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06 August 2005
Shiawassee River Fishing Report [August 6 2005]

Shiawassee River near HendersonWe paddled and fished a 6 or 7 mile stretch of the Shiawassee River on Saturday. B and I dusted off the kayaks for their first outing of the summer. It's August, and they've not touched water yet - how embarassing. Our friends Barb and Vic joined us with their canoe. We've floated this stretch several times before - it includes some really nice smallmouth bass water - shady banks, weedy bends, shallow riffles followed by deeper water with big, underwater boulders.

Recent rains have kept the water level in the Shi quite a bit higher than average for this time of year, but average is very very low. Currently it's running at 200 ft3/min, down from a peak of 500 within the last week. The 75-year average flow is about 90 ft3/min for early August. Historically, we've avoided floating this river during August because it's usually an exercise in frustration, we end up paddling through flat, plant-choked water and dragging our boats over gravel stretch after gravel stretch far too shallow to paddle. Saturday, we only needed to portage over gravel a couple of times. It is interesting though, to see the unconcealed shape and slope of even this low-gradient river bottom.

Shiawassee whitefliesWe put in just before noon and reached our take out at about 8:30PM. B and I took along 6-weight fly rods while Barb and Vic used spinning gear. Flyfishing while paddling a kayak downriver is almost impossible. Spin fishing while floating downstream is a bit more feasible. We stopped and waded along good-looking water to fish, pushing our boats onto the bank or into some brush. We ended up stopping together or leap-frogging each other through 'fishy' water. B found quite a few fish down near the bottom, using beadhead streamers on a sink-tip. She had the best luck with white or yellow patterns. She even had a brief tug-of-war with a carp. I only caught 2 smallies on the day. I don't think I was getting down far enough generally. Barb caught the fish of the day, on a plastic 'sluggo' - a 16-17" smallmouth bass. I didn't get to see him, but my 3 friends said he was a beautiful specimen - gorgeous and sleek greenish-bronze color, healthy and without blemish or sign of trauma. I wish we got a picture of that one.

We arrived at our take-out tired and sore but satisfied with our choice of river recreation for the day. We also noticed that the whiteflies are obviously hatching already. Spinners and duns were caught in every web and eddy we passed.

Number of leech encounters: 0! oops, make that 1
Wildlife sightings: blue and green herons, wood ducks, kingfishers, sandpipers, a beaver
Did I get to use a spey rod?: A spey rod out of a kayak? Right.
Enjoyment grade for the day: A

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