Whistling Trout Society
aerial photograph of our river (1.7M)
Letter - Attending - Comments - Story - Pictures
I picked-up Larry Clark and his gear
on Cayenne early Thursday afternoon for the ride to Flint and on to Kaleva.
In Flint, we met my father and transferred our gear into his vehicle which
already pointed North to our destination for the weekend. While in Flint,
we visited a little with my mother and grand mother. We looked over my
grandfather's garden to find what treasures were left before the frost
came to turn the the remaining green to wilt. We gathered in a white bucket
sweet red cherry tomatoes, green zucchini, a few small green pepper and
a handful of yellow squash. Leaving them on the counter unwashed, and
with quick kisses for my mother and grandmother, we headed north to 75.
None of us could escape the empty feeling of the vacant seat next to us
which should have been filled with the oldest Whistling Trout Member.
(I'm going to have to remind Jim to add Grandpa George to the Members
side since he made more than three visits to the Kaleva Hilton.)
stopped North of Cadillac on M-115 to have dinner at the Timber's before
finishing the final 35 miles to Kaleva in the dark... missing all the
great sights of Hodenpyle and the autumn colors through Marilla.
We slipped by the cabin, father and passenger described
it as "flying", and witnessing no lights but one vehicle, moved
on the Kaleva Tavern. At the KT we found no Jim Perrine and partner. Much
discussion and debating swirled about the possibilities that Jim was napping
back at the cabin so early into the first evening of Whistling Trout!
All discussion stopped after Jim and his neighbor Rick appeared shortly
after finishing dinner. They were returning from cleaning fish after a
successful day on the river. We enjoyed a few pitchers and Jim's fish
stories, and we enjoyed the quiet music of the DJ then headed back to
the Kaleva Hilton for a few hands of Euchre.
After the old guys sacked in for the night, I headed outside
to enjoy a warm camp fire before hitting the tent I erected that night.
The temperature was falling fast and I was not ready for sleep. It's one
of my symptoms of escaping to the north, sleep is nearly impossible when
the moon shines brightly and owls hoot from dark trees in nearby acres.
Larry Clark joined me by the fire and we talked the talk of men who have
known each other for years but still have more to learn about each other.
I fell asleep that night content, and warm and happy to be in Kaleva with
my father and my father's friends now mine.
Friday morning came too early as usual. We were planning
on being the first ones to the riverside, to the wall. The weather forecast
predicted this would be the warmest and driest day of the weekend so we
wanted to make the most of it. We arrived down at Doc's 30 minutes before
daylight. We jumped into our waders, rigged our rod's and layered our
shirts to shield against the coolness of this early October morning. Then
we waited for Jim, and waited and waited. The one who had already fished,
and is usually the most organized left us standing around, tapping the
toe of our wader boots and humming - hawing for him to hurry. Finally
we walked the short yard to the west end for the ford across the creek
and straight to the Wall. All was well except we could not see past the
tip of our rod... We had arrived long before anyone else and well before
enough light revealed the sunken forms that slid as smoothly as smoke
through the cold waters of Bear Creek.
We stood for many minutes, alternating our sight from river
to sky, anxious to see dark shapes materialize from the inky waters. I
looked at my father every few minutes, hoping to see some hint he had
seen a target with his more veteran eyes. We spread out along the wall
as dawn spread over the river's edge. We were like horses waiting for
the trumpet to signal the start of the race, but the call comes too slowly,
smudged by the morning fog hanging over the fields above the Bear.
Finally we were not fooled by the shadows headed upstream
in a westward flowing river. Hooks flew through the sky and the day of
fishing began. I spent the majority of the morning chasing after the fish
my father hooked down stream of the wall. This effectively chased away
all the wall fishing wannabees that had arrived after daylight, annoyed
to be beaten to the honey hole. One group grumbled away downstream with
a case of beer and a bag of ice for company on the river.
By 11AM we had gathered back at Doc's to count our catch,
hungry for lunch. At Dam Site Inn, we nestled down for the long wait to
lunch and a rehash of Jim's stories from fishing the day before. At this
time of day, the salmon are resting in the protection of deep dark holes
along the curved edges of the river. They make poor targets for sight
fishing and are safe for the moment from our fisherman. We took the opportunity
to head back to the Hilton, reorganize our tackle, dry our waders, and
catch a few minutes of sleep. I was the only one to remain awake. My father
had caught a fat female plump with loose spawn that morning. After netting
the fish and dragging her through the water to shore, I cut her open to
harvest her eggs for spawn sacks to use for steelhead and trout later
in the year. With Larry's help, we filled a ziplock bag full of tiny orange
marbles and left a barren female a shadow of her original girth.... That
afternoon, she was converted to a few fillets in a cooler.
So, while the gentlemen napped the afternoon away, I set
about building a frame for a drying screen, then cleaned and cured those
eggs so they would last the winter if needed. I did not want to spend
another $2.00 for a dozen tied spawn bags if I could make my own.
