Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A January Weekend

Well another weekend at the cabin has come and gone and as I navigate the lonely interstate home I can’t help but gather my thoughts and ponder the past 72 hrs events...
Friday was the main intent of the trip up to the Cabin. My old GMC was in need of some attention and the local Garage near the cabin affords quality workmanship at a bargain price compared to my home town mechanics. This coupled with the fact that I like to support the local businesses in the area so they are there when I need them saw me without transportation for the better part of Friday as they repaired my old girl. I took the time to tend to some overdue chores around the cabin and give the sleds a good run around the property to keep them in shape. By the time I did end up at the river it was an hour before dusk and I only managed to persuade a few trout before calling it a day. Saturday found me meeting up with a Michigan Centerpinner and new friend Brian T.
We had been corresponding for a while via email and actually crossed paths once on my Ontario home flow back in December. Brian is a super great guy and very easy to be around but is a bit of an anomaly...in a good way… First off he is a Michigan Centerpinner. This in its self is of no significance but when you couple the fact that he has been at it for a long time and fishes all of the Canadian Huron Tribs when he can gives him lots of street Cred in my books. Secondly he has been into the Floatfishing scene for some time.  He knows all the Canadian players, places and suppliers.  
At one time I was beginning to think he fished Ontario waters more than I have over the years. Brian knows his stuff and the MI scene so I was really looking forward to meeting up Saturday morning for a float on the Manistee in his Clackacraft. The morning came early and I awoke to a cold cabin. While getting some wood to stoke the fire the -6C morning air abruptly let me know we would have our work cut out for us. The forecasted high for the day was 1C and I was beginning to lose faith in any such occurrence. Brian arrived at our agreed upon meeting time and we shared some conversation over a coffee before heading to the launch. There was a nasty bite in the morning air and the launch and shoreline were covered in ice.
We got the Clacka safely in the water and were soon on our way. The morning hours faded away quickly in conversation. We failed to turn any fish but we had fun exchanging stories over the mile or so of river we drifted. It was very apparent we chose the wrong section of river for this particular morning so we cut our losses and decided to re-launch higher in the river for round two. Buy now the temps had risen and were actually hovering just above freezing. We worked our way down river picking away the seams, troughs, and buckets. Aside from a few trout we had nothing to show for our efforts. Then Brian tied on a small washed egg bead.
Within 10 mins he had hooked and lost three large fish out of a line we had been working diligently with other offerings. Once again an undisputed bead testimonial had presented itself. We carried on for the remainder of the outing only turning a few trout before calling it a day. It was a full day on the river but when shared with good company and conversation seemed to pass far to quickly. Brian is a great guy and I look forward to sharing a drift with him again in the very near future but next time returning the favor in my Hyde.
I awoke early Sunday morning with aspirations of launching the Hyde out of High Bridge. I had mounted some “Downeaster” rod holders to the front casting platform on Friday as part of my list of chores. I was eager to get out for a maiden plugging voyage but I quickly learned Mother Nature had other plans in mind. There was a couple inches of fresh powder on the ground and more falling.  
I was not prepared to do battle with a slippery snow covered launch in my 2WD on the day I was scheduled to drive home so I decided to call it and made plans to wade fish below the coffer. The morning was relatively mild in comparison to Saturday. The access was quiet with only one other soul on the river when I arrived. I settled into the river and began my day. Maybe a dozen or so drifts into the morning I turned around to be greeted by a familiar face. It was Gary M a Schmidt’s guide friend from the Wellston area. I had fished with Gary out of my boat back in the spring and it was nice to meet up again on the river. We caught up and shared some centerpinning conversation and the overall state of the current fishery. I showed Gary the bead Brian T hooked the three fish on the day prior and tied it on in the process.
The first cast saw my float disappear while in mid conversation with Gary and I had my first fish of the morning. It was a small shaker steelhead but confirmed to us both the effectiveness of these crazy beads. A little while later after a total retie I popped a Waxworm back on and slide down river 25 yards or so. Once again midstream of our conversation my float dropped but this time the surface exploded when a very large dark hen leaped from the edge of the middle chute. She peeled line and screamed downriver. The GLX was loaded up deep but holding her own. I started to work my way down when the fish broke surface again then began to roll on top followed by sudden disappointment...She threw the hook. It was too bad but certainly nice to finally load the rod up with a decent fish on the big river.  It was still early in the day and I was determined to put a decent one on the bank so I shook it off and carried on. Gary had to get going so we bid our farewells and I carried on down river picking away my favourite haunts.
It wasn’t too long when my float once again disappeared and I was into another decent fish. Initially I thought it was a smaller steelhead but soon my thoughts changed when I seen a bronze flash when the fish broke surface. It was a Brown and a decent one at that. I took my time and slowly convinced her to a small cove along the shoreline. She was an old girl and very plump with loose roe. After a quick length reference on my rod and a few pics I carefully set her on her way in hopes she would carry out her spawning mission. The jury is still up as to whether she was a small mature lake run or a large old resident. Initially I was certain she was a resident but I will have to converse with the experts to be certain. The remainder of the day saw me working every nick and cranny searching desperately for a willing Steelie to wrap up the trip. Every locale I visited and every offering I threw turned no players. I finally worked my way back up to the coffer and made a final attempt with a few waxworms before calling it. I was about to exit the river when I decided to give my larger washed 10mm bead a go in the fast water chute as a last desperate attempt. A half dozen or so drifts turned nothing. I decided I might as well give the run a fair shake and dropped down 10-15 yards and hit last years productive line. 3-4 seconds into the first drift the GLX loaded up. It was a big fish and a hot fish. The beads had once again come through and I took my time with what proved to be a large wintered up hen. This fish resembled the fish I had lost earlier that morning and I later wondered if it was indeed the same fish falling for a different offering. Nonetheless my day was now complete at the eleventh hour on a bead. The fishing on the Big Manistee this season has been tough to say the least. Even the number of trout seems to be substantially lower than last year and the years prior but then again last year would spoil any man.  Fishing should be tough…it should never be easy but this year seems to be unusually uncooperative. One thing for certain…The fish you lose sting that much more and the ones you do put on the bank have that much more meaning during years like this. I'll take a 2-3 fish weekend hands down versus sitting at home and dreaming about being out there.
On a disappointing side note I experimented with a new field camera that I had received for Christmas on this outing.  Sadly enough the images are subpar and I apologize to all for their quality.  I keep chasing an elusive ghost with these cameras and now have learned the hard way to be happy with what works.  Lessons of the river...


Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you for the time you have committed to sharing your stories and results of fishing our Michigan rivers. I am a Traverse City native and have been a sub-par fisherman and hunter since I was a young kid. I have recently decided to get into centerpin fishing, however I have yet to connect on any winter steelhead. I understand that centerpinning does not come easy, but nonetheless it is very intriguing to me and I would like to someday become sufficient at it (or at least hook into some fish). I am pretty much limited to wade fishing because I do not have access to a drift boat. I was hoping you could maybe point me in the right direction regarding some spots on the big Manistee that would be easy to navigate and get some good experience on with my new centerpin setup!

Thanks again,


Gil said...

Some well deserved rest and enjoying it to the max. Love the recaps Brian!

lambton said...

Thanks for the kind words fells.

Centerpinning is really a short learning curve. In my experience people tend to overthink, over analyzer and/or read too much into a simple process. I hear it all the time in talking to new Pinners. I understand there is some time that must be spent on mastering the cast but a little coordination, patience and practice will see you mastering that aspect in no time. The secret to catching fish is being able to locate them and this comes with the ability to read water. If you can find them the catching part is seriously the lesser hurdle...well the hooking part is anyways...Now landing a hot chromer is a totally different animal all together especially on a big flow like the Manistee.
The excitement lies in the chase. I am envious of you as you are on the front end of a wonderful adventure. If you stick with it and have faith in your abilities, put in the time, and learn from every minute spent on the river you will be rewarded. Confidence is the best tool in your aresonal...believe in your rig, bait, gear and abilities and you will be rewarded. Don't give up and keep the faith!!
As for starting spots on the Big Manistee...that's easy! Suicide bend, Sawdust, and both sides of the Damn all offer excellent centerpinning opportunities for a wade fisherman. Also if you happen to see me kicking around any of those locations make sure to stop and introduce yourself. If there is any help I can offer or questions I can answer in person I'd certainly be glad to help.
Keep stopping by the blog and email if you have any more questions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the help! I look forward to seeing you on the river this winter/spring.

Trotsky said...

People who sign their name "B" like it in the chocolate starfish...just saying...
My nose is a faucet.

JB said...

Lucas - I live in Traverse. Stop by my site sometime.

"B"- Re: pic #3- "This is my butt bead. There are many like it, but this one is mine."

Nice job on the fish. See you this weekend. If you're lucky.

lambton said...

Ricks..."Hesus Christabano!" LOL!