I’ve been quiet on the blog front for awhile and a lot has happened since my last post. I got married back in August and wedding planning took over my life for the better part of 3 months. Truth be told, I probably spent more time planning my Bachelor’s Party. I spent a lot of weekend labor hours landscaping some land with the help of friends but it turned out to be completely fruitless since we got over 5 inches of rain on my special day!!! It was a shit show beyond belief but we definitely made the best of it. At one point we were blasting shotgun rounds at watermelons from under a collapsing canopy with a wall of water flowing in front of our faces. My computer situation has also deteriorated to say the least and I need an upgrade. I can’t even do blog posts on my laptop anymore. I purchased a GoPro Silver back in June to help move the blog in the direction we want…more good quality fishing videos…but without a decent computer, or a fucking spacebar for that matter, I can’t really do anything.
A few months ago I hit my breaking point with my inflatable pontoon and purchased a factory new 2016 Nucanoe Frontier 12. I sprung for the stand-up casting bar, fiberglass extendable paddle, and transport cart which ran me about $1,900. No longer will I have to assemble and inflate/deflate my watercraft. No longer will I have to re-patch or purchase bladders. No longer will I be slowly sinking down a river in a constant state of peril because I lost the damn applicator which enables me to put air in my pontoon. But that isn’t the only boat development. After years of dreaming of being able to afford a nice boat my dreams have finally come true thanks to a career opportunity I was able to seal the deal on back in June. I put a down payment on a 14′ Drift Boat made by Stealthcraft Boats in Baldwin, MI. For me and my fishing friends, this is a game changer and the possibilities are endless next year. Between the 14′ Ransom by Stealthcraft and Nucanoe Frontier 12, I can effectively fish lots of different rivers and streams we frequent in the small to medium size range. The Ransom should cut it in some medium/large rivers and small lakes too but probably not ideal. I’ve recently experienced what a luxury it is to have someone at the oars keeping you in the zone to get solid presentations to work the nooks and crannies. I miss A LOT of good water in the Nucanoe in rivers with more gradient and I don’t have time to be anchoring up at every holding lie. I will still need the Nuke for hard to access skinny water, but the era of solo one man boats is about to end if I can get my drift boat in the water. It will also be a vessel for family fun for years to come. My wife and I could pack the boat up and float a river for a week no problem.
This is the first year I made Musky a real priority. Usually I start fishing the Lake Michigan tribs too soon in hopes of early lake run trout but the salmon army is still shamelessly pouring into the gravel runs to try their luck at impaling fish instead of taking them by sport. In late October, I was lucky enough to have one of my Mom’s friends lend me their cabin in Vilas County, WI to do some serious Musky fishing. I even had time to explore a UP Stream for Steelhead. It was a great opportunity to get acquainted with my Nucanoe as well. I had high hopes considering I was in the heart of rural Musky country where quality Musky lakes are a dime a dozen. But boy did I get beat up bad!!! I fished 3 different lakes and only had 2 follows to show for it. One was 30″ and the other 36″. I had a real chance at the 30″ but I blew it. By the time I realized a Musky was charging my fly in the dark iron stained waters, I was already pulling my fly out of the water for the next cast. It was a rookie maneuver not retrieving back to the boat and then some. It was a real nightmare seeing the Musky try it’s damnedest to eat my fly but just barley unable to close the gap before I pulled it out of the water. Despite my lack of success, I loved the water I saw on 2 of the 3 lakes and loved the people I met at the local bars. Things are just simple and beautiful in that area and everyone is happy. I’ll never forget the hauntingly beautiful foggy morning I was skunked on.
UP Steel is another mission of mine I haven’t gotten around to. Anthony and I have been obsessing about exploring the UP in search of Wild Steelhead populations with little fishing pressure that don’t require us to drive through major urban centers like Chicago. Vilas County sits on the border of the UP so I took a half day to check out a Steelhead Stream. The UP streams are shrouded in mystery which is their major allure to me. They really keep a tight lid on things and I’m not looking to spoil anything for anyone. The stream I visited was tough, fast, technical, rugged, beautiful, and required grit just to get down to the stream.
I don’t need to tell you this trip was equal parts frustrating and blissful. I had 3 1/2 days to fish quality Musky lakes and a UP Steelhead stream, and I couldn’t bring a fish to hand. I just love to target fish that are expected to disappoint the angler until the last vestige of their dignity and confidence is stripped away. Then, and only then, do they seem ready to eat. My brain was wrapped into a figure eight by the time I left.
The local tribs came to my rescue just in time this week. I took a day off to swing some flies on the Milwaukee with my Switch Rod and managed to pick up a Brown & Steelhead Buck. The Brown was a little spent but the Steelhead was chrome fresh!!! It freight trained my Bad Hair Day in faster riffley water, just shy of balls deep a few seconds before the hang down. I’ll spare the clichés but it was a blast and a much needed boost in moral and confidence.