Around 430, we were back to the river for another great
round of fishing. We made it as far back as the fast waters past the clay
banks and found plenty of great fishing. There, I spent the majority of
time with Jim. I had been lured there with the promise of 25 salmon in
one hole. We saw lots of fish and enjoyed the evening of falling leaves
before heading back to join the rest for the hike back.
At Doc's, when the other's were pulling off gear and grabbing
beers, Dad and I saw a pair of salmon in the thin water down from the
culverts. We headed down and started pitching our baits at the dorsals.
I was the first to connect and began a battle against a freshie that threatened
down water runs to shred my 10# line. I had it hooked in the lips of the
dorsal so feared no quick release and dad promptly had it landed with
a great net jab near the island. By now complete darkness had descended
on our cars. I quickly stripped out of damp waders and we headed to the
"new" fish cleaning stations at the last bait shop on the way
to Tippy. The place was jam packed so we quickly got in line with our
fish. I migrated to the large fire circle that had been built downwind
of the fish dumpster and listened to great stories from the locals about
salmon fishing, the DNR, snagging and tippy dam.
Within the hour, we were headed to Kaleva Tavern for dinner
before they shut down the salad bar and buffet. It was 8:45 PM.
Back at the camp, we played a few hands of euchre, divided
up the beds and called it a night. We expected rain, sleet and snow in
the am. The temperature had fallen all day and so we planned to take our
time in the AM. While the others headed to bed, I headed back to the campfire
and built a warm fire while waiting for Matt Kline. Determined to stay
awake, but too tired from great day of fishing, I finally retired to the
tent, knowing Matt's arrival could be hours away.
At 2:30 AM, Matt woke me up from my tent for a warm visit
around the fire until after 5:00 am. We finally hit our bed's as morning
whispered it's arrival around the edges of the horizon. Bark appeared
zig zagged on the stems of trees, crab apples looked like quiet black
eyes against the graying clouds.
Morning came far too early but I was eager to hit the Bear
after a few diet cokes. At Doc's dad charged to the water far before everyone
else and started working the island. He hooked on to a freight train and
called for help. I was still 1 leg in my wader so could not answer his
plea. Jim P ran to the water's edge, hopped in and followed my dad down
river 200 yards, trying to spy the fish in murky water and dim light.
Dad says it was the largest fish he hooked for a long time. I wish I had
been there to see it and offer a second chance at landing a trophy.
We headed downriver from there and spent a great day hunting
salmon. All day the sky changed from bright blue to dark clouds. Sometimes
sunshine fell, sometimes rain and occasionally sleet and piles of hail
gathered in the dark cool corners under the shadows. Due to the cold night,
piles of leaves fell from the trees lining the creek. The river was packed
with leaves and the air was so think, one would hook a leaf with every
Eventually I met up again with the majority of fisherman
who where stretched along the riverside down from the cabin. Larry Clark
dominated this stretch of water. He caught so many fish he had to return
fish to the water to avoid keeping more than his limit. A few of his fish
were small Jack's which make the best eating. He was as proud as a rooster
on the hike out with his great stringer of fish.
[to be continued]
Whistling Trout Society Members and
I'm getting ready for one great fall trip north. The date is 4th, 5th,
6th & 7th of Oct. I'm looking forward seeing all of you. I'll be up
at the cabin on Thursday by 12 PM.
I just returned from Kaleva today (9/19) for a two day trip. A friend
of mine, Rick Hornby, fished Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. We
caught 5 coho salmon, the largest 19 lb. We saw, in 2 days, 10 fish. They
are not in heavy yet. The water is too warm. I talked to a few locals
who said the run has not started. It rained all day today so a few fish
will start up. I had 8 fish on and landed only 3, two on my fly rod and
the other on spinning rod. Rich had 7 on and landed two. One fish he had
on would have weighed 25 lbs. I think we are going to hit fish at the
right time this year. Let me know if you are coming up on the web site
or call me at home and leave a message. I hope this letter finds you in
a good frame of mind with all that's happened in the last week. Hope to
see you in two weeks.
Your Friend Jim Perrine
Attending the 2001 Fall Trip:
||Saturday 830 AM
No John Meyers
From Vaughn2 (9/12/01)
LOOKS LIKE I WILL DRIVE UP EITHER LATE SAT. OR EARLY-EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.-
From Willman (9/9/01):
You can count me in. Also Jim Pernell gave me his commitment for this
year. What I do not know is the day we will arrive. I will be completely
converted to fly fishing and can't wait to get in the stream. If Jim is
going to open the Hilton on Thursday or even Wednesday I could be tempted
to go as well. When you have an idea who will be up this year and the
day they will arrive perhaps you could let us know on our web sight.
FYI: I was on Lake Manistee last Saturday (bass fishing)
and the salmon had been heading upstream for 2 weeks. There were 20 or
more boats trolling. We saw a few fish caught and many that had met their
maker floating belly up. Rumor has it that this will be one of the better
years. Lets hope so. Keep us posted
and I look forward to seeing everyone for another outstanding fall trip.