The last few years we have dealt with severe high water events that have prevented my father from being able to spend much time on the river with me in the spring chasing steelhead, this year has been a nice break from the historical high flows and has allowed us to spend much more time together.
High hopes for a huge day quickly dissipted after we walked up and down the river searching for a decent spot to begin our day, only to be met with enormous amounts of traffic from other anglers. While its great to see so many people out enjoying the resource, there are days that solitude is preferred.
We spent most of the day hanging out on the bank of the river together having great conversation, exploring topics we would never speak of in front of mom, we also formulated exact resolutions to all of Michigan footballs recent woes – in case Jim Harbaugh reads this, feel free to call us for some free advice.
Eventually, we were able to settle into a run and our patience was quickly rewarded with finding a few willing players – landing 2 solid fish in a matter of minutes.
Sure, it was nice to be able to bring a few fish to hand, as they were the reason that brought us to the river – but, the fish were just a bonus. It’s these days of being in the presence of the man that sparked my passion and constantly encourages me that make steelhead fishing and spring so special.
My brother is a very busy person with an occupation that requires a great amount of attention and effort. He also is an exceptionally devoted father and husband that spends most of his little free time with his family. He does have hobbies and passions – fishing for steelhead used to be one of them.
Nearly 7 years ago, he and I choose different passions to focus our free time energy allotment into. As young men our father had introduced us to the outdoors, and taught us many great lessons – using hunting and fishing as the text books of his classroom. My brother with limited time to enjoy outdoor activities choose to hyper-focus his attention into hunting, it’s obvious what I decided to pour my free time into.
We figured out that it had been nearly 7 years since my brother joined my father, whom still splits his time between sitting in trees and standing in rivers, and myself on a fishing excursion. This year everything finally fell into place, our schedules all synched and my brother expressed renewed interest and excepted an invitation to join us.
A few days of planning and coordination only added to my own anticipation to spending a day on the water with my father and brother as we had done so many times long ago. I was excited to have the gang back together, and it became obvious on Friday night that my brother shared the same sentiment.
We met at my house early Saturday morning and loaded my 2 man inflatable raft, and my fathers 1 man toon. After a quick double check of the gear inventory we were off.
My brother, a talented outdoorsman – actually he is talented at anything he chooses to do (don’t tell him I said that though) – jumped right back into the game, as if he hadn’t even left it.
A mere minutes into the float, my brother was able to hook and land his first steelhead in a long time. Years of memories of he and I tagging along with dad, stumbling around on creek banks in oversized waders and packs weighted down by several sandwiches and extra clothing packed by mom, came rushing back. It was again the way it always was, it was familar.
This was familar to me as well.
What was unfamilar for me was the food. As many of you have already gathered, both by my past posts and my growing waist line, I enjoy good food. On most occassions, I am the coordinator of the riverside lunches. Cooking for others is a gift given to me by my mother, a wonderful cook that always makes certain every meal is carefully prepared and can be enjoyed by everyone present. However, on this day I reluctantly relinquished my typical duty of going to great lengths to make sure that even if the fishing sucks, at least there is a great bankside meal to look forward to. My brother spent much of the day prior, when not filling his flask with scotch or looking for gear that hadn’t seen the light of day in many years, prepping a feast.
We ENJOYED pork that had been in his smoker for much of the previous day, bacon wrapped BBQ venison tenderloin bites, and homemade baked beans, (once again, please don’t tell him) a meal far better than anything I’ve put together on the river before. Unlike many days I’ve spent on the river, we didn’t need a hot meal to lift the spirits of the group.
The rest of the day featured a few more shots at fish, and of course getting back to our roots, good natured competition and ribbing ensued. As I was the only one to not be able to capitalize on an opportunity, it was a 2 horse race between my two companions. Those two would make a competition out of anything – especially when outside of the supervison of mom.
It sounds cliche’ at times, but this day truly was not about the fish – they were simply the excuse for us 3 to be back together enjoying the outdoors together as we had so many times before. It was great to be in their presence again.
