Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

The Underhand Flip Cast

I did a short stretch of Duke Creek with Harmonica Mike on opening day and managed to get some video of him casting. I took a few short videos, including one of him catching a brown, but wanted to post this one since it has a pretty good angle on his casting technique. It’s all in the wrist. A slight up and down movement timed with the release of the line sends the lure on a straight trajectory into the normally small window of opportunity – a tiny pocket next to the bank or under an overhanging branch that provides shelter for the trout.

Mike, like Feral and I, learned this technique from our grandfather, Jake Lucas, back in the sixties. Jake did trick casting demonstrations at trade shows and was a sponsored “expert” by the Shakespeare Company. There is a tendency for people trying this cast to jerk the rod forward while casting rather than just use the wrist and rod tip action to propel the lure. As kids, just starting out, Jake would cinch our arms to our sides with a belt so we had to use our wrists! He wanted it done right!

Trout Camp on the Calendar

Deciding when to meet for spring trout camp is getting a little complicated. Natch asked Feral and me about our plans. I’ll let Feral explain:

Hi Fellas. Snotgold here.
I was talking to Feral and he said he was talking to Ironclad.  Ironclad was talking to Jake in an effort to sort out this opener thing.  Bob, (the other one of me) will fish anywhere anytime for anything with anyone.  Snotgold told Feral to tell me that Jake is coming down for the real opener.  He like everybody else has to put in ahead of time for a day or two off.  Bob told him anytime was good but had no idea when anybody else would show up.  Snotgold told Ironclad that he thought Harmonica Mike and Outhouse sitter Denny were going for the first week….That was the latest Bob could get from Luther at the time.  Judging from all Feral has heard, nobody knows what’s going on!  So, Feral, Bob and Snotgold are all agreed.  We will be hunting for treasure and fishing with Jake and Ironclad right around Baldwin starting the twenty eighth.  Anyone who wishes to join us will be more than welcome.  I hope this helps clear things up for you Natch.

Here’s a clue about Snotgold. Feral took up metal detecting.

Camp Stove Buyers Guide

Over the years I have had a couple camp stoves dating back to the old Coleman model whereby you pour gas into a tank and pump it up until your fingers hurt and then try to wash the gas smell off.  As an analog adventure that’s as real as it gets. For years at trout camp I would pretend to sleep in so Feral would have to get up first and light the dad-blamed thing.  Feral’s an analog guy and I mean that in every good sense of the word. If a gadget has any sort of historical relevance, ambiance, or coolness factor – it holds appeal for him like a moth to flame.

For a good example of this – see the post “Feral’s Instruments.” The post talks about his revolving line-up of stringed musical instruments but the lead photo shows a coffee pot atop a backpack camp stove, one of Feral’s revolving line-up of camp stoves. I don’t know who manufactures the stove in the photo but maybe he’ll weigh in with a comment.

For some reason, as campers, we took a decade long detour to restaurants rather than crank up a camp stove. Small town breakfast dives deserves it’s own post, but the point I want to make is we are going back to our “roots” whereby we are at least talking about cooking meals at camp (other than our tradition “Cajun trout and bake beans” final supper at the end of trout season).  That’s right, cooking breakfast in the morning instead of running into town like a bunch of tenderfeet.

Funny quick sideline – On a family camping trip with my late grandmother, Gladys Lucas, and my parents back in the nineties, my generation jumped into our cars one morning to head for a restaurant.  Grandma was up early and saw what we were doing. As we drove buy she shook her finger at us and yelled “You tenderfeet”.  So that’s where that came from.

Back to camp stove technology. Around ten years ago I found a propane stove that actually made sense in that it was simple, practical and cheap. The magic triad.  I am sorry to report that I cross threaded the propane canister on a trip last fall trip and watched it do a slow meltdown when the leaking propane ignited.  That said, I blame myself for not being more careful attaching the canister and still stand by the product. The design makes sense in that the canister doubles as a leg of the stove providing a solid base to hold even a large skillet. Clever stuff – maybe I have a little analog still in me.

I found the stove on Amazon and delivered price ran about twenty-five bucks and that includes shipping. I’m all set for spring trout camp. Here are the details including seller:

Brinkmann 842-0010-0 1-burner Propane Camp Stove
Sold by BSEK Tech Consultants Inc (GizmosForLife)
Condition: new $14.98   Item Subtotal: $14.98 Shipping & Handling: $10.35 Shipment Total: $25.33

My only qualification is: make sure you thread on the propane canister correctly. You will be amazed by the utility of this product. 

