Friday, April 29, 2011


Seriously...3900cfs WTF?
Oh well...this just may be what I needed to force my hand.  Stay tuned for something new and hopefully exciting.

Norland is a DB!
Harv is the Devil!
Arn is ???? Dutch I guess :o/

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Openers of past...

Opening day is deeply rooted in tradition.  Like many I used to count the days and long for the opportunity to fish the now open stretches of Ontario's steelheading waters.
In recent years we have abandoned this tradition but for some reason the stars aligned in 2009 and Norland and I made the pilgrimage. I'm certainly gland we did as I would have never gotten this classic video of my good friend proving that confidence, perseverance and determination are the best arsenal in any steelheaders kit.

Enjoy...I could watch this video over and over again as it truly depicts just how special this sport is to those that really "get it".

Norland 2009 Opener from Brian M on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Harv 10

"Lucky lane 10" Harv announced as we jocky for position at the busy  Port Huron US Customs Port of Entry.  Approaching the primary booth the young officer asked us the nature of our visit.  Harv was quick to inform him we were headed for a few days of fishing in Wellston, MI.  The young officer was as equally quick to question what species of fish we were going after as if to catch us in a lie.  Harv proudly replied we would be targetting Steelhead.  The young officer smiled and said "Isn't that close to Manistee?" then wished us luck while sending us on our way.
In the blink of an eye we were on the interstate and once again I found myself heading West  in pursuit of good times at the Cabin and on the river with a good friend.  These trips seem to pass rather quick as we catch up on each others personal lives and ongoings.  Not to mention the occasional conversation on whats happening in the steelheading community.  Today's journey was also fueled with the knowledge that the Big River was coming into shape rather nicely.  The flow had steadied at a very comfortable rate and the visibility was falling into place.  The conditions had the making for a recipe of success.  We both shared an outing on this river a few springs back that will never be forgotten.  With this memory fresh in our minds we both knew of the potential for something on the verge of ridiculous.  I was at my whits end on trying to predict when the river would pop and was reluctant to verbally express any forecast. 
I was feeling the frustration of mediocre successes while still harnessing a boyish anticipation of grandeur.  But that's fishing I guess and that's what makes it exciting...unpredictability and the allure of the unknown.  We managed to get away at a decent hour.  This coupled with the HEMI hauling proverbial a$$ we found ourselves in Wellston with plenty of time to unpack, crack a cold one, and don the gear for an evening session.  To say we were alarmed when we pulled into the access parking lot was an understate.
The amount of vehicles clearly spoke to the state of the fishery.  Soon we found ourselves working our way down river to some unoccupied familiar water.  The lead chuckers on the opposite side seemed to be finding a few fish with consistency so we knew there was an abundance of fish up.  Harv managed to hook up a few times and landed a nice little coloured up buck.  The DNR had obviously dumped a bunch of smolts into the system as the piranha were devouring everything that remotely resembled forage.
Frustration began to set in as the water we wanted to fish was occupied or full of roe ravaging smolts.  We doubled back in hopes of finding some open water below the coffer.  By now light was failing us and we only had time for a few drifts.
I opted to drift tight to the coffer and soon found success only to witness a few large tail splashes and a broken leader.  Zebra mussels can reap havoc on ones line and once again the details cost me vindication.  We decided to head back to the cabin and weigh out our options for the morning. 
After a quick dinner and some drinks it was time to tie up some roe for the next days adventure.
