Got medical clearance yesterday to meander north and will start next week with five nights chasing the hex hatch [two afoot, three floats]. If you’re not a trout fisherman you may know the huge fly hexagenia limbata as a fishfly or Michigan Mayfly or even Michigan Caddis. When these humongous bugs hatch, just about all fish, especially brown and rainbow trout, feed on them without a lot of caution. The only wrinkle is that the hatching and feeding takes place after dark.
I have to tell you that night fishing without lights and working largely by sound is unique, not to mention fairly strange, very addictive, and a major hoot. This is the time of year to hook up with gorillas and all the time in pitch dark with nighthawks diving, coyotes yapping, and beavers slapping their paddle-tails by the boat. When I first started doing this I got nervous and worried about my casts. Now I feel nothing. I turn off all emotions and try to focus everything on hearing, and to a lesser extent on feel. If I hear a throaty Shlurp! near my fly I lift the rod tip and, if I feel any resistance, I set the hell out of the hook. There is something about sliding along a river in the night that is absolutely mesmerizing. The biting bugs can be annoying right at dark, but after that they’re not much of a problem. Most people wouldn’t think of this, but we will dress in woolen longies and heavy wool socks under waders and carry raingear and down-filled jackets and 300-gram windblocker fleece, wool chooks and gloves. Some nights the temp drops suddenly into the mid-30s and we bug out with our teeth chattering. There is often either a hatch or spinnerfall around 10:30 or 11 P.M. and then more hatchers and or spinners from 1-2 A.M. and you drag back to your camp around 4 AM and sleep most of the day just to repeat the process the next night. I can’t wait for this year’s rendition.
After hex chasing , it’s home for a while, re-pack and head to the Yoop for month — starting with two weeks in the Porkies where we will be exploring and fishing the following waters:Pinkerton Creek;Wabeno Creek; Blowdown Creek, Beaver Creek; Little Iron River paternoster lakes; Little Iron River; Extension Creek; Lost Creek; Little Union River; Union River; and Big Iron River. Copper Creek too, if there is time — a trib of the Presque Isle. The plan is to take photos for paintings, scout sites for Grady Service, and fish for brookies for two weeks. Talk about fun? Uh yeah, some of those brookies will get et.
Getting ready is a huge undertaking, so let me share how we’ve gone about this:
NINGO: Read published materials on Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Hint: There isn’t much published.
NIJ: Acquire USGS Maps and asswemble with Xacto knife and tape and fold the damn thing so its usable: Hit use a lot of laminating material to give it backbone.
NISSWI: Explore topography, look for likely fishing places and mark maps
NIWIN: Make list of easy foods for camp; shot for what’s needed. The focus on food will be calories, not flavor.
NANO: Flesh out full two-week meal menu.
NINOGOTWASSWI: Assmble gear, hot/cold clothes, rain gear/ boots batteries, waders, rods, flies, sleeping bags, etc.
NIJWASSI: Organize all fishing gear from first aid to fly boxes and Gink. I plan to try to develop a hatch chart for the Porkies from this trip — or at least a start on it. I suspect we could catch all the fish we want with ants, beetles, and Yooper Hoppers, but it’s fun and a challenge to try to determine what the hatches are like. Like most mountain streams the bugs and fish will probably be small, so I’m prepared with midges, and all sorts of sundry weapons in my troutarmamentarium. All this planning and good intentions aside, I think the Yooper Hoppers from Gates Lodge, and a new model borrowed from Tasmania [and tied for meby Fishhead-Troutbum Jeff “Pieboy” McGowan would do the trick. But I will endeavor to stick with the plan.
NISHWASSWI: Assemble 35mm slide and digital camera equipment, extra bats etc.
JANG: Check all equipiment operational/inventory and replace first aid supplies.
MIDASSWI: Finalize schedule, distribute to all those who might need to find us, load truck, skedaddle. Everything is pretty much complete except this step and that’s for week after next.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but two weeks is a long stint; hell, the trip to Neverneverland was just an overnight and maybe it still is. The Porkies are half-a day and a whole world away, just driving. I won’t even think about gas price. When you get to be my age you think in terms of how many trips have you got left in you, not what gas will cost.
Today a downy woodpecker mom and dad brought their kid over to the feeder to chow down. Great fun. I’ve been seeing mom or dad every day between 3 and 3:30 P.M. And still seeing the redtail hawk pair, but so far no kid in evidence. I assume they have a hatchling, otherwise I think they would have separated by now. Fawns have been dropping here for two weeks or so — right in the neighborhood.
I feel pretty unknowledgable in the woods sometimes, and try to read a bit and learn more before each outing. As an old navigator I should have known this term, but only learned it today: Aphelion: The annual point where Earth is farthest from the Sun, falling either on 3rd or 4th of July. Will be in the Porkies then. This is the opposite, of course, to Perihelion.
Also read about new “discipline” called ecopsychology, based on long-held belief by some that the deepest levels of our psyches are somehow linked and tied to the Earth. Exactly what this means, I have no idea yet, but I look forward to bringing an ecoshrink character into Grady Service’s life.
No, i didn’t miss the Red Wings winning Lord Stanley’s Cup, but have kept quiet and relished their accomplishment.
This will probably be my last post until August. At that time I’ll publish my Porkies Journal, complete with photos and some drawings. Have a good start to your summer. Talk at you later.
Great morning for being outside: the baby chickadees nesting in the old basketball goal out front showed up on the rusted orange rim this morning and took their first flight into the maple tree. Then on the walk, it was a family of titmice with two young-uns, fluttering about noisily in the sumac and one of the adults rushing back and forth providing food. Lots of bikes on the trail today, and runners, but none of these people ever see anything along the way.
Speaking of flying, our Red Wings won last night and come home Monday for game five in the series with Pittsburgh. We will think positively about our players lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup that night. Summer is always sweeter after the Red Wings have had the ultimate success. Go Wings! Get SOME!