some call it "fish porn"

Discussion in 'Upper Peninsula Michigan Streams and Rivers' started by B.Jarvinen, May 11, 2018.

  1. B.Jarvinen

    B.Jarvinen

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    So to get y'all ready for the absolute death and destruction of all the new high limit Brook Trout streams in the U.P., I thought I would finally type up a fishing report from my now annual trip for Closing Day in the western U.P., a wee seven months late.

    I still have to type up a report on 2016 as well, but I have written up stories on 2013-2015 on here. 2014 and the Magic Pool of Rainbows and the full Lunar Eclipse was one of my best fishing trips, ever. I plan to start a blog, hopefully this summer and on time to do some exploration and journalism of an interesting stretch of historical Brook Trout water - the Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Superior, where I recently picked up a few weeks of work for later this summer and fall, quite conveniently. It will be a 2 Fishing Licenses year for me, though total water time will depend on the ultimate challenge these days - hiring someone who actually knows how to work.

    These were all on the same stream, and the same stretch of stream.

    This year the fateful Closer fell on a Saturday. This was probably good for many a Trout fisherman, but as Closing Day approached, I knew I would make my last Type 1 expedition a day early. The 29th was forecast to be overcast and drizzly, and was still a weekday. The final Saturday would be crystal clear and warm - terrible Trout fishing weather. With everyone else coming out on the beautiful last day, my decision to take the 29th as a day off and work on the 30th was an easy one.

    The stretch of stream I fish on Closing Day is excellent. It features a steady drop, without long sandy flats like so many other Trout streams all around Michigan. Just yesterday I crossed another stretch off the 'maybe someday' saw-on-a-map mental list on a trib to the upper Manistee - sand, sand, everywhere sand, sanding up the scenery, boring my mind.

    And my favorite west U.P. stretch drops through timber - not Alders, though those are still present here and there. In more limited #s, Alders are a Trout fisherman's absolute best friend. Though the stretch is never more than 4 feet deep at best, anything reaching 3 feet in depth can often have that most beautiful gun metal blue color to the pool - the color that means Trout feel perfectly safe sitting at the bottom, with less need for a log or a heavy Alder colony overhead to feel safe to feed.

    Plus, by the last week of September, the Trout are getting ready to spawn, or at least the Brooks and Browns are. I'm not sure what the Stream Rainbow plan in that regard, near six months before their Big Lake cousins are due in. And as a bait shop owner in that area mentioned to me once - "they are extra aggressive right now" - so true.

    This stream seems to have no problem hosting hordes of worm dunking, trout eating Heathens - like me. Most years, I see one or two other fishermen per day on it, though none of them venture very far from the access points. They invariably catch a couple 8-9" Brookies, right at those access points, as do I. I can usually catch one in about five minutes at either access I use. But despite those encouraging signs of success, I have never met a fisherman on this stream more than 200 yards from the road. They usually seem disappointed that they can't catch a new State Record while they can still see their vehicle, with their poor fishing techniques, like dropping a worm in a riffle only 6" deep, or fishing a spinner while they wade their way straight _down_ the center of the stream. So within a half hour they invariably take their 8" Brookie, or two such, back to their ride and they ride off to go fish some other easy access for 30 minutes somewhere else.

    8" Brook Trout are a delightful thing to have in your creel for a delightful dinner. But 10"+ Brook Trout are even more delightful. So after my 2016 Annual, I set a goal for the 2017 trip - I was going to come off the stream with only 10"+ keepers. And I would keep 10 of them. The 100" Brook Trout Challenge.

    Because this is one of _those_ streams. Where us greedy Trout murderers can catch 5 Trout in any species mix we wish, and then add 5 more Brookies to our daily haul. And this stream has been in this program since it started, some five years ago now.

    Also for 2017, I vowed to make it all the way from Access Point A to Access Point B, in one single long wade. Every time I have tried this before, darkness has forced an Abort out to the county road, which is always within a half-mile or less of the stream. Between A & B is a mix of land commonly described as "checkerboarded". If you don't know what that means, you need to up your Trout fishing game considerably.

