The last couple of days I’ve been singing a slightly modified version of Pete Seger’s folk song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone. Mine is going like this: “Where have all the salmon gone, long time passing, where have all the salmon gone, long time ago. Where have all the salmon gone, gone in high water, every one, when will we every learn, when will we ever learn.”
There were kings shore to shore in the Lake Michigan tribs, but then we had a heavy rain (3 inches in 24 hours) and the river went from just under 100 cfs to almost 700 cfs in a day. It simply blew the fish out. Of course there were any number of us eagerly awaiting the falling water so that we could get onto the river because, most certainly, the mid season spate would bring in a fresh round of kings, cohos, and big browns. And boy, were we ready.
Hah! Did we get fooled. Not only did we not get a fresh run of fish, but the water, even as it fell under 200 cfs, has remained tannic colored. There’s simply no way to see fish any deeper than about 18 inches. So, we slog on, catching the odd king—and they must be odd to be in here when the others are all gone. Of course, hope springs eternal, and even with the rain the we are getting tonight, I’m counting on fresh fish tomorrow. We shall see!
In September, I conducted a fly fishing school for Young Life of Big Sky, MT. One of my hosts and fishing companions was Tom Juergens, a recently retired equine vet from the Twin Cities. I mentioned the salmon fishing in the Lake Michigan tributaries and told him he should come and fish with me sometime. So he did. The river was packed with salmon when we arranged the trip, but then came the deluge as noted above. Not only were the fish very few and very far between, but the water was tannic colored. Ugly, and hard to see the fish. Tom did manage a couple of kings, and I caught a few and did a lot of whining. Sorry, Tom. Still, we enjoyed the days together, and further cemented our friendship.