Rain and a bit of a warm-up in the forecast but we are on the very cusp of December when the serious Christmas stuff starts rolling out and this weekend has a bunch. We at N3 World Headquarters (aka 'Bronners West' during Christmas time) have immersed ourselves in the Christmas spirit (via being exposed to a steady stream of Hallmark movies) and soon a new page dedicated to the holidays will emerge for a limited run.
Ok, maybe it’s still November but the Newaygo Christmas Walk will be going on Friday evening as the streets of the downtown area close down and the myriad of intriguing shops open up. This is always one of those ‘must dos’ this time of year and the downtown merchants put on their best to welcome visitors, wandering carolers deliver inspiring song, chestnuts roast on an open fire most years and the festive nature of the season is captured as folks mingle about with friends and neighbors.
Oh, and the wise men are back on the hill so all's right with the world.
Runner? Walker? Supporter of the Newaygo Cross Country Team? Out looking for a way to kick start a December Saturday?
All or part of the above?
The Annual St. Nick Kick is Saturday morning beginning at 10am so if you haven’t registered yet and want to do your part in supporting our youthful runners there is same day registration. 5K, 10K and, the choice of those of us at N3 World Headquarters, the one mile walk, are the options. N3 has covered this event since its inception and it has grown into a festive kind of happening combining a little competitiveness with some healthy, outside, winter fun.
And we know it doesn’t officially start until the 21st (at 5:23pm to be exact) but hey, look outside.
On Saturday head north for more holiday fun as Christmas in the Cloud kicks off at noon and runs until 4pm. Lots of family friendly activities, wagon rides, music, games and, of course, Santa. From there if you’ve not had your holiday fill you can travel over to Camp Newaygo where they will be hosting Santa and S’mores Saturday from 4-8pm.
Star of Bethlehem
One of the coolest places around is the Kropscott Farm. Ned Hughes sent us this missive about an interesting program they have going this weekend.
“Ever stand amazed at the vastness of the universe or wonder how the sky looked on the night Jesus was born. And who were those wise men and where did they call home?
“Then, come join the Newaygo County Dark Sky Astronomers at the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center Barn Demonstration Area and explore the sky as it would have looked to the shepherds 2000+ years ago.”
Presentations are 7pm Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday.
Cost: Adults/children: $5; children under 2 years: free
Coffee, hot chocolate and cookies will be available for a nominal fee
A drawing will be held for a small telescope at the conclusion of the Sunday December 2nd, program! Participants DO NOT have to be present to win!
Certainly bears checking out.
In the mood for some bluegrass music? Studio 37 in downtown Newaygo is hosting The Journeymen on Saturday starting at 7pm. Veterans of the annual Luthiers concert might recognize the fiddler. Isaac Smith has been wowing folks since he took the stage at the Luthiers as a preteen more than a decade ago and he has, of course, only gotten better. Isaac is just one of the talented troupe of artists that create the Journeymen.
Well worth a listen or two.
Celebrate the season with one of the world's most acclaimed fiddlers! Playing traditional Celtic and Christmas music, Eileen Ivers: Joyful Christmas will be a holiday experience you will not want to miss! Eileen Ivers will perform at the Dogwood Center on Thursday, December 13 at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage.
Eileen Ivers will change the way you think about the violin. Grammy awarded, Emmy nominated, London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, guest starred with over 40 orchestras, original Musical Star of Riverdance, Nine Time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion, Sting, Hall and Oates, The Chieftains, 'Fiddlers 3' with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Regina Carter, Patti Smith, Al Di Meola, Steve Gadd, founding member of Cherish the Ladies, movie soundtracks including Gangs of New York, performed for Presidents and Royalty worldwide…this is a short list of accomplishments, headliners, and tours. Fiddler Eileen Ivers has established herself as the pre-eminent champion of the Irish fiddle in the world today.
It is a rare and select grade of spectacular artists whose work is so boldly imaginative and clearly virtuosic that it alters the medium. She's been called a "sensation" by Billboard magazine and "the Jimi Hendrix of the violin" by The New York Times. Ivers' recording credits include over 80 contemporary and traditional albums and numerous movie scores. Eileen is one of the great innovators and pioneers in the Celtic, World and Americana music genres.
Bring the family and celebrate this holiday season at the Dogwood! The presenting sponsors of Eileen Ivers: Joyful Christmas at the Dogwood Center are HS&C Wealth Management - a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. and H&S Companies.
Tickets are $25.00 and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Small Business Saturday is squeezed between the feverishly frantic Black Friday and the search centered spirit of Cyber Monday in hopes of drawing out those who have long since tired of malls, big box stores, crowds, traffic and, should sustenance be part of the plan, the opportunity to hear the words ‘40 minute wait” at any place you might truly want to dine at.
Having spent many seasons touting the benefits of shopping small the staff at N3 are big fans of the enterprises our region has to offer. In the coming weeks we will be shining a spotlight on several as we offer up some shopping tips, uncover a few surprises and stretch the imagination a bit when it comes to gifting options.
