My Jeep News

While I was in Newberry, Jenny and I were driving around the town looking for First Baptist Church of Newberry so we knew where to go to on Sunday morning.

Down one of the side streets I saw this…

Yes, that is a CJ. Yes it is sad. No front wheel. Rust all over the place. However it looked like it had a really nice hardtop. That is too bad.

On a good note, before I left for vacation I took my Jeep into Five Star Auto – The Jeep Outfitters. I had heard good things about them on the message boards, and from a coworker. They sounded very good at what they do, and specialize in Jeeps. I told them about both the little things that needed work anda couple of big things. They said they would get back to me with a quote.

Yesterday I heard back from them with a quote for $2100. At first I was taken back, but then I went over all the things it needed. They said the axle was about to fall off and needed new brackets and u-joints. The steering column needed to be replaced. The brakes had to be replaced all around. The oil pan and transmisson fluid pan both needed new gaskets. The engine needed a full-tune up with plugs and cap. The gas guage needed a new sending unit. So, I gave them the go ahead, and I should be getting my Jeep back within a couple of days. Woot.

Fishing Trip Day 5 – Au Sable River

On our way home from our one day stay in Mackinaw City, I asked Jen if we could stop by Grayling and the Gates Au Sable Lodge because it was on the way home. There was a huge strom coming in from across Lake Michigan and I knew I would not be able to fish for long, but was hoping to catch something.

I went to Gates Lodge and bought some flies, and asked where a good place to get into the river would be. I had some locations in my fly fishing book, but thought there might be some better tips. There were not. However, I did get a really nice map of the river from Gates Lodge, and the guy behind the counter gave me some tips of where to get into the river at. I bought some ant flies with orange wings that act as indicators.

Jenny and I went to Keystone Landing which is also a campsite. As soon as we walked down the water I could hear the fish jumping. Jenny asked what the noises were. I was excited and smiled big and said it was the fish. I waded down a 100 feet or so, and I could see them jumping up ocassionaly. When I disturbed the water I would not hear any movement for a while. So, I tried to be still and I even started to see fish along the gavel parts of the river. It was amazing, and the AuSable has got to be the best river to fly fish in the state. There is so much room to cast, there is cover for fish every where, and the current creates riffles but is never too strong.

After about an hour and a half, and only one bite it started to drizzle. I was not sure, but this could have been the intro to the nasty storm we knew was heading our way. We exited the river, and took off for home. This was a great vacation, but the only problem is it just makes me want to go back for more. Here are some pictures of me and the river…

Fishing Trip Day 4 – Fox River East Branch

In the morning Jen and I visited Oswald’s Bear Ranch, and it was extremely cool. I have seen black bears at various zoo’s, but I have never been this close to an actual bear before. Later that afternoon we went to the East Branch Fox River state campground. I had heard that the East Branch of the Fox was where Hemmingway had really fished. Also, when I went to church Sunday morning one of the church goers I was talking to had mentioned that the east branch typically had more fish in it. So, again I was really excited to be fishing in this section of the river. The campground was really cool. There are these old bridges over the river in many differet spots, most of which have fallen apart. There were also some odd abadoned stone buildings, and I wonder what they were used for previously in time.

For some reason I felt safer at this section of the river, and I wandered out a bit farther while Jen stayed at the camp site and read. I found some really cool places around the campground, but there were just too many low hanging branches to cast well. I crept through the river until I finally found a spot where I could cast. I have to say this was my proudest moment of fly fishing yet, because I actually read the river correctly.

As the river curved to the right, there was a log on the far left bank that went into a pool about 20 inches deep. There was a sand bar causing a riffle right above the log, and I knew there was a fish hiding there. I put on the elk hair caddis again, and on the very first cast a fish came up and attacked the fly hard. I pulled back to set the line, but the fish was gone. I tried for another 10 minutes, and then moved down the river some more. I just couldn’t find another good spot to cast, and I did not want to leave Jen alone at the camp site, so I made my way back.

There was a huge thunderstorm on our drive back to Newberry. When we stopped in Newberry there was actually some hail. I figured the storm probably ruined the water for fishing in most places, but after dinner we still had a lot of time and there is not a bunch of things to do in Newberry. So, Jenny and I drove to a boat launch on the edge of town that I had noticed when we went to the bear ranch. It was definitely not what I expected. It was a boat lunch on the Tahquamenon River, but the river at that point was very murky and I assume the rain did not help any. It was basically black, possibly the same brown color as the falls. Jenny actually tried fishing for a little while, and I put on some streamers on for both of us. It was bass and muskie water, definitely not for trout.

