Saturday, November 26, 2011

T on the upper

I'd been looking forward to this morning for the last month.  Today was to mark the first time my youngest was to float the river with me for some steelheading action.  The weather forecast had me concerned.  With a fair amount of rain in the mix and a 12 year old on board I wasn't sure how the morning would play out.   The temps were still predicted to be unseasonably warm but throw in a good downpour and I could quickly see my fishing partner's spirits turn and the inevitable request to go home surface.

We launched to a river with minimal pressure.  The rifle deer season has certainly taken the main focus of the outdoors demographic away from the river. We started out the morning with a couple of chunky browns and Taylor handled them perfectly.  We worked our way down to some favoured water where I lost a steelie on my first pass through.  The second pass produced a very handsome football brown that Taylor played perfectly to my awaiting hands.

 A few more passes and Taylor hooks up proclaiming "Daddy I got one help!"  By the tone in her voice and the followup "HELP!" I knew it was a steelie.  Looking up from my rowing seat I could see the fish was screaming down river.  Taylor was doing awesome at keeping her rod up high and the line tight at all times.  I pulled the anchor and the chase was on.  We must have dropped and pulled the anchor 4 or 5 times before being in a position to make an honest attempt at landing the fish.  By now we could start to get brief glimpses of the creature.  It was an awesome 6-7 lb double stripe buck.  Taylor was getting exhausted and ready for the workout to end.  She  made an initial swing towards the net. I just about had the beast in the net when the fish shot like a bullet back into the emerald depths.  Soon he was heading under the boat and my worst fears came to reality.  He was wrapped around the anchor rope.  Hanging over the back of the Hyde I made a desperation attempt at freeing the fish from the rope when the leader broke and the fish was on his way after a farewell jump beside us.  Taylor took it like a champion.  I tried to keep my composure but it really affected me.  I wanted that fish so bad for my little girl.  She earned it and couldn't have made me more proud .   She shook it off like she had caught a million steelhead when in fact this would have been her first of any size.

 We continued on with our float.  By now there was a constant drizzle and we were starting to get saturated.  I could tell Taylor was starting to lose interest.  With a longing to see a previously discussed Beaver Damn she kept her desire to return to the launch hidden.  I managed to land a nice 5lb hen and my net girl Taylor once again surprised her Dad with an outstanding net job.  She actually took the liberty to tell her Dad she was better at it than me.  I think Red and Arn would attest to that after the net fiasco from a couple of weeks back.  After loosing another lenghty battle with a giant buck at the top of the Tunk hole we decided to motor down to the Beaver Dam and then call it a day.

By the time we returned to the launch we were a couple of drowned rats.  The temp had dropped a little and Taylor was getting chilled.  She didn't complain and helped her dad get the Hyde back on the trailer.  The new Goodyear Wranglers made short work of the ramp and soon it was coffee and hot chocolate time at the Brethren EZ-Mart before setting our course for the cabin.  Taylor was a trooper out there today and made her dad proud.  Although the steelhead had the upper hand today we still managed to find them and  I can't think of a better way to have spent a rainy late November day.

Monday, November 21, 2011


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The Stuff...

Sunday morning came too soon for my weak and weary body.  The bone-piercing wail of the alarm clock at 6 am could have easily been redirected with a simple flick of the wrist.  I needed no more fish.  Saturdays outing had more than bought me a weeks worth of work until the next trip to the river but the previous nights rains had me intrigued.  The cold front that moved in while I was on the River Saturday ended up delivering on the promise of cold precipitation.  By the sounds emanating from the metal Cottage roof there would be enough to shake things up a bit.  My hopes were banking on a shift in the ranks.  Perhaps move some fish around in the system and push some higher up.  From my experiences the entire river has been fishing awesome this year from top to bottom.  After the small victories I'd achieved on the lower river recently I was longing to return and further explore the area but with an abundance of chores piling up back at the cottage I opted for a quick walk and wade trip on the upper river. 

This option proved to be a wise decision as I experienced a virtually abandoned river filled with some new and willing players.  The fish were outstanding and I could not have asked for a better pace.  I got my a$$ handed to me a couple of times and managed to win a couple sparing matches as well. 

