Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some Idle Fishing Thoughts

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I’ve got a Lake Michigan salmon trip planned for tomorrow, and it makes me wonder why normally sane people would crawl out of bed at 4 a.m. to drive to Frankfort to get an early start.

Even I know the answer to that. That early morning period is almost always the most productive time for king salmon. I go because I love seeing the sun come up over the sand dunes near Point Betsie, and I love feeling the strong surge of a big fish taking out line.

It’s excitement that rouses my wife and I from a warm bed to greet the dawn on the water. It’s something I’m addicted to, and it’s hard to shake the habit.

A month from now there will be more king salmon in the Betsie River, and even after 10 years of guiding salmon fishermen on that and other rivers, fighting big fish holds a certain attraction. It’s fun teasing big males on the spawning redds, and it’s a hoot casting spinners into deep holes and runs or fishing chunk spawn under a bobber.

Fishing for this big hogs is like holding a lit stick of dynamite and watching the fuse sputter. One always wonders how long it will be before the explosive strike of a big river salmon is felt.

I fish because I love to. Given the choice, I prefer river fishing. I like moving water, feeling the pressure of water against my wader-clad legs, and delight in the gurgle of rushing water over a gravel bar and the hiss of water running under a half-submerged log.

Fishing offers so many different options. I can use spinning gear, baitcasting gear and fly tackle. I can fish heavy line for muskellunge or the light tippet for summer trout and enjoy the downstream voyage of a dry fly drifting on the surface.

There are bluegills and sunfish to catch, and it matters little to me whether the fish are large or small. A fish is a fish, and my favorite fish of all happens to be the one I’m fishing for at that particular point in time, which answers a question often asked of me.

Fishing offers me the feel of a strong fish taking line, gives me pleasure when a great fish makes a head-to-tail leap that clears the water with droplets of sparkling spray. It gives me great pleasure to accept the challenge of meeting and possibly beating a fish in a challenging and difficult spot.

For the most part I enjoy the people I meet on the water. Some are not very smart, take chances, show little respect for the rights of others, and those poor souls are some that I do not like very well.

One thing that gives me great enjoyment is helping other people catch fish. Do I need to catch another king salmon? Not hardly because I caught thousands during my 10-year guiding career.

I don’t need to catch another one, but I shall enjoy doing so. And often, when on a boat or on shore, and a fish strikes I will give the fishing rod to someone who has caught far fewer big fish than me.

I fished muskies on Lake St. Clair on one glorious day years ago, and had a friend along who had never caught a muskie. We were trolling with planer boards, and it was a banner day with many strikes.

The muskies were hitting, and we hooked 26 fish that day and my friend landed each of the 18 fish that were boated. Some were sub-legal muskies and several were in the 25 to 28-pound class, and I let him battle every fish.

Does that make me generous, stupid or a nice guy. I’d prefer the latter honor, and although he protested mightily at being the only one of four people aboard to land a muskie that day, he slowly came to accept the fact that it was his job and no one was going to help him.

He thanked me and the other guys at least a dozen times, and for all of us, his thanks was all we needed. I fish because it makes me feel good to do so, and it’s certainly far more fun than pecking out a story on this computer or going to work.

I’m sure all of you would agree with that statement.

Posted by Dave Richey on 08/21 at 12:51 PM
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