Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

2014 Fall Trout Camp

Natch fishing the stretch below Tin Bridge

Natch fishing the stretch below Tin Bridge

In a strange turn of events Feral did not make it to trout camp this fall but that didn’t stop us other die-hards from converging on Pickerel Lake campground up in Pigeon River country. Natch, Mike, Denny and I worked in a few days of fishing. Mike and Denny stayed at a private campground with amenities, which was surprising, since he and Denny have a long history of camping at Pickerel. But they stopped over on Friday night for some campfire and music. Denny had his Martin and played some James Taylor and John Prine and I might have surprised them when I played “Norma Jean” by Elton John (a song about Marilyn Monroe) and a pop song called “Wake me Up” by Avici.

Natch arrived after dark and that was my chance to have him audition as bongo player for Rock Bottom and the Out of Tuners. Unfortunately Rock Bottom (Feral) was not present so he may have to audition all over again. The main thing is Natch kept reasonable good time with the two beer drinking guitar players and he drinks my brand – so he will be getting a very strong recommendation.

Mike warms up the bongos while Denny fingerpicks his D-35

Mike warms up the bongos while Denny finger picks his D-35

The fishing, ah the fishing. Fall Trout Camp is our chance to fish rivers that give up huge brown trout (in the 25 inch class). Giant browns move upstream in the fall but it usually requires blustery cold weather and rain. This year we had perfect camping weather. So camping was great….though everyone kept commenting it’s just not the same without Feral and turning to me for answers. I really didn’t have any answers but suggested next year we camp in Feral’s back yard if that’s what it takes to get him to trout camp. (Trout Camp… It’s not entirely about the trout.)

Natch on the Sturgeon

Natch on the Sturgeon

I fished a couple of stretches of river with Natch and let me tell you – when the going gets tough, Natch gets going. What you don’t see in this photo is the log strewn bottom and gale force river trying to drag him backwards. I often get out and go around this spot on the Sturgeon because the wading is treacherous. The other thing I wanted to say about Natch is he can really zing a lure into tight cover and that’s a requirement for small stream trout fishing. He uses a side arm cast rather than the “Lucas” underhand flip cast so it was interesting seeing him drop lures under low overhead branches and other tight spots.
Natch on Sturgeon 3
Notice the water line on Natch’s fishing vest.

Tin Bridge
I have been wanting to post a photo of the new Tin Bridge ever since the old tin bridge destroyed the frame, exhaust, and brake line on my old Nissan Pathfinder. (see post The Incident at Tin Bridge). The new bridge belongs on a superhighway! Strangely, where the blacktop ends the rutted two-track requires a 4 wheel drive monster truck for passage.

For those wondering about the Pigeon River and the Song of the Morning Dam a sign posted at the bridge indicates they are drawing the dam down to prevent any more accidental spills (the last one decimated the trout population for miles with silt) so measures are being taken. I fished a section called Cornwall Flats and the bad news is it had new levels of silt and the fishing was tough. I caught a ten inch brook trout and a smaller brown but I suspect it will still be a long time before the stream recovers. Areas that did not have silt last year have silt buildup this year. Maybe drawing down the dam isn’t the answer?

Cornwall Flats section, Pigeon River

Cornwall Flats section, Pigeon River

Notice the silt on the bank. The bottom of the stream was black from silt throughout much of this stretch of river. The water was clear so the black steam bottom made it seem like I was walking in a pool of India ink. A bit strange…

So no giant brown trout to report this trip – you’ll have to search the archives if you want to see photos of the real monsters that come out of the Sturgeon and Pigeon in the fall. Maybe next year it won’t be summer weather in late September. That would help.

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