September 30, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

About seven hours into the day-long trip back from our annual salmon fishing trip to Michigan, I contemplated picking up my laptop computer to start writing my outdoor column.

But considering the fact that I never put a fish in the net during the three days on the river, I was hard pressed to come up with anything to discuss.

About the only reason Iím writing this is so that I can try to convince my accountant that part of my bills for this trip can be used as business expenses.

After years of making the pilgrimage to the Pierre Marquette River in Michigan and bringing home tales of 30-pound salmon and hour-long fights to land the monsters, this year I was blanked.

Fortunately, or unfortunately if you consider the merciless razzing I took from the luckier ones, a few of the guys in our party did land a fish or two. Still it was rough going for all of us. Warm weather and little rain has prevented the main push of the annual salmon run in the rivers. The fish numbers were way down because of the conditions. However, the fishermen numbers remained strong, so there was plenty of pressure to find the scarce salmon.

Needless to say, after driving 11 hours to get there on Thursday, we were ready to get out of the rigs and in the water. Those few hours before dark proved to be the best of the trip, as several fish were hooked and brother-in-law Brent even put one in the net.

I had five fish on during the warm-up event. Two were significant battles that ultimately broke my 12-pound test line.

Little did we know that this was as good as it would get. On Friday we hit the water more than an hour before sunup. That meant for the second straight day we were up at 4:00 a.m.

I hooked into a nice fish just as the sun was coming up. I fought the salmon for 10 or 15 minutes before the last rush snapped my line. A couple of hours later I had my second hookup, with similar results. That proved to be my last fish encounter of the trip.

I was skunked the remainder of Friday and never felt a fish on the line all of Saturday.

My partners did a little better. On those two days, a total of six fish made it to the net, at least allowing the guys to bring home some salmon for all the connoisseurs.

One would think we would have done a little better all things considered. We had the sharp-dressed fisherman, complete with a new haircut. His look must have worked as he landed the most fish. Then there was the other fisherman that tried swimming with the fish. That must have worked as well, as he too landed more than I did..

The best I could do was at the restaurant Friday night when I latched onto one of the best meals Iíve ever had, all-you-can-eat perch. The waitress noted that I was her first customer to ever eat three additional plates. So I didnít come home empty handed, or empty bellied that is. I think Iíll go again next year, just to eat the perch. If I catch a few salmon, it will just be a bonus.

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