Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pine River - Briefly

I'm going to e a little slow with the whole Pine River report much like my new friend here at the left.

BLUFF: The Pine is not for wading. Great river. Cold. Rugged country of mainly sand forest. Wild fish.

However, the river at its slowest has current as fast as you can sprint. This makes a two-foot deep cobbled sand/rock bottom a treacherous place when a rock rolls from underfoot. Sand banks which threaten to suck you into them don't help much. The fish are wild and they are aggressive though you'll find much habitat you think should hold fish ( and will, on the South Branch of the Au Sable or the Pere Maquette ) which does not. Still, there are fish.

Drift the river. Don't wade it.

Some snaps and comments:

Here's a bit of sand on the mostly sand footing of the Silver Creek Pathway: deer and coyote. Nice prints in one spot. The coyotes howl every night. Nothing obnoxious but they're about.

Saturday morning snack on the banks of the Pine: western loop of the Silver Creek pathway. Better river image to follow.

River. This is the typical view. There are a great many riffles though the river was very low. There's plenty of water - and very cold water - but if this is the river at low, I'd hate to see it after the 4.5" we got at my house on Saturday!

The trail is well marked and offers limited access to the river. Much of the trail when it follows the river is at least fifty feet above the bank. Also, the areas where the river is adjacent to the trail without the elevation challenge didn't offer a great deal of interesting water for fishing to habitat. Meh.

I picked-up two dozen of these out of a snag on the bank. When was the last time you saw a pull-tab can ... and this is old-style thick can and not the thin beer cans we have today? It looks to hold about a quart. I don't think this ws some hipster's PBR. I think this was a guy with two first names.

I did some of this after the scouting hike. I could keep my feet in the water a for less than a minute. Cold.

Panorama of where I drank my coffee this morning. I had seven hook-ups total on this stretch of water seeing the fish on the surface on five of those. No fish to hand, though.  I need to work on my downstream streamer release technique with the line to let the fish hook himself before we get to steelhead season. Disappointed in my technique. The trout only took streamers (deer hair ties) or a root-beer colored PTN I used on Saturday evening which I subsequently dropped into the water as I went to photograph the thing.

I'd return in a drift boat or again when flows are at the bottom of the summer flow. It's a tough river.  At normal flows, I want nothing to do with it while on foot.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

On Safari

AT left, public domain image of Hemingway with a cape buffalo, 1953. Hosted on wikicommons and provided courtesy the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Fine buffalo.

I'm hunting trout on new waters this weekend. My desired haunt on the south branch of the Au Sable is too near serious canoe action and the campground I like to set-up at is called "Canoe Harbor" so I'm guessing it will be filled with folks in town for the canoe marathon.

I'm going to the Pine River.

The Pine is the fastest gradient stream in Michigan and flows cold all summer. The fish are entirely wild having never been subjected to the effects of stocking.

The Pine attracts canoes as well, though the US Forest Service strictly regulates the river through a permitting process. Additionally, canoes are off the water before 9 AM and after 6 PM. Fine for a summer trout guy!

This is new water. I've found a nice campground and I'm off to explore new waters. I don't know what I'll find but I'd be happy with just a nap this weekend. I need some outdoor solitude time.

I'm hunting trout. I'm avoiding crowds. I'm making an omelet stream-side for a second breakfast. How bad could THAT be?  I'm hoping to be able to fish light at some point if the wind is down. I've a 3wt that I'm dying to use for some tricos. I think the hatch is behind on this cold water but I'll be ready, anyway.

I'll have photos of the river, campground, and my progress when I return.

I'll also have a clear head and trout story to tell.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Scouting Report - and pictures!

At left, my activity of late. Al's Trico (slightly fat) tied on Umpqua #18 emerger 1x heavy 1x wide specialty.

Black thread body, Wotton SLF black sparse dub (only a few threads) just twisted-on, and grizzly hackle throughout trimmed flush underneath.

I have better ties that are smaller but this was a good picture. New camera, better pictures. Better - not perfect.

Next week: up north. Heat breaks this week and it might not hit 80 in Grayling on Thursday and Friday, Might not hit 70 on Saturday and Sunday.

It will probably rain all day Saturday which is fine. I'll tarp my campsite nicely on Friday and have outstanding camping gear for wet weather. I've a new supplemental alcohol burner for my Solo stove Titan and so can simmer eggs and sausage even if at sea. I will however gather enough down twigs and such on Friday night in anticipation of wet weather.

Scouting Report: I found some water on the Gran River that will NOT involve combat fishing.

The state game area I scouted with Beargirl has nice provisioning for parking cars. I counted 11 nicely spaced car-parks such as the one at left located around the loop roads. They're mowed-up and fine but for occasional bottle discards from prior hunting expeditions. Pints seem to be the usual measure to break on rocks. Shot, maybe?

There are some wildlife restoration areas inside the State Game Area and as such, some areas are closed to shooting. That means when we're on the "reading the sign" side we are "in" the shooting area.

Blaze orange looks to be the uniform of the day. Worth noting.

I found two dead deer. One, maybe winter kill. Still has flesh and minor separation of bones (1 leg) by scavengers. Could be a natural death.

One I found was skeletonized and a broadhead with shaft was locked into the right scapula having penetrated but lodged. Looks like a field loss that got away from someone. I didn't take pictures of either.

