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9-18-05 - John works the backside of a gravel bar where it plunges deep into a sandy pool.

9-18-05 - Pere Marquette, take two.

Waters Fished: Pere Marquette River
Fish Caught: 0/2
Outing Date: 9-18-05
Weather: Cool, Cloudy
Air Temp: probably 50's
Water Temp: 58?
Water Level: 380 CFS
Water Color: slightly stained, visibility 3'+
Fish Species: King Salmon
Pattern Fished: Eggs, Dragon's Tooth, Clouser Minnow
Pattern Color: the gamut!
Fishing Quality: frustrating

Yes, we DID get started EARLY! The plan was to be heading back to Chicago around 10:00 AM. After some discussion, we decided to try a 2nd access farther downstream - perhaps this would be better.

I turned out that this was definitely "a spot" - a few cars were already parked when we arrived. After night-hiking down to the river and going past a few bends, turned around and came back to our initial spot where we had already sighted a king. I guess this will do!

As the light came up, we started seeing a fish here and there. All Kings, all sizes of Kings. The fish would come out of a deep eddy pool and shoot over a gravel flat before entering the bend and continuing upriver. I initially set up right on that gravel flat, knowing that I'd only have a couple shots at any active fish before they were gone.

Each time a fish passed, it would stop and check out a old redd, then cut across stream and rest on the tailout of the bend. I really had to work my casts, as the water was fast and deep relative to anything we fish in WI! John was working a cut in the riffle downstream and let out a surprised yell when a king literally swam right into him.

Finally it happened, I plunked a cast straight down and watched it drift, high-stick nymphing my offering downstream. My flies met a vicious demise when they were hammered by a King. It took off upstream, fighting both my line and the current. I swallowed the lump in my throat and did my best to put the brakes on 'em, but somehow the King made his way up to a submerged log.

John came running up with the net, pretty much in time for me to announce that I was no longer connected to the fish, but instead to the log. RATS. 0/1.

Meanwhile, Gerry had taken a digger upstream. I guess he wanted to work on his backstroke, but after deciding the water was too cold he had gone back to the car to change. Gerry missed the whole thing!

Gerry came back, borrowed my camera and directed us to the swirling pool of kings below us. It was now getting bright and the fish were definitely visible. One by one they'd peel off from the group and shoot upstream. John crossed to get a better angle on them; I came down a bit and tried to run deep with clousers, glue eggs, whatever I could get to sink the most!

One last view of the Pere Marquette River.
(Copyright © Gerry Greene)

By 9:00 AM, the tornado of fish in the pool before us had disappated - all that remained was a king or two that would occasionally show himself, teasing us. Tired (worn out) from the constant casting, I took a break and then moved upstream. Thinking it was time to call it a day, I suddenly spotted a king in a deep pocket under a tree. GAME ON.

I almost fell into the water and figured I'd spooked the fish, but after a minute of getting my bearings she was indeed still there. What gave her away was her flashing..the redding activity of female salmon. Behind her was a lone male. GAME ON!!!!

I put about a dozen flies in the trees trying to cast to my target. Eventually I hooked the female. Not what I was hoping for. The general rule, try to get the bucks first, the female will attract MORE fish. I popped off the female and got back to casting.

Then it happened. A couple boats came down from upstream. I thought I was pretty visible and assumed they'd give me plenty of room. Instead they drifted RIGHT OVER the fish I was working. The guys in the boat made a remark as they passed to the effect that, "Dude, you're in the spot, there's fish zooming right past you!". DUDE, those WERE the fish I was FISHING before your boats spooked them.

Totally PO'd at this point. I should have gone ahead and landed the hen. I came back to find Gerry with his knee now swollen from the digger, and John, pretty worn out at this point too. 9:30 AM - we'd get an early start back to Chicago.

I *may* be back - while this isn't my kind of stream, Renee would have absolutely LOVED the PM.


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