Fichigan

Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

1961 Apache Scout Camper & JC Higgens

Scout 1

I’ve had so much response to the post “1961 Apache Chief Tent Camper” that I thought I should do one on the Apache Scout. Some years back Feral’s son Jake spotted a Scout for sale on the side of the road and told Feral, who bought it. The Scout turned out to be a JC Higgens brand version made for Sears, but is identical to the Apache Scout. Sears sold camping and sporting goods equipment under the JC Higgens brand up until 1964 including campers, camp stoves, lanterns and coolers. Searching the internet I see the brand extended to fishing equipment including reels and tackle boxes. Most of it is collectible and considered vintage. So if you happen to find a JC Higgens camper you have the option to find other vintage items to go along with it – to me that adds value!

Feral passed the Scout camper onto Jake who has been considering redoing the canvas, which is usable, though Feral used to throw a tarp over it if it looked like rain. The Scout is similar to the Apache Chief but takes a little longer to set up. It uses regular tent poles at the corners rather than the expanding interior pole system of the Chief. The door is on the side rather than the front as seen in the photo. It has the same floor space, bunk for sleeping, and compartment storage space. And coolness factor. You just don’t see these campers often. From what I have read, after the canvas dies a lot of people turn them in to utility trailers. That’s a shame but understandable. The boxes are made of aluminum so they never rust out.

Here’s an original ad for the Apache Scout. $345 dollars. I guess that dates it!

1961 Apache Scout Ad

If you would like to see the post for the Apache Chief, including a similar ad, type chief in the search bar in the right column.

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Subaru Trout Car

Mike and Denny at Pickerel lake

Mike and Denny at Pickerel lake

It was and still is a tough winter in Michigan and I’m sad to report the death of my last trout car. I have moved on to a 2001 Forester previously owned by Mike who offered a great bargain I couldn’t refuse. Mike is a consummate angler, wilderness explorer and used car salesman/former attorney that may be related to me depending on just how dependable the new ride turns out to be. Or not be.

I am counting on a couple things here including the Subaru’s on board computer which will hopefully have an auto pilot that takes me into remote stretches of trout stream that have previously been kept secret. Mike and his fishing partner Denny have driven down half the two-tracks and back alleys of northern Michigan in search of virgin unmapped trout streams and have on one or two occasions actually outfished Feral and myself. If I can hack the computer that will be the end of that nonsense.

Mike disclosed absolutely everything wrong with the car before handing me the keys including the small piece of black electrical tape hiding the check engine light that would otherwise be aggravating to look at. He also pointed out the annoying Door Open warning light and his theory that it may have something to do with the rear hatch, which it didn’t, but the light wasn’t cover with tape so I was forced to think about it. Using my extensive garage mechanic skills I was able to isolate the problem by opening and closing each door. It turned out to be the spring loaded passenger door switch which I fixed by pushing it in and out a couple times. Gee that felt good. Something fixed and zero dollars invested.

When I got the car home I took my wife for a joy ride and was surprised when she rolled down the window in sub-zero weather. There is a burning oil smell that barely registers with me but apparently made her almost sick. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. When I come home from fishing she always greets me with a clothes pin on her nose and points anxiously at the shower so you know she is hyper-sensitive. I have vowed to figure out the oil smell even though it is a minor distraction.

The car has a 5-speed manual transmission. Strange thing, if I am thinking about taking off smooth I can make the car jerk like a bucking bronco. If I am not thinking about it I become part of the machine, almost Borg like… so smooth onlookers may wonder if the car is electric. So I need to train myself to never think about the transmission. No problem.

If I add up all the features on the car it may actually be the best trout car yet. It’s a station wagon so there’s room for my fishing gear. I can sit on the rear gate to put on waders. There is a roof rack for a kayak or two. There is a trailer hitch for my 61 Apache Chief camper. The car is all-wheel drive so I should be able to drive it anywhere (famous last words). And it has a 6-CD stereo so I can listen to ancient rock songs on the long drive to my favorite fishing streams. Thanks Mike!

 

Michigan Brook Trout

Feral with brook trout

Feral with brook trout

I’ve been wanting to write about brook trout ever since I started blogging but the problem has been getting photos. Feral loaned me some of his and I found the one above which is a respectable brook trout for the water we fish. Generally speaking, brook trout reside far upstream from where we normally fish. They are more suited to the small headwaters where the water is colder. If we catch a brook trout on the lower stretches of a stream it will often be where a small feeder creek empties into a larger stream. Or where a small spring introduces cold water, sometimes trickling off a hillside.

Brook trout are more aggressive and less wary than brown trout. That works against them (vs fishermen) and may be one reason browns have taken over their territory. According to the Michigan DNR browns were introduced in our rivers in 1883 and say what you will, browns are great sport, run bigger, and are very abundant. That makes catching a nice brook trout all the more interesting. I probably catch one brook trout for every 20 browns. I always release them in the hopes the population will grow and I’ll see more of them. Feral releases them too.

We catch brook and brown trout on the same lures: minnow baits and spinners. If we were to concentrate on catching more brook trout, small spinners with wide blades would be the way to go. Blue Fox lures in gold or silver. Wider blade means more “hang time.” In effect, the trout have more time to see and catch the lures.

Mike and Denny, two trout camp regulars, often fish the Black River in the fall for brook trout. The Black angles through the Pigeon River State Game Area up near Vanderbilt. I fished it once with Mike and the stream was overgrown with a canopy of saplings and brush. It helped to be an expert at underhand flip casting because there is no way to overhand cast a lure into the trout cover. I am sure there are open stretches without so much canopy so that is a good excuse to do some exploring.

I am trying to place exactly where the above photo was taken and have concluded it isĀ  on the Pine River in Lake County. The Pine may be one of the best naturally reproducing streams in Michigan. It’s landlocked with a dam so it doesn’t get salmon or steelhead runs and that may be the clue to it’s health. We catch browns, brooks, and rainbows out of the Pine which makes it interesting. A brook trout over 14 inches is an event that deserves a cold beer back at the truck. Of course, just getting back the truck also qualifies as a beer event.

Feral at truck

Feral tailgating the S-10, Labatts in hand.

 

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