Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

It was going to be an epic year. Working from home would give me, in theory, time to get employer deliverables and honey-do’s done with ease, and leave time for more weekend early AM trips to the river. Look out, thou trout! I tied flies and readied leaders and gear in anticipation.

But an early summer outing handed me a disappointing skunk — two takes that strangely broke off a fly apiece (highly unusual for me, given the typical size of the fish here), but no hook-ups. Demoralized, I reasoned that they must have been steelhead “speed break” strikes, to have parted the tippet on what felt like a minor grab…yeah, yeah, dat’s what musta happened. So I re-tooled my tactics to tempt the hypothetical big spring spawn lingerers and aimed my sights at another morning outing a few weeks later, building up expectations as I always do.

But I got skunked again, dang it, and this time felt only one weak bump on the line. Now I was mad. I got out a month later, and flogged the water for 5 straight hours using every trick I could think of. Didn’t get even a half-hearted line-wiggle from a single fish.

What the…? Things had gone from pitiful to beyond all summer long, and now, with a chamber clearly empty of both confidence and lucky bullets, I was staring down the barrel of the autumn Chinook spawn. I set aside not one but two days right up against the season close date, as close to peak salmon run time as Fish And Game would allow, and did my damnedest. But…another demoralizing skunk on that Sunday!

Four days later, the last day of the season for that river, my last hurrah there for the year, water low, Chinook still nowhere to be seen, I’d again gotten no action for interminable hours. I stood out there a nearly broken man. I confess I hit rock bottom. With no future left to plan for, instead of applying the fabricated forward optimism I normally conjure up I started to think backward across recent months. That is, I finally started to use my head.

What adjustments had I made last spring? Let’s see, nice new reel, and I cleaned the fly lines, and the patch I made to a wader leak was holding well, and…I’d gone to nice furled fluoro leaders, which were a joy to use, and…I’d tied weighted flies to minimize use of split shot, thus eliminating path anomalies between rod and fly, and…wait a minute, what was that about the leaders? I’d changed the type. I’d been using “clear” fluoro FURLED leaders all year. It seemed to me they weren’t exactly clear, of course…they refract enough light on every bend of every filament (and there are a lot of little bends when line is braided together like that) that unless it’s nearly nighttime those furled leaders look translucent white in the water…like an off-white piece of thin yarn seven feet long preceding the fly down through the current. Could I be…spooking fish? For months? I’d stepped the taper down quickly from furled portion to tippet, too, so the fly wasn’t really all that far from the furled—maybe only about three feet.

Continue reading → Comeback

A Pretty Lake for Trout

Guest Blogger: Jim DuFresne

It was a calm evening after a late spring in the land of the Big Two Hearted River, a deadly combination that leads to swarms of mosquitoes and black flies following me out on the lake.

I was trying to slip a 4X tippet into the No. 12 dry fly. I’d stop, whack a half dozen mosquitoes from the back of my neck and then spear that eyelet again with the tippet. After three unsuccessful attempts, I dropped the fly line in frustration and grabbed that bottle of Muskoil to douse my head with chemicals. That’s when I saw the loons.

A pair sat perfectly still on the smooth surface, not more than 20 yards away from my canoe. We eyed each other for a few seconds, and then they disappeared into the lake only to suddenly reappear on the other side of the boat.

They played this game of hide-and-seek for about five minutes before vanishing for good. The trout suddenly seemed unimportant. I covered myself with enough DEET to melt a 10-pound-test line and then settled back in the canoe to simply enjoy this serene little body of water they call Pretty Lake.

It is, even when the bugs are out.

“I never get anything big from those lakes, I think 14 inches is the longest trout I have ever caught,” said Bruce Richards, the former head engineer for Scientific Anglers of Midland who has fished and paddled the area for years. “But it’s really scenic, isn’t it? Pretty Lake is one of my favorite areas to fish in the Upper Peninsula.”

Continue reading → A Pretty Lake for Trout