We discussed how the day would play out and landed on fishing first light on foot below the coffer and the afternoon on the lower river in the Hyde.  The morning found us at a very populated river.  Once again we pounded the water and Harv landed another coloured up buck where he had the evening prior.  The smolts were devastating my morale and we decided to hike down to the tail out of Suicide.  Harv agreed the new route was much more friendly on the body and mind.  Arriving to the river we were pleasantly surprised to see less traffic than up towards the first bend.  The tail out looked amazing.  The flow was perfect and the colour was hypnotizing.
The only problem was that there was no where near the amount of fish that there should have been.  We continued to pick the sexy water apart and finally my float dropped and the rod loaded up nicely.  It was such a nice feeling to finally get a decent confirmation on a hook set.  Upon landed the 3 lb drop back male it was evident this fellow had been rather busy this spring.  One side of his mandible was completely missing while my hook was set in the other side that was barely hanging on by a small strand of flesh.  It was sad to see but at the same time consoling to realize just how hardy in body and spirit these fish are.  It truly is amazing what these fish can endure in the name of procreation.  We continued to pick away at the magical water without further validation.
Naturally I worked my way up around the corner and missed Harv do battle with a giant brute of a coloured up buck.  The fish worked his shoulder good but Harv managed to put him on the bank for a couple of pics.  I was disappointed to learn that I had missed the entire ordeal and the photo opportunity.  We decided to head back to the cabin for lunch and a break on our now tired and smashed bodies.  Over lunch we decided to pass on the boat and to look for an alternate scene.  We landed on checking out the Sawdust access.  We had a great day there a few springs prior and wondered if we could at least sniff out a few fish while finding some reprieve from the crowds.  We were pleasantly greeted with an open stretch of water but also cursed with an increased wind.
Suckers were rising everywhere and Harv proclaimed he had a good feeling about this outing.  Before I knew it my rod once again loaded up and I was into a decent fish.  Before long she was swung into Harv's tailing glove and on display for the camera.  She had done her business and was starting to regenerate before heading back to the big lake.  She was a long lean fish and would have been very impressive before she dropped her eggs.  Not long after I looked down river to see Harv's rod bent over fighting a fish.  I worked my way down the bank to give him a hand just in time to tail a fish a big football of a hen.  She was beautiful and clearly was going to be the fish of the trip.  The wild fish of this system are remarkable and she proved no different.  I fired off as many pics as Harv would let me before his girl hands became too cold from the water and we sent the lady a drift.   Now the winds were really whipping and we struggled to get a decent drift in.  I managed to lose another fish off of a high bank in a deep bucket behind some gravel but after that it was pretty much all we could do to stave off the wind.  We decided to give Suicide a shot since we were right there and the drifts in that section were pretty much at your feet from the giant stairway side of the river.  We didn't managed a thing which was kind of surprising as there are always fish in this section.  After a tiring climb up from the river we returned to the cabin to recharge over diner and a few drinks.  We settled in nicely and pondered our options for the morning.  Without a giant amount of fish in the system we joked about sleeping in and foregoing the morning session.  As the drinks flowed and the hours passed the seriousness of this option was finalized and the two old guys did just that.  It's funny that something that wouldn't even have been mentioned a few years back was now a viable option.  We spent a lazy morning going over the prior days pics, had a few coffees, visited the weir, and packed up before heading home.  It was not the stellar outing we had hoped for but a lot of fun nonetheless.  It was nice to hook up with Harv again and nice to see him land a beautiful chromer.  On the arrival to the Sarnia Port of Entry Harv tried to get in lane 10 but was cut off by the gasoline and grocery crowd.  Hmmmm superstitious are we???????????

