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9-17-05 - Good-bye to St. Mary's Rapids and Ontario...for now.

9-17-05 - The famous Pere Marquette

Waters Fished: Pere Marquette River
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 9-17-05
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: 58F?
Water Level: 378 CFS in Scottsville
Water Color: slightly green, visibility about 3'+
Fish Species: King Salmon
Pattern Fished: Large Eggs, Egg Sucking Leaches, etc.
Pattern Color: You name it
Fishing Quality: poor

John and Gerry decided that maybe we should head back early, or at least try some different waters. It was pretty guaranteed that the Garden would be packed with hopeful (and disappointed) anglers. The call was made; we'd drive back through Michigan and stay a night around Baldwin to fish the Pere Marquette.

Now, normally I go to a new location with a bit more research put in, so I admit I was a bit skeptical of the plan. However, Gerry had fished the PM a few years back and pretty confident. After saying our good-byes, we crossed over St. Mary's Rapids and made our way back to the US. On south over the Mackinaw Bridge and on down the state, cutting east. Finally, we arrived in Baldwin around 3:30 PM.

It took a bit of searching down, but eventually we found Baldwin Bait & Tackle where we picked up 24 hour licenses (Gerry also found some sweet new fly tying materials). The guys in the shop were more than helpful, providing a rivermap and solid advice on where we'd have the best shot. The overall tip - go as far downriver as we could. After a stop at the Ranger Station in Baldwin to arrange parking and camping, we made our way to locate a good camping spot.

John and Gerry set up camp.

A rabid pack of wild turkeys!

Admittedly, setting up camp took only a few minutes. Having eaten not much but junk on the drive down it was agreed that we should find some dinner. On the drive back to Baldwin we saw more wild turkeys that I've seen at one time ever. They looked like a small heard of miniature dinosaurs. We had a pretty good dinner at the Government Lake Lodge - try the unnamed burger. While wolfing down our food, we watched the abundant (but stunted) bluegill and largemouth bass swimming in the shallows of Government Lake, right below the window at our table.

Finally satisfied, we headed back to one of the many public access spots on the PM. My initial reaction was mixed...DAMN it reminded me of the Bois Brule in northern WI. Larger water to say the least. Sandy bottom in most spots. Not a lot of obvious riffle-pool structure, let alone holding structure. I remembered hearing that the fish like to hold in deadfalls, but in this particular stretch there weren't too many of those either.

We continued down a narrow ridge.

Gerry and John come down the path.

My first look at the Pere Marquette River.

It really is quite beautiful and "wild".

Finally we're at water level.

A lot of flat water on the PM!

John works the tailout of a deep bend pool.

Gerry gets set up at the head of bend...hopefully we've set up a fairly tight gauntlet for any kings that pass.

With light fading fast, we hiked down and set up on a large bend - when all else fails a bend is a likely holding spot. We fished for at least a few hours, occasionally seeing a small fish surface but otherwise not seeing much of anything.

When we finally called it a night, we broke out the spotlights and did a bit of searching. There, only a few feet below where John had been drifting, we spotted the telltale blue-green form that could only be a King. It instantly spooked, but with a bit more searching we spotted 2 more in the run before finally packing out for the night. Time to sleep - we'd be getting up EARLY tomorrow!


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