Neither of us caught anything, and we headed back to the Hotel. The cool thing was that even though I did not catch anything, I had fished the Sturgeon, the Pigeon, the Fox (and east branch), and the Tahquamenon rivers. Hopefully some day I will get to come back to the U.P. and try to fish some other areas of the Fox, and maybe get to fish the Two-hearted River. In my Michigan Fly Fishing book, the author said that the good fishing on the Fox River does not start until after it crosses highway 77, so I will have to keep that in mind for next time.

Fishing Trip Day 3 – Fox River

We left the Bed and Breakfast in Wolverine and headed for yooper-land. First, Jen and I went to the Blueberry Festival in Paradise, MI and it was raining pretty good but when we got to Paradise the wind had picked up and the rain had combined with very strong winds. Most of the festival booths had to close down, and I felt bad for all the festival goers. Luckily, the main community building was still open, and had a variety of blueberry baked goods for sale. I bought a slice of blueberry pie, Jenny bought a piece of blueberry buckle (it is like cake), and we were back on the road. Next, we stopped at Tahquamenon Falls and took some pictures. I chose to stay in Newberry because it seemed to be central to most of the main attractions in the U.P.

The next day we went to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and took the scenic drive through. There are fishing ponds and small lakes designated in the refuge, but it was not my style of fishing. Later, after we made it through a fairly uneventful but scenic drive, we headed north to the legendary Fox River. In a lot of the literature and web sites I was researching, they stated that this was Ernest Hemingway’s river, and it was “teeming” with brook trout. There is a city park right near Seney, but there was some people getting into the water with kayaks so I thought it would be worth it to go down the road a few more miles to the state camp ground. I found a decent access site from one of the camp sites, and noticed there was another fly fisherman down the river.

I had enough room to cast where I was it, and did not want to wade up or down the river because I did not want to leave Jen alone at the camp site. So, I kept casting onto a couple of the deep pools using an elk wing caddis. I read in one of my fly fishing books that the brookies sometimes will go after exaggerated flies, so I was using a bigger elk-wing fly. Well, after casting for about twenty minutes and seeing no action, I decided I would ditch the dry fly and try a worm. As I was climbing the bank of the river, I let my fly drift down and I was going to reel it in once I got out of the water. I had one foot onto the bank, and a brookie came up and attacked the drifting fly. I could not believe it, and decided to keep the fly on. I edged my way back across the river and tried casting into the same spot for another ten minutes, and then I got my line hung up on a branch. As I was untangling my line off the branch, a brookie came up and hit the top of the water about 10 inches behind me. I think it was the same fish taunting me. After another ten minutes of nothing, it was time to leave. This was definitely a fun and serene place to fish.

Fishing Trip Day 2 – Pigeon River

Today Jenny and I went to the Pigeon River Country Forest. This place is amazing, and has to be one of the coolest places we went to on the entire trip. There was nobody here. Seriously, this place is ginormous, and you almost never see another person unless you go through the camp grounds. There is a wild elk herd here, but Jen and I did not see any during the time we were there.

Well, after driving forever, we finally got to the forest headquarters. Inside the headquarters was a brook trout mounted in a case, and I think it was 26” if I remember right. It was caught in a creek in the northern end of the park. This made me excited to get out and fish. Jenny and I drove around scouting out a site that I could fish and she could read at. There was not many good access sites, but as we drove through one of the camp grounds I noticed that there was a pretty deep pool underneath the bridge.

We stopped and set up shop, and immediately I noticed that there were fish rising to feed on top the water. I think I was using a white trico, and after a while I finally caught a fish. Unfortunately, when I tried to set the hook I actually threw the fish back over my shoulder. I reeled it in, and the fish was only about 2 to 4 inches. I am assuming these were all little brookies, and they attacked my fly on and off for over an hour. I switched to a black ant pattern, and they were still attacking the fly, but I never did catch another one. Maybe the hook was too big, and I’ll have to try some smaller flies next time. Still, I had a great time an this is definitely a place I would like to go camping in the future.

Fishing Trip Day 1 – Sturgeon River

This was not really a fishing trip, but was my summer vacation with Jenny.  I didn’t fish every day, but I did get to fish a lot.  I tried to keep track of each time I fished over my vacation. I am going to put in a separate entry for every time I went out fishing… so here it goes.

Today I fished the Sturgeon River. We are staying at the Silent Sport Lodge, and the west branch of the Sturgeon River runs through the back of their property. I fished in this section from 10am until about noon. It was the first time using my new 5 weight setup. The only two times I have fished I have used an 8 weight fly-line and reel, so this is a little bit different. I didn’t catch anything, but I definitely found out about small casts, and side casts. It is tight quarters on that part of the river. The sky was cloudy all morning, and the water was surprisingly cold. I think I saw one small fish come up to feed, but I didn’t catch anything.

