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By -G-
#627012
I really like being a Michigan boy.

But what I like even more is learning.

Just like medicine, Fly Fishing forces you to learn and never quit learning. I'm not talking about being up to date on the latest fly rod release or fish skull product.. I'm talking about fish lies, presentations, beautiful places, your friends, and maybe if you're lucky; yourself.

So my good friend Dan and I decided we would drive 4,803 total miles to learn about a river that our good friends have spoke of for some time now.

To start, we made it over the bridge, and had brunch in a pull off tourists don't like driving back to.
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Yooper pics:
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Luckily Nolan wasn't here because when he's in the car you have to drink a busch light every time you see a pastie joint. Those who've been should already know you don't even make it out of st. ignace alive playing that game.

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Wisconsin:
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Minnesota:
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North Dakota:
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We eventually got so tired in ND we had to pull over. I didn't have the patience to hunt some campsite down so I peeled down a country road and found a pull off. Stars looked sweet so I snapped this and feel asleep right there in the dirt.

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I woke up to sounds of mooing cows and realized we slept on the edge of a cow field.

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We then made it to the badlands.

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Montana:
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Idaho:
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Then things started to finally look like where we were headed to.
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We pulled another late one
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But man..

When we finally arrived at our campsite I got out in the pitch black. The stars were all out, and I could see the milky way even. I couldn't believe how tall the dark shadows of the mountains were that totally surrounded us. It was comforting, and maybe a little intimidating for two white kids from michigan.

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We slept in after our long day of driving, but woke up to this:
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We heard that fishing in daylight here is tough, but we had a ton of water to learn so strapped up in the heat and got to 'work'

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We found a couple spots we really liked. There was one that I told dan how even a fool could swing easily, and we needed to be right there in the afternoon (because we were definitely fools to this river). As much as I'd like to pretend like I had all the confidence in the world I went into this trip already prepared to be totally skunked. In fact I almost wanted it to happen in some sick way.. a good ol fashion ass woopin's always good for the soul anyways.

But fuck, all the water and the setting too was crazy intimidating. I felt like you did when you finally scored a date with that chick who was way out of your league and had to take a healthy swig of the cheap whiskey sitting in your freezer before heading over to pick her up. Nervous and unconfident would be an understatement. I took a big swallow, reminded myself why I was there and tried to enjoy myself despite thinking about how my little fly swung on a dry line would ever find a fish in this mighty river valley.

Before the river got optimum shade, we cruised back to camp for some fuel.
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We then hit the river to fish some of the groovy water we were particularly fond of from our R and D earlier in the day. Right when we were loosing light I got grabbed. No love with consecutive casts and also no love with my comeback fly. I wasn't even sure if it was a steelhead, really. So we called it a night and decided to be at that spot first thing the next morning.

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More on this later..
Last edited by -G- on Sun Aug 14, 2016 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By fatman
#627013
well, now, this could get interesting....
User avatar
By root wad
#627014
Look forward to the rest. Hope you end up getting a fish even though I had to look up "pasties"on the google. Can't believe they stick those things on their tits.
User avatar
By Mad_Mike
#627016
Yes please.... this is the kinda shit i like... please.. proceed... :coffee
User avatar
By P-A
#627021
X2 what Loco Mike said.... :cool
By croaker
#627025
Looks good so far...
User avatar
By -G-
#627027
That next morning we did what we didn't know at the time would be the morning ritual for the next 8 days.

4am wake up

Tailgate french press

Bagel and cream cheese

Hike to your spot and sit in the tall grass until the sun comes up

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When legal fishing time struck I took a step into the cool river and started throwing out my poly leader to fish the water up close before I started to step my way through the run. I peeled off some more line and now was throwing about half my scandi head. I peeled off a couple more feet just so the end of my scandi head was touching my rod tip. My cast layed out a bit less than 45 degrees and I mended the back eighth of my shooting head to get my swing just right. About 1/3 the way through my swing my 2 foot shock loop was absolutely ripped from my middle and index fingers and my reel was singing before I could even lift the rod. It felt like i was just struck by lightning.

"FISH" I yelled (not really evening believing what was happening)

By now the fish was deep into my backing and I was sprinting full speed tripping over sharp boulders on my way down stream in effort to catch up. My 6wt was no match for this hot fish. But somehow I caught up and Dan was able to leader grab her after a couple more runs.

"LOOK AT IT"

"WHAT THE FUCK DUDE"

*high fives* (some missed and some landed)

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I never thought a hatchery fish would make us so damn happy but contrary to popular belief some of us michiganders have utmost respect for real steelhead rivers. It was pretty cool to make it happen in one even though this wasn't the true wild steelhead we came to find.

So we fished the rest of the morning and did what you're suppose to do after catching the first fish of the trip.
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We took our siesta and got back to it in the afternoon to learn more water and get more sun burnt in the scorching heat.
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As easy as it would be to go back to the same spot and try our luck again the next morning we wanted to make it happen somewhere else so found ourselves fishing a different stretch the next morning. The sun was starting to get high and I lost my confidence it was going to happen two mornings in a row. The first one was definitely lucky to have eaten with my head still touching my rod tip anyways.

