We decided to camp at a remote spot on the Pine River again this spring. It has been a favorite spot going back thirty years or more. The Pine (in Lake County) may be the best trout stream in Michigan. We always catch trout and always have a shot at a twenty incher. This year was no exception.
I arrived first hoping to find level ground for a new camper trailer, my first real trailer. A 2006 Scamp 16. Fiberglass “eggshell” campers do not come up for sale often and when they do they go fast. I was fortunate to call first. I still have my vintage 1961 Apache tent camper and I may sell it, but it is hard to price something that may be the only one like it with the original canvas in excellent shape. Update: Gave it to Jake. The 61 Apache Chief will still find it’s way to trout camp!
The Scamp worked out well: a great dinette that converts to a large bed in seconds, bunk beds, a 2-burner stove for cooking, a propane fridge, lots of other stuff that may or may not get used like air and a microwave that need shore power. It’s a learning curve – a small house packed into a tiny space.
Natch showed up later that evening and we had the first of many great campfires and time to knock down some beers, laugh, and catch up. The next morning we fished a stretch together and he pulled in what I thought would be the largest trout taken, a 19.5 incher.
I moved up to get a picture and had massive wading boot failure which cut our fishing short. We ran into Big Rapids looking for wading boots and found none at the Dunham’s store so we tried Wal-Mart. They had no wading boots but did have a pair of black work boots for $25 so I bought those a size large and they worked great! I am tempted to try to find some regular felt-bottom wading boots because they provide excellent traction, even on clay shelves, but may stick with these. Can’t beat the price.
The stream conditions were the best we have seen in years – a dark coffee stain that kept the trout from seeing us as we waded up the river. Likely the best year we have had on the Pine as far as trout caught. We kept two only for a trout dinner and released the rest.
Feral showed up with Jake and we had an excellent jam session around the campfire. Jake brought a vintage guitar, an off brand that was made by Martin in the nineteen thirties. Bob had my mandolin and Natch had bongos and a tambourine. I had my Ventura camp guitar. I re-wrote a classic Lightfoot song. “The Wreck of a Jeep that was Feral’s. The gist of the song was Feral nursing a dying Jeep to trout camp. It went quite well considering everyone there, save me, are Jeep lovers. Also tried some new songs, Losing my Religion and Kryptonite. Another roaring fire: special thanks to Natch who brought a battery powered electric chain saw. Best invention ever. We played into the night.
During the day we drove to our Morel mushroom spot but they just weren’t up in numbers. We picked up maybe eight and fried them up crispy and added eggs for breakfast the next day. On the way to our mushroom spot Natch spotted a church sign that had us laughing enough to stop and get a photo. The Mother’s Day message was quite unique. Two days later the sign was edited and we had to laugh about that, including whatever conversation took place with the pastor for the re-write.
We made a “bank” fishing trip one evening to a spot I had seen a huge brown trout knowing if it hit again there was room to land it. I tossed a large Rapala and worked the deep bend pretty well but couldn’t get him to rise. We tried a couple more spots and it was a fun excursion though fishless.
Feral was heading home on Monday so late Sunday afternoon he fished the stretch below camp. He was determined to catch the largest trout. He was gone a long time, enough for me to get a little concerned. I called him to see how it was going and he had just landed a 22 inch brown trout. He took a photo and sent a text message, then released the fish.
The view from camp..