Father Marquette was the 17th Century Kilroy. As a French Jesuit, he explored the Great Lakes and left his name on a college, a few towns and counties, a defunct railroad and a river. I’ve always liked the sound of Pere Marquette and on Wednesday got a chance to canoe and fish the stream. Leaving home a little before 6 AM, I picked up Lee and we drove north, stopping in Baldwin to pick up permits and arrange for someone to shuttle my truck. The Pere Marquette is a popular river; evident by this outfitter who had have had a hundred canoes. And he’s only one of three outfitters working out of Baldwin. But Wednesday wasn’t going to be busy on the river as the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms.
We got to Bowman Bridge, our launching point, about 9:30 AM. The mosquitoes were out in force and we wasted no time unloading the canoe and storing gear. In a few minutes, we were in the water. By the first bend of the river, the smell of wild onions overwhelmed us. For the next eight hours, we saw all kinds of birds and animals. Great Blue Herons guided us downriver. A young beaver was seen, splashing the water with his tail to warn of our approach. I spotted a muskrat and a doe and her young speckled fawn climbing a steep bank as we rounded a bend. We even saw a few turtles up on a log; we’d seen a lot more if the sun was out. Not long after we started, I hooked a small rainbow trout on a spinner. We’d catch a few more throughout the day, but didn’t set any fishing records. Occasionally it sprinkled, but it never down-poured and mostly the skies held their water, allowing us a wonderful day. Well, it was almost a wonderful day.
We had a mishap. I hate to admit it. I've been canoeing since I was 12 and have owned a canoe since I was 16. It’s been nearly 15 years since I had a mishap, but we were fishing in rather fast water and not paying attention to where we were going. Without knowing it, the boat was swept under a tree that had fallen into the river. The tree pushed down the port gunnel till water slipped in over the side. I dropped my rod down across the thwarts, grabbed a paddle, but it was too late; we had water in the boat and were caught in the brush. Trying to work the boat out, we took on more water and both had to get out of the boat and work it to shore. Although the boat stayed upright, my rods got knocked into the water and some of the gear floated downstream. We retrieved the gear and I found my fly rod fairly quickly, but in thirty minutes of searching fast, chest deep water, did not come up with my spinning rod. I’m going to miss that reel, a small British-made ultra-light.
Later in the day, I began to notice more mayflies and, since I no longer had a spinning rod, tossed out a fly. But the trout didn’t seem to be any more interested in my artificial fly than they were with the natural variety. I only saw a few trout come to the surface to feast off the mayflies. Lee was able to catch a couple more trout on spinners, but after losing my rod, I was skunked. We got to our landing at Sulak a bit before 6 PM and headed home.
For dinner, we stopped at Bob Evans for dinner. We had a young waiter with a lot more exuberance then intellect. I asked for eggs benedict (they serve breakfast all day) and he asked how I wanted my eggs prepared. Poached, I responded. “I don’t think we can do that,” he said. “What,” I asked, “how else do you prepare eggs benedict?” He went back to the kitchen and sure enough, they don’t poach eggs in this restaurant that specializes in breakfast. I ordered a sandwich and made a mental note to avoid Bob Evans in the future. I got home around 10 PM.
Softball Update. We played our first game last night and easily beat the Baptists, 17 to 8. Our first game was to be Tuesday and it was rained out. I can’t say I did that great. In my usual fashion, I caught one running shoestring catch and missed another ball hit right to me. At bat, I walked a couple of times and got a single and popped out and grounded out.