A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
The Second Guess
With a late rise I contemplated my options for what was forecast to be a mainly sunny Northwestern Michigan Fall morning. The Salmon season has been going strong here for the past month but is nearing its demise. The system is flooded with eggs and Steelhead have began to enter the rivers. Reports have been fair to moderate but considering we are in the transition period it can be a crap shoot as to what success can be realized. It was nearing 11:30 when I finished up my morning coffee and rounded up the trash to take to the dump.
The Sun ducked behind the clouds as I made the drive to the garbage depot and my thoughts began to swing towards hooking up the Hyde for an afternoon float. It was Saturday in Northern Michigan and the river was certain to be pressured. I flip flopped back and forth and thought of almost every reason not to go but something possessed me to gather up the gear and hook up the boat. On the way to the launch I couldn't help but wonder if the night priors downpour had any positive affects on fish numbers.
Optimistically I hoped it was enough to elicit another push of fresh fish but my pessimistic site told me the sun and boat traffic would certainly have any finned creatures heading for deep cover. There was absolutely no hope I thought to myself as I drove by an almost overfilled Bear Creek Access parking lot. I made the turn to the Rainbow launch and prepared myself for the absolute worst. I assured myself if for nothing more it would be a peaceful float. After all its a beautiful section of river in full fall colour.
The parking lot was better than expected and as I launched the Hyde an angler on shore hooked up with a hot Chromer just above the ramp. This was certainly a confidence booster and soon I was making my way down towards my first destination of the float. The river had bumped up a couple of hundred C.F.S. from the late evening rains and the visibility was prime at approximately 3 ft. The suspended leaf litter was nothing to be overly concerned about. As my voyage progressed I fished run after run with little to no luck.
I continued to recount past successes at each destination I stopped at and managed to keep my focus but still there was no reward. Each boat I passed spoke of marginal successes and I couldn't help but think I had missed a decent morning bite. The traffic was heavy but as I made my way down river I managed to get to fish each and every piece of water I wanted. The second guessing began to set in. Was my leader to bulky? Was my shot pattern adequate? Was it just too sunny now? Did I have the right colour bags? and Has all of the boat traffic put the fish down?
We have all been there...It's a Steelheaders curse. We all know better but we all seem to fall for the same mental trap when things go south. It's part of the mental game and I managed to shake it off convincing myself that the next run or hole would see my vindication. I set up on the second last slot of the float and recounted the success we had experienced in this locale. I continued to fish it hard and push my luck trying to get closer and yet closer to the wood and make a tight parallel drift convinced a fish was awaiting my offering. Still no reward.
I was contemplating pulling anchor when I lobed a short cast tight to the boat in the main current seam. Much to my disbelief the float dropped and I set up on a welcomed and familiar thumping sensation. The GLX loaded up nicely and soon the water exploded with a giant slab of chrome. After a series of short and sharp runs the fish bolted down stream and across the river. By now another boat was coming down river and as a courtesy dropped anchor just above me so as not to interfere with my success.
With an audience I had to pull anchor twice, row the boat to keep position, and eventually lead the angry hen into the awaiting net all with my left arm. It was a great moment and the reward certainly outweighed the effort. I was now exhausted but all the second guessing was instantly put to bed with a short lob cast into the main seam accompanied by some determined perseverance and dumb luck. It certainly is a mental game and defiantly never over until the rods are broken down. The season is in its infancy and it only gets better from here on in. As the days grow shorter and the nights colder the rivers will continue to fill with fish on the heels of cold Fall rains. For a Steelheader its a wonderful time to be alive.