changed my mind.  I'm glad I didn't.  It was nice to spend a little time floating on such a pretty morning.  I didn't manage any fish but that was alright.  I stayed long enough for my hands and toes to remind me there was a hot pot of chicken soup on the stove back at the cabin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Been thinking...

Been thinking about the river lately.  I know it will happen soon enough but nonetheless I miss her.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A real winter wonderland

It’s been a while since I have really experienced the true splendour of winter. Sure we get snow in Southwestern Ontario but it comes in small proportion and without warning disappears in a single breath. Winters at home are dirty depressing sessions of slush and despair. Winters at home pale in comparison to my childhood memories of Inverhuron. It is until recent that I have recalled those days of my youth.
The memories of snow up to the window sills and drifts up to the eaves had left me. Memories of sliding down cottage roofs into the snow and walking back up and doing it again, family visitors that would get stranded for days and the night time snowmobiling outings with my mom and dad had been filed deep into my memory bank. I had not forgotten those days but I really have had no recent reason to conjure them up. As I type this I am looking out the window into a winter wonderland.
The Blue jays and Woodpeckers are exchanging blows over suet while the Nuthatches and Chickadees spell each other off at the seed feeders. The tree branches are all adorned in 6" of last night’s dumping. The banks lining the driveway are 3-4ft high and the snow in the bush has to be 2 ft. The stark beauty of winter is present here in grand form as I remember it from my youth.

We ventured out on the snowmobile trails earlier this morning and were pleasantly greeted with freshly groomed trails. The surrounding forests were blanketed with white. A comforting sense of pristine isolation and stellar beauty set over me and we meandered our way through the woods of the Manistee National Forest.

I had completely forgotten how wonderful winter can be. I had forgotten the beauty and the utter calm that can unfold. Too many years have passed since I really have enjoyed what winter has to offer.

Winter is a time to slow down. A time to enjoy the simpler things in life. A time to forget about the hurry up and wait regime of everyday. A time to look for subtleties. A time to forget multitasking and cramming it all in. A time to relax and enjoy the fruits of ones labours.

I'm glad I have been blessed to be here and have this opportunity. I'm as equally glad that I come to realize it's about enjoying where you are in life more than chasing after where you are going.
I've done a lot of chasing the past 40 years...time to relax and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Damn...they ran it.

I got this cool email today from a guide friend of ours in MI informing me that he had been out West fishing the Olympic Penninsula. Between landing some of the largest steelhead I've seen in a long time they found themselves in a local retail establishment. Jeff's buddy picked up a well known west coast fishing publication and began leafing through it. He stopped and must of took a double take because what he saw before him was an article written on his friend and guest. He got Jeff's attention and if I know Jeff a very large shit-eatin grin ensued. Jeff had totally forgotten about our conversation back in April of 2010 when I informed him I had submitted and received confirmation that Salmon Trout and Steelheader were going to run an article I had written about a Winter Jet Boat trip we took with him on the Muskegon in February of 2010. Jeff's email actually caught me off guard as I had not heard from STS since then and saw the cover of the January edition which didn't indicate the acticle was contained within the publication. I had actually written the submission off. The email made my day. a time when inspiration was at an all time low it just may have been the kick in the ass I needed. Now where is some open water?

I emailed the editor and am awaiting my copies. If anyone finds the magazine in a local store shoot me an email because I don't think I can wait for the mail. ;0)
Norland has a cool pic of him holding a giant Muskegon Hen that he boated. It was the fish of the trip. This submission is kind of validation for me as it is my second publication of the written word. I guess the first wasn't a fluke. ;0)

STS circulation = approx. 30,000

Click here for a link to their Magazine web site.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Hard Water

I had today off. New Year's fell on a Sunday which was a blessing as I ended up with Monday off. We pondered what to do and decided to take advantage of the day and drive over the bridge to Port Huron and go register the new snowmobiles with the Secretary of State. It was a necessary evil that had to be done.
We were soon to learn that the holiday season had left many in the same boat and the lineup was huge. It's a funny thing people watching at the Secretary of State office. There is a very wide representation of the State of Michigan's demographic at the SOS. We were blessed to witness a fair percentage of obesity, have a horrific butt crack episode, see Cheech or Chong's cousin and so on.
Finally they called out our number and we were on our way. After taking care of that business we stopped in the Dick's Sporting goods chain store. I picked up some Berkley Gulp 2" minnows and an Ice Fishing hole scoop as I figured we'd need it sooner or later. That's when I got the text. It was Arn and he was back home from a similar trip to Port Huron. He picked up a couple of ice fishing rods and some waxies from Gander Mountain. He was inquiring as to when we would be home and if I wanted to hit the ice behind the house.