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm just sayin...

Sometimes we all take things for granted.
So to error on the side of caution I'm putting this out there for those that may benefit from it.
You crazy kids know who you are. :0)

Click on me...Click on me...Click on me

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How's your Spey er....Day going?

We woke to the sound of wind and rain pounding on the cottage roof.  After careful deliberations over coffee and Kahlua we opted to head south and fish the White.  From what I had been reading the White was fishing very well this spring.  Arriving to Hesperia we were chillingly greeted with a mediocre to low gin clear flow.  The first thing that crossed my mind was to cut our losses and double back to the big river.  We decided to tough it out.  A couple of small browns and a few hours later found us heading  North back towards the cabin and the big river.  After a quick lunch we headed towards the access and the infamous stairway.  We made our way down the stairs when I recalled Norlands stairway mishap the weekend prior on the slippery wooden stairs.  I had a chuckle to myself when we were nearing the first set of wooden stairs.  I was about to warn Red about Norlands misfortune when his feet went out from under him and he went down hard.  He skidded down 7-10 steps in the blink of an eye.  I was certain he had injured himself and asked if he was alright.  The first thing from his mouth was a statement that he had broken his new 13' Loop Double Hander.  Once again I questioned his well being only to get a similar reply but this time including some expletives.  We evaluated the rod and determined only a 2"-3" section of the tip was broken off.  Red figured he could re-rig and fish the remainder of the day but soon realized he would be making the trek back up the stairs to the truck to get his pin after the spey rod blew up on the first cast.  Red informed me of the minor explosion and the fact that he was now running the pin a while later down river.
I felt bad and tried to console him by informing him of the large fish I had just blown in the big water.  I carried on down river to fish my isolated gravel bar.  A little while later Red appeared on the bank behind me.  He asked how the fishing had been then apprehensively informed me that he had gone in and was soaked fighting his first fish of the day.  He then went on to tell me he lost the fishing trying to save himself from completely going under.  It was all I had to contain my composure.  On one hand I really felt bad for him with the rod incident  but on the other it was clearly apparent that he was having an amplified Norland moment.  Red was adamant that he was not cold and wanted to continue fishing so we hit another spot.  A cold front had started to work its way into the region and it wasn't long before Red was feeling the negative effects of taking on water in the Spring.  We decided to cut it short and get back to the cabin so he could dry off and warm up.  Once we reached the truck Red couldn't find his keys.  I could see the day was taking it's toll on old Red and I quickly produced his spare set that he had happened to bestow upon me in the event of such an unfortunate occurrence.
By now Red was at the end of his rope and there was only one thing that could turn his misfortune into something positive so I quickly reached into the cooler and grabbed him an ice cold tall bud light.  We laughed at his expense the entire drive to the cabin and pretty much for the next couple of hours.  What can you do but laugh in times like these?  Today the River beat the Jesus out of Red.  The final tally was 2  blow fish, one major soaker, one destroyed high end Spey rod and two sore old guys.  Lookout Norland!  Old Man Maxfield is gunning for your title.

Wind and High Water

After seeing the largest rise in flow for the season the USGS site indicated that river crested and began to come down.  Arriving late Thursday night with hopes of fishing a river full of willing players we were marginally disappointed with the conditions we were presented with Friday morning.  The river was still high and dirty compared to where she fishes best.  This coupled with the million mile per hour winds left us struggling on the water.  The morning saw us launching the Hyde at High Bridge and working up our way up river.  With the winds, off colour water and increased level and flow we struggled to find any fishable water let alone willing players.  We decided to cut our loses short and head back to familiar water where we knew the fish would be congregated and hopefully stacked up.  By now the winds had increased in intensity.
At times the wind made it impossible to run a decent drift.  It was frustrating as the lead chucking crew on the far bank were somewhat consistently hooking up.  Determined to find a few fish we persevered and worked our way down river.  The river was off colour but very fishable when reprieve from the wind could be found.  I dropped into a familiar cove and ran a few drift where we have had success in the past on big water days.  A half dozen drift through and a familiar pumping and thrashing was realized on the end of my line.  It was  a decent fish and from the brief glimpse I got when it broke the surface it appeared to be a chrome hen.
After an exhausting battle in the big water I managed to swing her to the bank.  She was a large fin clipped stocker that had a deformed mandible from a previous human encounter a few years prior.  She was full of roe and ready to drop her treasure.  It was karma as I was questioning my roe supply at the cabin and indicated to Red how nice it would be go get a loose hen.  I could not have asked for a better fish to selectively harvest.  When it comes to my Roe I am very particular.  I prefer to keep it simple, natural,  and clean so I water harden.  I refuse to add any salt, borax or concocted cures whatsoever.  So with one on the bank and a rejuvenated supply of cured roe we continued on searching for additional players.
Red managed to hook up at the Tunk Hole with a large fish that I was certain was all but landed when the hook popped on the final run.  By now the wind was even stronger and chunks of trees were falling in the forest and in our general vicinity.  We decided to call it and double back to the cabin for dinner and an early night.  On the hike back you could see some trees had buckled under the wind load and  we were notified of a large White Pine that came down near the coffer.  It had been a long day and our aching bodies attested to our efforts.  The cold beers were welcomed back at the cabin as was diner and the couches.
As I type this entry the rains have returned.  Nothing too heavy and hopefully nothing that will negatively impact the water clarity.  Hopefully the winds subside for Saturday and we find a bunch of willing players.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Norlands Curse