My son is growing up fast and the signs are starting to show that he’s gearing up to be an independent little dude. Those days of getting a hug before school in front of his friends or after a baseball game are gone. We do have our times though, and fishing together happens to be one of them. A short window of opportunity opened this past weekend so we both jumped at the chance to run out for a few hours. It was one of those quick trips that finds me in a mad scramble for gear and wondering whether I forgot something during the entire ride up. Things were forgotten but we had what we needed to set out.
We had time to fish only a couple runs so I was happy to see the one I had in mind was open when we walked up. He’s been tying some flies lately and we picked one he tied last spring during high water, a black rabbit strip leech over an orange estaz body.
It didn’t take long before a nice fish was hooked. He did a solid job of fighting the steelhead, knowing when to reel and when to let the fish run.The fish was fairly compliant and after a few runs in the pool I was able to get a net under him.
The fish was a clean, nicely colored male steelhead. We’ve had our share of fishless outings so it felt great to see him bring a nice fish to the net in one of those moments when a lot of things could easily go wrong but didn’t.
We took a couple quick photo’s and released the fish to finish it’s work over the course of the next few weeks as the spring spawning period kicks into high gear. Afterward we made some half-hearted attempts at another knowing we got what we wanted out of our afternoon. We found a river rock to memorialize the day as we always do then made our way back to the car talking about cedars and trying to find the best tree to build a tree fort in so that we can live near the river permanently. Often times the highlights of a fishing trip are just the twizzlers and orange soda we eat and drink on the way up and back. This trip had a bonus fish and some good ideas on where to build our dream home.
In my latest readings of the book by Jason Randall, titled Trout Sense, a work that is subtitled “A Fly fisher’s guide to What Trout SEE, HEAR, & SMELL” the author draws an extremely interesting comparison. He compares fly fishermen in a sense to door to door salesmen – putting the entire act of chasing trout on the fly into an entirely new perspective. He writes:
We are marketing our wares to a skeptical consumer, one that is often not quite convinced it wants what we are selling. To help us make the sale, we need the equivalent of market analysis. A good salesman considers two things: the target audience and how the product appeals to the target audience.
Simply put, what can we do as anglers to cause an “EAT” reaction, instead of “DON’T EAT” response? With streamer fishing we are knocking on a lot of doors throughout the day – there are a extreme multitude of factors that play into enticing an “EAT” response that we must consider.
Size, shape, and color of the streamer often times plays an extremely important role in triggering a desirable response. Does the pattern that we are presenting to our ‘customers’ match or resemble what they want to ‘buy’? Also, action of the streamer plays an enormous role – does the pattern move or act like potential prey? Does the fly act like a fleeing or injured food item, making it an easy target?
The product that we are selling is ENORMOUSLY important – as any salesman will tell you, if you don’t have a good product that is marketable, it makes selling it much more difficult. However, I’d argue that at the very least equally important to the product – probably even more important – is the number of doors we are knocking on. In many sales type roles, it becomes a numbers game, streamer fishing is not any different. Simply put, the more doors you knock on the better your chances to make a sale. Even if your product is not the perfect offering, if you present it to enough fish the odds tip in your favor.
Get your bugs in the water and pull them around…..the more times the better. Don’t waste time making several false casts, don’t get caught up with frequent bug changes, and don’t waste time doing other things that prevent your flies from being in the water.
Lansing, MI – In a very surprising turn of events Michigan Lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Friday (4/4/14) to make it illegal to be in possession of alcohol on any designated trout stream within the state’s borders. The bill passed by a narrow margin of 5-3.
There are 2 votes missing from the ballot as representatives from the Upper Peninsula and Region 5 (Northwestern Lower Peninsula) were rumored to be spotted together at a Newaygo, MI bar the night before and did not make it to the capitol building in time to submit their votes.
Bananas hit the street to talk with a few customers at the local fly shop to get their thoughts.