DNR Highlights Trout Fishing Opportunities at Michigan State Forest Campgrounds, State Parks

July 16, 2011

Looking for a vacation destination that combines great fishing, beautiful scenery, and affordability? Many of Michigan’s state parks and forest campgrounds are located on or near high-quality trout waters.
Michigan boasts more than 130 state parks and state forest campgrounds that are within one mile of a trout lake or stream.
The Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Management Division and Fisheries Division have teamed up with the Michigan Chapter of Trout Unlimited to collate and catalog these opportunities. Maps of campground locations and corresponding fishing opportunities are available online at http://www.michigan.gov/dnrrecreationcamping and http://www.michigan.gov/fishing.
Campgrounds near trout fishing are located throughout the state. In southern lower Michigan, state parks provide the camping experience. In the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, there are camping opportunities in both state parks and state forest campgrounds. All offer a unique experience.
“State forest campgrounds provide an opportunity for anglers to enjoy great fishing in a rustic setting,” says Lynne Boyd, chief of the DNR Forest Management Division.
The state parks offer many fishing opportunities for everyone from the first-timer to experienced anglers, said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. Trout fishing is available everywhere from Spring Mill Pond in Island Lake State Recreation Area to Tippy Dam on the Manistee River.
“The diversity of camping locations and the diversity of trout fishing experiences available are numerous, and would likely take any one person years to experience,” said Jim Dexter, acting chief of the DNR Fisheries Division.
The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry into Michigan state parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new method of funding Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and park development grants to local communities.
Michigan residents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking “YES” on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit http://www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call (517) 241-7275.

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TWIN SONS OF DIFFERENT MOTHERS

July 6, 2011

Tim Weissberg and Dan Fogelberg coined the title phrase on their 1979 album, it is appropriate to the subject of this essay. The album explored the concept of brothers who may be inherently alike, yet worlds apart in their personalities. While the sport of fishing assembles its practitioners as a fraternity, the semblance of this brotherhood could not be more disparate. While assembly near water is the norm, the similarity ends at that point. Pursuers of bass and trout mix as well as oil and water, and for these reasons they never will  be same and why they never have been.

It’s rarely difficult to spot the differences, even though both angling species are found on or near water.   Despite related life purposes and some common traits, there is little evidence of  any further relevance to their familial classification. Though bass fisherman have the greater population and highest regional concentration, trout anglers are the more dominate and widespread of the order.

Behavioral traits vary wide between the sub groups. Trout anglers often have accents, usually British, Yankee or Midwestern. Bass fishers will have a drawl, usually southern. Their habitats are also telling. Trout anglers prefer small free flowing cold water streams where small trout reside. Bass fishers gravitate to large dammed warm water rivers, the home of largemouth bass.

Another easy method of detection is trout anglers prefer to be called fly fishers, while bass  fishers will usually answer to the call of Billy Bob.        The tools that both groups utilize are quite opposite too. Trout anglers use long wispy  stems of graphite or boron that they refer to as fly rods. These levers are designed to cast  a tiny hook called a fly with feathers and fuzz attached short distances, and land lightly on the  waters surface. Bass fishers prefer bait casting fishing pole, a short stout instrument oftenmistaken as a tree limb. The purpose of this stout object is to hurl heavy multi-hooked lure great  distances, resulting in a hearty splash.

 

While bass fishers have amassed a greater population, it is a result of the shortness of their evolutionary period. Still at the stage where merely propagating the species is important, it is hoped that bass anglers  will soon advance beyond this. Once this occurs, their population will crest and their numbers can be brought down to manageable levels. Significantly higher on the evolutionary scale, evidence of trout anglers existence dates back to ancient Greece. In fact, the first published book on fly fishing came from Medieval England over 600 years ago. The first new world trout anglers were found in New York’s Catskill Mountains in the 1600’s

When not gathered at water’s edge, further dissimilation of the species shows itself. Whereas two fellows may share the common name of Henry, the bass fisher will always go by Hank. Additionally, trout anglers generally prefer to be known as fly fishermen. The purveyors of equipment used for the sport are equally as different. Trout anglers will often congregate at an Orvis Shop, a small upscale boutique with a full inventory of specialized necessities for the fly fisherman.  Bass fishers, on the other hand, will likely be found at the Bass Pro Shop nearest their dwelling. These big box behemoths will offer any item under the sun remotely related to fishing. They, like their patrons seek quantity over quality.

