Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Category Archives: General

There Is Always Tomorrow!

4_4_ice_fishingHalf of the fun of going on a fishing weekend is in the planning. This time the talk, consisting of the usual brag and lies, took place at the American Legion – there is no sense of planning a fishing weekend without two-fingers of bourbon or two.

It had been a long unusually hard winter for both and they were anxious to get their feet wet (pun intended). They had been on the ice, staring into a 10 inch hole several times, but it just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be …mostly because they were getting up in years and, whether they admit it or not, it just plain hurt to get stiff.

The plan centered on going to the Jordan. The Jordan had been their home river for years and over the past year changes had occurred that changed the character of the river. First: a large tree came down and swept the river causing a sand fill to take shape. Vegetation was choked out and the bottom was like a sandbar. Second: a bridge was constructed, removing two culverts that created a swift flow from one side to the other of the culverts. A large hole was carved out by the swift current that was a staging area for steelhead as they made their way upstream. All that was changed by the bridge that now spanned the river without the culverts. Thus, filling in the hole because the current was no longer a force.

This area had been named Rainbow Bend by the two because on a good day, rainbow, brook and brown trout could be taken there. Now, they weren’t so sure. This stretch of river became an unknown and they were anxious to explore and learn how to fish the change.

It is a stretch of the Jordan that was open to year-around fishing and, weather permitting, they would wade it before the opener. Fishing it early would be a good idea since when the bridge was put in, there was also a parking lot and canoe access added.

The talk quickly turned to tackle, flies to be precise. They both preferred dry flies, but knew it would be difficult to get a fish to rise unless a hatch was coming off and that required a warmer temperature which usually occurred in late afternoon this time of year and waiting until late afternoon wasn’t going to cut it. Alternatives were discussed; streamers, nymphs and wet flies came into the conversation.

Finally, it was over. They had said all there needed saying and the next stop was the local tackle shop to replace old leaders and tippet material. Then it was time to pack and get ready for the four hour ride to the cabin.

That night a front moved in and four inches of snow covered the car the next morning. A quick check of the weather for the Jordan and another trip to the American Legion was necessary to come to a decision of whether or not to make the trip.

It’s been several hours since they met at the Legion and still no decision. Their wives called, telling them dinner was on.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Category Archives: General

SHORTCUTS!

It has been pointed out to me by “She Who Must Be Obeyed” that my shortcuts, designed to get us from one place to another quicker, usually cost us money. Hmm, gotta think about that.

I think it isn’t the shortcut that causes the cost, it’s the distraction it can create that derails the straight line concept of “getting there.” Take Seamus: when we’re out hunting or just scouting, there are instances when he gets distracted. Following a scent, suddenly, he can stop and change directions because he saw or smelled something that got his attention; and being a Britt, he has to check it out. It’s ok by me when that happens, you never know when a single can turn into a double.

“She Who Must Be Obeyed” isn’t without distractions either, though it isn’t going to be admitted too easily; It’s hard to pass a craft-shop or new winery. A trip to Petoskey last summer took so many turns I thought is was heading to a new spot on a river down a two-track. But we stopped and, yup, it was costly.

I think her complaint with my shortcuts is they can put new meaning to costly. Take construction on I-75 between Bay City and Standish a couple of years ago. The shortcut was getting off on Wilder Road and taking 13 to Standish where 13 turns into 23 and gets you back onto N/B I-75. Well, as luck would have it the shortcut took me passed Frank’s Great Outdoors in Linwood; for those who have never stopped at Frank’s, let me tell you, it’s worth the shortcut.

Frank’s Great Outdoors is a smaller Cabela’s and Jay’s that started out as a bait shop in the 50’s I think and is now a gem in the Saginaw Bay watershed area. it has most anything you’d want to fish or hunt, mostly dedicated to the Bay. So, when I-75 was under construction, taking the Wilder exit and taking 13 north  was the thing to do and stopping at Frank’s seemed natural. And just because.a new Winchester model 70 and a 10 in ice auger were the results of two stops, I get raised eyebrows every time I take that route just for a change of scenery.

Admittedly, I didn’t need either, but the walnut stock on the 30-06 was too much to pass up. And, well, the 10 inch ice auger makes a bigger hole for the big walleye I anticipate getting in front of the cabin. Both items a necessity, I’m sure you agree.

 

THD

Category Archives: General

Lessons learned

You can’t live in a vacuum, and of course no one does. What matters most is how you live, not why …I’ll leave that to the “deep thinkers” to figure out. What’s important is whether or not you get it right.

The important things I have learned over the last 66 years, I learned first when I was a kid watching my parents and others that were in my life; how they dealt with what affected their lives and times formed my opinions and attitudes; what time did, was give me a different perspective.

Whether through a kids eyes or an adults, the end result has always been the same; if a principle is sound, it will carry the day …despite hype to the contrary.

