A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
The day after...
Tuesday was a swift reminder that sometimes no matter how hard you persevere mother nature has the upper hand. To me it was fairly obvious that the cold front that barrelled in had a significant impact on our finned adversaries. From all decent accounts the entire system fished tough from top to bottom. I reluctantly left the warmth of my bed this morning knowing very well the temps were well into the negatives. Fueled with a desire for redemption and the fact that the river traffic would most likely be at a minimum I prepared to gear up and brave the frigid temps. Arriving to the access my suspicions were confirmed with only one other person present. The air had an crisp bite but the lack of wind made the cold bearable. I started below the coffer and fished the next hour hard to no avail. The guides were icing up and frequent breaks were in order to warm my hurting hands. With the lack of river pressure I decided to continue down river and visit the usual haunts. Aside from a 14" resi-bow I was struggling to find that chromer I was after. Finally at the end of my travels I dropped down to one of my go to runs for spring fish.
After a couple of drifts my float dropped and the fight was on. Soon redemption was realized and a long and lean dime bright chromer lay at my feet. After a few pics the fish was released but not before a violent escape attempt that saw my reel and rod get doused with water. I knew it was going to be trouble for me as the temps froze the reel up instantly. I had gotten what I had came for and decided to head back to the cottage for a thaw and an afternoon run into town for supplies. On the way back from Manistee I noted that there was still no wind as evident by the vertical plumes of smoke emulating from the chimneys. There was still a couple of hours of daylight left so I hastily unpacked the van and geared up for an impromptu afternoon session. Once again the river was deserted. I was clinging to the hope that the afternoon sun would be enough to turn at least one fish on and grant me the opportunity to persuade a take. Things were looking grim as 15 mins passed without a take. I bounced between white and olive/brown jigs and decided to switch up one more time to a solid black with orange accents. After a half dozen or so drifts my float disappeared and the rod loaded up well into the drift. I could tell it was a large fish by the giant tail that appeared from the fast water. After a strong run and thrashing on the surface the fish subsided and started to run up river towards me and into the shallows. My suspicions were realized when the large barred pig of a Coho appeared from the depths.
She was an amazing specimen with brilliant crimson bars adorning her sides. By the size of her belly it was evident that she had yet to spawn and was determined to do so. I managed to fire off two quick pics when she went ballistic, splashed me in the face, jumped over my left side and made a quick run back towards the river. I instinctively grabbed for the line and made a last ditch effort at bringing her back to the camera when the it went slack. I smiled to myself as I wiped the water from my face and watched her jettison along the shore and back into the run. I retied another black and orange jig and made my way back out toward the middle of the river. By now a couple of guys in a small aluminum had anchored their boat directly below me about 10 yards past my drift limit.
They were far enough as to not impede my drift but left me with an uneasy feeling as to how I would fare with a hot large fish. A few more drifts and my fears were realized. I set up on a giant steelhead. After giving me a quick purple flash at the surface the fish ran hard down river. I had no choice but to clamp down on the fish and hope for the best. Initially I paused the beast briefly but another strong run ensued and the leader broke midway. I shrugged it off. An opportunity missed is always better than never having had the opportunity at all. Once again I retied a fresh leader and grabbed black and orange jig number three from my vest. I was now confident where to concentrate my efforts and started to pick away at the section making longer cast after cast covering every line. Once again my float dropped and another chromer was head shaking at the end of my line. This fish was more manageable and I quickly turned it towards the bank and away from the anchor rope threat and eventually onto the beach. I was now an hour and a half into this session and was 2 for 3.
I was losing daylight fast and took no time returning to the river. Systematically I stuck to my game plan and drilled line after line waiting for that orange speck to disappear. True to form if droped again and I set up to a couple of quick head shakes and then slack. 2 for 4 and my confidence was at it's peak. The bite was on and I had no reason to believe I couldn't fine another before dark. Another dozen or so drifts and the rod loads up to another giant fish. Similar to the first big chromer this fish runs hard down stream. The anchored boat once again is posing a huge threat to my chances of success so I had to bare down and hope for the best. Yet agaim the line gave and the fish was on its way. By now it was starting to get difficult to see my float and prospect of losing another hot fish was not very appealing. I was happy with the success. The lost fish... well that's part of the game I guess. One thing for certain...this episode definately had be thinking of stepping up approach. Time to break out some 8lb flouro or better and take my chances with the hook strength. Quite the difference a day can make. I think I'll sleep in tomorrow and hit the river after lunch for the afternoon session. I got my jigs in order for the duration of this trip but will be putting a fresh order in with Ella as soon as I get back. Solid body black with orange and red accents feathers have been killer as well as the solid white with crystal flash bodies and solid olive. I think I'll get Ella to give this old fella a jig tying lesson. I haven't turned a fish on roe over here for weeks. The jigs are on fire.