At the water, there is little doubt as to which member of the angling fraternity you are observing. Trout anglers will seek out small streams in remote areas. As they are by nature secretive loners, any evidence of another angler will be cause to seek out another spot up the road. It is likely they will walk the stream in waders to seek out their quarry. If a trout should be caught, it will nearly always be released to fight another day, and the angler will muse over the quality of the fight, and the joy of retuning his catch. After that, a sip of single malt scotch from his flask will provide the refreshment before partaking in the next cast.

Bass fishers usually congregate at massive marinas on large man-made lakes behind a power dam. They will arrive in oversize pickup trucks hauling overpriced glittery bass boats. These have twin motors capable of propelling the vessel at Nascar speeds for no other apparent reason than to go fast. Bass fishers like to travel in groups and wear shirts with lots of advertising. Their social norm is something called a tournament, where dozens will gather at an appointed spot to compete for the largest catch. Upon completion of their tournament, they will assemble in a large horde around a roasting pig and celebrate with many cases of Busch beer.

Despite being characterized as elitist, the inherent philosophy of trout angling lies within its simplicity. It is purely the angler versus the fish. While some balk at the price tag of a fly rod, consider the outlay for a well-equipped bass fisher. Even with several rods, reels, and other required compulsory accessories, the average fly angler is still out only a few thousand dollars, and is set for life. The cost of travel and a stock of flies is all that will be a further cost. Just be sure to show up at the stream with the right brands.

Bass fishing will require, at a minimum, a tricked out bass boat, always with a price north of $20,000, and a vehicle capable of hauling it. On top of that, there are the devices required to find fish, radars, sonars, and underwater cameras. All these take the mystery and simplicity out of

fishing, and in turn, the fun. Bass anglers compensate for this by getting more toys.

In light of this all, one might decide that early man was perhaps more evolved than his descendants. It may have been geographical necessity that brought bass fishing into being, though it did not seem to develop until large scale damming of rivers in the United States began. Trout angling has remained essentially unchanged for centuries. It is a pure sport, sought out by those seeking a higher pursuit.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Lie

June 7, 2011

Fly anglers tend to elevate their sport to religious status.  They will speak of the sanctimony of stepping into a stream and the reverence of a river.  No doubt this is due to the long literary heritage of a pursuit that has always sought to elevate itself from the mere catching of a fish. To this day casting a fly carries a certain differentia from other fishers. You tend to accept that you are doing this for a higher purpose.

All of this had brought me now to Seney, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The most famous of all trout fishing stories took place here.  Ernest Hemingway wrote of Nick Adams coming here to fish the Big Two Hearted River.  It was instead the Fox River that the character fished.   The Fox River, as well as the Two Hearted River thirty miles east, both remain largely as they were in Hemingway’s story, and it is not difficult to imagine oneself as a modern Nick Adams.  Thousands still journey here annually to savor such an experience.

Seney is actually probably a fraction of the town Nick Adams experienced.  The railroad he arrived on is still here, but there is little else remaining of the raunchy lumbering town of a century ago. There are possibly a hundred full time residents, and the remaining commercial activity has located along the state highway.  In its heyday though, Seney was likely the most infamous town east of the Mississippi.

As I explained my plans to the proprietor of the Fox River Motel, he groaned under his breath, yet he willingly accepted my payment.  It was the last weekend of trout season and the weather was astonishingly midsummer like.  It was one of those days which seemed was ordered by a higher power.  I would fish the Fox tomorrow, the east branch of the Fox on Friday, and wrap up the season on Saturday on the Two Hearted River.  All now seemed in place for my religious experience.

