Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maiden Voyage

Well the first boys weekend of the spring was upon us. Norland was out and the game plan was for Harv and myself to head up Thursday night with Harv's new 4x4 and fish The Big Manistee on Friday with the Hyde. Arn was coming up late Friday night for the remainder of the weekend. When we planned this trip the weather was shaping up for what might play out to be the first big push of Chrome from the lake. But as luck would have it a freakish snow storm dumped heavy wet snow on much of the Central Great Lakes Basin. We pulled in to the cabin and were very glad Harv had a new 4x4 as the lane way was under a fresh blanket of 6-7" of the white stuff. We woke the next morning with plans of finishing the remainder of work that needed to be done prior to taking drift boat on the water. After an hour of finalizing the details we were on our way to the river with the boat in tow. We hit the launch, paid our fee and loaded up the boat. Harv's big Dodge made short order of the launch and we soon found ourselves firing up the new Merc. The only problem was the outboard had different ideas about fishing the big river. Pull after pull failed to start the brand new 4 stroke. I must have gone over everything three or four times until I finally realized the fuel petcock was in the off position. Once the fuel valve was turned on the motor fired up after two pulls and soon we found ourselves heading upriver. The plan was to run up river for about 30 - 40 mins at half to full throttle to break in and seat the rings of the motor then fish our way back. It was a great boat rids as the river appear void of other boats for the most part.
The sky was blue and the sun warmed our chilled bodies as we set out on the maiden voyage. After being satisfied with the break in run we decided on a straight stretch with some wood and current breaks. We fished this section hard and made our way down towards the next bend where I decided to fire up the outboard and motor around the corner. The motor started right up but soon stalled. After a couple of unsuccessful start attempts I decided to check the gas tank and low and behold we were out of gas. The internal fuel tank is very handy but also very small. After a quick refuel we were on our way and back fishing. We fished hard for the next 2 hours without as much as a sniff other than a large RedHorse sucker Harv picked up while drifting between holes. Trying not to loose faith we continued to read the river as best as we could. It was a little difficult as the flow was up and she was carrying a fair amount of stain. We focused our efforts mainly on wooden runs with well defined current breaks and slack water.
Then finally my float dropped and I set up on a fish rather than the routine snag. It was a small shaker but nonetheless validation of our ability to read the river. It was nice to put some silver in the Hyde and get her Christened. We continued to work our way down river hitting every interesting piece of water until we hit a long heavily wooded strait away. We got half way down when Harv announced he had a hooked a fish. I quickly turned to see a giant slab erupt from the river way down by a large gathering of wood. The fish continually raced for the lumber but Harv managed to keep her just shy from freedom. The current in the middle of the river was strong and this fish made good use of it as Harv tried fruitlessly to bring her to the net.
At the peak of the fight there were three other fishing boats waiting patiently up and down river for us to put the fish in the net. Harv would get the giant hen close to the boat and she would race down river time and time again. Finally Harv got her to the bow of the boat with her head at the surface. I knew I was going to get one shot at this fish with the net and the audience wasn't helping my nerves any. I lunged forward with focus and successfully scooped up the giant fish. As soon as she made the net the leader broke sending the float flying back at Harv. By now Harv was spent and the congratulations were coming from the passing fisherman as they navigated their boats past us.
The net man even got some praise. The fish was ridiculous. She had to be 11lbs and 32-33" long.
A crazy solid Manistee giant that made the entire outing. After a bunch of pictures she disappeared into the depth unscathed. We continued on with our game plan and picked away for another hour or so without a sniff. We were approaching a bend in the river but there was a nice piece of slow water behind a fallen tree just before it. We set the anchor and started to fish the run. I focused on the slack water behind the main seam and shortly into my 2nd drift my float disappeared followed by a quick hook set and multiple jumps from 2lb juvenile. This fish jumped about 7 times in the course of the battle and put up a great fight. After a few photos and follow up drifts we were back on our way down river in search of more chrome.
By now the sun was starting to show signs of late afternoon and the dropping temperature validated it was time to make tracks for the launch Once again the big Dodge made short work of the boat ramp. By now our bones were aching and our faces were burning from the windburn. The heater was rocking as we towed the boat back to the cabin. In between the frequent deer sighting we discussed the days events and before we knew it we were backing the Hyde into the garage.
All aspirations of snowmobiling were squashed as we settled into the couches with a few cold beers. The efforts of the days outing were soon realized as my aching back kept reminding me there is a price to pay for this passion. The scenery, company, solitude, fresh air, and occasional chance encounters make it all worth the while.


Steeliemax said...

dam jelous looks like a tone of fun. Got to get my boat set so I can do some seriuos fishing

Trotsky said...

You guys suck.

Harv said...

that was a good day for sure buddy - that lower river has some stunning scenery!!! too bad there weren't a few more fish to play with.

on the flip side I am not sure I can remember a time when I was any colder than I was standing in the front of the Hyde as we came around the last corner back to the boat launch!!! my teeth are still chattering.....


Dustin's Fly Box said...

you guys are having toooooo much fun!