As It Happened On 12/11/01
I met with Capt. John King quite early this
morning. I wanted to see if he was really as good as I heard he was,
and if he was worth the dough he charged. Being a avid reader of his website
since it's inception and I wanted to check out Capt. John's T-4 Flatfish program on
the Big Manistee River to establish the fact, is it really that good?
Upon meeting him I was immediately taken with his strikingly handsome good
looks and his warm confident, reassuring smile. In fact, he bore an
uncanny resemblance to Mel Gibson! Plus, he had the appearance
of a extremely knowledgeable guide, as he expertly and single handily launched his
RiverMaster Jet-Boat in the river around 8:00am.
Being a very frosty morning, Capt. John lit the heater in the boat and
began sharing his vast intelligence on the how's and where-to-fore's of river
Steelheading. It was decided right off the bat, to only run 2 rods
to give the fish a fair chance, then as the Captain was pouring me a hot
cup of java, the number 1 rod took a violent jerk downwards into the
Now, it was all or nothing, me one on one with a rampaging bad boy culprit, full
of his rich fall skin tones. Capt. John, with the wisdom of Solomon educated
me in a hurry of how to correctly apply the right amount pressure and
gently steer the fish away from the snags, that covered the entire
river. After about a 10 minute skirmish, he causally slid the net
under the gorgeous 9 pound male with crimson-red gill
plates. It was
decided to box my first Steelhead of the outing at 8:15am.
After a brief respite and untangling the lure from the net, we were back in business
setting rods again. I was amazed at John's clear explanations and
how easy it was for me to follow his magnificent instructions. As I
was pondering the sheer splendor of the meandering river, the same rod sprang to life
with even a larger Steelie than the first one. This was a heavy
fish, full of vim, vigor and exceptional vitality. My angry adversary's
first skyward leap was at least
3 feet. I was in for a vicious brawl with an exceptionally large,
wicked "Ironhead," then disaster happened.......it swam into a snag!
No problem, Capt. John said, just relieve some of the pressure and the
fish will probably swim clear of the troubled snag infested area.
Now, this was a absolute genius at work! Sure enough, heeding his terrific
tip, the Steelhead was back on direct drive (clearing the tanglement),
as I patiently gained back the 100 feet of line that I lost. At 8:40am I
felt the thrill of victory, as he netted our second whopper of the
day. The fish was a delightfully colored hook-jawed
male that pushed the 12 pound mark.
This was to good to be true! 2 fish in such a hurry my head was swimming,
then the astounding Capt. John re-tuned the T-4 Flatfish and re-positioned
the river boat further upstream. Running only 2 rods it was decided
to switch from the watermelon to a darker shade of copper, because of
light penetration, at least that's what John's idea was.
Thinking of the peace and tranquility, due to the outstanding scenery, the
rod that was just changed over, took a thunderous jar with line peeling
downstream against a stout drag. Before I could even remove the rod from the holder, a 8
pound hen exploded all the surface of the Big Manistee River.
Excitement filled my veins, the ensuing battle was on! Me and my
third Steelhead of the morning before 9am.........incredible! This
fish fought with a dogged determination and by no means, planned on giving
up on it's aerial antics. It splashed water all over, disturbing the
quiet flow of the river. After a lengthy free-for-all, I could see
the Capt. John's ultra-professional coaching was taking it's toll on the
By 9:10am we netted our third Steelhead of the morning, and I was informed
that 3 fish was a river limit. Not being greedy, we released the courageous
hen back to the depths of the river, and decided to quit while we were
ahead. 3 for 3, was our total efforts for the hour and 15 minutes I
spent with Capt. John King on the Big Manistee River.
I've spent a lot of time with other guides and captains over my many years
as a Michigan fisherman and seldom do you run across someone as conversant
in all areas, as Capt. King. Oh yeah, he was worth the money he
charged and I conveyed the fact, he should even consider raising his
"all too" reasonable rates.
I'm willing to bet, by now you figured
out, I was the only one on the boat this morning. The parts about
the fishing are absolutely true, the stuff about me might be a slight embellishment!
On a more serious note, words today can't describe the
enjoyment I experienced today. Being connected with the great
outdoors was a re-affirmation to the sport I've spent my life at trying to
perfect......fishing. It's easy in the charter business to loose
sight of the total gratification of just
I'd like to offer my gratitude to Mr. Steelhead for
cooperating today and demonstrating what a
truly majestic gamefish is!