Following breakfast at the Golden Griddle the next morning, one’s only option in town for that meal, I drove across the street to County Road 500, which parallels the Fox River for about fifteen miles.  After passing several promising turnoffs, it dawned on me that no one else was on the river this day.  At the state forest campground, I opted to make my stand.  The stream here was exactly as Hemingway depicted it in his story.  The casting lanes were narrow, and the currents ran strong.  While I was using flies as bait, as opposed to Nick Adam’s self-dug worms, modern regulations were the culprit.  There was no doubt that this was the river I had sought out, and my sojourn to this shrine was rewarded with a pair of well-earned brook trout.

Friday arrived with another perfect weather forecast, which seemed to be another sign.  It appeared inevitable that casting on the East Branch would be fruitful.  Regarded as Michigan’s best brook trout stream, the inaccessibility of the river is somewhat responsible.  After several miles of tumbling along two-tracks, I reached my chosen spot.  It was a large open meadow, with a level stretch of river riffling through its grasses.  It was a perfect casting spot here, though the high sun would make these wild fish wary.  The temperatures rose dramatically and gave rise to an unexpected consequence, the mosquito hatch.  Ill prepared, I soon acquiesced to the cutthroats and returned to Seney.

The early culmination of the day allowed for a stop at Andy’s Bar, the last tavern in this town which once hosted dozens.  Conversations came easily here, and once more I was revealed as little more than the latest Hemingway reader to end up here.  It was all taken in stride granting that my tale had many times been told.  They were glad to accept my payment at this establishment too.  After quenching my thirst, I walked back to my room.

Early the next morning I fled the sleepy hamlet for the Two Hearted River.  It was about an hour’s drive away, a journey it would’ve taken Nick Adams two or three days to make.  My destination was a private spot near the Reed and Green bridge, which is actually on an unnamed road.  Armed with bug spray, I reached the end of the trail at the river.  It was yet another day pulled from somewhere in mid-June.  The poetic beauty of the river’s name is matched only by its scenic splendor.  If nothing else were to happen today, standing here right now would still be enough for me.

Barely had my first cast hit the water when a brook trout struck my fly.  Brook trout do not strike hard like a rainbow, which I would’ve expected the fish to be.  It was just a tug, nothing you dare over respond to.  Still there it was a moment later, sliding from my hand back into these revered waters.  Over the next two hours, I caught and released nearly two dozen more of these, a day unlike any other I have experienced before or since.  There was nothing I could do wrong.

Now my revelation was complete. Whether it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, or somebody was smiling down on me that day will forever remain a mystery.  Having fished all of these rivers before and since, that solitary afternoon remains an singular anomaly.  It has cemented my belief that fly fishing is a sport which is aspired to as much as it is practiced for its virtue.  As trout inhabit of the most beautiful of locales, it is not difficult to imagine they may have been sent from that better place.

The Manistee and Au Sable Rivers

May 30, 2011

Though the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers are remarkable in their similarities, they are as striking in their contrasts. Their headwaters lie merely 5 miles apart near the village of Waters. At this point, they are small brook trout streams, running parallel courses south for several miles.

Upon nearing Michigan highway 72 in western Crawford county, their paths separate. The Manistee now heads southwest toward Lake Michigan, and the Au Sable turns east to Lake Huron.

Perhaps the most notable contrast is the amount of public land along the Manistee river. Great stretches of this waterway remain undeveloped. This remains fairly consistent nearly to the rivers mouth at Manistee Lake. A feeling of remoteness in fishing the river is available that is unusual in the lower peninsula. There also no towns to speak of along the Manistee which also enhances it wildness.

