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.”

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A “Fishy Spot” Is Always a Good Spot-Eventually

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

Have you ever looked at a spot on a river and thought to yourself “Wow, there has to be a fish there!”? Then you fish it thoroughly and nothing-totally bewildering. Years ago, I went through a phase where I spin casted for trout. This happened after I had just finished fly fishing a hole and caught nothing. A spin caster walked up to the exact spot and after three casts with a Rapala, he hooked and landed a nice 16” brown. I was amazed and dumbfounded. To my total astonishment he threw the fish back while saying, “Too small” with a disgusted voice. I promptly started asking questions about his catch rate and size of fish. Impressed by his accomplishments, I switched to spin casting.

This is not the point of my article, but I needed to set up why I was spin casting in one of those “fishy spots.” It was late summer and overcast, a storm front was on its way when I reached this spot where I never had a follow or hit prior to this day. Despite my lack of success, I began casting through the section (My wife claims I am part bull dog!) expecting nothing to happen as usual. My cast went perfectly up against a partially submerged tree in the water and thankfully just missed two branches in the water. Just as the Rapala cleared the last branch the water exploded. The fish hit the lure so hard he knocked it 3-4 inches out of the water. I was thinking “Oh, I hate when that happens,” when to my amazement the fish hit the lure again. In my excitement I over set the hook and pulled defeat out of the jaws of success. My heart rate goes up every time I tell someone about this incident.

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Barramundi and Barrages

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

As our Australia trip progressed, we crept closer to the equator as we reached Darwin in the northwest corner. Still over 7000 miles from Bozeman, we were less than 700 miles south of the equator. This is a land of heat and extreme humidity, loaded with all manner of game fish offshore and in what seems to be an infinite variety of rivers, estuaries, and billabongs. Amid the CV craziness in the U.S., Australia seemed a bit laid back. Yes, precautions were clearly being taken across the continent, but it didn’t seem to be affecting everyday life in Darwin.

For the first time ever, we booked a trip online through Fishbooker and was not disappointed. Overall the booking experience and communications with the captain was very efficient. We got a bit of validation the day before our trip from a local fishing shop that our captain—Lincoln Kirby—was a good choice. It would be an early start—0530 just outside of Darwin. Once we met our captain, we’d drive well over 100 miles to the northeast to Shady Camp on the Mary River.

Shady Camp is a popular starting point for anglers on the Mary River as it is equipped with two very well constructed and large boat launching ramps. The two ramps allow access to a massive barrage that separates the upstream freshwater section of the river from the downstream tidal section. Other barrages downstream from Shady Camp would play well into my first Barra adventure. With an eight weight rigged up with a 5/0 Pink Thing we headed downstream in the raging waters of the Mary River. The Territory was at the tail end of the wet season and the massive flood plains of the top end were draining into the vast tidal rivers that flowed into the Van Diemen Gulf inside the Timor Sea. The tide was near low ebb and the exposed muddy banks of the river revealed a tide that might rise nine feet over the next four to five hours.

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