Fichigan

Small stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “April, 2017”

Opening Day Success

When trying to figure out a slant for this post Feral said, “We could call it “We didn’t get skunked” but then went on to say, “that’s about the lowest form of bragging.” I had to agree and laugh. Considering our haul, including morel mushrooms, I’ll try to frame the day in more glorious terms. For starters, we pulled nice fish out of busy crowded streams and Feral talked five morels right out of the ground. Even more incredibly, get ready for this, our waders did not leak. The measure of success keeps rising.

We started up on the Pine River hitting the most inaccessible spot we know and had a group of fishermen walk past us two minutes after we got in. They didn’t start fishing the hole right in front of us so we knew the river gods were smiling on us. The Pine was carrying some mud and wadable and we starting seeing fish right away. I had one about 17 or 18 inches make several passes at my lure, then caught one about 15.

After about a hundred yards we had to get out of the stream and could see the group of fishermen working a big deep hole up ahead…so we decided to hit our reliable mushroom spot.

Feral stops for a bite to eat

Normally our mushroom area has cars parked on both sides of the road but none today, a Saturday, so that was not a good sign. Still, Feral, using magic powers that escape me, started conjuring up some of these delectable treats while I went cross-eyed trying.


From there we went down to the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette and parked between groups of campers. The Little South was high, clear, and wadable and we managed to cut off a fair stretch. Feral caught a good pan fryer and our casting was finally starting to get precision – dropping the lures into congested overhangs and being surprised by the fish we weren’t seeing. When the Little South is clear as glass the brown trout are buried deep beneath the banks. If you are not risking lures casting into deep overhangs your chances are slim.

We wrapped up the day with a cold beer back at the truck. Our “trout camp” weekend is still a ways off but it is hard to let the opener pass by without at least a day trip. No matter the haul, getting out sets the stage for another great year.

Jake Lucas flip cast illustrated

If you search for Jake Lucas using the search tool on this site you’ll get a bit of history. Part of his legacy, besides teaching so many of his friends and family his trout fishing techniques, was his patience teaching us all how to flip cast. As a trout fishing tool it’s hard to imagine not having this as part of the arsenal. I use it for 90% of my casts. The ability to drop a lure where you want it on a congested small trout stream makes all the difference. If you can master this – your success will improve.  If you click on the illustration it should be full screen, use your browser back button to return to the post.

Note that the cast is one fluid motion, using the wrist only – not the arm. There is a tendency, when learning this, to jerk your arm forward. Keep your upper arm glued to your side. For practice put on a practice plug and set up some targets in your yard, paper plate size, scattered about. Get used to stopping the forward motion of the lure as it goes above the target by pinching the line against the rod handle. This is fairly critical. Stopping the lure right above the target, on a trout stream, translates to dropping the lure into the stream just shy of the far bank, or piece of structure. Saves lures, catches fish.

The flip cast illustration shows a vintage Shakespeare closed face reel. One of the important design features is how near the reel body is mounted to the rod making the distance between the line and the rod handle minimal, in effect,  making it easy to pinch the line / stop the lure. Sadly, all of the close face spinning reels on the market, the trigger spins, have the the body of the reel mounted way below the rod.  It’s possible to pinch the line to stop the lure, but it is harder to do. If anyone working for a reel manufacturer sees this post I hope they will pass this information along to the design department – the reel body can be moved right up next to the rod. Thousands of Shakespeare reel fans will appreciate your efforts. The add below shows Jake with some trout and one of several closed-face reel models made back in the fifties and sixties.

Sadly, Shakespeare tried to reintroduce the model 1810 reel in the eighties or nineties, as the 1810 II. The marketing department and bean counters must have insisted the reel needed to be sold for under $30.00 because it was a shadow of it’s former self. If Shakespeare would have doubled the quality and price – they would have had a winner.

Cold Beer on Cold Openers

Natch with 2 beers

We used to do our trout opener up on the Pine River in Northern Lake County. There’s quite a lot of state land up there and you can pick up permits at any DNR station for remote camping. The river was at the bottom of a very steep hill and we would do some bait fishing on the slope because of a deep hole that held a lot of promise. It was a tricky climb down and a worse climb out so we would make sure to take several beers because there were no volunteers to make beer runs.

Temperatures on the opener, the last Saturday in April, are all over the place, but usually cold. We, Natch, Feral and I, and any other regulars, would cut some sapling forks and lob big crawlers with sinkers into the dark pool and then crack a beer. Funny what you remember but I recall the sound of bottles clanking in our pockets as we made our way down the hill.

A cold beer and expectation of a giant trout latching on to the crawlers was all we needed. We’d sip our beer and stare at the rod tips which slowly swayed with the pull of the current. If a trout picked up the crawler the rod tip would jerk slightly and then it was a gamble on the best way to set the hook. I would usually pick up the rod slowly and lightly feel the line for a familiar tap tap – then rear back.

We caught very few trout and could have learned a lesson from Jake Lucas, who used to go up small streams with a fly rod and 1810 Shakespeare reel, constantly moving and dipping a crawler in front of logs and other cover. As kids, Jake took Feral and I up mosquito infected feeder creeks and watched as he would limit out with crawlers in an hour. So we know how to do it proper, but bank fishing a deep hole with a cold beer has it’s own magic. A couple buddies hanging out knocking down a cold beer on a cold evening. You know you are alive. A good trout is a bonus.

Remote Camp on the Pine River

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