9-15-04 - MP Returns to the Garden.
Waters Fished: Garden River
Fish Caught: Numerous! - 6 photographed, more landed fair, many
Outing Date: 9-15-04
Air Temp: low 80's
Water Temp: Didn't take it, about 60F or so
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Stained and clear
Fish Species: Pink Salmon, Chinook Salmon
Pattern Fished: Pheasant Tail Nymph, EGGS of all types!
Pattern Color: Natural Shades worked best
Fishing Quality: Amazing!
This story actually starts way back on the 10th of September...I'm
outta work ASAP and take Tucker to Renee (a full evening production
in itself). After having to bath him I'm simply DONE...won't be
heading (as planned) to the lake on Friday night.
So we get up there on Saturday...I had honestly been hoping for
some uninterrupted time to finish as many as FIVE fly rods before
Monday night (the last point at which I could put one on the dryer).
By Tuesday morning I had only finished 3 rods and ONE (#19) needed
retouching! ACK. To top it off, I had visited the harbor the night
before with the intent to get in some fishin, but the Camaro's window
was stuck in the down position. So fate had thwarted my attempts
to get in another day on the water.
Well, I guess I like to take too much on (surprise surprise) and
between everything going on I resigned myself to simply packing
up and getting ready for the trip, which I almost didn't finish!
While technically an "hour late" I arrived at Jim K.'s
right on time at 6:00 PM (the "original" meeting time).
Randy met up with me moments before and just after we pulled in,
Matt J. showed up. Jim was actually the last to arrive! Leanne fed
us well and before you know it we were off in Jim's trusty steed
which still carries the name "SMOKIN' TAHOE". Jim has
since quit, so I had to carry a double smokin' burden. No problem.
Our designated meeting spot on the 14th was the Rt. 20 McD's off
94...we met up with Richard
"FAT / FATMAN" Brown (who organizes this trip with
all of us) and his two sons, Kramer (Chief) and Dutton (Duke). Gerry
G. and John had beat us there...quick hellos and we were on the
road! "FAT FEST 2004" as we had dubbed it is now officially
Now I should tell you this is a road trip...depending on your speed
and stops it's a 10-12 hour total trip up! Somewhere between Milwaukee
and Sheboygan disaster struck....FAT had a blowout.
John was driving behind FAT with Gerry in the passenger seat, just
about to doze off when he was awoken by a loud pop, the trailer
veering left then right then left, sparks flying everywhere and
finally the left fender simply flying off the trailer. Gerry says
he instinctively grabbed the side door handle, and watched, white-knuckled.
So much for Gerry getting any sleep on the way up!
FAT had a spare...phew...for moments there I thought this would
be the end of the trip before it even really got started - all our
GEAR was in that trailer! John and Gerry went on ahead to Escanaba
while we stopped EVERYWHERE looking for air (for the spare) and
a new tire. After Sheboygan the search was pretty much given up,
well until we found a 24 hour Walmart in Escanaba where we didn't
find a new tire, but we did get a "mini spare". It's better
than nothing - should something happen in the Algoma Forest we were
now at least armed with a tire...albeit a very small tire.
Well after midnight, now the 15th, we made it to Sault St. Marie,
MI. The border crossing into Ontario was pleasant...no problems
or searches, although finding our way through Sault St. Marie was
a hassle to say the least...roads closed with no detours....signs
not pointing the way. Eventually we found a Tim Horton's and grabbed
breakfast. After that, it was time to meet up with more of our group
at the Trading Post.
So around 6:00 AM we found 4 more of our group - Jim Coursey and
Kent Carlson in the other Tahoe, as well as the silent Freds, Fred
Anderson Jr and Sr. (no one could remember WHERE they were meeting
up with us!). The Anderson's had some massive cahones....they were
taking a minivan in to the Garden campground. After getting licenses
and land use permits, I took a look around. I guess they've rearranged
the Trading Post in the last year...didn't find any local tied flies,
and Giuliani's big brook trout pictures were gone :(
And now another hour (at least)....it's gravel pretty quick. All
the way in, the last stretch off the main road is definitely the
longest (and roughest). About half way in, we stopped for all those
guys who were doing the pp dance (you would be too, so no laughing).
This is one of those spots I just love...you can see over into the
valley and the hills beyond. What a breathtaking first look.
After our stop, it was back in to conquer the real brutal part
of the drive. The 4X4s made it through just fine, but the Andersons
had to take their time getting that minivan over the more uneven
parts. Folks if you've never seen a minivan go offroading, it's
a hoot! Thankfully FAT had a winch with and we all had plenty of
rope, so there wouldn't be any big issues if someone go stuck. Loosing
an oil pan or something...man I'd hate to see the towing bill (and
to make it worse, it would be MORE, because it'd be in CANADIAN
Finally, when none of us could take this roller coaster ride any
longer, we arrived at camp. Last year's spot was taken, but right
in front of us was a huge clear area that was simply perfect.