The Au Sable, on the other hand, flows through several towns, and some other extensively developed areas before emptying into Lake Huron. There are large public holdings on the river, but the Au Sable is the more popular of the two. It is more revered also, and was the founding point of Trout Unlimited. More people come here, and more people work to protect the resource

They also boast of great tributaries. The Au Sable has the North, South, and East branches, and the Manistee has the Bear, Pine, and Little Manistee rivers. Oddly, while the streams flowing into the Au Sable flow largely though public land, the Manistee’s feeders are more urbanized than the mainstream itself.

Further downstream, both rivers are harnessed by hydroelectric dams. Deep water with heavy currents make this a boat fishery. Lake run salmon and trout are the inhabitants here. Both basins are at near capacity at this point. The big water signals the end of their journey. The Manistee at the city of Manistee at Lake Michigan and the Au Sable at Oscoda on the shore of Lake Huron.

The Big Wild

February 2, 2011

The brook trout slid from my hand back to the security of the deep pool.  As I regathered my senses from the thrill of landing and releasing this prize, my surroundings once again engulfed me.  It suddenly seemed strange. I was alone here, in the middle of the largest contiguous wild area remaining in the lower peninsula of Michigan.  No other anglers were out on this late September day, the last day of trout season.  Was it fortune or luck?

The Pigeon River Country had a historical and long standing distinction of being a refuge. Elk were reintroduced here in 1918, and today remain the only herd of note east of the Rocky Mountains.  Ernest Hemingway would come here from his family’s summer home on Walloon Lake twenty five miles to the west.  Known then as the Pine Barrens, Hemingway would camp and cast flies into the now christened Blue Ribbon Trout Streams; the Sturgeon, Black and Pigeon.  In the book ‘Prowling Papa’s Waters’, author H. Lea Lawrence writes that the Black was probably Hemingway’s favorite river, as He would consistently catch two to four pound brook trout there.  The area is today as it was then, undeveloped and open to the public.

Over the years, the county-sized area remained a wild refuge, a roughly 500 square mile area of mostly state owned land.  It remained as a retreat for hunters and anglers whose license money had purchased it all.  Campers, canoers and other outdoor enthusiasts also freely meandered throughout the Pigeon River Country, and it became known as the Big Wild. The uniqueness of the region led the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to manage it separately from its other state forest units.  The solace of the Big Wild was soon to be shaken to its very roots however.

The late Gordon Charles describes the enormity of the news that would forever change the nature of the Pigeon River Country and the politics of conservation in Michigan. In his book, “Pigeon River Country”, Charles writes, ‘It was July 2, 1970…a date I’ll never forget.  I turned on the radio for the morning news and a shudder of revulsion ran through me.  A major gas and oil strike had been made in the Pigeon River Country. Predictions were that it was sitting atop a vast oil and natural gas field. “This was the opening shot of a long battle which would lead to the establishment of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Michigan had leased mineral right to several parcels of the forest in the 1960’s with little expectation of anything happening.  As Dave Dempsey notes in ‘Ruin And Recovery’, the discovery caught the DNR completely off guard and led to a series of divisive political battles.  William Milliken, governor at the time, stayed on the sidelines urging the parties involved to reach a negotiated settlement. In his Milliken biography, ‘Michigan’s Passionate Moderate’, author Dave Dempsey notes that the governor made his position clear, while imploring  reaching an agreement with the threat of vetoing a bad one.

Most of the next decade found the matter tied up in both the courts and the halls of government.  In early 1978, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against oil and gas development.   This was the first major step in reaching a resolution, and allowed all sides to come to the table knowing where    they stood.  In the April 6, 1978 issue of the ‘North Woods Call’, Editor Glen Sheppard reported that “this is the first time that the oil companies have had a reason to come to the table.”  Indeed, this new session proved to be most productive.  It created the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, a revenue source for securing lands of significance for Michigan citizens in perpetuity.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNTRF) was created with royalties and proceeds from the leasing and extraction of minerals from state owned land.  Sportsmen, whose license dollars had largely been responsible for the purchase of these properties, realized they were exchanging short term pain for long term gain.  From now on, there would be a perpetual source of funding to purchase additional public land and fund local parks.  Governor Milliken signed it into law.

