Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fish Not Pictured

Dward Tract fishing report, Manistee River, MI.

At left, a fine example of my recent fish photography. A lovely brookie was in this paw an instant before the shutter snapped. He's out of frame in this yet not quite in the water.

I went to the Au Sable / Manistee region for a trout dash camping trip this weekend. Gates had this as the sign: a classic.

I caught these. The big one - a lovely nine-to-ten incher - flipped out of my hand in the upper picture. Those I captured on the digital film roll looked more like this little guy. Lovely, though a little bleached. Only the large fish had a lot of heavy shading.

I can't tell if this fellow has nice color or not. Lost on me.

I fished using this nice little 7' 2/1 #4/5 by Chris Lantzy. It's a lovely mortised handled split cane rod here mounted with a Douglas Argus wearing Wulff TT in #4. The rod does fine with the #4 or the #5 Wulff line.

My Hardy Marquis is spooled with the #5 but that reel does not like grit at all. I fished it in the Wisconsin trip and it saw a little of the milkshake water. All cleaned-up now but I think it is about to be shelved for a Red Truck.

Chris' rod is a joy to cast and will roll cast the snot out of the Wulff lines. Perfect for the tight confines seasoning the Deward tract on the Manistee.

Beauty shot of a guide on the mortised rod with the Deward tract Manistee in the background at Stump Forest.

Above is "the hole" I worked on Saturday afternoon. It was a development exercise I set for myself.

I figured three catchable fish lived here in the bend (probably more like fifteen). I was determined to fish for them with dry, soft hackle wet, dry-dropper, weighted flymph under a wool tuft (indicator), and streamer.

You can see the cover, the current, and the dark turn of a hole which is a good six foot deep over there. The water in the foreground was about fourteen inches deep on my shin. I sat, thought, planned, and observed.

I slowed down and contrived to catch three fish.

Flies used.

I studied the hatch. It was largely mosquito as shown here for size.

Pictured is an old old ginger-caddis leftover from before I started tying cdc-DHC exclusively. Not a bad tie, though.

Maybe a little head heavy. Size 16 here.

My hook left less sting than this smashed fellow. He was not a practitioner of the barbless philosophy.

Girding my loins using the default Michigan mosquito repellent: heavy sleeves.

And "no joy."  I fished from a low angle slightly off and upstream so as to use the current to help me with the submerged obstructions.

I stayed low so as not to soil the hole. I got into position and sat for 20 minutes waiting for my bank-side footsteps to fade from memory.

No joy. Odd.

Otter? Osprey? Brown trout in the hole?

I failed the exam. There is something here I did not know or did not execute correctly.


I took nine fish off this stream. Five I took wading downstream returning to my put-in. I "jigged" my soft-hackle in the drift downstream 50' in front of me (full line head + leader) loosing one and hooking five.

What? Why?

My upstream soft-hackle efforts full of concentration and stealth yielded worse results than "playing" a brown partridge-and-orange downstream in the main current drift. No hatch. No spinner fall. Partly cloudy day with a 10 - 12 mph irregularly gusting wind. I had waded up the stream long enough before to consider it fully rested.

Was I "chumming" the stream with my steps? I didn't think so but the results might say otherwise.

My delicate and dedicated fishing of "the hole"  pulled nothing. The fish I did catch from upstream presentations came from places unremarkable (not a visible seam off a sweeper or on/around a obstruction).

I  fished "water" and not fish. I used the "9 box" method of dividing the stream into three ranks (rows) and three files (columns) upstream but within my reach. I fished closest to me across the rank, then the next rank upstream. Then the next. Three or four steps and I repeated.

I have this nasty nagging feeling I'm too high in the water column for fish feeding close to the bottom while lying in the micro draws and troughs of the streambed.

I suspect. I suspect. I postulate. I guess.

I think I am fishing shallow. I will amend the effort next weekend on that trout dash upstate.

Beauty Shot of gear:

I love my Finn Utility side bag. It isn't perfect; but, neither am I.

It's lovely gear. It needs a little Lexol in this snap.

Spike Burger and waffle fries. Fished shallow or deep, these hook me every time. Forbidden food.

"Not for Bears."

The evening fire as I read and smoked the last of some Briar Fox from Cornell and Diehl. Sad to say, it hasn't become a favorite blend.

Next up is Sextant by G. L. Pease. Yes, it is slightly cased by rum -- as if that matters a damn bit.

I've nothing bad to say about a little rum casing in the tobacco from time to time.

Rum is a fine substitute for Irish Whiskey or a decent scotch  in a glass when you're pressed to it.

One must remain flexible, after all.



  1. The light came on...spike.
    I'll be back.

  2. Welcome anytime. Love your site.

  3. That downstream "jig" is the all important magical Dangle at the end of a good swing, seems to me. Or at least the equivalent. It's good stuff (except for the making a good hookup with a barbless hook part, I suppose).

    Your recommendations regarding the Wulff TT lines helped me to choose a #5 TT Ambush line. It suits my needs perfectly in the no-place-for-a-backcast places I always seem to fish. Plus, I have a lot more range with my clumsy roll/pseudo-spey casting than I ever had overhead casting with a double taper. Coupled with a Rio Versileader I feel like a trout ninja.


    Tim in Spokane

  4. Oh yeah... The Fish Not Pictured picture is just perfect!

  5. Tim:

    Great news about the TT lines! I clearly love the things. They've opened up a ton of tricky water for me here in Michigan. Glad they help out west.