Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double Jeopardy

I've managed to fish quite a bit the last couple of weeks.  Last Tuesday I fished with Koz, stripping streamers for browns, to no avail.  Wednesday I went down to the Boyne river in search of steelhead but found nothing but moldy coho's.  I managed to snag a couple even when I was trying to avoid them, and landed one so nasty I didn't bother to take pictures.  As I mentioned in this weeks MMC, while everyone was scarfing turkey and fixings I was in the remote back country throwing streamers for brook trout.  It was a cold calm day, slightly overcast, and completely deserted.  I didn't catch any fish this day either, but had several fish hit, including one 12 inch plus brookie that blasted vertically out of the water after my fly.  I was happy just to see these fish, in a season when most people are thinking of anything but Monsieur Fontinalis.

I don't have to catch fish to enjoy fishing, but after awhile it's nice to bring something to hand.  We all try to pretend we don't care, almost as if actually catching a fish is beneath us.    That's how we display our maturity as angler's right?  We're all grown up now, and don't bother ourselves with catching; we've found an aesthetic in the simple act of participating, going, doing, practicing our craft- "that's why they call it fishing..."

We'll keep telling ourselves that.  My itch this fall has been to catch a fall steelhead.  I've caught tons of spring fish, but November steelhead have this vicious reputation as slashing, striking, fighting machines, a fish so testosterized you may not want to put your line in the water.  As a matter of fact, you should just stay home and watch Matlock.  It's too cold for you to be out there anyways.

But not me.  I want one of these fish.  It's not really that hard, but I don't have any of the major Michigan steelhead streams close to hand- a lot of my local rivers get marginal runs.  Still, if you know where to go, there's fish to be had.  I decided to quit screwing around and focus on steelhead.  Sunday I drove north to a small ditch which hardly qualifies as a river, but gets a decent run of fish.  In the first twenty minutes I hooked up on a good fish which quickly took me to the cleaners.  It had been a warm weekend, but a front blew threw Sunday, and a cold north wind pounded across Lake Michigan, the roar of the surf drowning out everything else, despite the distance.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove further north, and fished near the mouth of another river.  In just a few minutes I picked up this fish- a lake run brook trout.  She was spawned out and very skinny.  She practically had stretch marks.


I flogged this series of pools for another hour, and just as I was getting ready to leave- I had said this was my last cast- I hooked into this guy.


That's right- a juvenile steelhead.  It put up a decent fight, and I was extremely happy to be able to take his portrait.  Today I went back to the same spot, and landed this fish.


Does it look familiar?  My best guess is that it's the same fish- same hole, same size, suspiciously similar "scars".

One Pere Marquette River guide says that when you catch a rainbow, you won't catch it on the same fly the rest of the year.  Mind you, I was chucking egg patterns, and this one hit the same pattern two days in a row.  Maybe eggs are too irresistible.  So what do you think- same fish?  Have you ever caught the same fish twice?  Let me know what you think.

I was a little tired tonight, and left the river a little early.  On the way home, I was treated to this spectacular sunset, which I had to share with you- enjoy.


17 comments:

  1. nice fish. beautiful sunset. i think they are two different fish. the spot patterns look slightly off.

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  2. Last bottom fin (I don't know my anatomy) has different markings...

    Glad to read about you fishing though!

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  3. I think I agree with you guys- they were so similar in size, fight, and coloration, that I thought it was the same fish, but on examining the photos I think I'm wrong. An odd coincidence?

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  4. I don't think they are the same fish either, notice the pattern of removed protective slime layer behind the gill plate, very close, but when you take a closer look, they appear to be different. I truly believe, and Kelly at Streamside will attest, many fish can be caught several times over in a year, especially Steelhead on the PM & Mo~ as well as territorial Alpha Browns on the AuSable and Manistee Rivers, are caught and documented a couple of times each year. Good hitting the water with you~
    Tight Lines!

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  5. I have to agree. you can only go fishing so much before you need to catch something. yes, we all know the joys of being on a trout stream and communing with nature, but if i'm not concerned with catching anything, at least once in a while, why did i bring my rod n' reel?
    nice fish!

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  6. Nice post and congrats on the steelhead! I wouldn't be surprised it was the same fish. I had a similar experience with a small brown trout early in the summer. I caught him once and released him and three weeks later I was back in the exact same spot and caught him again (his spots were unmistakeable). The only difference was that I caught him on a different fly the second time.

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  7. Hey Koz- let me know when you're ready to hit it again.

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  8. Tom- you make my point for me. This time of year can be tough, with the fishing being extremely hot or cold. And the weather is just plain cold.

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  9. Kiwi- thanks for stopping by. After examining all of my photos, I'm pretty sure they're different fish. They were so close in size and shape it really threw me.

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  10. I'll agree with everyone that thinks it's not the same fish...but hey, that is a good thing! Great photos, and the lake run brookie is pretty cool!

    Cheers

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  11. Sanders- yeah, it makes me glad that there's a number of fish in. Now I just want to find their big brothers.

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  12. A few years ago, in a hole on a small stream not far from you, I caught the same fat brook trout on the same (almost) #14 Adams on three consecutive trips. The last time I fished that stretch that year, I skipped that hole. I claimed it was because I figured that fish had earned his solitude, but I admit I was a little afraid the fish would be gone.

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  13. I caught the same Whitefish twice in a row on the Colorado river this last July. I also hooked into a monster rainbow twice in the same outing...the first time she completely snapped my line, taking my 3 files with her...the second time my line snapped (after she jumped 4 times) I brought in 6 flies! Apparently I had hooked my own hooks the 2nd time. :P Anyhow, beautiful fish pics you've got there - maybe someday soon I'll be able to get fish on my hands again, but for now, I'm jealous!

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  14. Dave- you are a noble angler. When you start to have a relationship with a fish, perhaps it's time to give it some grudging respect.

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  15. Jen- getting your flies back is always a bonus. I know westerners bad mouth whitefish, but they do fight hard.

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  16. I think they are different fish, but wouldn't be surprised if they were the same. I landed an 18 lb carp with a deformed mouth twice in the same day two years ago. I weighed and took pictures of the fish (both times) and what was really strange about it was I had walked over a mile when I caught the fish the second time.

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  17. Several years ago one of my really good friends took me and another buddy off-shore fishing for marlin for 3 days in Puerto Rico with his brother and father. We anchored off of Mona Island and went out fishing for sharks one night. we caught 5 or 6 nurse sharks and broke off on several more, so we thought - the last 3 or sharks we caught had several of our hooks and line trailing from their mouths, and at least 2 of them had definitely been landed earlier that night.

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