The morning reminded me how much I have missed those December outings when I can hear my own thoughts and enjoy pure isolation.  I guess that's probably why I enjoy floating the river in the Hyde.  I'm long past the days of being seen...or aiming for double digits.  Now its about becoming invisible or maybe even lost if you will...
If I could only bottle the intensity and excitement of being in the zone and dialed in on a lonely river I'd be a rich man.  The stuff that makes the numbing cold go away and the burning pain subside.  The stuff that gives us super human senses and the ability to will a fish from the depths.  Yeah...that stuff.  That's the stuff that comes to me on days like today.  You know what I mean...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Solo on the Lower End

 With the Rifle Deer Hunt well underway I was anxious to hit the lower river and witness the shift from water to wood.  True to the stories I have been told the lower access point was virtually abandoned.  With boyish anticipation I offloaded the Hyde and started my float down river.

 It was a classic late November day with moderate winds, overcast skies and a cold front on the fringe.  To this point we have experienced moderate success on this section of the river.

 Each float the river reveals more of her secrets.  She tends to lead one on wild goose chases.  She demands your full attention and is adament that you pay your dues. Today's float was a small victory in that regard.  I have been logging mental notes each and every trip.  Some from my successes and some from other boats. Nevertheless... while on the river I have been doing my homework.

  This is not your typical steelhead water.  There are countless miles of river to cover and just as many log pileups.  It has to be broken down into sections and covered thoroughly.  Not every log pile stacks fish and not every perceived lie provides reward.

 It is imperative to do whatever it takes to shorten the curve and time on the water is the best remedy.  Today was to provide some validation and reward for the hours logged and the homework done.  It was nice to fish this water with some form of confidence and achieve validation.

Fighting fish from a boat with the float gear is far removed from wade fishing. A net is manditory and putting a hot Lake Michigan Steelhead  into the net solo with the 13' rod is no small feat. Today was another rung higher on the ladder.  It was nice to be able to properly position the Hyde, make the proper drift, and set up on a willing player.

Another small victory experienced  along the journey.  The adventure continues...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gossip Session

Wonder what the latest Gossip is around the bait pile?
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Top of the Bottom

 Today we re-focused our efforts back towards the lower river.

 With the Hyde we are restricted to the top of the bottom end but nonetheless still privy to magical waters.

 As luck would have it we won some and lost some.

In retrospect any time spent floating this river is always a victory for the soul.

Good friends, constant laughs, God's Country and epic chrome.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 3 and the leaves

 Day 3 found the boys recovering from the previous evenings bon fire.  With huge ambitions of a first light expedition we found ourselves more inclined to tend to our swollen heads and the daunting task of the leaf cleanup.  I don't know if our heads were bigger than the yard clean up task but we tended to both and still found time for an afternoon session on the river.  The highlights were some fat resi-browns and Arn's bonus late season Ho.

In God's Country

Fishing in Gods country...The hours pass like minutes...

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today marked yet another milestone in the Michigan chapter.

Ever since we purchased the cabin I have longed to float the lower river with the Hyde down from Rainbow in November,
It didn't take me long to learn that fish stack heavy in the lower river from October through to the spring push.

After a relentless 8 week work lockdown Arn, Red, and myself made a break from plastic making purgatory towards some chrome redemption.

Day one couldn't have gone any better.  We woke to fresh a white blanket of fresh snow and made our way towards a promising day. 

Although we didn't put huge numbers up we all did manage to feel the raw power of fresh November Chrome.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Lake Run Goodness

Floated the Big River this morning with Red.  The morning had the makings of a stellar fall day.  The fishing proved to be tough but Red pulled a rabbit out of a hat with some "Lake Run" goodness.

I've been waiting a while to come face to face with one of these brutes.  Although this wasn't the behemoth the system is known for it certainly was a damn fine specimen.

Certainly one of the most handsome finned creatures I've come across in some time.  But then to Red an Orangutan would look dead sexy.
Congrats on the Fish Red.