Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finally some Vis...Finally...

I almost didn't make it to the river today.  Between the crowds and two week flow of mud and silt I really wasn't interested.  The day was best spent around the property cleaning up from the snowstorm and tending to my winter wood cache.  The morning was overcast and I almost made a late run for the river just prior to the sunny blue skies opening up.  It was a beautiful day to be in the woods and to work at ones relaxed pace.  After finalizing my 4th face cord I decided to slip down and see if the weekend crowds had dissipated. 
I was hoping that everyone would be on the road back home and there might be a little elbow room for me in my usual haunts.  I was as equally hoping that there would be a break in the never-ending flow of silt that has been present for the past three weekends.  I can honestly say in the past 5 years or so I cannot recall this river carrying such a high turbidity for so long.  It used to amaze me at how it appeared to never stain up or blow out.
The crowds were marginally smaller and I did manage to find a little room to breath but more encouraging was the increased visibility.  Finally some Vis...and with the Vis some confidence.  I poked around for a few hours enjoying the evening sunlight.  There is a magic window where the evening sun lights the surface of the river on fire.  It never ceases to inspire and capture my attention. 

I managed to tempt a few players along my travels.  Some came to hand and others quickly parted ways.  It was nice to fish with confidence and find them where they should be.  Muddy water bums me out as much as epic crowds and when you mix the two it's game over for me.  The morning actually looks promising...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hands in your Pocket

The spring fishery...I used to live for it. I guess it is a rite of passage for every Steelheader in their progression through this passion. Each year the spring fishery seems to lose more if it's appeal. The bug's, warm weather, and the crowds...oh the crowds...
For the life of me I cannot understand what drives an individual to subject themselves to wall to wall, hands in your pocket fishing. I'll take a winter full of frozen guides, burning toes, and numb hands over sharing three feet of real estate on either side of me with anyone. I struggle sharing 100 feet on either side me... For me enjoyment isn't found in numbers's found in those subtle rare moments of grandeur often alone with my thoughts. Success can simply be having the opportunity to fish and not see another soul.
Oh I long for November already...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Love is in the air...

I`ve been taking advantage of these crazy warm March temps as of late and have been hitting the pavement hard with the Mountain bike.  The route I take affords me the peace and tranquility of the country and a nice ride along the lake on the way home.  Along the way I cross a local ditch called Cow Creek.  By some marvel of nature this little ditch gets a return run of Steelies.  Most likely from years of stocking by the local fishing club.  This week I popped my head over the side of the bridge and there they were gettin their freak on.  I almost forgot about the video option on the Iphone but at the last minute it came to me...we live in cool times...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winter Wood

I had all intentions of running a few drifts this weekend but the ridiculous temps, giant crowds, and excessively off coloured river (mud) pretty much altered my plans. I did manage to last all of 1/2 an hour on the river prior to realizing my elevating blood pressure. I can't be around that madness...especially in conditions resembling the Mississippi. I wasted no time hiking my butt out of there. I'm actually glad it played out the way it did. I managed to get back to the cabin before lunch and get some much needed yard work accomplished. The epic dumping of snow a few weekends prior left a trail of destruction. The clean up went well with the help of my wife and we even got a head start on our winter wood for 2012. There is something holisticly satisfying about cutting and chopping wood. Money in the bank...honest work for honest reward.  It was a nice way to enjoy the unseasonable temps.
There are a lot of fish in the system and if the river would finally start to drop and clear things could get serious. I fear the window will be narrow this spring and we all better capitalize on the opportunity when it arises.   Perhaps next weekend will tell a tale.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some days its a walk in the woods...

Well...Norlands curse continues to reign supreme.  After his 24 hr hiatus of vommitting we finally hit the river for a full day of fishing.  Today was yet another example of how God and the state of Michigan hate Norland.  I am starting to believe I am getting punished as well by association.  The river dropped about 8" but the warm temps brought a stain to her demeanor and a hatch of bank maggotts to her shoreline.  I'll fish in -5 temps with frozen guides anyday over positive temps and crowds. 
It's been a grand run but I fear its time to turn the upper river back over to the element.  Time to bust out the Hyde and fish the lower river for fresh fish and some solitude.  Some days its a walk in the woods but thankfully the woods around here are heavenly...

Friday, March 09, 2012

Spring Thaw

After last weekends dumping came a drastic temperature swing and resultant mid week thaw.  The river exploded from 1700cfs to marginally shy of 4000cfs.  The rise certainly initiated some movement in the ranks and alot of fish pushed up.  There are plenty of players to convince and the next couple of days should prove to be interesting.  Today was a struggle with the biting cold and strong winds but it certainly was nice to see the river beyond her banks and gin clear.    It never ceases to amaze me how much water these systems can manage without blowing out and becoming unfishable.  The game is about to change from winter fishing to the spring blitz.  It should get interesting as the big girl starts to drop and the fresh pushes make their way up river. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ontario Out of Doors

