Friday, September 5

Reflections from the River: The week in fishing

Aug 30th - Sep 5th

Happy Friday!  I think in most parts of the state the salmon are trickling in!  Get out there and fish.   

Just not here!  My wife said someone was "kicking" a salmon they had caught to their car

Bridges are where I like to see people though. I think they keep the unworthy or unwilling from looking for different spots.

I kicked off the labor day weekend with a trip down below Mio with my dad for the weekend (I was only able to stay for 2 days).  It’s always a bad weekend for me, with the kids starting school, and the guilt of being gone just before it starts, but it's a great weekend for him:  he gets to be the hell away from the 40,000 intruders in Mackinaw set to enjoy the tradition of traversing the bridge...maybe it’s only strange to me since I grew up there, but I never did quite understand it. Maybe some day.

We arrived to the campground, expectant as you can be when it’s done nothing but storm for a few days, and nothing but storms are in the forecast for the next two.  Turns out, mother nature was on our side.  The impending storms kept the tubers out of the river, and we had a fairly uninterrupted day time float.  Not too many fish, but good company, cheap beer, and a few laughs.  We were hopeful we picked the right time this year, that the white flies would be delayed. You see, my Dad is the type of guy that doesn't care about "conventional" wisdom. He knows the white flies are prime a week or two BEFORE labor day, but he likes the labor day weekend. It turns out, it was great timing.  There was a good spattering on Saturday night, and it "snowed" on Sunday, but few fish rising.  

Fritz, the type of guy that’s so damned nice you hope he catches all the fish, DID.  A gorgeously fat brown of about 24 inches.  She was pulled from a fairly nondescript spot, just prospecting as there were no real rising fish to speak of.  Hell of a way to start the night.  We spent the next 4 hours mousing and throwing streamers without moving a SINGLE fish.  Strange, considering there wasn't much of a moon, but the barometer with the constantly changing storm fronts could have had a hand in it.  

That day I broke my 6 month old Allen 8 weight, so I was throwing some pretty beefy hairballs with a 5 wt.  So far, Allen seems to be a pleasure to deal with on warranty issues.  

Unfortunately I had to head home without quite getting my fill, so Monday night I had to get back out there.  I had my mind set on a tricky stretch of brook trout water that runs through a hellacious swamp.  The kind of place you don’t really want to walk to...especially at yourself.  My buddy Alex was up for the challenge, as he almost always is.  He’s the type of guy that doesn’t really ask too many questions about where we’re going...mostly wondering if we’ll be back before sunrise, and if he should bring the 4wt or something bigger. After committing to the excursion, he'll then spend the rest of the day sending weather updates, breaking down the radar, barometric pressure stats, the moon phase, local folklore, a new fly pattern he'd like me to get tied by the time we leave, and last but not least his personal opinions of the likely hood of catching fish. I'm not sure why, he's going to go regardless of the supposed "probability", but it's fun to watch.

We had fished this spot 2 weeks previous.  The first time either of us had been there.  The evening fish was a little slow, both of us releasing 1 or 2 small brookies.  We were to hell and gone back in the swamp and decided we had better start the long walk back up the river...we tried the swamp on the way down and it was horrible.  The bugs started coming off just before dark and the river turned to a boil in no time.  We each took a few more between 6 and 10 inches, and just as soon as it had started, it was done.  Both being extremely fond of mousing, we discussed the prospects of tying one on and catching a brook trout after dark...on a mouse.  What the hell, right?  I had the mouse in the water for about 3 minutes, and BAM.  It was on.  I was in awe as i netted the 14.5 inch brookie (I only had the net because I forgot to take it off on the way in.)  Neither of us could believe our good fortune.  Within 15 more minutes I had lost two more fish which must have run at least that big.  Finally, Alex had a hook up.  He brought in a truly amazing specimen, just over 15 inches.  A sweet wild brook trout indeed.  

Long story short, we expected a lot going in the next time.  What we got turned out a little different.  The water was at least 8 inches higher, a lot for this little stream, and the fish were unwilling.  Two fish were rolled, not very big.  I think our biggest hurtle was that we expected to be fighting the fish off with a stick after such a good run the first time.  That's why I go back. That's why I love fishing.  I am not so secretly glad that we struck out.  What would've happened had we had the same luck?  Would we fish anywhere else?  Or would we never fish there again, having convinced ourselves that we had it “figured out?”  

Get out there this weekend, make some memories, and good luck!


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