For lunch we went into Wolverine and I had a picnic with Jen at the city park across from the canoe rental shop. First, I stopped into Billie Bob’s Bait and Tackle to pick up some worms thinking the fish may be hungry for some real food. We then went over to the city park and began to eat our lunch. I am not positive, but this park seems to be where the west branch joins the main stream. It was amazing to see the difference between the two; the west branch was extremely fast while the main stream had a fairly slow current until the two joined up. I saw a great blue heron land down the section of the main branch, and I followed it down the main section. Check out the upper right of the picture below and you’ll see him. At one point I was about 25 feet away, and then it took off again. I went about a 100 feet down the main branch mostly because the current was slower, and I think I saw a fish jump up for some food. With no luck, I decided to try and move downstream.


We went to the Haakwood Camp Site. There was only about two or three sites occupied, and I found an empty site that was close to the river. While Jen read, I made my way down the embankments of the river. There was a pretty good sized brook feeding the river, and I walked down the stream to get access into the river. The current was really fast, but it was really open and made casting easy. I tried a worm for a while, thinking that would make me luckier. After no luck with the worm, I switched to an elk-hair caddis. After fishing this section until about 3:30 pm, Jenny and I headed to Gaylord for some dinner and ended up shopping at Walmart for a bit. I stopped by the sporting goods section out of curiosity and they actually carried a bunch of Fly Fishing gear. Not that I do not want to support the local fly shops, but I picked up some tippet and a box with two dry flies. I drove around Gaylord looking for a fly shop but I didn’t see any. Later I found out that there is a huge sporting goods store called Jays Sporting Goods, oh well.

After dinner, we drove back to Wolverine, and I wanted to check out a canoe access site I saw earlier. It was a really nice place to fish. It had stairs right down into the water. I tried three more worms, with a little split shot added to weigh them down. It is definitely hard to cast with a worm on a fly rod, the worm does not seem to stay on very well. I started to see some white tricos flying around, but as I was threading my trico in the middle of the river I dropped it, hit the river, and it was gone. So, earlier on this day I saw a white winged black trico, and I threw that on and cast for another 20 minutes or so. So, I had a lot of fun fishing today, but I got skunked. Maybe I’ll get lucky somewhere else.

Perfection Loop

I am just starting to learn different knots to tie on my fly gear.

I purchased some knotless leader lines, and was trying to find different ways to make a loop at the end of my fly-line.  I bought a fishing knot book, but it showed only one way to put a loop at the end of the fly line and it involved using a razor to strip the plastic from the line exposing the core.  Then wrapping the core to the fly-line using monofilliment wire and then gluing it all together.

I decided there had to be an easier way, so after some Internet research I found the perfection loop. I am not sure how strong it will be, but I will test it out very soon and see how it works.  From what I can tell it seems to be very strong.   The best part is that it is very easy to tie, and I already have it memorized how to tie it.

Dude, where’s my hair?

I think it has been almost two years now. But I made a deal with the youth group. If you bring ten teens to church on a Sunday morning, I’ll shave my head. I bartered them down to a #2, and not a razor shave.

I didn’t think it would happen, but then today we had Pack-a-pew Sunday at church. There were 4 visitors, 2 teens who haven’t been there in a while, and 4 regulars. 4+4+2 = 10.  It also happened to be the Sunday School Picnic today.  So, Courtney and Josh got the privilege of buzzing my hair off.  Dave batted clean-up.
While it is not the most drastic hair-change ever, I only have about 1/4″ hair on my head.  It ain’t much.
Here is a before, during, and after picture:



Third Day Concert

Much thanks to Greg who provided me with some most excellent tickets to see Third Day, Jars of Clay, and Michael W. Smith at DTE Energy Theatre. I went to a similar concert a few years ago where it was David Crowder Band opening for Mercy Me and then Michael W. Smith. Michael W. Smith’s style of music doesn’t seem to fit well with any of the aforementioned music groups, and I feel bad for him when he follows up behind Mercy Me or Third Day because it is almost a musical let down. However, the music is all to worship God and the mission was definitely accomplished.

This was the second time I’ve seen Third Day. The last time was up in Frankenmuth. Up there the venue was basically an oversized pole barn, and the acoustics were awful. This time, it was ten times better. I think Mac Powell’s voice was muffled at times, and there was a certain guitar that Brad Avery played that sounded almost screechy which would cover up some of the lyrics. I think the lyrics need to be the number one priority, especially at a concert like this.  Either way, I think I may have to get me a gomer shirt.
One interesting thing is that Jars of Clay have a new album coming out called Good Monsters, and everyone except the lead singer was dressed up in a big fuzzy monster costume, like they just walked out of Sesame Street. Oh yea, Michael W. Smith was pretty good too…
Anyways, I got to go with Matt, Kelly, and Daniel, and I had a riot. I’m glad they were able to go. Here are a couple pictures at the concert:

Jars MattnMe