A little while back I was pleasantly surprised by an email inquiry that entered into my inbox out of the blue.  The email turned out to be from the Art Director of Ontario Out of Doors Magazine.  He was in need of some Steelheading images from the Saugeen or Maitland Rivers to compliment an article they were featuring on the Lake Huron fishery from Sarnia to Tobermory for their "Fishing Annual" edition that would be hitting the shelves in March.  He complimented me on the blog and stated he would be willing to purchase any that he saw fit to run in the publication.  I have had some past exposure with other quality publications but this request came out of the blue and as a total surprise.
While growing up Ontario Out of Doors was always my favourite outdoors publication.  To me it set the standard for Canadian Outdoors Magazines with stunning imagery and in depth writing.  It shared a healthy balance of a love of the outdoors along with quality fishing and hunting elements.
To have an invitation or opportunity to submit some of my humble photography at the request of their Art Director was certainly a compliment that I with cherish for some time.
My only dilemma was that I had recently spent limited time on either of these rivers in lieu of finding much preferred solitude on some other local and not so local flows.  I spent some time going through my picture achieve until I ran across one image that had always been a favourite of mine.  It was going back a ways when I got my first digital camera.  I can still remember the morning it was taken and the sun cresting over the tree line behind Denny's Dam while the mist rolled off the river into the crisp morning air.
The image certainly captured the moment and  my memory of that outing in a nut shell and spoke to the true essence of first light spring steelheading.  I was overjoyed when I got the news that OOD was pleased with the submission and that it was going to be run in their Fishing Annual.  I was at the dentist late last week and seen the magazine on their reading rack.  I wasn't sure if it had hit the news stand yet but there it was before me...I hastily leafed through the pages and there in full print along with photo credit was my humble submission.  I am by no means a professional photographer...I promote and pride myself on my point and shoot methodology.  I do however have high standards for my imagery and when validation in this form comes my way it is a great reward for my efforts.  At their request I also submitted a fair amount of stock photography for future publications if and when  they are in need.  With any luck I just may have some more photo credits for my slowly growing portfolio.  I must say they are a top notch publication with very professional and personalble individuals to deal with.  I sincerely hope we can work together in the future.  Stay tuned...

Monday, March 05, 2012

March Madness

I can't explain what drives me to fish.  It's a passion and longing that is always present.  I have fished like a fiend this past year and the river owes me nothing nor do I myself in that regard. Upon returning from a wonderful vacation in Mexico I seemed to have had a rekindled spirit and longing for a drift.  Mexico was a brief distraction from what had been an epic run but perhaps the minor refocus and the beginning of march and sign of things to come were like fuel to the fire... 

My return to work was chaotic to say the least.  With the dawning of a new regional contractor came added reports and increased responsibilities and accountability's.  In typical fashion little to no direction or communication  accompanied my inheritance.  To say my work week was busy would be a tremendous understatement and the weekend was before me in the blink of an eye.  I knew little of the current river conditions nor did I care.  What I did know was that I needed to get to the cabin for a couple of days of the good life.

It was raining when I left home and continued to do so most of the way.  As an after thought while merging on to I-75 I decided to check the weather network forecast via my blackberry. I was surprised to learn I was driving into what would prove to be the snowstorm of the year.  The storm was of little concern to me as I seemed to have had a good jump on it and was most likely going to end up blown out of proportion by the God fearing media. I decided to shoot JBR a quick text to see if he wanted to hook up for a few drifts on the weekend. He was quick to reply with intentions of hunkering down for the storm that was already wreaking havoc on Traverse City. The remainder of my journey found undesirable road conditions but carried out uneventfully with patience.   I settled in at the cabin with morning plans of shoveling, plumbing, and an afternoon river session.
I awoke early Saturday morning to a winter wonderland. The storm had dumped about 7-8" of heavy wet snow in the Wellston area. The trees were over weighted and bowed under the heavy load. The road to the cabin was blocked with bent snow laden trees and the entire scene was beautifully surreal.  There was a calm sense of peace and tranquility and for a brief moment it was as if time stood still. The utter silence was occasionally broken buy random tree limbs succumbing to the heavy burden of snow throughout the forest. Fortunately for me my plow guy managed to manipulate the maze of fallen trees on the road in and  arrived to clear out my lane. We chatted briefly and he informed me of increased snowfalls to the north and vast power outages throughout the North-West portion of the state. We parted ways and I got to my morning chores with optimistic visions of a deserted river for my afternoon session.

Finally the time had come and I eagerly donned my gear and made the drive to the river access. There were minor tell-tale signs of morning traffic but arriving to her banks I was pleased to have the place to myself.  The storm system was still upon us and snow continued to fall and accumulate as I fished. JBR had informed me of an estimated 16" on the ground in Traverse with further accumulations underway.  As expected the fishing was tough and aside from frozen feet and a nasty chill I had only a couple shakers and one blown opportunity to show for my efforts.  With grand expectations of Brethern's finest pizza for dinner I made the hike out of the river valley. Little did I know the storm had knocked out the phone and electricity in Brethren and the store was closed.  After a late impromptu chicken bacon nacho dinner  and some BL's I was soon off to bed.

Sunday morning came quick and along with it a cold bite in the air. The evening temps dropped and was evident by the multitude of ice sickles lining the front porch. I decided right then and there that I would not be fishing this morning  but would spend a leisurely morning on the couch with my laptop, WFN, and the trusty Woodstove.  Visions of fumbling around the river in the biting cold  fighting frozen guides and aching feet were definitely not on my radar. This lasted for about two hours until I found inspiration from Dave Mercer, Pete Mainia and the now blue skies and melting ice sickles observed outside the front windows. The storm system had passed and the late morning sun was warming things up nicely. I knew there was a strong probability that things would take a turn for the better on the river and I owed it to myself to put forth the effort to validate this suspicion. 

Once again I geared up and made my way to the access. The well beaten trail spoke to the morning traffic but again I arrived to a lonely shoreline. For the next two hours I was repeatedly reminded why it's imperative to get to the river after a storm front blows through. The fishing was outstanding and in the blink of an eye I had managed more quality fish than any one man deserves. Certainly a gift and reward for the prior days struggles and certainly a reminder to follow ones instincts.

On a side note the HeroDrifter Loafers ran well. The killer high vis orange target is a God send for my aging eyes. With some minor tweaks we just might be on to something special.