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???????????


Harv said...

Don't mess with Karma dude!!!

Thanks for another great trip to the West Side.

I still can't believe you didn't want to fish Saturday morning - pussy!!!!

lambton said...

Harv has girl hands!

Trotsky said...

Both you guys are gay

Craig Ritchie said...

Yup, just another reason I need to visit that part of the world again. Just stellar .... thanks for the eye candy!