Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the month “May, 2018”

Over the Banks

I can’t tell you how many times I made the drive, sometimes local, sometimes distant, only to find the trout stream over the banks. Doesn’t stop me from fishing but I know right away the odds are not going to be good.  Main problem: fish won’t see the lure cruise by in deep water, meaning 3+ feet , particularly if the water is stained or muddy. Trout hug the bottom. It helps to know the stream well so you can cast to shallow areas and increase the odds of fish spotting the lure.  I usually cast a large floating minnow hoping fish will see it wobble by. I put on a deep-diver, occasionally, selectively, if I am pretty sure I won’t get hung up on a sunken log.

So that was the scene on Saturday. I finished off a work project in the morning, threw my waders and gear in the SUV, and hit my local go-to stream for brown trout. No cars parked at the trail entrance so I suited up, sprayed on some deet, and made the walk downstream to my put-in spot. This stream is usually so shallow you can step in but to be safe I sat on the bank and slid in. About 3 feet deep. And dark, The lure disappeared less than a foot down. That said, right off I caught a fish about 16 inches. Started getting some follows too. Nice fish. They would porpoise near the surface at the rod tip.

I waded where I could but had to figure out as I went along where I could cross the stream to access the best casts and cover. So there was a lot of getting in and out, seeing if I could cross, and casting from the bank. I was seeing enough fish to keep it interesting and could feel a bump once in a while, fish bumping the lure but not getting hooked.

After an hour I had caught and released four fish and kept thinking – in one or two days this stream is going to be perfect. Easy to wade, clear enough water to see what I’m casting into, and ready to give up some huge trout. So I quit after about an hour, not really discouraged, but knowing the timing of this trip could have been better. I zig-zagged back downstream along the bank figuring that would be the easiest path back to the car. Not sure if I will make the trip again in two days but the whole summer is ahead. I hope to do a lot more trout fishing this year.

Spring Trout Camp 2018

Our minds elsewhere. The things we hope for like plentiful trout, pike, and morel mushrooms fell together better than we could imagine. The streams were up and stained. Feral, Natch and I caught around ten trout each. We fished the Little South Branch and Feral made one trip to the Baldwin River. We usually hope for a downpour but the fish cooperated anyway. Browns up to seventeen inches. Might have seen a few larger.

One of Natch’s nicer brown trout

The pike were biting too. Feral caught a record 7 pike on one trip around Big Leverentz in his new fishing kayak, a sit on top model. Feral has some serious mojo on pike. Natch and I struggled on the lake even though I was throwing the exact same lure as Feral. The lake was beautiful as ever.

Mushrooms were not really up but we still managed 3 skillets on 3 nights, fried crispy in “I can’t believe it’s butter.” Not sure why I didn’t grab a stick of real butter. I forgot a list of things I normally remember to bring to trout camp. Gloves to break branches for the fire. My coffee cup, a yeti from my daughter. My sandals. Other stuff. Natch brought some moonshine that went down smooth the first night. Remarkable since it was his first batch and only two days old. Mason jar moonshine. We came up with a couple marketing names but darned if I can remember.

We had the campground to ourselves. We set up on site one on the big lake. Feral pitched a new Cabellas backpack tent and I had my ’61 Apache Chief. Natch brought his ’64 Apache

As I said at the beginning.. our minds were elsewhere. Mike, a trout camp regular, an older brother of Feral and I, was in hospice care. Liver cancer. At first, there seemed to be some hope of beating it. I wrote an earlier post called “Mike” hoping he would read the post and understand my respect for him as a person. Don’t know if he read it but I tried to let him know my thoughts about him on my visits.

Mike passed away early Sunday morning, May 6, 2018. I was startled awake that night. I don’t remember a dream, only a sudden intense fear of death. Woke me up. It was dark in the tent. I managed to get back to sleep. I got the call that morning.

Even when you expect news like that it is hard to face the emotions. Happy it was over for him because he endured a lot of pain. Very sad for his wife and kids and grand-kids. A loss for myself of someone I could always turn to. Sad for Denny, his best fishing buddy. Sad for all the other people he touched in his selfless life.

Natch proposed a toast to Mike on the last night at camp. I thank Natch for that. Up to that point we were knocking down beers, making stupid jokes and conversation, our normal routine. Not sure Mike would approve of so much beer but he would have fit right in, laughing and joking with the rest of us.

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