Seasons come; seasons go, and so it was with mixed feelings today that Captain Don Graham and I hit the Muskegon for one last smallie float.  We were sad to say “Good-bye” to the smallmouth bass that have given us and our clients such a good time this summer, but excited that our Fall fishery for Chinook Salmon and Steelhead is upon us.

Every day on the water affords something to appreciate and something to learn.  I don’t know that I’ve ever witnessed a river otter on the Muskegon, though I know they ply our waters, but there it was—first  a big head:  “Hey, is that a beaver?  Way too big to be a muskrat.  Whoa!  It’s an otter!”  And so it was—an adult, very fat and sleek, river otter!   Indeed, it’s probably the best trout fisherman on the river.  Quite a thrill to witness!

As for the lesson, Don and I fished a stretch of the river on which top water poppers haven’t produced very well of late.  So, out came the intermediate and 300 grain sink-tip lines with streamers of every imaginable shape and color.  We fished the structure; we fished the edges; we fished hard and long.  The result?  Two small  fish on a yellow articulated streamer;  that was it!  I noted wryly to Don, “We probably should have been tossing poppers.  We certainly couldn’t have any done any worse!”

Apparently, he agreed because soon out came the floating line and popper.   A few casts here; a few casts there; and “Wham!” the smallie that Don is holding in the picture smacked his bug.  I may be slow, but I’m not wholly without observational acumen, so soon two poppers were burbling the surface.  I wouldn’t term the action fast, but it was steady with our missing a number of fish and bringing others to hand.  Had we opened the day on top, our success rate may well have soared.  The lesson:  just because one method (or fly) produced on a given stretch of water before, don’t put your brains out to lunch and pound the water to a froth with little or no result.  Go to Plan B:  it very well may pay off as it did today for slow learners Don and Tom.

Thanks for yet another great time on the water, Don.  You are the best!

Captain Tom Kuieck