Fichigan

Small stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “September, 2016”

2016 Trout Season Closer

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I met Feral, Natch, and special guest Chopper up at Pickerel Lake for the trout season closer and on the way up it threatened rain. I would have been happy to set up in a downpour if it would have muddied the rivers. No such luck but the clear steams did give up a few keepers and one lunker. Feral and I did a stretch on the Sturgeon late Friday afternoon and he popped several keepers while I nailed sunken logs. I finally realized I didn’t have my polaroids. Pretty critical error. Helps to see into the water!

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Feral with Polaroids

Natch arrived too late on Friday to fish but we had a pretty good jam around the campfire, Natch on bongos, Feral on mandolin and I had my guitar. Pretty diverse song set ranging from Pink Floyd to Ween to Bruce Hornsby. A Nuclear Chili Dog night.

On Saturday morning Natch and I headed over to the valley to fish the Sturgeon. I headed up to the horse bridge and he headed down the big hill by the Ford property. I heard a shout and next thing I saw was him running back up the hill. He had come face to face with a badger loping up the path. We went back down to check it out and found the badger den right on the foot path.

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Been great to get a photo …or not. We really didn’t want to see a badger charge out of the hole.

So I went upstream and Natch fished the lower section. The stream was clear and the fishing was slow. I had one about 16 inches bat my lure but I couldn’t get him to strike again. Saw a few smaller fish. Normally at this time of year the huge browns move upstream to spawn and this is a chance at two foot lunkers but I can only guess the season is messed up this year by global warming. So I walked the river back downstream to meet Natch and talked to a couple guys backpack camping by the bridge. They had seen some nice fish, including losing a big one. I mention the stream gives up some nice trout in the fall but it helps to have a flooded or muddy river. I mention fichigan saying they could find pictures and it turns out they had seen the website – it comes up searches in for Sturgeon River. I could kick myself for not getting a picture of the two of them by their camp. Feral and I have talked about camping in the valley for years but never got around to it.

I followed the river until I found Natch and he had a good story but no fish. A two footer broke him off. He was using some pretty light line, 6 lb test, and a new fishing rod designed for ice fishing (my first impression). The odds were against him. I felt bad for him but at least this was an indication big fish were in the river and heading upstream. So we went back to the valley again on Sunday and he fished the same stretch. I was going to fish with him, trading off the lead like I do with Feral, but decided to head back up river on my own.

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Natch fishing the valley, Sturgeon River

I had a pretty unremarkable trip. Saw some small ones. Walked the shore up to the bridge thinking I could get the photo of the backpackers but they had broke camp. Headed back to meet Natch and this time his story was a little different. He caught the lunker he lost on Saturday! He made the exact same cast to the same piece of cover and the fish slammed his lure again. He released the fish but took a photo. Strangely, it is a rainbow, not a brown. I have no explanation. I have caught tiny rainbows on the Sturgeon, years ago, but figured the browns ( and brook trout, upstream) had taken over. While Natch and I fished the valley, Feral went to the upper Sturgeon and pulled out a couple decent dinner trout so in the grand scheme of things, it is good that my buddies caught some decent fish even though my reputation took a hit. Great camping though, and for the record, no ticks and no mosquitoes.

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Natch’s rainbow on the Sturgeon

 

Dinner Trout

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My wife has been asking me to bring home some trout for dinner so when I called up Feral to see if he wanted to go fishing last Saturday I told him up front that was the mission. We started on a upper stretch of the Pine River in Lake County which was not as high or muddy as we had hoped. Still, Feral caught a nice brown about 14 inches and I was surprised by a Brook Trout. We don’t keep brook trout, even for the skillet, under the assumption that releasing them may help the population. We catch one brook trout to every 20 browns so it is an event just to see one and appreciate the beautiful coloring.
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Feral kept the brown trout though. He too was thinking “trout dinner.” Feral has some markings on his fishing rod to confirm fish size which you can see on the photo below. If you click on the photo ( use browser back button to return) you can see his markings at 15, 20 and 25 inches. That’s not a hoax, Michigan streams give up brown trout that large, especially in the fall. As far as we’re concerned though, smaller trout taste better, let the big ones go.
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Feral mentioned the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River and the thought was maybe it received a bit more rain than the Pine, in which case the fishing might be excellent. So we headed south. The river was spectacular and the weather cooperated with rain and drizzle interspersed with bright sunshine, back and forth. The temp was around 70 so it was comfortable to wear rain gear.

We started catching fish right away and seeing some pretty nice fish, upwards of twenty inches, but the big ones seemed to be looking only, following the lure back or making passes without a strike. The better news was the dinner size trout, keepers around 12 to 14 inches, were hungry. Feral kept a couple and I kept three figuring that was about right for my wife and I.
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I cooked the trout on Sunday, September 11, a day of reflection and sadness for America. The horror of 9/11 still makes no sense to me. I spent part of the day writing an editorial, for my own sanity, just to try to understand, and part of the day watching Saving Private Ryan. When my wife came home from work at 5:00 I dove into cooking the trout. It was good. She said I need to bring home trout more often. I didn’t do well with table talk.

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