    Checkerboarded land is where there is a tangled mix of public and private ownership. On a map, the various squares of 40 acre tracts can look like a checkers board with the alternating colors for private and public parcels. On private land, you can not get out of the stream and just casually walk the bank whenever you feel like it. Nor can you park on private land and walk across it to enter the stream. Knowing who owns what, and where, is an important part of stream Trout fishing. Just because Google Maps shows some land as a green color on your 'phone' doesn't mean it is public access. Sometimes I think there should be a Sticky thread on here about how to use various maps to figure out where to fish for Trout. If you have any questions, just ask.

    So as I wade from Point A to Point B, I pass about a half-dozen cabins altogether. I have never yet seen a person at any of these incredibly wonderful addresses, on one of the most wonderful days of the year to catch Trout. And these people have mass quantities of large Brook Trout right in their front yards that they could catch from a lawn chair if they wished. Maybe they feast on Brook Trout all summer long and are bored with them by September, but I doubt it. Actually, all around this area of the U.P., it seems like about a full 1 outta 3 "cabins" of every type of structure short of a full 3 bedroom house have just been simply abandoned and left to slowly disintegrate. And access Point B is actually an abandoned campground; I'm wager that campground was 100% Not Vacant on Closing Days 30 and 40 years ago.

    But now, people just don't go outside as much, it seems to me. So that leaves all the Brook Trout for me, in there between A & B.

    I wish I could recount a few more specifics of these catches, like the way I artfully flipped a spinner cross current from behind that one Alder, etc., etc., but really the catches kind of all blur together. Because there are so many of them. Here is the result:


    [​IMG]
     
  2. B.Jarvinen

    B.Jarvinen

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    Now a few sharp-eyed peeps among you might notice those are not all Brook Trout - there is a Brown, and a Rainbow there on top. It is pretty fun to hit the trifecta on a stream in a single day. So I kept one of each non-Brookie for meal variety, though I caught about 5x of each altogether, but only about 4 Brookies caught and released for each of the 8 in the bucket. And there are 2 9" Brookies in there, who inhaled a spinner so deeply it was just easier to clip the line and take the spinner out later. Maybe this year I will complete the 100" Challenge.

    And this year the best was only 13". I did better in the east U.P. in August, where I caught several 14"ers, though I whacked through many more bushes to do it.

    The most exciting fish was a large stream Rainbow that I did not land. It was holding in a ridiculously fast stretch of water, and hit the spinner before I could even pull enough to make the blade spin. But large stream Rainbow are a total hoot in a small stream on Ultra Light tackle. Sure, a Steelhead is an exciting fish to catch, but their little stream cousins tail-walking around a stream barely as wide as I am tall is always pretty darn memorable too.

    I mentioned worm dunking, but one would be a fool to put a worm in this stream. You would catch a whole lot of fish, and quite quickly too - lots and lots of 4-5" Brooks and Rainbows. I stick to straight #6 Panther Martins - 1/4 oz - on this stream now - and I don't get all excited about a "bump" on the spinner that does not result in a hook-up. My theory is that many of those bumps are a small fish that can't get it's mouth on to the large treble on a 1/4 oz spinner.

    But as long as you understand just where to spot cast the spinner and just where to not stand to spook the hungry Trout waiting for that spinner to hit the water, you will catch Brookie after Brookie after Brookie on this stream, and occasionally one of their cousins, too. And all this after five years of the Trout destroying 10 fish limit.

    Now perhaps I took 8 Trophy Brook Trout away from this year's Trout fishermen on the stream. But I don't think so. Below the downstream Access Point I use, there are a good ten meandering stream miles to the next spot on public land one could wade in from, at least without a mile hike in from an ever tightening, less and less used two-track. I doubt those ten miles are fished much at all (the locals all consider the stretch to be heavy Wolf Country - Little Red Riding Hood might not want to take up Brook Trout fishing), and I expect those ten miles are equally loaded with massive #s of Trout. I have only been on them once, with a companion without waders or hipboots, so my visit was brief, but glorious - even more stream Rainbows down below, though the Alder frequency starts picking up considerably, too. 2018 might see me attempt more on that stretch, I hope, though a car-spotting companion would probably help that dream. And then below that is a town and a famous highway and a Type 3 stretch and a still open campground and a former "Blue Ribbon" designation for the waters there. I catch plenty of the same mix of fish and sizes right under that highway bridge when I don't have time to wade around at Point A or Point B. And then many miles below those, the stream is by then a real river, with real Walleye and real Pike just waiting to try and keep all my beloved little Brook Trout from taking a vacation out in Lake Superior and turn in to a Coaster. Though I have heard tell of them caught on a different Branch of this massive system.

