A good day of fishing

I talked Jenny into buying a fishing license this week and thought I would try to show her how to do some fly casting. We went out Saturday morning to a local river and I had the hopes that she would catch a couple blue gills.

It was about 100% humidity and Jenny was walking with River in his new dog carrier that looks like a papoose. After about 15 minutes of exploring through clouds of mosquitoes we were both pretty much done and found the closest access point into the river. I caught a few little fish, and even a nice smallmouth:
A nice smallmouth

We were sharing my 5wt rod and trading it off for River (the dog), and I was trying to give her some casting pointers. Then Jenny, who was getting frustrated at not catching anything, got a hold of a fish. She reeled it in and caught her first fish on a fly rod. It was a nice little rock bass:
Jenny caught a fishie!

We headed back towards our vehicle, and I asked Jenny if she was ready to leave, and she said “No – I want to catch another fish.” Sounds good to me.

I went to the car and got out my little 3wt rod and headed back to a place in the river that pools up almost to form a pond-like area near a dam.  Jenny ended up catching a bunch of little fish, and got a really nice sized blue-gill or sun fish. While fishing, she said she saw a fish in the water that looked like a giant goldfish. I figured it was a carp, and about five minutes later there was huge splash on the surface underneath of a tree. I figured it was probably the carp just picking scraps off the bottom with his tail sticking out.

Well after no luck at the tail end of the pool, I ignored a “Danger” sign and climbed out onto the dam structure in the river and thought I might be able to catch a couple of little blue gills in the water where we hadn’t been casting. I tied on my own little creation of fly that was like my first fly I caught a nice sunfish on back in May:
Fly Fishing

I saw a couple bluegills come up to sniff the fly, and that is when I saw it. A huge fish came out of now where – the bluegills scattered, and it took my fly. My little 3wt groaned, and I saw the fish shake-off the fly. I quickly re-casted to the same spot, and the fish came up again and – WHAM – there was no letting go this time. I yelled to Jenny to start recording and she flipped on our video camera.

My poor 3wt rod nearly bent in half and the fight began. I almost lost him as the line rubbed against a piece of concrete and steel, and again as he darted into some brush. I slowly worked him down the side of the dam wall until I was able to pull him onto shore. What a beauty of a smallmouth bass:
Caught a big smallmouth 1

I am estimating that the fish weighed about two to three pounds, and was around 12 to 14 inches long.

Big Fish

Looking back at the pictures I realize that River was in the papoose the whole time and he got to help me fight the fish as well. Jenny was able to get some of the fight on video and I’m going to try and post that up here.

At the end of the day I caught the biggest fish of my short fly fishing career, and Jenny ended up catching six fish,  and to top it off she didn’t want to leave either. We ended up fishing for around four hours, and had a great day out on the river.

Nothern Michigan: Days 3 and 4

This was Saturday, and I slept in and then made a boat load of breakfast in my handy dandy iron skillet – bacon, eggs, and pancakes.

We spent the majority of the day in Mackinac Island and Mackinac City. It was nice to just relax, but it was definitely a lot of walking. I guess I could use the exercise. They recently put in a new store in Mackinac City called Mackinaw Outfitters, which is a Bass Pro Shop. I stopped into take a look at their fly fishing section and I ended up buying a Redington hat, and a bottle of floatant to replace the one I dropped in the river the day before. So, if you are ever up this way, they do have gear there if you are in a pinch, but much of it was a little overpriced. Also, there is a hardware store on Main st next to the Kentucky Fried Chicken that has some fishing and camping gear, and even has a tiny selection of flies available.

That night my brother and I went out again, thinking it was going to be our last time out. I tied on the same wet fly that was working the day before and gave my brother an ant pattern. After a while my brother got another creek chub. Then, something hit my fly, I set the hook, and it completely jumped out of the water. It wasn’t a creek chub. I started to reel in, but couldn’t keep the line tight, so I grabbed the line, and pulled in the fish. It was small, but it was a brown trout. I was afraid the water was too warm and I would kill the fish, so I was hoping for a quick picture, but while I was crouched in the water water the little guy shook off and darted away. I turned my brother and said “Did you see that thing?” and I was already doubling the size when holding up my hands. I thought that was pretty funny. After a couple more creek chubs, we made the trek back to the cottage and called it a night.

Pigeon River

I thought that catching at least one trout was a good way to end the trip, but thought I could sneak out Sunday morning before we headed to church. So the next morning, I went down by myself and caught the biggest fish of the whole trip. Using the same wet fly I had been using the whole time, I hooked a nice sized rainbow trout:
Rainbow Trout

Overall, it was a nice and relaxing time fishing. Even though I did not catch a lot of fish, it was very fun. One cool thing was I caught a rainbow, a brookie, and a brown. I am working on putting together a little fishing montage of the trip as well that I hope to post up on the blog here.

