Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Pike Fishing

I have a theory that learning any art form helps you improve and mature in other art forms – and this applies to fishing too. If you love trout fishing and want to become more productive, it makes sense to try for Pike. Stop scratching your head!

My mentor, Jake Lucas, was a pioneer at small stream spinning for trout, but his fishing interests were by no means limited to that. He fished lakes and streams all year for most every species in Michigan, with side trips to other states and Canada. He ice fished, he fly-fished, he bait-fished, he threw lures of every size and make. He made lures. He tied his own flies and developed original patterns. He shot Carp with a bow and arrow. And when he wasn’t fishing he was hunting – and he was very successful at that too.

Feral Tweed, my main fishing cohort, bought a kayak last fall with the idea of catching a monster pike. He lives in Lake County and is surrounded by lakes. As an accomplished trout fisherman he knows when to head to a trout stream and prefers to wait for the right conditions. So why not try something new? To be successful he knows he must innovate and that includes learning where to find the big ones, figuring out what lures work where, learning how to land a Pike in a kayak, learning how to fillet a Pike (they are boney) and finally, how to convince me to drag my bass boat up to Lake County so he doesn’t have to land a monster Pike in a kayak.

I understand Feral’s appreciation of Pike. It goes back to our childhood and hanging out with Jake Lucas (our Grandpa) in his basement. Jake wasn’t a taxidermist, but he had a couple Pike heads mounted to boards. It was the skeletal remains of the heads mostly with the mouths wide open and razor teeth showing. It was just the stuff to capture a little boy’s imagination. One of those head mounts belongs to the Pike pictured with this story – a nineteen pounder.

I don’t know if Feral plans to mount the head of his future monster Pike to a board, but I hope he does. And I hope I’m invited to a Pike fillet dinner. His enthusiasm for Pike is contagious – I may drag my boat up there unannounced.

The Incident at Tin Bridge

I was thinking back fondly on a strange incident at Tin Bridge on the Pigeon River in the Pigeon River State Game Area.  I had parked my 10 year old 91 Pathfinder at the bridge and fished a stretch upstream and when I returned to my vehicle I had to drive over the bridge, turnaround, and re-cross the bridge to head back to camp. At that time the bridge was in pretty rough shape with squared off logs laid sideways and apparently not firmly attached. You could hear a distinct thumping sound as you crossed but what was really happening down there was not clear. As I re-crossed the bridge the dull thump sound was replaced by my blasting exhaust.  A log had somehow knocked my muffler off – but that was small potatoes.  When I put on the brakes my foot went to the floor. I rolled to a stop and looked underneath. I could see a severed brake line with dripping fluid and the muffler hanging low. There was nothing I could do but glide back to camp. Fortunately it was all two-tracks and I didn’t meet anyone head-on.

Back at camp my buddies took turns surveying the underside and that’s where we first noticed the frame damage. The rear axle on a 91 Pathfinder has support members designed for stabilizing. One was definitely broken. The frame was fairly rusted out anyway so it was hard to gauge how much I can blame on the bridge. Still, this was serious. The frame needed work.

I started adding up the costs. We were out in the sticks and the closest town with any auto service was Gaylord, at least twenty miles away. It would be expensive to have the vehicle towed. The exhaust and brake line might run a couple hundred bucks. The frame was the wild card – I didn’t know if I could even get the frame fixed, or for what cost.

I fired up the Pathfinder the next morning and found that a car without exhaust is twice as noisy on a cold morning. Feral followed me in, wisely, since he didn’t want to provide brakes with the rear of his vehicle.  We took the old highway into Gaylord to avoid traffic. I used my parking brake lever to help stop – I can’t remember if I had a hint of brake left – that may have been the case. I think we pinched the severed line so the brake system held some pressure.

I rolled into a muffler shop near Main Street and they put it on the hoist. They did right by me – putting on a cheap muffler and fixing the brake line.  They also directed me to a place that might be able to fix the frame, a welding shop of some kind. As I recall, they were closed.  It was Saturday.

Meanwhile I had to formulate a back-up plan: just in case. I could scrap the vehicle or try to trade it in for something else providing a dealer would even take it. We did a little car browsing and I was feeling the pressure.  I really needed the frame fixed in order to avoid a “make-do” car buying experience.  Being at the mercy of a car salesman is low on my list of entertainment. I looked at a few older vehicles but didn’t see anything I would even want to consider.

On Monday Feral and I stopped at the suggested welding shop and explained the situation. The young fellow working there (alone) crawled under the Pathfinder and banged on the remaining rusted frame to see what he could find to work with.  He offered to weld some new pieces of steel onto the frame for $200. I jumped at it. He told us to come back at the end of the day. When we arrived later I could tell he spent more time than he planned but he was very professional about it. I looked underneath and could see he’d welded some new steel in place and listened as he explained the difficulty of making sure everything was aligned properly. By all accounts I had lucked on a perfectionist who took pride in his work. Bottom line: I was back in business for about $350 total car repair.

If nothing else, this is a true story about nice people in a small town helping out a guy with car problems. It could have been a disaster. I should mention the state has replaced the old bridge. The new one is an eye sore with heavy duty guard rails that belong on an expressway – not exactly what you want to see on a two-track out in God’s country… but I really shouldn’t complain. If anyone has a photo of the old bridge please send it to me and I’ll add it to this post. Thanks.

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