Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winters Return

After last weekends successes  I was eager to return to the cabin and the west side for another few rounds of winter steelheading.  Norland had just returned home from his firearms recert and was anxious for some much needed R&R.   Anxious to fish we made plans for a three day session on the west side.  The first day would see us on the Manistee, the second on the Muskegon and the final morning session back on the Big Man.  We eagerly left home at 4pm Friday with an ETA of 7:30pm.  Mother nature had finally decided to interject and a stern reminder of what winter was all about was thrown across the state.  The road conditions changed from perfect to treacherous in a matter of minutes. 
What was to be a manageable and brief trip to the cabin took a turn for the worse on I-75 when traffic ground to a halt.  The roads were covered in ice and numerous accident were observed along our travels.  What would have normally taken 3.5hrs ended up taking 7.  After finally arriving at the cabin we unpacked the truck lit the fire and hunkered down for the remainder of the evening with visions of hitting the big river the next day.

The evening lows were biting cold and the next days projected highs were indicative of a late to mid day start.  We took advantage of the conditions that were dealt to us and spent a morning of leisure that included some healthy banter over a healthy breakfast, coffee, and WFN.  The cabin septic plumbing had been causing some grief as of late.  It had all come to a head the weekend prior when the toilets wouldn't fully flush.  With limited time to troubleshoot the problem no resolve was accomplished.
 In my absence the problem hadn't self-repaired so the morning hours were quickly consumed attempting to snake the septic line from the tank back into the house.  After a few attempts we found success and the joys of modern day plumbing were once again restored.

It was now mid day and we geared up and made our way to the river.  The temps were now at the days projected highs and there was not going to be a better opportunity to hit the river than now.  The access bore witness to the extremely cold temps and we were fortunate to have only another vehicles occupants to share the river.
Going in we knew the drill.  The struggle today was going to be shared between iced up guides, frozen lines and intermittent centerpin freeze ups.  The game plan was easy...hit the reliable water hard and fast with confidence and determination then get the hell out.  Today's temptation was the Wax Worm and in short order proved to be the right decision.  After a worthy battle I managed to bank a healthy 6-7lb wintered hen.   This fish certainly instilled the effectiveness of the wax worm in Norlands mind and in no time he was into a hot steelhead of his own.  We worked the water hard over the course of the next two hours and I managed to turn another healthy coloured up buck prior to calling it a day for lunch and a much needed warm up back at the cabin.
Over an insanely delicious lunch consisting of beef jerky, jerkey dip, and beer we decided to make an attempt at a late day drift.  Horseshoe bend was the destination and we eagerly gathered up our affects and made our way toward the river. 
The access was isolated and the single set of snow covered tracks down the trail spoke to the pressure that this session had experienced over the previous week.  We make the hike down to the river and meticulously began to work our way along her banks ever so seeking our adversary.  This section of the river is very beautiful and under winters blanket is quite serene.  True silence is a rare gift in this modern age and can be experienced here in honestly.   The fishing in this section can be tough to say the least but the rare rewards and backdrop always justify the efforts.  Well into the session way deep on a long meandering drift my float disappeared.
 I set up praying it wasn't more of the ever so plentiful timber lining the river to get validation when a large fish rolled on the surface.  With ample room I played the to my awaiting grip.  These MI fish exhibit outstanding winter colourings and she was a beautiful example of what a prime winter hen should look like.  By now the days light was failing and we had a healthy hike out before us so we called it a day and headed back to the warm cabin to rest our now weary bodies.  The evening was spent speculating of Sunday's successes on the MO with Guide Jeff Stuhan over some Beers and Jerkey. 
Life is good...


Gil said...

Life is certainly good! Nice work lads. Beef jerky, beef dip and beer eh? Good thing the plumbing works!!! ;)

Shoreman said...

Well done even with the elements as they were.


JBR said...

Dems some funky lookin' perch...

Jerky dip? Do tell.

lambton said...

Didn't have the hardwater initiative in us. Dublin General Store Jerkey Dip...Heaven on a cracker...Cracker!

Trotsky said...

I'll second the Jerky Dip.
Dipping Jerky in the Jerky Dip is the bomb!!
...However...might want to steer clear of the "Hellfire Venison Jerky"...or at least eat it right on the toilet...