A non-partisan board was established to oversee the MNTRF, and an application process to nominate lands for purchase and local projects for consideration was put into place.  The members of this council are appointed by the Governor.  To date, over 914 million has been appropriated from the fund.  There have been challenges, however.  During the 1990’s, lawmakers facing state fiscal shortages raided the fund of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Once again, conservationists rallied to protect the MNTRF.  A grassroots public campaign to constitutionally protect the fund was begun in 1994, and overwhelmingly passed by Michigan voters in 1996.  It was now constitutionally mandated how these monies could be spent.  For the last fifteen years, these protections have kept the fund secure.

Once again, Michigan’s current fiscal crisis has turned politician eyes to the pot of money.  The first shot was fired by Russ Harding, in an article from the Mackinac Center entitled ‘Natural Resources Trust Fund In Need Of A Change.’  In the article, Harding argues that “it is not fiscally responsible to mandate additional land purchases when cash strapped governmental units are struggling to maintain holdings they already have.”  Harding also supports ending the stipulation that twenty five percent of fund monies be spent on local park projects.  The paper exhorts Michigan’s legislature to revisit the MNTRF’s original goals.

Russ Harding was appointed as the first director of the Department of Environmental Quality when Governor John Engler created it by splitting off functions of the Department of Natural Resources.  Harding faced harsh criticism for his management and was removed by Engler within two years.  Over the years since joining the Mackinac Center,  he has become recognized as a proponent for privatizing and shedding conservation efforts of the state government.  An earlier proposal by Harding to privatize and sell off state parks was greeted by wide disparagement across all political lines.

Following the cue from Harding, Republican state representative Dave Agema has just introduced a trio of bills to rescind the current mandates of the MNTRF.  The bills, HB 4021, 4028, and 4051, are designed to redistribute the way money from the MNTRF is spent.  In an interview on WHTC radio on January 10, 2011, Agema states that twenty two percent of the state is already in public ownership, and that is more than enough.  In actuality, while the twenty two percent figure is appropriate, only half of that, or approximately 3.6 million acres are state owned.  The other half is federally owned and has no relation to the MNTRF.  Michigan has no jurisdiction over these lands.

Agema’s bills specify that money from the MNTRF would be better spent otherwise.  In an article from the Grand Rapids Press on January 23, 2011, he is quoted as saying “since the money comes from gas and oils revenues, it should be used for cars, trucks and airplanes that use gas and oil”.  The bills are reintroductions of identical bills which died last year, something Agema blames on Democratic control of the state house. The Michigan League of Conservative Voters deemed him Michigan’s most conservative legislator, despite not passing a single one of his bills.

In his State of the State speech in January 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder expressed his support for fully funding and maintaining the MNTRF, citing it as a key quality of life component in Michigan’s economic recovery.   While reactionaries such as Russ Harding and Dave Agema may see this as their opportunity to destroy Michigan’s conservation heritage, it seems likely their efforts will fail.  Firstly, their efforts are likely unconstitutional, and at the very least will require a two thirds vote by both chambers of the Michigan legislature, as well as approval by the governor.  It would then have to be approved by a popular vote of the people to change the state constitution.

Finally, it would violate a compact between the people and their government.  The MNTRF has served as the best example of user pay ever enacted.  The users whose fees purchased the lands from which the funding for the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund comes are the ultimate benefactors.  This bond of trust has been decades in the making, and should not be sabotaged by shortsighted politicians.   Beyond that, the general public benefits extensively from funding for state and local park improvements.  In fact, most local governments have come to rely on MNTRF grants for any park improvements.  All of this is done with no money from taxpayers.  This fund is a promise to our children.  We will use these one-time payments to protect and enhance the natural beauty of Michigan, so that we will leave you a better place for our grandchildren.