The State of Michigan has instilled a curse on Old Man Norland.  Every time he seems to hit these magical waters things tend to go south and today was to prove no different.  Having struggled for the past couple of months to secure a date to head up to the cabin we finally landed on this weekend.  The conditions looked like they were coming into shape and there was a slim possibility that this could be the time.  After too many cold ones the night prior we woke pre-light for a morning session on the Big River.  Knowing full well that it was Saturday and the circus would be in town we settled on the couch for a couple of coffees and conversation before dragging our sorry asses to the river.  The access lot was jam packed.  We weighed our options and  hit the trail towards the Tunk .  Along the way every inch of the river was being exploited.    Much to our surprise the Tunk hole was almost void of pressure with the exception of a couple of guide boats.
The river was carrying a surprising stain and the level was up about 6" from the week prior.  We fished the old girl hard but couldn't seem to put anything together.  Getting discouraged by the amount of pressure we cut our losses and headed to some private water on Bear Creek.   The water looked promising but the day's surprisingly high temps and full sun were more conducive to sitting on the porch versus steelheading.
We made our way up river picking apart all the sexy water we came across.  I managed to pick up my first Bear Creek Steelhead out of the slack water of an inside bend in the river.  She was a pretty 3 or 4 lb drop back hen that really didn't want her photo taken.  As I fumbled with my camera she managed to wiggle free and find freedom in the dark waters of Bear Creek.  We continued on up river fishing everything that seemed fishy but the full sun and prolific bug hatch were not working in our favor so we cut the outing short and made tracks.  Norland really wanted his homo Swiss and Morel Sausage so we hit the Dublin General Store for some prepared meats.  Morel Sausage, Jerky Dip and Maple Jerky was our poison and the plan for the remainder of the afternoon was to sit on the porch with a couple of cold ones and some good eats.  By now the skies were clear blue and the temps we in the high 60's.  The chairs on the porch were sure a welcomed relief as we cracked a cold one and dove into our treats.
After filling our faces with goodness we decided to take a drive to the Weir to see if the Eagles were sitting on the nest and how the Steelehead Egg collection was unfolding.  Much to our surprise the DNR had two pens full of Steelhead and they were jumping fairly regularly at the Weir in an attempt to migrate up river.  It brought back childhood memories watching the steelies attempt to jump the man made obstruction.  It was Norlands first time to the Weir and first time seeing the Eagle Nest.  I was certain I had seen some movement on the nest when all of a sudden a giant white head appeared out of nowhere looking down upon the river.  It was nice to see they were on the nest tending to this years offspring.    We spent some time admiring the Eagles and Steelhead before heading back to the cabin for the remainder of the day.  On the way back we decided to do some scouting and check out Pine Lake.  We had gotten a tip of extremely large Blue Gills taken this winter through the ice.  Apparently Bluegills in the 13+" range are very possible on this system.  The lake is virtually in my back yard so we thought we better check out the scene and get the down low on how we are gonna get the Hyde out on her for some Bluegill action on the fly later this spring.  Much to my surprise the lake was a decent size and the access was excellent.  Another thing for the must-do list.
The day was a gift after such a hard winter and it really was nice to reunite with Norland.
Later that evening we went for a nice walk through the bush and explored the property a bit before settling down for a  home made Lasagna dinner.
Sunday morning came way too early and was repelled by the mystical snooze button.  The early morning thunderstorm left be longing for more sleep and with little ambition to face the Circus.  Finally I managed to raise my weary body from bed and put a pot of coffee on.  Out side there was a fairly heavy fog and as I approached the picture window to peer into the front yard I startled a large Tom and 3 hens as they foraged around in a remnant snow bank for captured seed from the feeders.  This was the first time we had seen some Turkey on the property and was kinda special.  My wife prides herself with the amount and selection of bird feed she has available so for her the encounter was extra special.  After a lazy hour of drinking coffee and chatting we decided to make an attempt at the river.  We hit Horseshoe bend in hopes of some isolation and solitude as well as easy and accessibility.  We were granted both but under a torrential downpour.  The river was very stained but we gave it our best only to come up empty handed.  (Norland curse know!)
Not wanting to totally pack it in just yet we doubled back towards Tippy and the Tunk Hole.
Once again we were dealt another blank.  By about noon we were both ready to hike out.  The temps were in the low 70's and we were damp , sweaty, and most likely smelling like a$$.  Norland also had to get on the road and get home for a dinner date.
We made our way back to the cottage and parted ways.  It was nice to get together with a good friend.  I certainly wish the fishing conditions were better but as in life some things you cannot control.
The big river is in her prime as I type this.  Early to mid week she should fish outstanding but who knows... I am at my whits end on attempting to predict her outcome.  Tippy Dam pond is ice free and today's rain was big and very warm.  A huge push should have come up from the lake.  The next couple of days will certainly tell the tale.  Dare to dream...

