A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
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....