Clear Morning at Big Bass Lake

Often mornings at Big Bass Lake had a low fog hanging over the lake for a few hours. One aspect I haven’t mentioned much about our early morning routine was on getting the water for the days meals. In the 1970’s all our camping trip drinking water came directly from Big Bass Lake. However, water purification tablets were added to each jug of water that was pulled from the lake prior to drinking it.

The jug was used to fill canteens for hikes and when the boys drew the water from the lake they were to stand perfectly still for several minutes allowing the sand they had stirred up to settle back on the bottom. Then the jugs were filled and Helazone Tablets added and then the jugs were set aside for several hours.

On a trip with the Marion Boys Club the same boys were used each day to fulfill this purpose so they would get it right each time. Water for any given meal was fully boiled to take out the impurities. Never once on any trip did any boy get sick from water that was not treated prior to drinking it.

Water could be drank from area rivers such as the Little Manistee and the Pere Marquette as in those days the water from there was pure. I’m not sure if the same could be said for that today.

River Tubing

I enjoy River  Tubing even more than tubing on the lake. With lake tubing you need a boat to tow you but on a river, the currrent moves you. My river of choice is the little Manistee River. It is a cold and refreshing river that takes you along at a good pace. But always take others with you just in case of an accident. Also know your route well. Then sit back  and let the river do the work for you . 

Little Manistee Kayaking

 You probably heard me mention Driftwood Valley and bear track before as they are stopovers on the little Manistee River. This river is a challenge to me as constant attention must be given. There are so many twists and turns to this River and one must be constantly aware of what you’re doing or you’ll wind up in the river bank. The river is ice cold nearly year round and a good current to it. Just past bear track the river picks up its pace a bit to the point where you can almost call them Rapids. Eventually the river winds up in Manistee. Even though I know it’s December I can look forward to a scene like this in a few months.

The Little Manistee River Near Bear Track

On one of our side trips, I took the Marion Boys Club kids to Beartrack on the Little Manistee River. It’s a River about as cold as Lake Michigan and a rather swift current as well. Right before lunch, Jeff Andrews was balancing on a log when he flipped over into the river. He was soaking wet so I suggested swimming before lunch. Jeff shouted about something big in his shirt. Jeff had caught a fish so we had it for lunch too.

Charles fell in the same as Jeff did but no fish. I think he felt cheated. After about an hour the boys came up for lunch. Jeff got his fish and hot dogs while the rest had either hot dogs or burgers. Then we had a sort hike before heading back to our property about eight miles away.

The Little Manistee River- Part Two

A good canonist or one that handles a kayak well should always be aware of the obstacles that exist just below the surface of  the water on the Little Manistee River.  Just as you see here, these two kayakers are avoiding the obstacles in the river by going around them rather than over them.  One good thing about this river is its clarity.  Unlike some murky rivers in other states the Little Manistee River is clear all the way to the bottom making obstacles easy to spot.

So enjoy your excursions on this river but always be vigil to the dangers that are found just below the surface.

This would be heaven on earth for me living so close to the Little Manistee.  Imagine!  All I’d need to do is step out my front door and walk a few feet to start fishing.  Darlene would need to set up a garden and an access road to the property would be the final touch of perfection.  Maybe some day this will become a reality.

Among the many species of fish found in the Little Manistee River, one of the more popular is te Steelhead.  It is mighty tastng eating and a challenge to snare.  What might be your favorite type of fish in this river?

I’ve always loved the coloring of this river. It appears somewhat dirty but nothing could be further from the truth. I know that in the 1970s I could just lean over my canoe and get a cool drink. Is it that clean now? I still believe it is.  If not, just fill your canteen and add a few water purification tablets and you’re good to go!

There are places like this where you can almost step over the Little Manistee River and just examine how green this area is at this time of year.  It almost looks like the Garden of Eden itself!  I’ll wager that there are a few trout in that river that would look mighty good in my fry pan tonight.

I wonder if this area of the river could take a canoe going down it or if it would soon be portage time?

I find it fascinating how the cool green colors correspond to the brownish waters of the Little Manistee. 

This photograph is a perfect example of all the twists and turns of the Little Manistee River. If you will follow each turn in this picture you will see what I mean. Yes, there are straight-aways but there are far more turns in this river than one can count. If you canoe this river, be prepared for them.

The Little Manistee River- Part One

For me and my wife, Darlene, I don’t think there’s any more glorious location in Michigan than the Little Manistee River. While I fish for trout, steelhead, or salmon, depending on the season, my wife photographs and sketches the area. Talk about a marriage made in heaven! At times, when the salmon is running all one needs is a stout club or fishing net as no rod ss required. Salmon run, thick as thieves, through this water and are found in such abundance already my mouth is watering for the catch of the day!

In the fall I enjoy hiking the pathways along the Little Manistee with Darlene. I even do a little hunting on the side for deer at those times. This river snakes its way through the Manistee National Forest from east to west and covers a great many counties along its way. The scenery is always topped just around the next bend from what you are now seeing.