Monday, April 11, 2011

It has begun...

Nearing 3000 cfs there will most certainly be a fresh push of critters in the upper reaches of the river.
With cold weather in the forecast things seem to be shaping up nicely for this coming weekend.
What's that noise you ask???? Why that's me cracking a smile.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

April Snow Storms

This mornings outing was to be short and sweet.  I had plans of fishing the Tunk hole for a few hours and then bugging out of the valley to pack up and make the drive home at a decent hour.  On the way to the Tunk hole I stopped at some familiar water that had looked neglected this morning.  The first drift through produced a 3/4 lb brown.  The  water looked mint and I just knew there had to be a decent fish in this deep hole.  The third drift through and my thoughts were realized with a nice 5 lb chrome hen.
Not wanting to get side tracked from my original game plan I released the pretty girl after a few pics and hiked back through the bush to my destination.  Often one location that fishes well one day can leave one scratching their head the next.  This is typical with fish on the move and today I found myself scratching my head.  To be quite honest I really wasn't all that surprised as this year has been nothing resembling consistent.  Before overstaying my welcome  I took the opportunity to hike a trail from Tunk down towards Sawdust.  I was curious to see if we had been busting our asses through the Brier patch from Hell for no other reason than being uneducated tourists.  This indeed proved to be the case as I effortlessly followed the manicured pressure treated wooden board walk down to the tail out of Sawdust.  Once again the Irony of it all surfaced and I had to laugh at myself.  The plan was to fish my way back to the truck and then hike out and make plans to head home.  Suicide owed me a fish.
This was fact and I was determined to pick something out of one of the emerald green pockets.  I pounded every piece of fishy looking water until it happened.  The float dropped and I set up on a 2 lb chrome missile that thought he was 10lbs.  It was nice to finally put something together down there.  Shortly after the release it started to snow.  I was a nice spring snow shower that was actually welcomed initially.  I continued my way out of Suicide and through the Brier patch to my next location.   After settling in a tremendous thunder boom rolled through the valley and the snow flakes increased from pea sized to Toonie sized gobs of wet powder.
The entire scene was surreal as I cast my float out into the wall of white.  The contrast between the deep fluorescent orange and the stark whiteness was impressive.  Snow was accumulating on my shoulders and hat brim in short order.  The Rainshadow was even getting a decent accumulation.  Random flashes of lightening began to surface and the thunder was almost immediate to follow.  A thunder snow storm...  By now I had overstayed my welcome so I carried on up and out of the river valley.  The accumulation on the roads wasn't more than a couple of inches but it was heavy, wet and very slippery.  I knew my ride home would be interesting.  As it turned out i had no idea just how interesting it would prove to be.  Some parts of the state had seen twice as much snow and the lack of snow plows  on the roads found many motorists in the ditch.  From Wellston to Sarnia I must have witnessed 30 or so places where someone was or had been in the ditch. At one point I had to make a 911 call for someone that was way down deep in a giant ditch  and almost out of site west of Midland.
 April snow storms.  I love to fish in them but could definitely do without the road time.