Soon we found ourselves out back like kids after school punching holes in the ice with the overly dull Ice Auger. I think Norland was shaving his back or nutts with it last year.
The blades are exhaustingly dull. First we tried the Gulp minnows and then the waxies to no avail. I finally broke down and put the pink worm back on and wham-o...three fish in 5 mins. LOL! This is what it has come to. Excitement on the ice! I am so sad for myself...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A New Year

After a long day with Norland and Harv on Thursday I arrived home to learn we were going to make a run at the cottage Thursday night rather than the morning. I had also learned that an inquiry about a couple of snowmobiles I had made prior was looking very good and warranted a trip to Allen Park, MI. This such trip would have to coincide with our trip to the cottage as it was a minor detour from our usual route. Or at least I thought. Having gotten up very early that morning and having had pushed my tired body through the snow and bush I was feeling aged and run down. The end result would truly justify the extra effort and longer drive and it would most certainly be nice to sleep in and wake up under the cottage roof. The drive to Allen Park was well worth it and we found ourselves the proud new owners of a fine pair of Ski-doo's that will bring many a smile to our family's faces this winter. As we made our way North West towing our new found toys the journey seemed to take forever. As a matter of fact we pulled into Wellston shortly after midnight under heavy fog and a major thaw. As I made my way down the hill towards our drive I decided to stop half way. My fear was that I might have to make a run at the hill in the drive to clear it. I unlocked the gate and noticed that there was a good 4-5" of slush accumulation. This left an uneasy feeling as the van already struggles on the hill with snow and no towed load. I decided to take a run at it and quickly discovered that the slush was going to be a problem. After a dozen or so attempts in 15 mins I informed the girls that we were going to have to hike back to the cottage and I'd deal with it all in the morning. I think the entire episode was quite entertaining to them and they were a bit disappointed that the fun was over. Knowing quite well that I would not be able to sleep until this mess was resolved I hiked back out to the van fueled by stubborness and off loaded the sleds. Thank God for reverse on the snowmobiles.
After getting the sleds up to the cottage I made another attempt at the hill with the empty trailer and managed to make it over the top. I parked the van, backed the sleds into the garage, cracked a cold Creemore and called it a night. Upon waking in the morning I went out and surveyed the lane-way situation. It was not a pretty sight. By now another 8 hrs of thaw had passed and the lane was a complete mess. The little mini van had no chance and to make matters worse the road was a complete and utter sheet of ice. Even if we could have made it out of the lane we would never make it up the small incline in the road on the way out to the hi-way.
I had hoped to spend a few hours Friday on the water but once again Mother Nature had different plans. I made good use of the extra time and worked in the garage making stands for the snowmobiles. It was nice to spend our first New Year's Eve as a family at the new Cottage. The girls were most certainly going to sleep in on New Years day so I decided to make a break for the river if the roads would allow. Much to my surprise the road melted substantially and gravel could be seen between patches of remaining ice. The van crested the hill and I was on my way to the river on the first day of the year. When I left the cottage it was still mild but there was a slight periodic breeze through the tree tops. I arrived an the access spot and geared up. By the time I managed to get dressed the winds whipped up and a major cold front was upon us. The temperature plummeted and the wind gusted out of the North. The river had a fair amount of traffic as others shared my opinion that the thaw may have brought some new fish up river. The day was very reminiscent of the Guided outing Norland and I had struggled through a week or so prior. I fished the river hard for three hours and only managed a handful of small resident fish and one Jack Coho. Hiking up the stairs on my way out to the van I was approached by a younger fellow who had been swinging streamers down lower in the river. He was intrigued by my method of fishing and we talked briefly about the Big Manistee, Centrepin float fishing, swinging flies, Montana, Indiana, and the fabled Blue Ribbon Waters of MI. Mid way into our ramblings I discovered my waders had frozen solid. I asked the young man where he was from and he informed me he drove up from Indiana New Years Eve and slept in his Van in order to fish the Big Manistee. The winds had ruined his morning and the cold front had changed the remainder of his plans. He was going to head back that day.
I told him that he would be driving over the Pere Marquette and would find reprieve from the wicked wind on her banks. After a brief discussion and exchange of directions we parted ways. A fellow trout bum I concluded as I backed the van out from my parking spot. It never ceases to amaze me how the allure of Mykiss can drive an individual to do such irrational things. I had to chuckle as I drove past the parked Motor Home towing the 16' bow rider ready for launch and fishing with the frozen net sticking up from a rod holder. Only in MI I thought to myself.