It’s not the size of the fish you catch, it’s how you go about it that counts most.

TD

 

 

Category Archives: General

Watch where you step!

There are still many days and nights of fishing opportunity left, but as the nights get cooler – cold in some places – my thoughts begin to drift toward hitting the grouse coverts I’ve been taking notice of on trips to new trout water.

Two tracks overgrown with grass in the center hub, pull me in like a magnet does a rusty nail. And if the track leads to or past five year old poplar stands, out comes the GPS and a waypoint gets set. It’s only a momentary condition that quickly subsides when the sound of rushing water reaches my ears. But non-the-less, like a head cold, I feel it.

Seamus too, is changing his routine and attitude. Cooler weather gets him eager to explore and seeing him make the change, it’s all I can do to keep him in tow. When he gets geeked, I get geeked. Though still tying flies, evenings will soon give way to re-loading shells for the mid-September opener.

But back to here and now; hoppers are going to see me through the next few weeks, especially in the afternoon on the Manistee and Jordan. Mornings of course, will give my eyes a workout tying size 22 Tricos and BWO’s on a 6 or 7X tippet -which means purchasing a few extra 2.0 cheaters. I’ve lost several already, along with a few good pair of sunglasses. But there’s no sense of crying over spilled milk, or lost glasses, as the case may be, but be warned; watch where you step when wading in my rivers.

It’s all good. See you on the river. If I squint as I look your way, I’m not being rude, I just lost another pair of glasses.

TD

 

Category Archives: General

Planning Ahead

26792_105433709491307_6511273_nWow! It’s the middle of summer already, hex are waning and hoppers are beginning to make their presence known along banks bordering fields. Tricos will soon be the morning staple and some sections of some rivers are beginning to warm up and make them trout poor in late afternoon.

It seems like yesterday when people lamented about fishing conditions not being “up to par.” High water, cold weather and late hatches were the bane of the traditional opener. But, this is Michigan, and things move on …though not always as expected. Still, fish have been caught, released and fished for again.

Though there are still a great number of days to spend on or in the water, (I almost hesitate to bring this up.) in 8 weeks, grouse season will open and there are preparations to be made in between trips to the river. For one thing, bird dogs will need to be fine-tuned, meaning thought needs to be given to getting them in shape …not to mention getting yourself in shape as well.

One of the bi-product of the wet weather we’ve experienced is long grass, ferns and thick underbrush. What that means is, it’s going to be tough walking through coverts in search of bonasa umbellus and in the early days, it will be especially tough to keep an eye on your four legged hunting bud.

The bottom line is, conditioning and re-enforced training should begin now to be ready by the middle of September. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, a few minutes of backyard training a day for the “grouse finder” of the team will go a long way. Simple obedience reiteration will get the dog’s mind right so when he’s running in the field, you won’t sound like you’re talking “Greek” to him.

There are those who get into more grouse than Seamus and I do – and I hope I’m wrong about this – but I haven’t heard the amount of drumming along the rivers I fish and find grouse near in October, as in past years. I know the grouse cycle is supposed to be on the down side, but I just haven’t heard as many as I have in the past few years. What that means, if true, is that you’ll cover more ground and spend longer hours in the field and should be in condition for it. Daily walks and food control is necessary to get your “bud” ready.

By the way, the food control thing is “She Who Must Be Obeyed’s” idea. I think she was referring to me more than Seamus.

That being said, it’s time to tie some hoppers.

TD

 

Category Archives: General

Slobs!

It’s a given that everyone deserves a good time on holiday weekends, and the 4th of July certainly qualifies. But there seems to be a lack of willingness to clean up after ourselves, at least for some of us.

Trying to beat the aluminum, plastic and rubber hatches, three of us headed for the Jordan along the Chestonia culverts. Though we beat the onslaught of floaters, we saw ample evidence of where they were the days prior: Trash consisting of cans, paper cups, plastic water bottles, toys and clothing, was found scattered in and along the banks of the river. It was a sad sight to see this debris in the gin-clear water of the Jordan.

I imagine there were canoes that capsized, but this trash wasn’t from one canoe being overturned. It was from “slobs” not caring about the river or anyone else – it reminded me of tires dumped in empty lots and alleys in Detroit by those thinking only about their personal convenience.

We caught fish that morning, but we couldn’t get the sight of cans on the bottom out of our minds. So thanks to the “Friends of the Jordan” placing trash sacks at the access sites, we cleaned up the sections we fished, putting trash and cans in receptacles located at the access sites.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone would leave their trash in such a beautiful place. It defeats the reason they came there in the first place.

Thank you, Mary and Dan Evans for the clean-up!

TD

Category Archives: General

Independence?

Independence day, let’s see: I’ve been told by “She Who Must Be Obeyed” I have to wait for breakfast until the grandkids get here; no fishing today; there’s a parade in Central Lake; a BBQ across the lake, and Seamus can’t go.

