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29 May 2006
Shiawassee River fishing report [29 May 2006]

Shiawassee RiverB and I have had a rather unsatisfactory, yet tiring, Memorial Day weekend. B's mom has been in the hospital for a knee replacement surgery that hasn't gone simply or easily. She's OK, but will end up staying for at least a week rather than the 3 days originally planned. Lots of additional planning and phone calling have kept all our various phone lines busy all weekend. We also finally said goodbye to our 20-year old cat, Razz, this weekend. It was a difficult day, but one we've seen on the horizon for a couple of years. I'll write more about Razz at another time. We also enjoyed a brief visit from my Chicago sister and her wonderful little family. We'd hoped to get a whole day together, but old cats and hospitalized mothers necessitated some reorganizing.

Today, we took some time to go fishing and relax outdoors. Our daily maximum temperatures have been in the 90's for the past 3 days so there is really only one way to actually enjoy the outdoors despite the heat and humidity - find some water and immerse yourself. We chose to wade in the Shiawassee River, fly rods in hand.

We hadn't fished the Shiawassee yet this spring/summer. It's our favorite warm water river because it's close to home. We often enjoy a quick, evening fishing outing during the summer. It has a fantastic population of smallmouth bass and is fun to fish, or to paddle, or both. Later in the summer, the water levels become almost too low to allow fishing or paddling, but late spring and early summer are a perfect time to enjoy this local waterway. Currently, the flow is well above its seasonal average due to recent thunderstorms. We headed for a nice access spot at an abandoned bridge. From this point, we can normally wade for a half-mile or more. Today, we found the water high, extremely stained and much less wadable. In fact, at first glance we were not sure if we'd be able to wade at all. Once we stepped off the bank though, we realized that it wasn't quite as deep as it looked, the bottom wasn't visible due to the murky water. I don't like wading when I can't see where I'm going, but we pressed on.

Giant SwallowtailI brought my spey rod to enhance my ability to cast farther. I figured wading might be limited and wanted to reach the opposite bank anyway. We rigged up with sink tips and streamers, slathered on an effective dose of lemon eucalyptus mosquito repellant and jumped in. We couldn't wade as far up- or downstream as we normally do here, so we were limited to fishing a shorter stretch more thoroughly. We caught only two smallish smallies in an hour-and-a-half and decided to change our location to a small township park further upstream. Both fish were close to the bottom; one took a white zoo cougar and the other hit a black conehead sculpin. Go figure. I struggled to effectively cast my spey line and sink tip, making my last outing even more remarkable.

At the park, we again fished a short stretch of water, and so covered it more than once. A few canoers paddled through. My casting improved slightly, but we didn't catch any fish. We both decided enough was enough, we could take 'no' for an answer and figured we'd quit early and go home for supper. As we reeled up our line to head back to the car, a Giant Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) flitted up and down the short sandy edge and posed long enough for one good picture.

Fleece quotient: 0, no waders either
Lost flies: 1
Wildlife sightings: bank swallows, barn swallows, tree swallows, Giant Swallowtail
Air temperature: 95 oF max
Water temperature: ~ 70 oF
Injury report: abused hands
Did I get to use a spey rod?: Yep!
Enjoyment grade for the trip: B+

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