I prefer to not fish alone, but I will if necessary. My favorite and most common fishing partner is my son, Jared. Unfortunately I do not see him as often or as long as I would like.
My wife often works 12 hr. days from 7a-7p which can be a boon when I wish to get out and fish and not have to worry about what time I need to be home by. My last fishing experience was on one such occasion and I decided to just fish until I was ready to go home.
I stopped at a nice stretch of river known for some good steelhead bobber fishing with wax worms. I fished for a few hours and saw only a few very beat up Kings. Instead of just going home I headed the other way. It was December 1st and the first day that Swan Creek was once again open to fishing. I decided to at least take a ride and see if anything was happening. I had no plans and for the day any how. I left my gear in the car and took a small hike.
I arrived at the bubbler to find 5 cars in the parking lot. I was hoping they were small game hunters as a couple of the trucks had Mossy Oak stickers on them. I decided to walk down to the river to see how many people were actually fishing and as my luck would have it there were 5 fisherman. One upstream and 4 at the bubbler where I had hoped to fish.
I walked down to the river and politely asked if they were having any luck. Of course some guys had left earlier with some steelhead on a stringer, but nobody has has so much as a bite sine 10 am which was a good 3-4 hours earlier.
I decided to walk a short ways downstream amid the muddy banks and leave-less tress to see if I could spot any active fish. With my polarized glasses I am an excellent fish spotter. I attribute much of my luck at catching fish in my ability to find fish. You chances are always much better when your drifting a hole or run with something in it. The water was still low and clear from the lack of rain most of the summer. I stood on a high bank watching a deep hole strewn with several fallen tree branches. There were several carcasses of dead Salmon along the banks and the stench was becoming unbearable. It seems that the racoons will be very fat for the winter. Just as I was about to leave I spotted a white mouth open and close just under a log. It was actually just a few feet from the back and clearly a steelhead. I watched for several minutes watching the steelhead move back and forth along the fallen tree slowly then it came up and slurped something off of the surface. The weather was unseasonably warm like it had been all year and was a very comfortable 50 degrees.
At that moment I decided to head back to my car and try to stir up some action. As I moved away I noticed another dark shape dart from underneath another log heading upstream, most likely another steelhead.
Arriving back at the bubbler I noticed one of the fisherman had left and asked the other three if they would mind if I fished the hole with them. Two said they were ready to leave anyways and the last guy told me there would be plenty of room now. I quickly headed to my car and gathered my gear. I had to remember to take anything out of my backpack that was considered illegal. There was a strict no weighted single hook rule on this river. I took my wax worm jigs and small box of spinners and tossed them into the trunk. The other two fisherman were arriving at the parking lot just as I started towards the river. I wished them a good day and was off.
I arrived at the bubbler to find the lone fisherman waiting there and as I walked up he held out his hand and said "Hi, my name is Jason".
I returned the handshake and said "Hi Jason, my name is Mike, nice to meet you". For the next several hours we fished and enjoyed at warm December day, having several great conversations about fishing. Where talked about many things and seemed to have a great deal in common. He told me he fished many of the same places I like to go and we talked about our adventures.
I never ended up hooking a fish and had one take, while he hooked a nice steelhead that ended up breaking his line. He switched to a fly rod and started swinging streamers. To me it had always been a bobber hole. The air was getting cold and the sky was getting dark.
I decided to start packing up my gear for my long drive home and he did as well.
Then he said something that stuck with me "Even though I didn't land that fish it was still a great day, sometimes you meet someone truly enjoyable while fishing".
I was stunned into silence by his compliment. I continued to gather my gear and when I was done I held my hand out to him once again, this time in farewell. I told him "It has been a good day, thanks for the good conversations. Tight Lines and may we meet again".
As I started to drive home I thought maybe I should have asked his last name and if I could Facebook him. I am a fishing blogger after all and never even mentioned my blog to him. Sometimes I turn my radio off when I drive and this when one of those times. I took my long ride home to think about some of the people I have crossed paths with or became friends with simply due to fishing.
When my wife arrived home from work she asked me "how was your day?"
I replied "Great, I met this really nice guy on the river"
She started to laugh at me, then asked "do I have anything to worry about?"
Sometimes! I tell you, she says the darnedest things. I jokingly replied "he was cute, but I think he said he has a girlfriend. That was too bad he had some good fishing gear". We both chuckled at that. I can say the darnedest things as well.