Apparently, some are more independent than others!

TD

Category Archives: General

Don’t Overlook Small Flies!

A lot of people are getting into fish. Thant’s a good thing. Some are pretty good size and that’s a good thing too. But regardless of how big the fish are, for me, I get absolutely thrilled when I can fool one into taking a pattern I tied and presented in such a way, well ….he took it.

Fishing for trout this time of year pretty much revolves around night fishing with big flies – Hex patterns – for big browns. I’m in for that. But just as fun and perhaps requiring more patience and stealth, is fishing for trout earlier in the day when there are few or sparse hatches, and enticing a brookie to rise to a BWO, Borcher, Adams or midge of some sort. And if in a size 18 or smaller, well once you’ve put in the obligatory 15 minutes to tie it on, it’s all good from there on ….so long as you’re patient and resolved to present it in a way that makes you invisible.

Small tippets are required for small flies. If the knot is bigger than the head of the fly, the tippet is too big. If the flies twirls into a knot when you cast over and over again, it’s too small and limp. Tippet size is more important than just being able to hold a fish, it has to match the fly or you might as well put on hardware.

There is an old saying …”Big flies for big fish,” but don’t be fooled into thinking small flies don’t produce big fish. A tiny Griffith’s gnat can reach out and grab a nice brown if skittered across the water like a caddis. On the San Juan River in New Mexico, if you use anything bigger than a size 24, you’re apt to end up with a sore arm and nothing to show for it. Tricos are another example of fish-go-getters.

Soon hoppers will be out and there are a couple of patterns I like: one is the Letort Hopper and the other is Joe’s Hopper. Neither are overly difficult to tie and both can be tied with sewing basket material. There is even a pattern for a worm …though I’m too much of a snob to tie or try it.

It’s all good …see you on the water.

TD

Category Archives: General

It’s Time To Keep A Fish!

It’s the end of June already, the hex are on the Au Sable in several different spots and soon (if not already) will appear on the Manistee, Boardman, Jordan and other rivers …and, despite hours spent trying to outwit trout, I have yet to fry one up in bacon grease for breakfast. But on the next trip North – next week – I plan to do just that.

Call it a carnivorous indulgence if you will, but just as I eat pheasant, grouse, woodcock and other game Seamus and I hunt, an occasional meal of brookies or rainbows fit just as well on my menu.

There will undoubtedly be those who turn their eyebrows up at my grousing about keeping and eating a trout, but get over it, it’s going to happen. In fact, plans are set of where and how to get it done.

First off, I need to get on the Jordan. It’s been too long since I stumbled my way downstream thru Rainbow Bend fishing traditional wet flies; allowing them to be drug by the current until the line straightens and they swing across and up. BWOs and soft hackles are a staple.

Not every fish is kept. In fact, only enough for a meal will end up in my wicker creel lined with sweet ferns. But as sure as Seamus looks forward to sharing my bacon in the morning, I’m salivating for brookies fried in bacon grease, pouched eggs and fresh ground coffee.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

TD

Category Archives: General

Hex!

Hex were everywhere …on the water, over the water, on the boat, on me, everywhere except where the fish wanted them to be; where ever that was.

My friend Joe Reed had invited me to float for hex on the Au Sable. We vacillated back and forth because of weather, but finally pulled up our skirts and went. Joe’s boat is a comfortable craft with options I don’t have on mine, like an automatic anchor retrieve. Nice Boat.

The trip was great and for most of the seven hours we didn’t see anyone else. Eventually, several guided floats passed us on their way to their favorite spots to await the hex. We weren’t that focused and fished the entire float.

Off again / on again rain kept us scampering for our rain jackets, taking them off as soon as the rain subsided, to keep from sweating in our waders more than we had to. A break for a sandwich and Bloody Mary made the float even more comfortable.

Three fish were seen rising and each one had the same tactic: It rose once, not to be seen again. Three times that happened, once resulting in a hook-up, but only momentarily. Nothing we showed them made a difference.

By 11:15 p.m. the hex appeared and appeared and appeared. They were everywhere. The sound of them buzzing us was a welcome change from the pesky mosquitoes that were unbearable without repellent. It was one of the most prolific hatches of hex I’ve seen; certainly this year.Stowaways

This next paragraph should describe the sound of trout rising, gorging themselves and the hits and misses of casting to the sounds of their splash, but there were none.  For several hours we sat amidst the hatch waiting, listening for anything other than the sound of swarms of hexagenia limbata. It was mindboggling.

By 1: 30 we were off the water. We were off the water but the hex stayed with us. The boat, our gear, waders and coolers were still covered with them. Even when we removed the stuff from the boat, some remained for the ride back.

I can’t account for the lack of interest from the browns, I can only hope the scene of  hex blanketing the water will be repeated and trigger a feeding frenzy.

It’s all good. And yes, it was worth the trip.

TD

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