16 May 2005
Hard-core trout fishing
I've decided that B and I must be hard-core fishermen. I know we fish all winter (with the possible exception of January) for steelhead; but that's different. Winter steelhead fishing is supposed to be cold, snowy, rainy, miserable. Trout season, on the other hand, is supposed to be bright, warm, sunny, comfortable, happy...
We just spent a 3-day weekend up north fishing in cold temperatures, in the rain, in the wind, flailing the waters of an absolutely beautiful trout river, the Big Manistee, in hopes of hooking a few gorgesous little beauties. High temperatures barely broke 50 degrees. Low temperatures were 35 to 40 degrees. We saw little sunshine during the weekend. And it rained everyday. For my efforts and endurance, I caught one little 6" brookie. And I fished HARD for him. B caught 4 or 5 in total; one nice 14" brown. She's a more adept fly fisherman than me. We both came home tired and sore. The fish were very inactive due, I suppose, to the dropping temps and cold nights. Water temperatures maxed at about 50 degrees in mid-afternoon. Bug hatches and subsequent surface (or near-surface) feeding were very negligible. We stripped streamers and drifted nymphs almost exclusively. The fish were inactive and holding tight to underwater stumps, logs and other cover. Only very precise, courageous and creative casts would result in any chance of enticing a strike from a fish bigger than 7 or 8".
I should stop short of complaining about the weekend because it would be inappropriate. We did have a good time. A great time actually. The Big Manistee is an absolutely beautiful river. Years and years of stream improvements and bank restoration projects have resulted in a stunningly beautiful stream with diverse, abundant fish habitat. We had the stream almost to ourselves for the bulk of the weekend. When other fisherman did pass by, they usually packed up and left long before we did. Our car was always the last one left in the parking area. We were fortunate to discover a couple of new stretches that we've not fished before. They were a blast to discover and fish and we'll definitely fish them again. This was one of those weekends that causes me to notice what I like so much about stream flyfishing. My enjoyment is more about appreciating the natural environment - plants, water, fish, birds and mammals - and the company I'm sharing than about "fishing" per se. Though I do tend to get a little crabby when I can't catch some nature on the end of my line...
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