Ducks on a Trout Stream

Maybe you can relate to this. Occasionally I come around a bend and all heck breaks loose. It is usually two, but sometimes several ducks or geese hanging out.  Since I fish wading upstream that is the direction they head to get away from me. They slap their wings on the water and take off like a slow prop plane on a runway – it takes a while to get airborne and in the meantime they boil the water and spook every trout within a hundred yards. If that were the end of it, oh well, but they usually land a few bends upriver and forget about me until I come around that bend and repeat the process. It may be the only thing worse than unknowingly following another fisherman up the stretch. I ask you what’s worse: Knowing why the fish are turned off or wondering why the fish are turned off. Either way about all you can do is get out of the stream and do a big circle to get ahead of the problem.

This reminds me of another problem but one that usually goes away quickly – beaver on trout streams. I was caught by surprise on the Baldwin one time by a loud slap noise and a fat furry head bee lining toward me and creating a wake. I panicked and started backing up but it stopped ten feet from me and went back upstream. The slap of the tail is meant as a warning and I can tell you – instinctively it comes across as one. It’s loud. Another time Feral and I were fishing the Pigeon up by Vanderbilt and came around a bend and saw one on the bank that looked like a black bear cub – it was that big and chunky. Since the Pigeon is bear country, we did a quick freeze to figure out just what we were looking at. Beavers are actually fairly common on trout streams and if you see them they usually just cruise past you like small furry submarines. No danger really, but there is a quick moment of knowing you are sharing space with a wild animal.

The only real danger on a trout stream is getting run over by a canoe. It’s all unlicensed drivers with no training required. Someone needs to invent a canoe with a steering wheel and foot brake. Canoeists may hurt the trout fishing with their noise but on the other hand they provide some entertainment too, so maybe it evens out. One time Feral and I came upon a small group of young people on the Pine River that had pulled over to make some shore lunch. They were on the outside of a wide deep bend, we were on the inside. They were animated and friendly. One geeky kid wanted to re-setup his backpack camp grill to show us how cool it was. So far it had been a hot unproductive day of fishing and we were happy for the diversion. They had some cold beer and offered and we said sure. They threw a can across the river to Feral and he almost went in catching it. They asked if I was ready and I said yes so they lobbed another one over. I lifted my fishing net and caught it. They thought that was hilarious. We thanked them and headed on our way, two ducks waddling up the river.

Shakespeare Wonderod

Back when Shakespeare was on the cutting edge of fishing equipment and my grandfather was doing trick casting demonstrations for them at trade shows, they would send Jake free equipment to try out. He stored his arsenal of fishing rods on a rod rack on a wall of his bedroom. Grandma didn’t complain that I know of but those were different times and I can’t imagine what my wife would say. As a little boy the fishing rods were a great source of interest to me and sneaking into his bedroom to look at them was a regular occurrence.

Jake had a favorite set-up – his “go to” rod and reel for most trout fishing and after he passed away it fell into my hands. I store the rod and reel in an old case and have not been tempted to use it even though as a kid I would have done anything to get my hands on it. The brown Wonderod stood out on his rod rack  and had a certain mystique mainly because over the years we associated that rod with Grandpa and many creels full of trout. It was like Minnesota Fat’s pool cue – there must be magic in it.

Back then fiberglass was the new thing – does that date this story? The rod was designed to go with the company’s closed face spinning reels, notably the 1810 and the 1756. The rod has a sliding reel seat over a lengthy cork handle and when the reel is attached it is attached at the butt of the handle. This allows the user to pinch the fishing line against the cork handle before releasing the bail. After the bail is released the cast is made and line released using the index finger – allowing great control over when to release the line and thereby helping casting accuracy. The line is stopped by using the same index finger to pinch the line against the handle – so the caster can stop the lure mid-air over the target. Jake achieved deadly accuracy (trout Point of View) using this set-up along with his underhand flip cast.

If you are a fisherman and ever wondered why 1810 and 1756 reels are mounted so close to the rod, that is the reason – so the line is easy to pinch against the rod handle. Modern spinning reels are mounted a good distance from the rod making manual control over the line almost impossible. I keep waiting for a tackle manufacturer to figure this out but I won’t hold my breath.

I am considering using Jake’s brown Wonderod and 1756 reel this spring as I know there is still some magic there and it will make my brothers jealous.  Note to myself: lock pole in trunk when not in use.

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