I met Natch, Feral and Denny up at Pickerel Lake Campground, Pigeon River State Game Area for the closing of Michigan’s general trout season. It was a week of huddling next to a campfire at night to take the chill out of the bones after fishing the Sturgeon and Pigeon rivers. We caught fish but nothing large. River access was hampered by a bridge out over the Pigeon that was supposed to be completed this summer. Further, the Pigeon was awash with gray silt coming from the Song of the Morning former dam site. To be clear, mismanagement destroyed fishing for miles on the Pigeon and now it is happening again. Some new effort must be taking place – I need to research this before commenting further. Access to our favorite stretch of the Sturgeon river was cut off by a washed out two-track ( a major thorough fare in the area ) requiring us to find a different route. The new route was an hour drive vs. twenty minutes from the campground.
So getting to our favorite spots was complicated.
We had a pretty good jam one night with Feral on mandolin and Denny on a guitar he hand built from a Martin kit. I brought my 000-16 Martin and hoped Natch would provide some rhythm but he was in the hang loose listening mode. I sang “A whiter shade of pale” and was booed off the stage when I hit the chorus. Feral did “buenos tardes amigo” to good applause and Denny, a song encyclopedia, did some John Prine. It was a very good night with a very good fire provided by Natch – a new specialty whereby he starts a fire with a wet roll of paper towels.
A cold closer once meant large brown trout have headed upstream from lakes to spawn but something’s wrong. The big fish have been missing the last few years in the Sturgeon and the Pigeon. (We have been fishing the Pigeon a couple miles down from the yoga camp where there’s less silt damage.) The culprit is most likely global warming which may push the spawn into November. No telling how that will play out as far as sustainability. No one saw a trout in the twenty inch range. That is quite a change from just a few years ago.
It’s hard to sit still at a cold camp so Natch and I went exploring in his Jeep. We found new access to the Pigeon but the route involved going where no man has gone before. OK, there may have been a faint two-track. The river was gravel bottom and looked like good spawning ground for trout so we were hopeful about seeing a lunker. The river gave up a couple small ones so we had fun.
The good news, saved for last: Feral’s son Jake has a new metal sculpture up in the bike pathway in Alpena, an exceptional work. It is hard for me to describe but it feels organic and is an example of his incredible blacksmith skills. It gets better. Jake showed up with his sister Patricia and she had some news. She wrote a graphic novel and found a publisher! She is working with the publisher to find the right illustrator and the publisher is leaving the decision to her. Wow. So much art talent in one family.