Northern Michigan: Day 2

When I originally started planning this trip with Jen, I had visions of huge brook trout every where. My hope was that the heat would drive the the bigger fish into the cold stream. That did not happen, but I was still happy to be up north and to be able to go fishing.

We woke up the next morning and broke down camp. The next stop was a cottage owned by my sister-in-law’s family. Jenny noticed that almost every small town we drove through had a Subway sandwich shop. This proved to be our lunch or dinner many times during the weekend.

The cottage is located on the upper portion of the pigeon river. My brother took me to a point we could walk in, and I tossed a hopper for about a half-hour. The water was really fast, so I wasn’t expecting much. The good news was the water was still fairly cold even with the near drought conditions that northern Michigan is still experiencing.

After doing some shopping and sight-seeing the rest of the day, my brother and I went back on the river. This time we were right near the cottage and we caught a handful of creek chubs, but no trout.
Curt with Trout - Day 2

The water seemed too warm – hovering around 72 degrees, but there were springs of water flowing out of the hillside everywhere. I thought maybe the trout had moved to deeper or cooler waters, but it was still fun fishing.
Pigeon - Day 2

Then as I waded around the bend there was a really deep hole in the middle of the river. I slipped and almost fell in, but as I picked myself up I noticed something on the rocks.
Bug - Day 2

It was some type of bug, and it looked like a wet fly that I had tied for this trip. I tied on the fly and within a few minutes had a creek chub on the line. This fly caught every other fish the rest of the weekend. The was something I tied from the latest issue of Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine. It was listed in the “Guides Flies” section and was a wet fly/nymph version of an Isonychia that was credited to Bob Linesman. This is a PT Nypmh that worked as well:
Wet fly - Day 2

It was getting late and we were tired from walking all day – so we trekked back to the cottage for some sleep.

Northern Michigan: Day 1

Day 1:

Jenny and I traveled up north for a short vacation into the northern tip of michigan. We camped for a couple days and stayed at a cottage for a couple more days. Jenny and I got to our campground a little after 6pm, and were anxious to get out of the car.

It is a long drive up to the tip of Michigan, and we were happy arrive at the State Park.
The first night was great. The campground was fairly empty and the temperature would drop at night making it very comfortable (almost too cold). We had a camp fire and made some s’mores, and could not believe how many stars were in the sky. Here is the camp site:
Camp Site

The next morning, we went towards what I would call the river of my dreams. I was on a tributary to one of what I call the big three (Sturgeon, Pigeon, Black River) which all stay cool and were once well known for a strong brook trout population.
Fly Fishing on a stream

The section I was on fairly remote, but I still saw various indications of fishermen visiting the area, so I knew it was still being fished regularly. Jenny and River both came with me for the first time because Jenny got new pair of Simms lightweight waders.
Jen and River

As I waded in, I noticed tricos coming off the water, and I tied one on immediately. I got out my stream thermometer and was happy to see the readout of 62 degrees. I started to see fishing rising all along the banks, and as I looked down I could see them jumping out of the water for breakfast.
Fly Fishing

Most of the banks were too overgrown to walk on, so I had to wade down the middle of the stream. Unfortunately, it seemed like once I got within 10 to 20 yards, the fish would spook. I was using my new 6′ 4 weight rod, and after about 10 minutes I hooked into my first fish of the trip.

As I reeled the little guy in I saw a flash of silver, and realized I had just caught a creek chub. About 10 minutes later, I caught my first brookie, but just as I was close to bringing him to hand, he shook off the line. We let River walk around in the water and he got his fly fishing dog outfit all dirty, and I think he was a bit scared. That was my last fish of the morning, and soon after we headed back to the camp grounds and relaxed.
John and River

Shortly after dinner, I went back to the same spot by myself and was using a hopper pattern with no luck. I finally switched over to an adams pattern, and caught a tiny brookie around 4 inches. They were rising, but did not like what I was feeding them. Once it started to get dark, and I headed back to camp.
Brookie Day 1

That evening turned out to be very interesting. It was Thursday, and the camp ground began filling up quickly for the long weekend. Several families pulled into the campgrounds directly across from us. I think they were occupying a total of 4 sites, and the next thing we know, they are running around in grass skirts and setting up a limbo pole. By dark, they had set up a Luau and the peace and quiet we experienced on the previous night disappeared.
Luckily I was tired from a day of fishing and camping, so I still fell asleep even through their limbo music, blinking lights, tiki torches, and lanterns that made some of the stars fade away.

The home waters gets better…

Local news is reporting that the Clinton River fish counts have doubled for most species, and has tripled for brown trout.  While it would probably be better not to share this information for the sake of keeping fishing pressure low, it must be stated that this river used to be an outlet for toxic waste.

Local chapters of Trout Unlimited, local government, and the Clinton River Watershed Council have helped restore this urban fishery.

Here is a link to the full story: