Monday, June 13, 2011

Kayaking Down the Manistee

I got a call from my friends, Joe and Jim, about a float trip down the Manistee River.  We had mentioned it and now we were setting the date.  Joe wanted to meet at 7:00 am and I suggested we meet at Red Bridge parking lot at 8:00am.  The night before our trip we had thunder, lightning and rain.  I wondered if I was going to receive a "cancel " phone call but the rain stopped but it was in the low 60s.  Getting no phone call meant that I better get packed up.  I got a PB&J, some ice tea, a few granola bars and a apple and hitched up the small cargo trailer.  I was going to put all the float equipment in my trailer and have the guys leave their cars at Red Bridge. 

I got to the spot at 7:50 am and Jim and Joe were already there.  We loaded up our gear and headed off to Hodenpyle Dam.  It only takes about 15-20 minutes to drive up the 8-9 miles.

Parking right at the dam means you have to carry everything down the stairs to the water.

The kayaks only weight about 40 pounds but the pontoon boat was closer to 60-70 pounds.  We used two men to carry it down.

Joe was strapping on his life vest and it served as a good reminder for me to wear mine.  I usually just pack it in the kayak but today I wore the life vest.

We had river shoes and zip-off nylon pants.  I have an orange river bag with a towel and rain jacket.  I forgot my sunglasses and Jim didn't.  I am holding my lightweight, fiberglass paddle that I got last year.

Joe is wearing his hip boots so he can wade, Jim and I are going to wet wade.  Water temperature is in the high 50s!  Joe has the really nice pontoon boat and oars.  He can even put his electric trolling motor on it.

You can see Hodenpyle Dam in the background.

Joe was first off.  You sit up out of the water and are higher than in the kayak.  He could see more river details, hence he went first!

As I was taking the pictures, Jim was next off.  We each had our fishing rods with us.  The plan was to stop on the bends and fish from shore.  I was going to try fishing and paddling at the same time.  Kinda like rubbing your belly and patting your head!

I fount that if I put the paddle across my lap, I could cast my fly rod and then quickly adjust the float with my paddle.  It wasn't a very effective way to fish.  After a few tries, I decided to just fish from the shore.

The river was flowing nicely along. The water was a little dark from the run-off. You can see some shallow rapids up ahead. It isn't hard to paddle like the Pine, but it has several sets of faster water. These were the fun spots. We weren't just here to paddle, or fish, but also to enjoy the ride.

Time to stop and fish.

Finally a nice fish on.

Gee, I am happy to catch one but why didn't I smile?

Finally, Joe pulled over to fish.  We would stop together and fish along the bends.  Note that Joe has hip boats on but he doesn't have the strap snapped up to his belt.  More on that later.  A few minutes at each stop and on our way again.

Jim and I had similar kayaks.  Only about 9' long and easy to use.  In some of the rapids, the bow would dip down and water would come spraying over the top into the seat area.  Not a lot of water but I had a wet butt most of the day.

Jim was casting a small streamer and we were hoping for some brown or rainbow trout.

It was a nice hole and I waded out to try my luck.  Suddenly I hear Joe call from the bank.

We came upon this snapping turtle making a nest along the bank.

I said, "Joe, put your finger down in front of his face".   Guess what happened next.......

Nothing happened......Joe got out of there!  Note the storage area behind the seat and the rod holder.  What a way to float.  He never got wet in the rapids.

However, Joe did wade out a little too far for his hip boots several times.  It is hard to remember how deep you can go when you are paying attention to your fishing and not your wading.  Joe got a brown trout along here.

Jim is trying the fishing and kayaking t the same time.  I guess it is a guy thing, we have to keep trying to do what our mind tells us we can't!

Just before we hit Red Bridge, Joe has one on.  He is getting a good fight out of him.

Joe lands a killer Northern Pike!  I lost one fish and landed one rainbow.  The fishing was great, the catching was slow.

What a nice way to spend the day.  The sign says it is a 4 hour float and we made it is seven hours!

After the float, it was back up to the Dam to get my car and trailer.  We decided that we are going to float all the way to stages.  We have stage one and two done.  Next it will be High Bridge to Blacktail or Bear Creek.  Then we don't know what would make a good 6 hour float.  Any suggestions?

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