 

 

 

THE MISSING LINK

January 28, 2011

I found the missing link one spring morning at Ed’s fly shop in Baldwin.  I was in town on the latest foray into the north woods that freedom that a car and driver’s license gives you. It seems I was always driving north seeking something. Somewhere in these woods was the answer I was seeking. There were plenty of clues: the romantic depictions of Mort Neff’s program, the adventure stories from Ben East and the great literature from John Voelker.  I had searched further; the northern tales of Sigurd Olson, the archives of Michigan Conservation magazine and the accounts of Ernest Hemingway.

There was a commonality of their experiences however, that eluded me, a draw to this country which none could resist. Half an hour earlier, I had stood at a landing on the Pere Marquette river, and felt that same longing for the answer welling up within. The sight of fly anglers there were what led me to this modest establishment. Nestled at the front of a bowling alley, it nonetheless oozed character.  And there on the counter in front of me was the revelation, a current issue of the North Woods Call.

I think that this epiphany set me back a quarter. But it was all here in some little biweekly newspaper from a mysterious drumlin in some ghost town outside Charlevoix. Owned by Glen Sheppard and his wife Mary Lou, the Call had all the ingredients right.  Here in these pages were the missing link to the curiosity I had of Michigan’s North Woods.

Within a month, I was a subscriber for over thirty years. Every issue was an event, waiting to see what news was now.  It was usually the first reporting of anything important up north. It was all covered: from the Pigeon River to the Yellow Dog mine. No other paper could deliver this.

I talked with Glen on the phone one day in the late 1990’s. He was contemplating retirement and was considering selling the North Woods Call. It was a fascinating conversation, as I considered his to be the perfect job. Ever the gentlemen, He invited me up to his drumlin for lunch,  an offer I never managed to take him up on. He never did give up his job, and I pity whoever may have taken it. It would have been as futile as was the poor fella who followed Ernie Harwell. As with Ernie, so is it with Glen, there can only be one.

 

 

This Is Far Enough

December 1, 2010

This seemed like a fine spot. The camera was starting to get a bit heavy, and I was anxious to take some pictures. A sandy trail bordered by scrub pines was behind me,and I now sat on a lush ledge among towering cedars. The morning chill only heightened my joy of presence here.

Below an oxbow presented a unusually broad panorama of the river not normally available from a single location. The early morning sun was behind me, streaming through the scraggly pines, but buffered by the cedar’s barrier gave a great contrast to the scene.

Through the mist rising from the stream, a doe and two fawns appeared on the far side of the oxbow for their morning drink. Three pictures later, they slid away into the tall grass.

It was a perfect spot to break in the new camera that I bought for times like this.Some days the fishing wasn’t good, or I just couldn’t get in the mood for it. Today was one of those times. But now the trout were beginning to rise along the high bank that the local chapter 0f Trout Unlimited had restored several years back.

The memory of a nineteen inch brown I caught there about a year ago nearly lured me from my cozy nook. Of course a canoe came slithering through the bend. I don’t know which was worse, that it ruined the mood or the fishing.

The sun had now dried the dew and retrieved the mist from the river. A goshawk gliding along some thermal past the pines suddenly swooped down for a chipmunk breakfast. A short nap was speared by the crack of a large branch seemingly right behind me. A bear?

No, just another itinerant fly caster stumbling his way along on dry land. Granting him access to my spot, I realized that it hadn’t been far enough.

BLACK FRIDAY

November 7, 2010

Black Friday

Anyone watching the news would likely surmise that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. Television news depict all able bodied shoppers flocking to whichever mall or store opens earliest and offers the greatest bargain. Good for them, I hope you find the deal of the year. Good for me, because all those people will be at the malls and not cluttering my out-of-doors. You see, Black Friday is also the biggest day of the year for sportsmen, too.

Driving north on any state highway on this day, you’ll find every pulloff, access point, or two-track has some vehicle parked there. Smack dab in the middle of firearm deer season, and at the usual height of the steelhead run, there’s hardly a better time to be outside in Michigan. At one time, this day would mark the beginning of my steelhead season.