    So I quite like the 10 fish limit. After some 5 years of it, the Brook Trout seem bigger than ever. Or perhaps I am just better at catching them. Either way, "Limit 10" for me means an excellent supper - AND an excellent lunch the next day. And I think it would for you, too. Brook Trout Fishing. Try it today.
     

  3. Quig7557

    Quig7557

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    Nice write up. Of course you have my sleuth brain working overtime to figure out where you were. A little time with a map and I might have it;).

    Exploring, the need to see what’s past the next bend, can lead to some real special spots.

    What line of work are you in that gets you to all these fishing locations?
     
  4. Trout King

    Trout King

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    Nice report and write up. Spinner flipping for brookies is a hoot. Congrats on the closer success, and best of luck this year!
     
  5. B.Jarvinen

    B.Jarvinen

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    I haven't had much luck so far this year; have only caught some chubs. But I have had very little time to hit any water. I hit a road culvert pool in Wexford on my way home last night that I have always wanted to try. In theory, the lake outlet water pouring through it would still be cold enough for Trout and the culvert is the Type 1 boundary. It proved to have extensive long runs of excellent gravel just below it. But I think most of the year the Trout can only be found many miles downstream from it after it experiences the key phrase "it picks up more groundwater" (springs). I failed to confirm their presence (or absence).

    Wednesday night I took advantage of the storms to take 2 hours of personal time and drove north from a job site in Missaukee County, to Upper Big Manistee Country. I struck out completely on the stretch I selected and explored with hip boots. No fish action at all, but not what I meant by striking out - just didn't luck into a piece with any real holes; just wide shallow sand flat straightaways with almost zero overhead cover, very few Alders, and minimal in-stream woody debris. Some Trout could probably have been enticed out from under the very occasional Conifer on the bank, with a worm or a fly, but it would be slow patient work. Right @ dark I tried the next vehicle point a mile up from there and hit the jackpot - gravel, audibly bubbling riffles, meander bends and pools - there is always Next Time. That's what Trout fishing is about - finding that stretch of water that does hold Trout, and fish-able water. Finding one, even without time to fish it right then, makes for a successful Trout expedition even without actually catching one.


    I am a "Silviculture Contractor" and just wrapped up a short season of tree planting jobs here in Michigan. Am departing for a wetlands project in the High Country of West Virginia tomorrow. (Yes, there are Brook Trout there, too, possibly even within rock throwing distance of the jobsite, but there is also lots of Acid Mine Drainage potentially screwing that up). When it comes to working in the woods, everyone wants to be The General, and there is actually a slight shortage of people who can professionally manage Forests and be the General. But there is an extreme shortage of people who can be the Soldier - and that's what I do - all the boots-on-the-groud labor intensive work involved in actual Forestry management. So I can pick and choose where I work. Every September, I plan to be somewhere west of Iron Mountain, that is for sure.
     
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  6. PunyTrout

    PunyTrout

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    Great write up.

    At least you shied away from using any incendiary language or phrases. And any 'pointed-barbs' you chose to cast, were only slightly less in number than a treble hook in tone... ;)

    I have absolutely 'no idea' where you were fishing. :whistle:

    Seriously though, I always enjoy your reports and reading about your trouting adventures. Good luck for the rest of the season.
     
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  7. nafc2005

    nafc2005

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    I agree with PT. Always a great read; inspiring and educational. I've never subscribed to someone's blog, but when you get yours up and running I'd sure like to know about it.
     
  8. Munuscool

    Munuscool

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    Great haul. For those complaining about the 10 brook trout limit, like B Jarv said nobody even puts in the effort for them these days. Heck, I've tried and still have yet to catch my first brookie. I need to keep at it though. It's such a tiny tiny minority. Sure you can have a handful of guys I can count on two hands who will pound the heck out of them, but people should remember the waters of the U.P. are pretty vast and the brook trout populations are quite stable at the moment. If anything, maybe it will draw out more people to go journey the woods and streams around them.
     
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  9. Robert Holmes

    Robert Holmes

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    Nice meal when I am out in the woods like you like to be I put wintergreen leaves w berries and a little butter in foil. I wrap them good and cook them on an open fire.
     
  10. Robert Holmes

    Robert Holmes

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    When you get a chance stop in St Ignace for coffee, I can give you a couple of more good spots to try.