It's a tradition I witnessed for the first time last year. The
moment of arrival, everyone, no matter what state of sleep depravation,
flings off the seatbelts and makes a mad dash for the river (OK,
so folks were a bit tired, no one was RUNNING but there was a lot
of speed walking to be seen). Last year, um, well folks just kinda
looked around and wondered if they needed their polarized glasses.
This year every face that turned around from the river was grinning
I'll tell ya it's REAL hard to resist the urge to go fishing right
there on the spot. However, if we wanted to sleep we'd need tents...if
we wanted to eat we'd need a mess hall. Most folks gladly volunteered
to set up tents as they had seen the fiasco known as "setting
up the carport" last year. What they didn't know is that all
the carport parts are now labled...so I snatched Fred Jr. and in
no time we were set. We even had time to get the picnic tables set
up AND put a side tarp off the car port which would cover our "kitchen".
The best part? We set it up behind a hill of dirt that closed off
what once was a road and bridge. Right outside our "mess hall"
we had an unobstructed view of the Garden River. It was by far the
best spot for our camp.
ENOUGH about camp...it's time to FISH! I don't need to give you
play-by-plays here because a) they'd get repetitive and b) there
were so many fish who can really remember. I kept count initially
but quickly lost track...now I know why guys use clickers when they're
on a charter boat (or recording fish numbers for any other reason).
We fished right in front of our camp and in short order I had my
first fair pink....it hammered a Pheasant Tail Nymph. Randy Cochran
picked up a couple right off the bat. I have no doubt that within
the first hour on the water most everyone had their first fair pink
of the trip.
Lunch consisted of FATMAN's traditional "Deli Sandwiches"...Butter
Top Wheat Bread, cheese (started out with Swiss) and Oscar Meyer
Sub Sandwich Meat...prepacked, presliced, preportioned, man it's
EASY to make a double-decker and get back to the water.
After lunch I went downstream to the Island to see what the rest
of our group was up to. Checking in on Jim, I found that he was
slammin' the fair fish left and right. Jim was thrilled and he joked
about all the success he was having with the flies I gave him last
year (he never got to fish them!).
Now, the funny part about where Jim was fishin' is that a local
resident named Louis always camps up on the bank for 2 months out
of the year. Well, today, Jim was fishin' right opposite Lou's living
The situation was hysterical...three guys sitting on an old couch
under a tarp watched and jeered as Jim hooked up with Pinks. If
Jim got one in, they'd shout down for him to hold it up....then
they'd score it with scorecards made from cardboard and red permanent
marker. At one point I think it was Lou who gave Jim a "2".
Jim asked "What's up with that Russian Judge up there"...and
his score was promptly revised to a 10...then an 01. Then a 0.1.
This went on for MUCH of the afternoon.
After enjoying Jim's situation for a bit, I kinda made my "rounds"
fishin' and documenting as many of our group's catches as I could.
Afterall, part of the group deal is that they ask me to come along
as the trip photographer (so all I have to do is hitch a ride...besides
I don't eat all that much)...since folks were actually catching
fish this year I figured I'd try to get as many of them with fish
pictures right off the bat....no one was going home without at least
one good picture of them with a Pink. By evening I had Randy, Jim
K., Jim C., Kent and Fred Jr. scratched off my list.
I had now been up for at least 36 hours...some folks with us had
gotten sleep and I'm sure there were a few who had been awake longer
than I had been. Dinner was a repeat of last year's hit....Italian
Somewhere along the way I never got the memo about needing a "mess
kit"...with total disregard for any civilized dining I grabbed
a French roll, stuffed it with beef and devoured it. After everyone
had their first I was back in line for #2...this time drenching
it with Mozzarella Cheese and finally soaking my entire roll and
hand with Au Jus.
And if that wasn't good enough...FAT broke out what I consider
to be his best cobbler recipe...Double Chocolate Cherry Cobbler.
For folks who don't know, Rich makes some drop dead delicious Dutch
oven cobbler....and Chocolate Cherry is arguably the best of his
many fine concoctions. Did I mention FAT planned ahead for all of
us this year...we had REAL Whip Cream, and by REAL I mean the stuff
that comes out of the aerosol can.
Some of my favorite campfire food, with a bunch of great guys,
some of whom I don't get to see often enough, and to top it off
I completely got my revenge on the Garden river, easily landing
enough fish to make up for 4 fishless days last year. For the first
day on the Garden, I didn't think life could get any better than