As an angler, this is not the ideal time of year to be wandering though the woods to an access spot. Too many guys with guns out there. And why interfere with their sport anyway? The woods and fields are theirs this time of year, and I am glad of that. Firearms deer season in Michigan deserves reverence. The easiest points are fresh at this time.

The trout stream regulations changes a few years back made Black Friday into a new ballgame. It was no longer a scramble to find the remaining open streams to fish, but a decision on which river to cast a fly. It really revolutionized trout fishing in Michigan, and along with it, my options for Black Friday. To be honest, the angling comes second to the chance to head to a nearby watering hole and savor tales from the local deer hunt.

This year will find me somewhere in the Lake Michigan watershed in a flies only stretch of river. I know the pillows I desperately need will be at 1/10th their normal cost at 5 A.M., but you’ll find me then at some gas station trying to pour a cup of coffee, and explaining to the cashier that I paid for the gas a the pump whose number I didn’t remember.

 

How His Dog Is Exacting Her Revenge

October 25, 2010

The look of disappointment on her face that day was unmistakable. Of all the owners in the world, he had to be the one to show up for her. Of all the dogs at the rescue farm, fate had delivered her into his hands. Even now, she was cursing her short canine lifespan. 

Upon reaching his truck, she almost laughed at it. Still looking wistfully back at her unadopted counterparts, she made one last desperate dash to rejoin them. It was futile, though, as he reclaimed her and sequestered her behind the confines of the tailgate. A million sighs of self pity was his entertainment for the ride home.

Upon reaching her new home, her worst fears were realized, these were not digs for a dog of her stature. She willingly accepted the dinner offered though, despite it being purchased from a discount retailer. The large chair in the corner was soon claimed as hers, and a long nap was taken to recover from the trauma this day had brought.

Upon awaking, and realizing that it was all just not a bad dream, she began to plot her reprisal for all that had been done. Oh, it was a dastardly scheme. Beginning at that moment, she would be at her new owners side constantly. She would follow him anywhere in the house, never more than two steps behind. She would lay at his feet every time his sat down. At dinnertime, the dog would be at his side, sad eyes longing for the merest morsel of table scraps. In the earliest hours of morning, she would rouse him from the deepest of sleep in order to begin another day. Every time he took his keys in an effort to leave, she would be there to join him on his journey. It was a journey she hoped would be long.

Winter Flyfishing In The Upper Peninsula

October 13, 2010

Nestled in the current changes to trout stream regulations being proposed by the DRNE, are some changes which would open several prime rivers in the Upper Peninsula to year round angling. Though the changes are fairly insignificant, mostly pertaining to designating the state’s remaining stretches of special regulation streams, I found the changes in the UP to be intriguing.

I went on record to support the changes, most of which reaffirmed existing special regulations for fly fishing. There was nothing magic here, extending the boundaries on the Manistee, Pere Marquette and Au Sable only made common sense. But the changes for some of my favorite rivers above the Bridge got me wondering.

The changes in trout stream regulations a decade ago were a boon for me. I no longer had to cram myself into a steelhead stream in order to fish in January. As a catch and release practitioner, going to a stream outside of trout season was a luxury, the new rules made it a pleasure. No crowds, no canoes, just a river to fish. Though this was a glimpse of heaven, anything across the Mighty Mac was essentially off limits.

The new rules offer a chance to partake some of my favorite summer destinations in the dead of winter. Sort of a reverse Christmas in July. Some inner voice is admonishing me that those great June access points won’t necessarily be available in January. That seems plausible, as I have never gotten to great spot on a snowmobile.

I’ll have a year to ponder this as these changes wouldn’t take effect until 2011. Still the DNRE seems on the right track, opening up waters and encouraging fishing. This cannot be bad for our sport even if the specifics might not be to your liking. Though I have lamented on this blog on the loss of importance of the Last Saturday In April, things are on the right track.