Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Lake Michigan: Epilogue Day

Given the relative lack of viable targets in our main water, we solicited some advice from local anglers.  Get out of there, they said.  Now is the time to cut and run.  Try something different; learn a little maybe.  We thought about it and then on our last day, we did it.  It provided two new situations for us to mark down in our logbooks.
(1) Sentinel stationing, studying parallax.  We were steered to a particular location opening up into the the big Michigami.  Heavy rip rap.  Good weather; good visibility.  We were addressing carp that were circulating - making big loops, into and out of our vision.  The focus was on understanding the geometry of the situations.  The carp would come through at varying (a) horizontal distances from our stations, (b) vertical positions relative to the water surface, (c) rates of travel.  The deal was to put a giant bunny fly (or similar) on a path to intercept.  The fish were not actively feeding and as such, required a perfect attention-grab to put forward aggression.  Many many flies were stripped back too high in the column.  We eventually got to the point of over-compensating and then making it up in the retrieve: get far ahead of the fish, sink fly nearly to bottom; strip back up and across.  This being very different than our days of stalking the bays; days of hunting flooded vegetation.  It was not a numbers deal, but it was fascinating.  Highly visual.

Figure from handprint.com
Funhogger hooked up.  Cast, present, if hook up, run down toward the water, hopping on rocks.


Nice reel.

This was somewhat perilous both for angler (falling in rip rap, slipping down on the periphytonous slabs at water edge) and for gear (line catching in rock interstices).  The habit I formed was to choose a relatively flat rock pedestal, loosely coil line at my feet, and set the streamer on top of it all.  This allowed for easy pick up at the holler of a neighbor or the sight of a black giant swimming lumbering.

Used my favorite Lake Michigan meat fly.  Easiest to tie; inexpensive too.  And gets down like a MF.

Here starts my favorite series of photos from this day; maybe from the trip overall.  It conveys the spirit and activity in which we were engaged on this day.

One serious hole in the water.

20+ lb fish; I think a 22 lber; maybe a 20 lber.  JM remembers.

Most of the fish we got to hand here (there weren't many) were big.  This was the only one for me.  It weighed 22 lbs.  It was a solo fish, pointed out to me by JM.  I cast at it once, no eat.  It was the decision to try again, even as the fish was leaving my cone of range, that got the hook up: dropped it in front and to the right; fished moved and very readily ate the fly.  I had another great take that was heart-breaking in the end: long cast to a fast moving fish, up near top of water.  Got the intercept and - imagine it - bringing the big streamer right in front of a beast - here the carp is swimming and now it sees a black dart coming through...    quick turn with almost no pause, inhales the fly....  hookset and tippet snaps.  Fly swims away in mouth.  Great visual nonetheless.  JM and Funhogger got some fish, as did our local contacts, who came out for half a day with us (thanks to them for giving great advice).

(2) Other thing we did was fish from some piers.  Always wondered what it would be like to hook a giant from these public walkways.  This is what it looks like. We all three got some fish off jutting points like this one.  JM and Funhogger achieved a double, to which I could have appended a triple fish, but on the hookset I think I was a shade early and just moved the head; no hook up.  Most of these fish had zero interest in eating.  High ratio of presentations to connections.   

But the results of persistence were good.  This fish ran into my backing, far out into the reaching steel of the big water.  Good feeling, letting a fish go while staying connected.

Last new thing we did was climb down rescue ladders to net fish.  Pretty fun.

Chapter six closed.  Many more good notes.  Overall we got five fish 20-24 lbs, even in a "tough year."  As has been said there are places that one visits only infrequently that still manage to burn deeply into a person; much moreso than everyday scenes and even places in your own house.  These places in Lake Michigan are that for me: special places.  Returning there with friends and family to engage it via a hunt is important; already thinking about 2016: what we will find, where we will walk; bays, limestone, big water.