The Tunk Hole

Five Thirty come far to early for my aching body this morning and it was soon apparent that I would not be pursing first light fishing opportunities.  Six-thirty turned into Seven-thirty and eventually nine-thirty before my weary bones rolled from the warmth the bed.  I gazed out the window as I put on a pot of coffee to see a dreary overcast day with the makings of rain or snow.    Cody buddy was now at my heals wondering where the heck his breakfast was and what the hell was taking me so long.
 After getting the dog settled I sat down to my morning coffee and some WFN as I pondered what exactly the game plan for the day would be.  Without any notable precipitation over the night and the fact that I got blanked the day prior on the lower I pretty much ruled out drifting out of Rainbow.  My other option was to take the Hyde up higher and launch out of Tippy or Highbridge but it was Saturday and I new the crowds would be on the water.  This along with the fact that I was flying solo left me on the fence as to what to do.
It was looking like it would be 11 before I would be able to hit the water so I was leaning towards wading the river. Last weekends success was still fresh on my mind so I decided to hit Tippy and work my way down towards Suicide Bend and see if I could turn a fish or two.  Arriving at the access I noted an increase in traffic.  This was to be expected as traditionally this time of the year would be prime time. Arriving to the bottom of the stair I was not surprised to see the run below the coffer fully occupied down to the first bend.  I carried on around the corner and hiked up to my next destination.  It proved to be occupied as did the next and the final location.
  The river was getting pounded and I pondered doubling back and heading to the cabin to hitch up the Hyde and float Highbridge down.  On the hike back I remembered having a conversation with a gentlemen the night prior on the river trail.  He had his kids with him and they were out for a hike in the woods so the kids could shoot their air riffles and carry on like boys do.  He had just hiked back from the Tunk hole with his boys and informed me that there was only one guy fishing there .  I had heard of this location but have never fished it.  We talked about that run for a little and I logged it in my memory bank but with no real significance behind it.
For some reason it came back to me.  There is a large set of wooden stair that lead to the top of a ridge on the way down river from the coffer.  I had always wondered where that stairway led to and speculated that it may lead to the Tunk Hole trail.  Harv and I actually talked about it the weekend prior.  So here I was with limited options and time to explore so I took the trail.  Much to my surprise the Tunk hole was closer than I would have ever imagined.  I guess the closest distance between two points is indeed a straight line.
I carried on down the trail from the Tunk Hole parking lot and soon found myself at a large stairway down to the river.  I could see from the top of the stairs that the water was clear and deep.  From this access I found myself on the outside of a sharp bend in the river with many deep water runs at my feet.  There were only a handful of anglers present and they were well down river leaving me a tonne of prime emerald green water to explore.  Dead Sexy new water excites me and my day took a drastic turn for the better.  I quickly settled in at the foot of the stairs and made a long drift down to some overhanging cedars.
Soon I found myself into a pound and a half rainbow that got my blood pumping.  I fished this water thoroughly and found no more players so I made my way up river about 30 yards to a small gravel plateau that gave way to a very deep bucket and trough below it.  Two drifts in and I set up on a giant fish.  Soon the Mykiss was screaming line as this fish made its way hard down river.  I had about 175 yards before the next angler and I was starting to get concerned if I would be able to stop and turn this fish.  I could see some large trees down in the water past the downstream angler and I couldn't tell what lay beyond them. 
I was feeling apprehensive at chasing this fish as I really didn't think the chase would be short lived but I was running out of options so down river I went.  By now the fish was down where the next angler was and making every effort to go further.  Luckily to me he was retying his rig on the bank and he turned to look when I announced that I was coming down with a big fish.  He politely smiled and gave me the breathing room to play out this fish.  I eventually managed to get the fish turned and out of the main current and eventually on the bank.  I already new it was a large fish but as always I was overwhelmed by just how large he was.  He was in the 32-34" range.
A giant double striper and an outstanding way to break in this new water.  After a bunch of pics he disappeared into the green to fight another day.   With my nerves shot I managed to retie my rig and work my was back up to the gravel plateau.  After a few more drifts I headed up another 50 yards and was amazed at how the water just continued to look better and better.  The deep water was practically at my feet so I lobbed a 10' cast off the bank and watched in as my float followed the contour of the river bank until it disappeared below the surface and the rod loaded up nicely.  I could feel every headshake and began to see flashes of chrome through the crystal clear water.
Thanks goodness it was a smaller fish and I managed to keep the 4 lb chrome hen in the run and eventually on the bank.  This bullet was fresh in and dime bright.  Just a beautiful chrome hen I thought to myself as she raced back into the depths.  After a few moments to regroup I lobbed out a new bag on the same line and the float once again disappeared.  This time it was a small colour up buck.  I carried on for a dozen more drifts and decided to slide back down river and fish some of the water below the stairs where I had landed the giant buck.  By now the other angler had left and the water was vacant so I was curious to see of I could snipe a fish or two out of that section.  I fished the section hard and couldn't seem to put it together when without warning my float dropped and I set up to a quick headshake and then nothing.
Initially I shook it off as bottom but upon investigation the bag looked suspect and I thought I might have missed an opportunity.  Not ready to give up I continued to pound the water and a dozen drifts later my float once again dropped in the same location.  This time  I set up on adecent fish.  After a worthy battle I managed to put another double stripe buck on the beach.  These fish are magnificent in their full spawning dress and are very photogenic.  The Michigan fish seem to take on the extreme when it comes to spawning colours and really are beautiful.  By now I had 4 steelies on the bank and a nice rainbow to boot.  A cold front had moved in and the temps were hovering below zero.  I decided to crack a celebratory beer and make the hike back to the truck.  On the way I marveled at how an outing with such a  dismal forecast took an abrupt 180 with nothing more than a sense of adventure.  There is nothing more I love than success on new water.  I am learning more and more every outing on this magnificent river and it continues to impress me with amazing water and super amazing fish.
On a side note:  With the exception of the chrome Hen todays fish have been in the river for some time.  This holds true to my theory that the main run has yet to come.  Tremendous fishing opportunities lie ahead.  Timing is everything.  Here's hoping....

