Manistee River Brown Trout
Natch has been joining Feral and me for trout camp going on about fifteen years. He’s had a couple of interesting nicknames including one that had to do with burning wolmanized lumber in camp but that’s another story. Fall trout camp 2011 didn’t fall together but Natch, like the rest of us, made a year-end foray to a local stream late in September. I’ll let him tell it.
Since it sounded like the closer might be rather thin on bodies this year I chose to do some insulation work up north at the cabin. However, I did rip off a 3-hour stretch on the Manistee River near M-72. I had never been down that way and thought I would check the water out. It runs pretty shallow with a few small holes under some brush and logs. It was overcast when I started but became sunny halfway into the stretch. I saw plenty of little ones (10″-12″) that would come out from underneath cover but not aggressive enough to actually hit the lure. After about a half-hour I noticed a college-age guy walking along the bank up top on a trail. He was carrying a clipboard and wanted to know if I would answer a few questions like “what are you fishing for? Keeping or releasing? What bait?” etc. As he walked away I caught a 12 inch Brown and he came back to check it out.
I continued fishing in hopes of seeing some deep water. An hour or so later, I came around a bend with a long straight away and a few cabins. Jutting about 20 feet out from the other side of the river was a massive log – a good 3 feet in diameter. The water was rushing under it causing a nice wash out. I placed a cast tight up under some brush along the front edge of the log and reeled in my double-hook silver minnow. About halfway back the lure dropped under the log. Bam! I was hung up with no hopes of getting my favorite lure back. Or so I thought. All of a sudden my line headed upstream. The fish came to rest in the middle of the river. I slowly approached with net in hand. Just as I reached for him, splash! Off he went back toward the log. My heart was pounding as my drag started to slip. I still wasn’t sure if this was my 20+ inch trout or not. After a couple of tense minutes, I landed him. The tape measure read 19″.
It wasn’t the 20″ class trout that continues to elude me but it made my adventure on a new stretch of stream well worth it. I released the trout and continued for a few more bends. Nothing, so I headed back. When I came to the log I debated on whether to give it another whirl. I noticed two fly fishermen just around the bend so I gave it a few minutes of casting and headed back to the truck.