Fanatic Status.

22 11 2015

Fanatic

It’s official, I have hit fanatic status.

Yesterday, while most of Michigan was under a winter weather advisory, I was out Steelhead fishing.  It was only cold at first but after an hour of standing waist deep in 40 degree water it started to snow.  Not much at first but eventually it started to come down just like in the picture.

Did I quit? Nope.

I kept at it for the next hour even though I didn’t catch anything.  I had one hit, no hook up, no fish.  The only other excitement was a whitetail doe sneaking up behind me and snorting.  I guess she felt I shouldn’t have been out either.  She kept looking at me like “What the hell is that standing in the water?”  Eventually she just gave up and walked away and left me to my fishing.  I didn’t fish much longer after that.  Even I figured it was pretty futile after 2 hours.  I had stuff to do and I needed to get out of the water and get the circulation going in my legs again.  I did learn one thing today though.  Just like in walleye fishing, wool gloves and steelhead don’t mix.  At least it doesn’t when swinging flies.  The line just slides between my wool covered finger and the cork handle whenever I would make my cast.  That leads to a mess.  I think one of those handlining doll slippers might cure that.

Wonder if I have any of those things lying around?

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Steel Update.

15 11 2015

I know it has been awhile since I posted anything but work has been a royal pain in the ……  Work hasn’t changed any but I do have a little free time to get caught up.

All year long I had been looking forward to November.  Everything I had read about Steelhead fishing in Michigan said that November was the month.  Cooler temps and the usual cold Fall rains bring the fish into the rivers.  Of course, the year I start steelhead fishing, Mother Nature doesn’t want to cooperate and the Fall run was late.  I found out later that I was lucky to catch the one fish I got in Muskegon a few weeks back.  No matter though, the run may be getting off to a slow start but I was bound and determined to make the best of it.

The weekend of Nov. 7th I was staying home to take care of some chores.  My to-do list was increasing instead of decreasing and I had to get started on reversing that process.  If I planned things right I figured I would get a chance to get out for a quick evening trip.  As luck would have it I was able to make a run to the Huron Saturday night.  I have to admit, living where I am now really does have its advantages.  I am 15 minutes away from arguably the best walleye fishery in the world and 10 minutes away from a river with a fair number of steelhead in it.  The Huron doesn’t get as many as the west side of Michigan but there are enough to be worth the effort.  So with my switch rod in hand I waded out to my usual spot in hopes of hooking into another fish.  As luck would have it I managed to hook a small male on my last cast.  To be fair it was my last cast only because by the time I landed him it was past sunset and I couldn’t see anymore.  Since it was after dark I couldn’t get a decent picture so you will just have to take my word for it.  It took about 5 minutes to land him but it took me forever to revive him and send him on his way.  I don’t know why he was so tired.  He made a few half ass jumps and one short run, nothing to completely wear him out like this.  Eventually he came around and swam off to fight another day.

The following weekend I was just as busy with chores but I would make sure to set aside some me time.  With about an hour of daylight on Saturday I hit my usual spot on the lower Huron River.  It would turn out to be a rather uneventful evening, fishing wise.  No steel but I did catch a rather small and unintentional fish…..the much sought after Rock Bass.

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This is embarrassing.

I was about to release him when I remembered the mink I saw earlier running along the bank.  I looked around for him but he was nowhere to be found.  If he was I would have tossed him an easy meal.  Lucky for the rocky that he wasn’t so I dropped him back in the water.  After that it was starting to get dark so I just headed back to the car.  Tomorrow was another day and I would try again.

Sunday morning greeted me with bright sunshine and no clouds.  Not exactly steelhead weather but I was expecting it.  Last night I got really cold standing in the water so today I was putting on the thermals and the wool.  Of course by 10:00 am I was over heating but it was better than freezing.  I started off further downstream at a different access point.  The water level was a little higher than yesterday and a little dirtier.  I found a spot to wade in and started casting.  There were a couple of other fishermen downstream so I stayed upstream from them.  The water was deeper here so I couldn’t wade out to far, that and the bottom was very mucky and wading was tricky.  After about 30 minutes I gave up and decided to go back to my usual spot.  As I was walking in I spotted a deer staring at me about 20 yards away.  So stood still long enough to let me take a pic.

I wonder if she realizes it's 11/15?

I wonder if she realizes it’s 11/15?