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Lower River

The last time I floated the Big Manistee we put in at Rainbow and motored up river.  We were fishing on the front end of a cold front plus we had big off coloured water.  We still managed to find some fish and christen the Hyde.  Today I was flying solo and quite excited about heading down from rainbow into the wintering water.  We really haven't seen a decent push of fish this spring and with the warming trend and snow melt I thought the lower river might be the place to find a few new fish along with some privacy.  The early morning drive across the rural Michigan countryside was stunning.  The sun was rising and the fields were full of deer. 
I really is quite amazing just how many deer you can see in the fields at dawn or dusk in the spring over here.  Arriving to the launch I was pleased to see this section of the river was indeed quiet.  I quickly put the motor on the boat and finalized the remainder of details before I backed the boat down the ramp.  Before I knew it I was drifting down river but not before netting a nice 7lb female for a shore angler at the launch.  For the next  five hours I pulled anchor, rowed the boat, got snagged, and re-tied.  I could not buy a fish on this section of river now matter how hard I tried I must have re-tied no less than 20 times. There were a few guides on this section today and they shared my predicament.  "No fishies in the down-low". 
The float and solitude was good for my soul and the boat maneuvering experience was money in the bank.  I'm actually starting to get the hang of it.  I decided to cut my losses and head back to the launch with hopes of dropping the Hyde off at the Cabin and fishing Tippy for an evening session.
I managed to get the boat in the garage in good time and headed toward the river.
On the way down the stairs I ran into a gentlemen taking a rest mid way.  He indicated that he had not seen a fish hooked down there all day.  By now I had nothing to lose and made my way down towards the river.  Much to my surprise my preferred location below the coffer was free so I quickly slipped in and made the cast.  Three drifts in and I decided to change my roe bag to a fresh one and pierced one of the eggs for good measure.  The float hit the water and went no more than 10 feet before it disappeared and it was fish-on.  It was very nice to feel the rod finally load up.  After a decent battle the fish was on the bank and success was realized.  After a few pics the fish swam away no worse for wear and I turned my body around just in time to see someone slip into my spot out in the run.  I decided to carry on down river and see if I could coax a couple more before sunset.  There is a certain time of the day when the sun starts to set that the river takes on an amazing glow.  My secret gravel knoll was occupied so I had to go to plan B just slightly down river.
I slid down the bank and into the river.  A drift or two later and I was into a decent 1 1/2lb brown.  Some of these river browns are just stunning and this one proved to be one of those fish.  By now the days activities were taking there toll on me and I still had a decent hike back to the truck so I packed up and started back.  On the hike out I thought about the days events and the irony of catching fish at the dam versus the boat.  That's fishing I guess and I'll take it any day over catching nothing or worse... having to work.