A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Monday, December 03, 2012
Return to the Dam
Sunday morning came far to early for my weary body. The extended hours at work and Saturdays outing had left me kind of spent. It didn't surprise me in the least that I would awaken an hour and a bit past the initial alarm setting. The warm grip of our bed was hard pressed to release me but old Cody Buddy needed out for some long overdue business and was having no part of that. I struggled getting out of bed and thought this is what I have to look forward to in my coming years. The cabin floor was cool to the touch and a quick reminder that I owned a pair of warm slippers. I quickly got dressed and threw them on before making my way towards the front door.
Cody was quite happy to get outside and relieve himself. It was evident that there had been a substantial downpour over the course of the evening. What remaining snow we had was now gone and everything looked washed down and somewhat clean. It was unseasonably warm and the morning air carried a mild fog. Cody was now done his business and hobbled his way up the stairs and into the cabin. There were remnants of the previous nights fire still glowing in the wood stove so I stoked them up and rekindled the firebox with some wood from the front porch.
I fed the dog and put a pot of coffee on all the while wondering what impact if any the previous nights downpour had on the Big River. Thoughts also raced through my head of the homeward flows and if there was any possibility that the Huron Tribs experienced any of this systems downpour. As the coffee machine purred away I fired up the laptop and hit the Hydro charts. First I was pleased to see the Big River had jumped substantially over night and the flows were now at a favourable rate. This was certain to stir thing up and bring in some new players.
Next on the list were the cherished Huron Flows. Once again I was pleasantly surprised to see they had received their long overdue precipitation. This was exciting news. The morning coffee was that much more enjoyable knowing things had finally taken a turn for the better and next weeks fishing forecast was looking favourable. It was getting late in the morning and I decided to make my way to the river for a few hours. The mild temps had me concerned that there would be an influx of fair weather fisherman but pulling into the access revealed I was only half correct on my assumption.
As I geared up a couple of younger gentlemen came up the path from the river carrying a couple of roped steelhead. They reported some fair to decent fishing earlier in the morning which in turn got my adrenaline flowing. Soon I was hastily making my way down to the river valley. The river appeared to be prime. There was a marginal stain in the water and I would venture forth to say it was perfect. The flow rate was indicative of previous years December outings so finding the fish wasn't going to be a problem. Over the past 4-5 years I have spent enough time on this piece of water to know where to focus my efforts and if there were a few fish kicking around I had as good a chance as any at flushing them out.
The first location produced a nice stout brown on roe. I fished this spot hard searching for that giant chromer but it was not meant to be. I decided to double back and hit up another favourite line tighter to the coffer. It was now time to test the winter patterns. I reached into the hip pack and pulled out my jig box. There before me was a multitude of options but there was one jig in particular that caught my eye so I tied it on. The olive marabou with brown chenille or Mylar bodies have become a favourite of mine in recent years so it was no wonder that I would start off my MI jig season with one.
No less than 3-5 drifts into that line my float disappeared and I set up on a decent fish. The GLX I had taken on partial trade for my Mykiss I was loaded up nicely and getting a workout. I promised myself I would run this blank through the paces this season before making a decision if i would keep her or flip her for the cash. In order to do this I would have to alter my preferred fishing style and clamp down more and have faith in the blank. This will be a test for me as I caught myself a few times backing off in anticipation of a break off or worse another straightened jig catastrophe.
After a fair battle I swing the magnificent fish to the shallows and inevitably to hand. It certainly felt good to get the validation that this season is finally coming together. After a quick photoshoot the beast was returned unscathed to the depths of the Big Manistee. Soon there after my float again dropped and the surface of the river exploded. I could tell it was not another Steelie and suspected a Coho. My suspicions were validated a short while later after the hen rolled herself up in my line and immobilized herself to a point where she drifted in to the shore.
I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Cohos and always appreciate their beauty. I could tell her belly was full of roe but she was still a week or so away from doing her business. After a few quick pics she was gone back into the fabled flow. The remainder of the morning would produce a few more browns and a missed opportunity but I was good after the first fish. I don't know what it is about the jig bite but there certainly is something to be said about it. The takes are violent and impressionable and typical winter fish are often on the large end of the spectrum. If there are fish around and the bite is on one can really have their hands full. I had to wonder how I would have faired at first light with the place all to myself but I don't need much any more and I left the river totally satisfied, recharged, and excited about the coming months...And that is what it is all about.