In the meantime….
Whether you’re cruising to the one of our metro neighbors or checking out the scene at one or two of the cornucopia of Christmas craft sales populating the region, or showing a little community cohesion by visiting a few of our fine local shops, take time to patronize one of our local eateries.
Our area is teeming with options that rarely involve the kind of wait you’re going to find in the places along Alpine Ave or in a mall area. Downtown Newaygo alone has 5-6 options depending on whether or not you want to make a meal out of jerky, Fremont has local alternatives to the burgers, pizza and Mexican food at their chain shops and going through Grant can get you some serious brisket.
Grab A Local Bite is our theme for this weekend. In all likelihood you’re going to be bit ‘turkeyed out’ at some point and while a return to the bird in the form of ala king or biscuits and gravy looms likely we find a break in the action can increase its desirability in round three or four.
So breakfast, lunch, dinner or maybe just a stop for a brew and a bite, whatever your taste buds might be suggesting after a day of keeping the economy rolling.
But do indeed grab that local bite
The Braunschweiger Blues Band is playing at the Dogwood's Black Box Saturday night but if you ain’t got tickets you ain’t going. It’s been sold out for a bit but as a reminder there are two terrific shows coming to the Dogwood in December.
Baffling Bill spins some Christmas Magic on stage Friday, December 7th and fiddler extraordinaire Eileen Ivers delivers some of her own enchantment with her “Joyful Christmas” show celebrating the story of Christmas through some rather remarkable music on Thursday the 13th.
Check them out at:
Runner’s Fix Book Review
By Alexis Mercer
For the past 13 years, Mike Swinger has been a Physical Therapist who has seen and treated countless patients for a vast variety of injuries and pain. Much of the pain, he found, was coming from runners who had similar stories in how they got to the point of injury.
So Swinger decided to do something about that in order to better serve a wider number of people: he wrote a book called Runner’s Fix.
Two years ago I was introduced to Mike as he presented at the MITCA (Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association) clinic at the conclusion of the cross country season. He talked about injury prevention techniques and how to incorporate these techniques into our everyday activities as coaches.
After leaving the clinic, I started following Mike on Facebook and Twitter (@mikerunphys). He was putting out weekly information to assist people like me, as both a runner myself and also a coach of runners, learn to prevent common running injuries. I tuned in to many Wednesday night Facebook Live sessions to see the exercises first hand.
Mike Swinger is an incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and kind man who goes above and beyond to make the information he puts out to people as specific as possible to the inquiries he receives. He presents the information in a way that is easy to understand, but has the training and background to make it as technical as the audience needs.
This year Swinger returned to MITCA to present in multiple sessions. I attended each of them and furiously took notes, recorded videos and soaked in as much information as I possibly could from him. He also brought with him copies of his new book that just came out at the beginning of November.
I was able to purchase a copy of the book from Mike and also caught up with him to ask him some questions about why he wrote it and what he hopes to accomplish with the content.
If you are a runner of any ability level, I recommend this book without hesitation. I also recommend that you follow each and every social media outlet for RunPhys. Your body will thank you.
For our readers to hear your background, do you have any connection to Newaygo County?
My brother lives in Fremont and owns a drivers education business, Compass Driving School. I spent a week in Baldwin a couple summers helping to run a day camp. I grew up in Comstock Park, Kent County.
What drives you to do the job you do?
Injuries in high school significantly affected my participation in sports. I'm convinced that if I'd had good PT in those days, my career would have been a lot different.
Why runners in particular? Where did that passion/interest come from?
After college, participating in team sports became increasingly difficult. Running and triathlons became more interesting due to having many patients who were into both, as well as having several coaches request that I come speak to their teams about injury prevention. Once I started down the path myself, I became hooked!
Why did you decide to write a book?
I've visited XC camps for several years and performed hundreds of quick screenings on athletes. Patterns of dysfunction would often emerge, so I found myself giving the same recommendations to a lot of individuals. With prompting from one of the coaches in particular, he and I both felt that a book would be a good resource to address those common patterns. Essentially arming the coach or individual with tools to look after themselves. Also, there are too many "experts" out there giving lousy advice. I couldn't sit back and not contribute more reliable information.
Who do you hope the book reaches?
Runners of all levels, middle school through adult weekend warriors, high level collegiate and competitive athletes.
What is your favorite stretch/strengthening exercise of all those explained in the book? Pigeon pose and quad stretches are my favorite stretches, twisty superman squats and spot jumps are favorite strengthening exercises.
Where can people buy it?
On Amazon (Editor’s Note: I have included a link below)
Where else can people find you?
My website RunPhys.com
Social Media @mikerunphys on Twitter and Facebook, @runphys on Instagram
Do you run?
