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Hit the Pike to do a little weekend fishing; it wasn't iced over as I had expected. There was plenty of ice in the slow spots, but all the riffles were wide open.
Another shot, standing where I stood for the prior one and simply turning around 180 degrees. The first is looking downriver around A, this one is upriver.
I think the Pike's water level is UP from where it's been in the last week, as this picture clearly shows how the ice was BELOW the surface water in many spots by a good 2-3".
Wading was dangerous at best; here's a shot of an ice drift approximately the length of a SEMI. None of the ice was strong enough to support a man's weight.
This was the crusted up brown I fouled on; notice how this brown's head is simply engulfed in columnaris. Once landing it I realized this fish would have never hooked fair.
So ASAP this fish was released back into the stream; hopefully a beautiful brown in this condition can overcome the infections they get in the stream.

1-04-03 - The Runs are Done!

Rivers Fished: Pike River (including the mouth on Lake Michigan)
Fish Caught: 1 Fouled
Outing Date:1-4-03
Weather: usual winter weather, partly cloudy
Air Temp: about 33-34 F.
Water Temp: probably about the same
Water Level: low, but slightly up.
Water Color: clear
Fish Species: Browns
Pattern Fished: wollies above, nymphs below
Pattern Color: probably best considered as attractors
Fishing Quality: pi$$ poor

So 1-4-03, I had to come back to the Pike to see how it was going. I had totally expected to find it iced over, but was surprised to find actually less ice than in previous weeks.

I arrived about 1:00 at A, and went up and down my usual hike twice, sighting NO fish. Well, I did sight some creek chubs. I honestly was not surprised to find any fish, as the steelhead have been very few & far between this season, I went two months without sighting ANY. The Coho that were in the streams the last couple weeks really shouldn't have been anyways, I'm guessing by now they are ALL dead, even the Jacks, from columnaris infections.

So about 2:00, I switched things up and moved downstream to E, based on the knowledge that it seemed that the fish had been moving downstream over the past couple weeks. My first encounter was not with a fish, but rather a bowhunter. Folks, make sure to wear bright colors during hunting season; man I felt like an idiot wearing an outer shell that was roughly the same buff color as a deer.

I did a TON of hiking and fished all the deeper open pools I could find, usually from upstream drifting the flies down below the ice. I came across a fish hiding underneath the ice in a deeper pool. I was able to actually dislodge the ice and open up the pool WITHOUT disturbing the fish. Cast one was poor presentation. Cast 2 got a head turn but not a strike. Cast 3, I fouled on this fish, which as I tried to snap the leader barely fought back at all. It's kinda sad that this fish did not even have enough strength to break a 5X tippet (either that or this is really AWESOME tippet I'm using!). I landed this brown, got my fly out, snapped a shot and let it back in the river. Even the BROWNS are getting crusted up now, as this fish looked like its head had been sliced open with a razor. Unfortunately I realized this fish probably would have never striked fair, and is probably only a couple weeks away from its death.

I did manage to sight a second brown, definitely a male as it was kyped, and it was even in poorer condition...covered all over its body with sores. Still hadn't seen ANY coho.

So about 3:30, I moved yet again down the mouth. Here's a new one, I had to contend with a kyaker. He was going in and out of the mouth, paddling along the shore of the lake. Well, any fish that were hanging out in the mouth we surely spooked, and the water had been stirred up by all the paddling, but with the way the winds were blowing I couldn't cast the lake (they were from the south) so I had to try the mouth. I switched up to the only bright flies I had in my box, 2 different Alevin patterns, and tossed with weight and a slow retrieve. I actually fished all the open area of the lower mouth without a single nip, and didn't see ANY fish (granted, the water still hadn't cleared up). I also tried drifting my flies out in the slight river current into the lake, but didn't have any success with this method either as the waves and wind ended up beaching my flies on the northern shore. I ran into another angler who was new to the area and we chatted a bit; he was more familiar with fishing areas in NY like the Salmon River. I decided it was time for one last ditch effort.

So we both headed back up to A around 4:30, where we chatted a bit more and he found someone's lost Powerbait (I have it now, if you want it, I'll be glad to give it back 'cause I really don't use the stuff, but I may TRY it if no one claims this $2.99 jar LOL!). I dropped in one last time and headed a bit upstream; all the usual holding spots were empty. The light was fading fast as it was just after sunset by that point, so I called my outing there. Kinda disappointed with what I'd seen in the river, I opted NOT to fish again today (Sunday).

I think at this point the runs are DONE until a spring ice-out and rain happens. I haven't sighted more than 2 clean fish for a couple weeks now. If there are any steelhead still in the river, I'm guessing they'd be upstream in the Country Club or downstream in the deeper areas like the floodplain (which is totally iced over), Which means that I'll still probably go out once a week to check the conditions, but will devote more of my weekend time to tying and all my other obligations until I detect a nice spring run of Ganaraska.

Fair Hooks & Abundant Fish in 2003!

  MP 

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