Four hours of driving and by eight Saturday morning I was standing in the Muskegon River just outside of Newago, Michigan. The Muskegon River begins at Houghten Lake 227 miles to the northeast and the water washing around my waders was trying to push me downstream.
I hooked into a nice salmon and felt the force of the fish coupled with the current being channeled through my line and into the resisting drag of my reel. The line played out and the drag whined and then the big fish turned and came at me. I cranked out slack as quickly as I could, but I was no match for the speed of the fish. He came so close to my foot, I could have kicked him, but then he veered past me and when the line re-tightened the hook tore out and he was gone.
I wound in my line and waded to shore where I found a seat on a large boulder. The river, clear and strong, rushed by and sunlight streaked through a scrim of mist as I sat and waited for my heart to slow down.
I headed back to camp, struggled out of my waders and set up my tent. I was the only one in camp this Saturday morning as my schedule had forced me to come a week ahead of most of the regulars. The owners of the property, Dan and Bonnie Klosterman, rolled in about noon and then Tim Madru and his wife, Loretta showed up.
Dan and I sat and talked for awhile about the history of this place. The first settlers came to lumber the virgin white pine that grew in Newaygo forests.
As early as 1837 Newaygo loggers were floating logs to market and Newaygo County lumber was used to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871. The river hides sunken logs that had broken away from the other rafts of felled trees and now mostly submerged, they stand sentry over the great river.
By late Sunday, it was time for me to head back to Waynedale. Although I had hooked three fish, I failed to land any.
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