Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead

Friday, July 29, 2011

August in just a few days? Summer is coming to a close.

Little Manistee River Wier
After venturing to the other side of the state last year, I was once again sold on chasing salmon during the fall spawning runs. Even though of the two trips last fall I only hooked one very large salmon above the wier on the Little Manistee, I was fortunate enough to spend a day in mid-September with a friend and a 34 inch, 14 lb. King crushed a Rapala he had tied on while plugging a holes on a different river system in northwest Michigan.
Jason with a great hen that couldn't resist the Rapala he was dangling in front of her as she was making her way up the river to spawn.
Truly an amazing fish! He stumbled upon a treasure last fall when after a day of wishing we had brought a boat so we could access the big river just to escape the crowd. Every public access, every bridge, anywhere near the water there were vehicles parked and the majority of the "anglers" we encountered weren't actually practicing legal fishing techniques if you catch my drift. At one point a DNR officer stopped us and gave us her card and asked if we saw any illegal activity regarding illegal taking of fish if we could give her a call. I guess we looked out of place since we didn't have ocean rods loaded with cable and a weighted treble hook as bait. Finally after more then a half day of aggravation trying to get away from the rippers, we pulled up to a bridge and there were no other vehicles! A truck pulled up and the man inside started spouting off about how this was his land and we can't park here and fish. Just as I began to explain to him the law that allows anglers to wade fish navicable river systems he offered to let us access his farm to fish. $5.00 a day to walk, wade, drive the property and camp if we wished. The man owned a one square mile piece of land the river ran through and the anglers on this section were minimal.
Pictured above is a typical site to see along access sites during the fall spawning run. All I kept thinking this day which was a Saturday at that, was how much I wished I had a boat. At the time I had a 12' V-boat, a 10' flat bottom, and an Old Town kayak but nothing I would have felt comfortable standing up in and battling a salmon in the double digits in. This was just another step pushing me to purchase a drift boat. Sure the 12' boat would have worked to at least motor away from the crazies, and the flat bottom, NO WAY! And I kind of assumed if I was in my kayak and hooked a big king she would have took me for quite a ride.

Here it is! Slightly blocked by my photo friendly dog Belle is my 16'8" Hyde Pro Series High Side drift boat. At guide and friend Kelly Neuman's house one day this spring as our dogs were running around the yard and I was plotting on digging through his large fly selection I brought up if he was still looking for a new boat and mentioned I would be happy to take this one off his hands. I've made several trips to the Hot Ponds thus far, floated the Au Sable from McMasters to Parmalee, Parmalee to Mio Pond, launched at the mouth of the river and motored up river between 5-6 miles and drifted back. The only problem I encountered was using a short shaft motor was the water inlet was not far enough submerged prior to putting the motor in the forward position. Needless to say I burned the impellor up. No problem, just a $14.00 fix, well actually after repairing the old 2 stroke 3.9 Mercury that helped me through plenty of duck seasons prior to the days of having a private refuge to hunt, it was still a short shaft motor. So the same day I picked up the impellor, I purchased a 3.5 hp 4 stroke Mercury from Don's Sport Shop in Unionville. The difference between the short shaft and the long shaft on my new new engine is a short shaft has a 15 inch shaft versus the 20 inch shaft on a long shaft.
It's hard to believe September is a month away! Fall in Michigan gives anglers and hunters so many opportunities to get out in the field! Many hit the field for upland birds in the Northern parts of the state, but it's waterfowl season in my neck of the woods with early goose season kicking it off on September 1st! Cut down wheat fields, layout blinds, big decoys, loud horns, and solid retrieves by my pup!
With salmon still in the rivers and goose season going strong, we still have to hang our deer stands, flood the duck pond, do any repairs to the blind, go through the decoys, shoot our bows since archery deer season begins October 1st, and try make some trips up north since the streamer fishing begins to pick up for brown trout. Then November as we are still plowing away at the ducks and geese on those chilly mornings, the steelhead enter the rivers hungry for loose salmon eggs, and firearm deer season a true Michigan sportsman tradition begins on November 15th. So much to do before the cold winter season falls upon us.
According to a few river guides I know in northern Michigan, the small mouth bass fishing has been good on the Au Sable and some dark hex are starting. Be sure to check water temperatures prior to targeting trout on the river right now. These hot summer days have brought the water to dangerous temperatures for trout to reside in. For an honest fly fishing report, the shops along the Au Sable from Grayling to Mio are usually very insightful and willing to share info to put fish in your net.

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