I even enjoy camping alongside this river and some of my favorite areas are known as Beartrack and Driftwood Valley. We get in some good fishing and have a time telling yarns around the campfire at night.

Canoeing this river is my passion however I have also used a kayak on occasion. My friend Jack says he uses a rowboat but since rowers have their back to wha’s coming up, I don’t find that method of travel feasible in the least. The reason why is that the river is very swift and obstacles are upon you before you know it. Thus your vision has to be forward and not backwards.

More coming your way tomorrow!

Tent Camping on the Little Manistee River

Mike and I are finally back in Michigan for a few weeks and I promised him 2 days of tent camping which ends this afternoon. The first day it felt like Arizona here except for the high humidity. I’ll be glad to get back to the motel. Mike’s been busy fishing and I’ve been busy cleaning. I’ve forgotten how good Michigan fish taste. I haven’t forgotten about how horrible the mosquitoes are here. We’ve done some hiking together and have basically had a good time. At my age I prefer Motel sleeping To tent sleeping any day of the week. The Little Manistee is a beautiful River though. Both of us waded into the cold water and it felt great. The nights have been cool but comfortable. Tomorrow we head for a few days in Ludington and some civilized living. I’ll report to you from there.

A Diversion to Beartrack

On our camping trips to our property, some names of places seemed to evoke some fear in the boys. The Haunted House on Haunted Island or The Bloody Antler Trail carried fear within their very names. Take the Haunted Island, for example. That entity the boys could see from our wooded beach front the moment they arrived as it literally stared them in the face as they set up the tents. One of our many side trips was to Beartrack which was a camping area along the Little Manistee River.

Since it was located in the heart of the Manistee National Forest the boys equated that area with bears by its very name itself. On this particular trip with the Salesian Boys Club, it had rained nearly every day. Yet the fearful name Beartrack was about to dissolve away as the boys instead shed their shoes and socks and had the time of their life in a splash war.

The boys instantly became aware of how cold that river was as it neary matched Lak Michigan in temperature. Thy also noticed how swift the river ran even though they were in shallow water. Getting their feet out of their hot shoes and socks must have felt great as they hit the icy water. Before they knew it, they were all swimming and having a great time. The name, “Beartrack”, now meant a place of fun over that of a name to be frightened over.

What they had learned that day was not to be fearful in a name itself as no bears were to be found that day. Well, at least they had not seen any bears. Hmmm?

One Night Trip To Beartrack

The Mishawaka Boys Club spent a one nighter at a primitive campsite known as Beartrack. It is located on the Little Manistee River. Our five boys fished, swam, had splash wars, and hiked for that day. For water, there was a water pump on site. We arrived in the area just before lunch.

We had a great time cooking our meals and had a fun campfire that night. I’m planning an afternoon outing there this fall. Great place!

Living on the Banks of the Little Manistee River

Wow!  If my wife Darlene would let me, I would buy a parcel of land on the Little Manistee River and almost be in heaven!  Fishing year round would become prt of my daily life as I would only have to go out my back door to cast in a line.  Or I could put in my canoe anytime and move about this marvelous river.  And, in te good old summetime, we could both refresh ourselves in the icy waters of this river.

Darlene could paint pictures of this area to her hearts content without ever having to travel about to do the same thing now.  But she loves her large garden where we live now just outside Scottville, Michigan.  She would hate to leave that so for now I can dream about owning a place on that river.  The river looks a little high today as it must have raied a lot. 

Can you imagine the salmon running this stream at that time of the year?  Makes my mouth water!  Maybe, just maybe, some day this will become a reality.  Maybe?

Sidetrip to Driftwood Valley

About seven miles off our property was a campsite called Driftwood Valley. It was a campground for campers right next to the Little Manistee River. Just down the road from Driftwood Valley was another campsite by the name of Beartrack.

On our rainy trip with the Salesian Boys Club out of Columbus, Ohio, one of our trips was to Driftwood Valley but the kids were not interested in the campsite per se, but rather the Little Manistee River. They took off their shoes and socks and waded into the icy waters. This river has a swift current so the kids had to watch their balance.

Whitey Meier took out his fishing pole and began to try out his luck standing almost in the middle of the shallow river. Within a few minutes the kids had to give way to two canoes who were making their way downstream. Two of the boys jumped into the river and tried to swim upstream with varying success. One of the boys said it was like swimming without getting anywhere.

We stayed at this location most of that morning with an off and on sprinkle. Of course, when kids are in a river, a gentle rainfall is water off their backs so to speak. They had a great time that morning and Whitey caght three fish which we cooked up later that day back at our campsite.

Oh, yes, this is the area in which the kids were involved most of that morning. One of the boys noted that his feet never felt as refreshed as they did that morning as this river is just about as cold as Lake Michigan. Hot Dogs and Hostess Snowballs were consumed for lunch before we headed back to Big Bass Lake.