"YEEEEEEEEEHAWWWWW" I hear coming from up stream

"FISH??" I said while looking upstream in Dan's direction.

He didn't need to respond because when I looked I saw a red striped male tail walking downstream

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Another hatchery, but we were now both on the board and were pretty high up in cloud 9. We left to celebrate again. Made breakfast. Siesta.

We had some time to burn again before the sun went down so we tried a different stretch of river. My car couldn't make it down the path so we hiked all our camp gear for 2 days down the mountainside.

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About an hour into our hike down this local driving a silver tacoma went by and told us to put our stuff in to help us down the last bit. He drove like a fucking animal down the side of the mountain and was high as a kite. But I kept quiet thinking he'd done it a million times.

We made it down to what we would call home for the next few days and set up and got to learning some new water. We fished hard and at dark I found myself swinging a juicy run I made a mental note of.

The wind eventually picked up more than I've ever fished in. I really like throwing single spey darts into harsh upstream winds but there was a point when I had to roll cast my line down stream to straighten it out and the wind ended up blowing it 30 feet up into the trees. I just looked at it up there, made fun of myself and we went back to camp to rest.
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We woke up the next morning and I walked to that juicy spot under starlight (or at least what I thought was juicy).

Dan was about 200 yards down river and I was 3 stepping my way through the run when I got a hard grap half way through my swing.

The fish ate again in the last third and pulled my loop and started singing drag. I lifted and right when I did the chrome fish did a series of cartwheels and runs that would put some olympic divers to shame.

"DANNNNN!!"

*fish is tail walking*

"DANNNNN!"

*fish is ripping drag down stream*

"DANNNNN fish on!!"

*Dan still hasn't looked up and and probably dancing to some taylor swift tune down stream*

I finally felt wore out after chasing the fish down stream and when I was able to tame it in a eddy I yelled once more time all exhausted to Dan.

"Dan"

"Do you have a fish on?" He finally looked up and said.

"Yeah come up here!"

"Is it even a steelhead?" Dan said after shooting another cast out.

"Yeah dude get your ass up here!" I yelled after the battle royale that just took place.

I leader grabbed it and immediately saw the prize between its dorsal fin and its tail we drove 4,800 miles to find.

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When I held this wild steelhead in my hands it gave me the sweetest feeling in the entire world. That wild fishes genetics are responsible for getting me into fly fishing back home to catch my first "steelie" on the Pere marquette river. That wild fish represents a journey, rich history, survival, and evolution at its finest that no stocked or hatchery fish could ever come close to doing. I let it slip from my hands quickly and watched it cruise back to the deep water. We both felt a sense of calmness, and a lot of excitement.

We then continued to fish hard the next few days at this location
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I saw a group of about 30 big horns climb up this mountain one morning while swinging the run below it.
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We eventually ran out of food. And even worse; ran out of beer. So we hiked our stuff up the mountain side. I liked to think we're two fit guys but we had to take 4 breaks before we even made it 3/4ths the way up.

Then we saw that silver tacoma owned by the baked dude who drove like an animal. We walked up to it and realized the old gentleman almost killed himself while driving down the river that morning. Never seen anything like this before..
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The rest of the trip I kinda stopped documenting as much and truly started to enjoy where I was to its fullest. Dan and I both landed a few more fish which was more than a cherry on top of our early success.

Instead of documenting every moment with my camera I would simply look at it and remember not only its appearance but my surroundings, and how it made me feel.

After landing a hatchery fish at a new spot I walked about a mile back to the car down the peaceful, still shaded road to wait for Dan and stillsteamin (who just showed up to join, and will have quite the story to share himself).

I had only fished for about an hour that morning and until that point Dan and I had been fishing essentially nonstop for the past 5 days. I took the cooler out of my car to sit on while using my car as a back rest. I looked at the river valley and made some more tailgate french press.

I also opened up a book and began to read.

I thought to myself how this is probably the most relaxed I've ever been in my entire life. I had two of my best friends fishing the river below me. I had a good book, I had the mountains, I had coffee brewing. Everything was perfect and it took me calling myself a pussy a couple time to refrain from getting all emotional (and shit). It was kinda surreal.

After catching that fish it put me in a state of calmness I've never achieved. I noted to myself that maybe one day I'll be able to get there without having to land a few fish, like maybe Average Joe.

I told myself that I'm still young though and have much more to learn about this river, my good friends, and myself.

Cheers
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User avatar
By root wad
#627030
As it should be. Well done.
User avatar
By yard4sale
#627031
So you only caught like 20 fish? Rookies.

I've chickened out at the top of that road the 2 times I've driven out there. Looks like I'm glad I did.

Next time give me a shout. I'm only an hour away and show you how to take a proper skunking.
User avatar
By fatman
#627032
yes. fuck yes. :smile
By chadroc
#627033
really good. i think my favorite part, besides the adipose, was the part where you went back to camp and rested due to the wind. those moments are to be cherished. a bit of quiet and solitude on a trip like that is a gorgeous thing. way to go.

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