October 4, 2001
by Chris Feeney
The now infamous fall fishing extravaganza in Michigan has come and gone once again for the crew from Memphis as I led the group of salmon catchers to the Pierre Marquette River this past weekend for our second excursion in the northern waters.
The trip is well worth it regardless of whether we catch any fish or not, but lets just say we added to the enjoyment of the outing by capitalizing on some good fortune in the fishing end of the journey as well. That truly is the best way to describe the trip, as it was filled with good fortune all around, well except for one buddy ruining his favorite shirt and another experiencing some personal plumbing problems along the way. Toss out the few miscues like our unplanned two hour tour of the greater Grand Rapids area, and a pre-dawn jaunt in search of a fabled river access along a couple cheese grater roads that gave one a new appreciation of pot holes, and good fortune was all we had.
We opened up the first day of fishing with a bang. The newest member of our group, the lone first timer on the trip, hooked into a pair of salmon right off the bat. He was sure to let us know that it was anything but beginner's luck. The rest of the crew found the fishing nearly as good, as everyone landed at least one fish before I ever even had a salmon bump my line. I was a bit discouraged. That's when I made "The Switch". Nothing was working so I decided I might as well put down my favorite fishing pole and switch to my fly rod. Prior to this week, this was a questionable purchase I made specifically for salmon fishing, yet had never got any return. Now it is being considered as wise an investment as buying stock in the early days of Microsoft.
Before the first day ended, I had hooked no fewer than two dozen fish, and even landed half a dozen, including a nice 22-pound monster that took me nearly 30 minutes to net. It was by far the best day of fishing I had ever had in the history of my annual Michigan travels.
But that was not all. After an uneventful start to day two, fate intervened and we met up with a Detroit fisherman I had met on several previous trips while spending some down time in the fly shop. He told us of a spot where we could catch and keep fish. It was an hour away from our current site but proved well worth the drive. While the new spot looked like an overpopulated Bennett Springs on opening morning. It ultimately thinned out and we were able to once again get into some excellent fishing that saw us put five fish on the stringers and release several more.
Our good fortune carried forward into the final stages of the trip. We joked with one of the locals at the fish cleaning station about how good he was and before we knew it a deal was struck for him to clean our fish as well
for a nominal fee. It is amazing the size of fillets that come off a 20-pound fish. I can only hope that salmon for dinner brings me 1/10 as much enjoyment as salmon on the end of the fly rod did.