After she scampered off I walked down to me entry point and waded in.  I proceeded to swing an egg sucking leech pattern over and over and over again.  When I’m not catching anything I get tempted to switch flies but, like walleye fishing, presentation is more important than the lure.  That and fishing where the fish are.  I continued to work my way downstream when I finally had a hit.  I didn’t know what it was at first because it never jumped or ran.  Instead it just let me reel it right in.  Once the fish got within about 10 feet of me it finally woke up and took off.  She didn’t run far but for the next 10 minutes she would make short runs and jump about all within 20 feet of me.  Eventually I was able to get ahold of her, take a few pics and send her on her way.  I made a few more casts in the area but it was to no avail so I just packed it in.  By now the sun was high and bright so I figured I would go home and knock off a few more chores on my to do list, while the weather was so agreeable.  I was content, another fish hooked and landed and I still haven’t lost a fish yet.  Of course now that I said this my next hook up will be with a 10 pounder that will absolutely smoke my ass.

I can’t wait!

I love my leeches.

I love my leeches.

 





Halloween Steel

3 11 2015

Several months back I booked a steelhead trip with Drew Rosema and Feenstra Guide Service.  At the time, I figured Fall temps would have set in and the run would be in full swing.  As it turns out, I would be early, a few weeks early.  A lack of rain and warm weather had everything starting late by a few weeks.  I couldn’t cancel the trip and I didn’t want to anyways.  This weekend was my 51st birthday and I wanted to go fishing.  I was hoping there would be a few around and fortunately for me we did get some rain the week before.  I would find out later that it was just enough to get the flows back to normal but it was better than nothing.

I met Drew around 7:00 am at a roadside park and from there we drove to the ramp.  We launched his boat and soon we were headed upstream.  He told me that they have had a few fish in but not the numbers they are used to this time of year.  The water temp was in the range he liked but the lack of rain hasn’t brought in very many fish.  The few that are in are staying put in specific holes, mostly behind gravel beds feeding on any drifting salmon eggs deposited by what few zombies were left in the river.  We would fish holes like this throughout the day casting egg sucking leech patterns.  When we would fish a run or hole that wasn’t near a gravel bed I would use a small sculpin pattern.

We set up at one of the aforementioned gravel beds and started fishing.  Today I was using a Scott 13-6 Spey rod with an intermediate line.  I had never cast a rod this long or with this type of line before but after a few pointers from Drew I was laying the fly where it needed to be.  It was still dark where we first started so this stop was more about practice instead of fishing.  Once the sun started to rise and we could see better, we moved on to the next spot.  Drew anchored the boat downstream from a gravel bed that still had a few rather nasty looking salmon on it doing their thing.  I started drifting a small egg sucking leech along a seam that fed into the hole behind the gravel bed.  Just as we were about to finish up and move on, I hooked into a little 10 inch steelhead.  Not exactly what I was looking for but it was a steelhead.  I brought him in quickly and released him none the worse for wear.  We repeated this process a few more times before we stopped at a hole I know all too well.  The same hole I caught my first swung steelhead back in February.  Drew switched out the leech for a small sculpin that he tied on a cotter pin.  I got into position and let it work.  Drew and I were talking about the work the Army Corps of Engineers had done on the shore to prevent erosion while I cast the fly.  As I was making my 5th or 6th drift my fly got bumped and I got dead quiet and serious.  Drew asked if I had just had a hit when the fish came back and smacked it a second time.

Hit, Set, Airborne…….

I didn’t have to answer him.  After the first 3 or 4 jumps the fish took off upstream towards me instead of downstream.  Not that it mattered, with a rod this long I could keep pressure on him while I reeled in line.  He made a few more jumps and a couple of short runs but after about 5 minutes or so he was in the net.  A few quick pictures and he was carefully released to fight another day.  We fished that hole for another 20 minutes but I didn’t get any other takers.  As we were moving on to the next hole it started to rain, and rain, and rain, and rain some more and then, just for good measure, it continued to rain.  All day long as a matter of fact.  This rain was kind of bitter sweet.  I don’t like fishing in a downpour but an all day rain would help bring in more fish.  Not that it was going to do me any good today but I was planning on coming up and fishing again on 11/14 before I go deer hunting.

We tried a few more spots but it was to no avail.  We covered a lot of water but the earlier spots were the only ones that produced any fish.  Around 12:30 we called it a day and headed for the ramp.  I wasn’t going to complain, that’s two trips now and I have caught fish on each of them.  Swinging flies isn’t about numbers.  If that was the case, I would be plugging or drifting spawn.  This method is the most challenging but the strikes are the most exciting.  I’ll keep at it and one of these times I will catch more than one on a trip.  I just wish my Dad could have joined me for one of these trips.

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