The good day and my reminiscent drive home gave me the idea for this post. I wanted to thank the people who I have me in person or on the internet through fishing, or other friends whom I have fished with as a youth and others who have moved on. Some I may never fish with or even see again.
First I would like to thank my father, Frank Nedza, who first put a pole in my hands and then took me on many excursions to small ponds and lakes near where I grew up. Most recently when I went to California and fished with his girlfriend Sheryl Mayhew and her son Doug.
My step father, Herb Frohlich, knew little about fishing. He took me out with my uncle Chuck to a pay trout lake often.There are no trout streams in northern Illinois! He even took me on a fishing birthday party.
Some of my longest fishing friends have been Doug Trolian and Chuck Miller. We seemed to find any pond or creek. I still pass by small ponds and say "I wonder if there are any fish in there". In the fall of 2011 I had the pleasure of bringing chuck and his son Nathan to the Pere Marquette to fish with me and my son. It was a fun time had by all. We need to do that again and get Doug to come as well.
As I entered high school, the call of the water was still strong in me. I would gaze out the window of my class room thinking of where I was going to fish after school. Some times with Chuck and/or Doug. My summers I started to spend with a nephew of my mom's best friend. Me and Mark Sheptock fished everywhere we could in lakes and pond and it was with Mark that I caught my first Skamania, not just one, but two 14 pound beautiful fish I had fallen in love with at first sight. His mother and step-father were avid anglers as well. My grandparents had moved to Michigan and I met another good friend Doug Duther who I had shared many, many fishing experiences with.
One summer while visiting my grandparents I had the honor of being first mate on a charter boat in Grand Haven called the Shut-R-Bug owned by Paul Strobel. I didn't do it for the money because I earned nothing except the experience.
Mark Schwandt and Craig Herron were close friends I fished with many times before I moved to Michigan. We would blast heavy metal on my boom box and fish for carp or bullheads.
Compared to living in the south suburbs of Chicago, Michigan was a fisherman's paradise. So many fish and so little time!
Having spent many summers at my grandparents have given me some good places to start and I met many others who showed me new spots to try as well. I ended up buying a fishing boat with my high school buddy Jeff Leffew and spent many on the water.
In college I had less time to fish, but still made a few trips for steelhead with Mark Williams or made a few casts in the ponds behind the Charles Holman's apartment. Another high school friend became hooked on fishing as well some time after college and we spent many trips on the Pere Marquette River with Bart Shumaker.
I am a river fisherman at heart, she is my mistress after all. It took me a few years to learn about some excellent spots to go I took others to new places as well. It feels to me like a pay it forward sort of thing, hoping that the person I showed a kindness too would return one on the river to another angler or friend, plus the companionship of spending time on the river is always extremely rewarding.
Friends I have made at my workplace have provided me with many great memories and conversations. Phil Maguire, Kevin Chambers, Scott Johnson, Dustin Peck, Dean Heyboyer, Ryan Figger, Jeff Miller, Pete Alfaro, Todd Snyder, Kevin Alpers, John Bronkema, Dean VanderBok are some of the many fisherman I have crossed lines with or may in the future.
The internet and Facebook has brought me back into contact with many of my old fiends or introduced me to new ones. Herb Theodore is one such example and through him I have met Matt Larkin . The three of us initially chose to stand up for the Grand River which is now a group called Grand River Future Vision. The Grand Rapids Steelheaders, too many to list, and Josh Smith have stood up as well to join the fight.
There are others I have had some great conversation or communication with through Facebook whom I may or may not cast a line with at some time, but I hope to if the opportunity ever presents itself. Some are local others much farther away: Ashley Rae, Al James, Jason Tucker, April Vokey, Derek DeYoung, AD Maddox, Becca Schlafff, Rebekka Redd, TC Burgess, Corey Vansparrentak, Brian Kozminski, Carrie Cartwright, Kristin Dunn & Kimber Roberts. The list may grow as well.
I would like to sincerely thank everyone listed for spending time on the water with me at some time or even just to talk about and share adventures, techniques, or places to fish. Thank You So Very Much! Especially my best bud and fishing partner, my son, Jared Nedza.
Remember the next person you might see on the water could become a life long friend or maybe just as I mentioned above, a stranger who you share a similar passion with to share the day with
Tight Lines and a Merry Christmas to you all!