Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Respect for Other Anglers

Luther on Sturgeon

Feral and I did a long walk into a remote stretch of the Sturgeon River near Vanderbilt a couple years ago to a favorite spot that gives up some big fish. We hit it just right. The river was up and stained, the cool fall weather meant big browns were moving upstream to spawn and we had the river to ourself. We put in on a straight section that held some good cover and right off the bat Feral landed a nice fish. I moved into the lead and caught the fish in the above photo barely two minutes later. We hadn’t moved upstream 10 feet and already had two nice fish. We looked at each other and grinned. We were in for one heck of a trip.

Just then a couple fishermen appeared along the bank. They didn’t have waders. They saw the fish in the landing net and asked what lures we were using and we steered them in the right general direction figuring they would move on. The public water went for miles both directions. Instead they put on lures and started casting right in front of us. We spoke up and said we were fishing this stretch and would they mind finding a different stretch and they were indignant about it, like who did we think we were? They moved up another 30 yards and started casting again. I was angry but Feral brushed it off and figured why make a fuss – they are idiots or worse. Sometimes you run into people like that.

I hope it isn’t a symptom of a New Era. As kids, our Grandpa raised us to respect other fishermen on the river and that meant if you run into another angler you figure out what they are doing – then you adjust your plans around theirs. Don’t interrupt their fishing experience. They were there first, after all.

Later I tried to rationalize what happened. Maybe the two guys were part of the salmon crowd that fishes Michigan rivers. For that type of fishing anglers often stand right next to each other, elbowing each other out as it were, like it is part of a game. Which brings to mind a funny story.

Our Grandpa (Jake Lucas) tried every type of fishing including salmon. When salmon were first introduced to Michigan rivers he was in a crowd of anglers on the Betsy or maybe Bear Creek and an angler upstream had on a nice fish which broke his line. Jake could see the severed line floating down past him so he cast over it, snagged the line, then tied the end of the line to his pole. Then he fought and landed the fish. Meanwhile, the angler upstream was watching the event unfold. When he saw Jake land the fish he rushed downstream to his side and said, ” Man, I sure was lucky to get that one.”

Jake gave him the fish. I think he figured anyone desperate enough to make a logic leap like that needed the fish more than he did. I should take a lesson. Maybe those two guys on the Sturgeon needed a trout a lot more than we did. One thing for sure, their grandfather didn’t teach them to have respect for other anglers.

Catching a Lunker on the First Cast

Feral withLunker Brown

Feral loaned me some photos over Thanksgiving and a few took me right back to the stream. Several years back we were doing the trout closer up by Vanderbilt and we fished a stretch of the Pigeon that requires a lot of walking to reach. After the long trudge in we  decided hey, we made it this far, we may as well keep going a few more bends. Ultimately we knew it meant 3 hours of wading upstream to get to our takeout point, and another quarter mile walk through tangles back out to the truck. We went a bend to far, so to speak, and we found ourselves on a gravelly stretch that didn’t look to promising. Feral took the lead. There was a downed spruce angled back towards us, almost completely across the river. Feral moved up so he could run a lure in front of it. His first cast was slammed by the brown in the above photo. I believe it was twenty seven inches and that meant some soul searching.

We don’t usually keep big fish – the small ones taste better. Still, it was a trophy in anyone’s book and we could always grill it, or if he wanted to consider the idea, have it mounted. So Feral decided to keep the fish. He put it on a stringer and that is where the real soul searching begins because it meant lugging six pound of flopping lively fish while wading upstream through the most treacherous water we fish, over beaver dams, getting out around deep holes, etc. There is a little known formula: The weight of the fish times the speed of the river times distance = the actual weight of the fish, so about thirty five pounds by the time Feral crawled up the bank to head for the truck. There is a second four-mula that comes to mind: Four Motrin + Four Beers. Just the thing for a compressed main spring.

As far as I know that fish still resides in his ex-wife’s freezer. Once Feral stops having painful flashbacks of his longest ever trout stretch I expect that trout will grace the wall of his basement. Not over the workbench where he’d have to look at it every day. That would be cruel. In the furnace room next to the water heater.

Feral on the Pigeon

Feral pointed out in  his comment he thought the top photo was a brown trout from the Sturgeon River… and he may be right. The above photo is likely the lunker caught on the Pigeon.

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