Downhill trail from the road toward the water at site "E" - my reference. Usual sort of dozed-out path now blocked from 4x4 traffic. It goes 2/3 of the 400m to the water.

 This is the last 1/3 to the river. Of note, it is illegal in Michigan to harm, alter, cut or clear any living vegetation in public areas.

You cannot use tree stands which penetrate the bark of a living tree. You cannot clear brush for camping in areas where "wild camping" is allowed. You cannot clear fire lanes for firearms. You cannot hack your way through devil's club and extremely healthy wild raspberries to get to the river.
This is a bit of wild blackberry thrown-in: also extremely healthy. The thorns are 1/4" and the leave plates are bigger than saucers. If I could get my blackberries to do half as well, I'd be pretty happy.
 The river. It's about 150' across here. That's an island across the way.
Upstream view. The current here runs for 40' by the entry bank. The shallows are currently populated with aquatic vegetation though flows are at 20-year low right now. Nice spot. There's a pool downstream that held small rainbows, rising. The water was cool. I didn't have a thermometer on me.

Site "B" offered easier access (30 m walk on clear trail) and this is the river downstream. Around 100' wide as far as I could see.
Upstream.  There's a nice hole upstream that 30 or so teen-aged kids were using for a swimming hole with canoes and a couple of cooler in inner tubes.

I was glad that they could show me the hole and that kids still went down to the river to drink beer and swim. I like a casual disregard for the law in summer.

I'm prone to treason against the crown.

I'll follow rules governing game and sport in a good-natured way because I'm old. I'm a trout fisherman.

Don't mistake good-nature for an endorsement. We're far from agreeing to a consensus on a willingness to be governed.

There's a bit of bastard rebel in almost everyone you meet on the water. In some of us, more than a little.  Just smile and nod, boys. Smile and nod. You never know which ones are the Irishmen.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Recon ... not from Orvis!

At left, a copyright free image of a roadsign from Sweden. I think it means to move up in tippet choice. Looks like a 2x fish to me.

I've got some recon to do this weekend. It's warm and my usual haunts have water near 70 degrees and so, recon instead of a trout dash. Relief is coming next week.

I'm taking my new waterproof camera, a box lunch, and a couple maps and heading out to scout homewaters for steelhead.

Water is low and I have a good chance of documenting some holes and breaks that may hold fish come fall. I plan on putting together a map and scouting report for my Amber Angler buddies. We're only 1 hour and 15 minutes away from some neglected water. That's pretty good for Michigan.

No, I don't know what I'm doing. I've never made a map or put together a habitat scouting report. I do have all the tools, however. Should be fun. I've been reading (actually, I've got a pretty good steelhead library going here ...).

I'll be stretching the fishing experience by extending our time on productive water. Hopefully.

Habitat doesn't mean fish. It can;but, there's no rule.

I'll get to check-out some small towns I've not visited before on this recon mission. It's as important to know where to find a decent bowl of chili or a coffee-flavored cup of coffee as it is to find the entrance to a two-track to the river.

I have a compass, a camera, a map, and a small supply of clues. What could go wrong?


Sunday, July 10, 2016

School Time - With Two-Handed Rods

Pre-class Q/A with Jeff Liskay - great guy.
At left, pre-class school circle for an on-the-water clinic in Tenkara and two-handed Spey casting hosted by my local fly shop: The Painted Trout. Patagonia sent a couple of their field staffers and these folks did a great job without the "Sage-first" talks I've had from other sponsored events.

The woman in the foreground is Lauren, one of the fly shop owners and an enthusiastic two-hander. Dirk (not pictured) - the other owner - is a traditional bamboo single-handed type of fellow. He's also a reel geek so we get on fine.

This weekend saw me postponing a trip up north to fish in order to get some first class instruction. Doug Scott gave the Tenkara introduction Saturday morning for about an hour-and-a-half and Jeff Liskay gave the two-handed clinic for four hours Saturday and a good six here on Sunday. He was generous both with his time and with his instruction.

Good instructors can explain the same things multiple ways AND provide multiple drills to strengthen the fundamentals they're trying to teach. The time with Jeff just flew by and he made me a much better two-handed caster in the end.

Doug in action.
The light Echo 10'6" 3wt I have provided a little challenge for both of us. I've been fishing it this year with a 7 wt Wulff TT and it has been "touchy."A little work discovers the rod is just fine when I clean-up my set-up for the cast.

Jeff emphasized the lower-hand involvement in the cast and while I'll tell you I was using the lower hand, I really wasn't trusting it sufficiently to avoid complications.

Scandi, Skagit, Rage, Delta Spey de-mystified.
Anyway, I missed a dash to the South Branch of the Au Sable this weekend. I did become a competent caster with my two-handed technique. This training will pay off when I line the 11' 7wt Echo glass I plan on using for steelhead this fall.

The Wulff TT 5wt Ambush rolls off the 3wt glass nicely. The super compact head and conjoined line makes it an easy beast to throw with authority. The 7wt TT tales a more refined action and I have to stay on my toes ...though I really appreciate the ability to mend with dry and soft hackle that I get with the TT line. The Ambush is for smallish streamers and - ugh - indicator nymphing at a distance.

Jeff in action with one of my fellow students.
I hate the bobber/tuft fishing but there are times when I cannot reach the water I want to fish without the crutch.

Anyway, great classes and a great use of time even if it was a sacrifice of a outing to get instruction.

This was my first formal two-handed instruction. World of difference.

Hello, steelhead.