Last weekend I headed up to my Mom’s, in Oscoda, for a visit. My trips north used to be hunting and fishing from sun up to sun down. Now it’s Mom’s to do list from sun up to dinner and maybe a few hours of fishing afterwards. While I was driving up Friday afternoon I listened to another one of April Vokey’s podcasts. The guest talked about the divide in the steelhead world where fly fishers view gear fishermen as knuckle draggers and gear guys view the fly guys as elitist snobs. This kind of thing has been going on for years but it got me thinking. Where do I fit in? My two favorite forms of fishing are swinging flies for steelhead and pulling wire for walleye. Two types of fishing that are polar opposites and couldn’t be any further apart on the fishing spectrum. One is steeped with visions of pristine rivers and a certain amount of poetry and grace. The other is meat fishing in it’s truest form. Both are relaxing, both catch fish and both are very enjoyable to me. I can see how the outsider would view both practices but like the only saying goes….you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because I carry a fly rod doesn’t mean I’m a snob and just because I handline doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the serenity of fly fishing.
After a home cooked walleye dinner on Friday night I grabbed my switch rod and headed for the AuSable. This would only be my second attempt this Spring to catch a steelhead. Snow, rain, high water and work have made finding time to get out very difficult. I waded down to a run that I hoped would be holing a fish or two. I did manage to see one swimming around but I couldn’t get him to eat. I tried another spot further downstream but it was to no avail. After a couple of hours I packed it in and headed for home. My left leg was soaked (still haven’t fixed the leak in my waders) and it was getting dark. I didn’t like the thought of not catching anything during the Spring run but there wasn’t much I could do about it. There was a chance I could try again tomorrow, depending on the size of my mom’s to do list. Turns out it was a long list so I never got that second chance.
Sunday morning found me headed south and home. While I was driving I called my friend Dean to see if he wanted to go fishing later that night. I owed him a few trips and he had been bugging me about going so I thought tonight would be a good opportunity. I told him to meet me at the house at 7 and of course he was early. I told him there was no rush but he was anxious to go. I dragged my feet as much as I could but he was getting impatient. When we arrived at the ramp my friend Richard was there so I took the opportunity to talk to him and waste more time. This plan didn’t work out too well either because Dean got the boat ready and was holding the rope with a “Let’s go” look on his face. I wished Richard good luck and soon we were on our way. After a brief refresher course for Dean on leader management and lure selection we were fishing by 7:45 pm. I told Dean that with the clear water we weren’t going to catch anything until 9 o’clock. He didn’t believe me. For the next hour we just washed our Rapala’s and wasted time. Eventually I had a hit and our first walleye was in the boat. Once I got it in I showed Dean the time on my watch.
I won’t repeat his reply but for the next hour it was game on. We ended up landing 6 fish and losing 4. They were hitting light tonight, barely grabbing the tail hook. I did have another walleye make a banzai charge on my prop and I lost that one, of course. Dean ended up catching two and he didn’t lose any. I caught 4, lost one to the prop, one as I was flipping him in, one on the surface and the last one at the stern. I had just told Dean too that I was going to lose this one and when he said why, out came the lure. It was a light hit and he was barely hooked, it was only a matter of time. Around 10 we got our lines all tangled up so I called it a night. I didn’t feel like digging out extra leaders and we both had to work in the morning. I was really tired as well. I never sleep well when I am at my mom’s. That air mattress sucks. So the night ended with 6 fish, 4 premature releases, 1 lost lure and 2 broken ones, 5 tangled leaders and two lost shanks. Richard had called me while I was out and lost his shank. He asked if I had any spares and I gave him two. Also, we didn’t catch any of those other fish. This surprised me because I had been hearing reports of them being caught all over the river. I’m to the point now that I don’t believe anything I hear on the message boards. I should know better, all season long I have been hearing negative reports of no fish. Me and the other handliners have a different view of the walleye fishing this season.