Well...The Ontario Season really didn't even happen for me this year and it quite honestly ended before it began. I managed to fish the home waters only three times which is a mere flicker of years past. Work was mostly to blame as it has become somewhat of a thorn in my side. It is a double edged sword as it affords me the means to live a finacially worry free existance but in recent times has begun to encrouch upon my persoanal life. It is a personal struggle I am battling. I always thought success would bring me freedom but it is proving the opposite. With recognition comes more responsibility and accoutability and to be quite honest I am coming to my wits end with it all. Perhaps 2011 will find a better balance but I have already had the precursor discussion of major outages and vacation blockages. Life seems to be fighting me these days and it really is beginning to wear me down. Life after 40 has been trying to say the least. But fear not...I will fix things... that is what I am programmed to do and I will find a way to fix this mess. Of my three outings I had the pleasure to fish solo once, an epic day with Norland in the Shire, and the season wrap up with Norland and Harv. This last outing was on the 30th and had the makings of a trip to remember. Well it could of if the river hadn't been frozen solid. The rendevous was relaxed at 8am but the hike was a test of the mind and heart. The snow was a foot deep and tested our wills. Luckily the fires still burn in our hearts and we made short work of the couple of miles or so.
Upon arrival to the river we were pleased to see a free flowing slush free set of rapids but quickly heart broken upon arrival to the frozen over wintering run. It was like yet another kick in the stones that the 2010 season has bestowed upon us. After a short rest we doubled back to make a feable attempt at a semi-open run below the rapids only to give up and make the hike back out of the river valley. Back at the vehicles we regrouped and decided to hit an easy access spot further up river to see if we could find some open water. Arriving to the bridge we could see the river must have some open water by the gathering of cars and trucks. Norland had never fished this water so we pushed our way up river to the forks where we shared the popular section with 5 or so other piscators. The water looked nice but it had been a very long time since I or Norland had shared water with so many others.
Our hearts were not into it but on the same note it was nice to be out with two good friends. The fish seems to be off and I threw everything I had at them in hope to lure one from the emerald depths. Harv made his way up from the tail out and informed me he had one on for a brief encounter and after a few silver flashes released her the old fashioned way. Looking at his rig I noticed he had a rather peculiar bait on his hook. After a rather snide an rude remark pertaining to his plastic white worm I told him to throw a cast threw the spot I had been fishing as I couldn't do a thing with it. And as if the 2010 fishing God's hadn't punished me enough Harv's float dippend and he set up on a nice 4 or 5 lb hen on the White Worm.
Good on old Harv but WTF...Honestly... After a million and one questions Harv went on to inform me that this was the first outing that he has had success on the white worms. Of course it was I thought to! I was happy for Harv.
He needed that fish more than I did. Harv had fallen into the same trap as I and hadn't fished for a very long time. I think he told me he only fished the little river once that year and as I recall it was at the very beginning of the season with an old buddy of his. They beat the crap out of them that day but life somehow managed to keep him from the emerald waters after that as well. We called it a day after the white worm episode and parted ways. It was good to see each other and share a final drift on the home waters. Looks like any more outings in the immediate future will have to take place abroad.