Yes, usually a half marathon and a couple triathlons, several 5ks every year
I think your book is unique because it is helping people to prevent seeing you! Usually people try to make MORE money by keeping their preventative techniques secret so potential patients would have to come in to the office to see them. What makes you different and willing to share the "secrets"?
Great question! With the cost of healthcare rising and people with higher deductibles, I felt that this book would provide them an option for taking care of themselves without having to see me. Also, I think many people experience pain, but aren't sure whether it's worth going to see their doctor about. My hope is that if someone isn't sure, they can follow the suggestions in the book, and if it works then they have their question answered. If they aren't able to take care of it themself, then they can be confident that they've tried their best and now they do need an expert's opinion.
You can order your copy of Runner’s Fix today on Amazon:
By Alexis Mercer
I noticed today as I was perusing Instagram that the #RWrunstreak starts tomorrow. The writers and staff of Runner’s World have promoted the concept of running a minimum of 1 mile a day each day from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.
I’ve never been a run streak kind of girl. Some people I know refer to it as consecutive days (CDs) rather than run streak. During marathon training I only ran five days a week. I felt like I needed (and enjoyed) two days a week of rest.
But I’m not training for a marathon right now. Instead I’ve been enjoying four days a week of varying distances at my leisure.
I’m contemplating running the Fremont Frostbite in February. I ran it last year and though my partner in running crime is dealing with a hip injury, so she won’t be running with me, I’d like to support a local cross country team by participating.
I’d also like to run in the ChoiceOne Bank St. Nick Kick at Newaygo High School on December 1st (shameless plug), but I am the race director, so taking off for a 5k or 10k (or 1 mile walk/run) doesn’t really fly with Santa’s Elves!
Which puts me in need of a shorter term goal.
I think I’ll streak!
Who is with me?
The basics are simple. Every day from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day you run at least one mile. That’s it! No required pace. No warm up or cool down or speed days or anything complicated. Just bundle up and enjoy the crisp, cool (ok fine downright cold) air 1 mile a day at a time.
In order to prove my participation, I’ll post a selfie - or at least a picture of my snowy shoes - after I’m done each day on Twitter (@LuckyMercer12 is the handle). I’ll use three hashtags with each of these posts:
I’ll tag Near North Now in each post along with posting the distance I ran. If you’d like to join in on the fun - use those hashtags! I’d love to see N3 readers on run streaks of their own.
This is all last minute (nothing like a last minute, spur of the moment decision), so if you see this a day or two or seven late but still want to start, don’t hesitate. Join in when you can!
I’m hoping this will be a different kind of challenge to get me outside every day, my body moving, and my mind refreshed during the sometimes hectic holiday season.
Herpolsheimer’s Child Passenger Train on Display this Holiday Season at the Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids – The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced that this holiday season, visitors to the Museum can enjoy a community favorite on display – the Herpolsheimer’s Child Passenger Train. The Train will be on display from Saturday, November 17 through January 18 with the Museums holiday décor and displays.
The Herpolsheimer’s Child Passenger Train is instantly recognizable to any baby-boomer resident of Grand Rapids. They remember riding in the train high above the toy department at the Herpolsheimer’s Department Store, which sat at the corner of Fulton and Division streets in downtown Grand Rapids. The monorail train debuted as “Santa’s Rocket Express” when the new Herpolsheimer’s Department Store opened in in 1949.
After passing through the hands of multiple department stores that succeeded Herpolsheimer’s, the train entered the Museum’s Collection in 2000 with a jungle-themed paint job. The Herpolsheimer’s Child Passenger Train was gifted to the Museum’s Collection by The Peter F. Secchia Family.
In 2010, the GRPM contracted with David Winick to begin restoration of the train to its original theme. Using a December 1955 Life magazine photo as his guide, Winick removed the rocket nose added in the 1960s and replaced it with a replica of the original 1949 nose. As multiple layers of paint were removed, the original colors were exposed. The GRPM and Winick were able to complete the restoration of all three cars thanks to funds raised by community members at the Museum’s Collections & Cocktails event in the spring of 2018.
“We’re pleased to have this old favorite on display this holiday season,” said Dale Robertson, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. “As the keeper of the community’s treasures and history, it is our job to preserve them and make them available to the public. We hope families will visit the Museum this holiday season to take a walk down memory lane.”
The Herpolsheimer’s Child Passenger Train will be on display on the first floor of the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Van Andel Museum Center, and will be included with general admission to the Museum.
Seven years ago, when Grant Public Schools first implemented language immersion as an option for families, there were many questions. Yet, one certainty in the start of this new program was the district’s dedication to creating bilingual learners who would be able to capitalize on opportunities to learn, create, and demonstrate their abilities in the target language.
As former students of the Grant Dual Immersion program have moved into the middle school, one challenge has been finding continued opportunities for them to use their bilingual skills in meaningful ways. As a response to this growing need, the district launched another unique program that would challenge these students to continue their love of language learning. In collaboration with the Fremont Area Community Foundation, Grant Public Schools is eager to present the first production of its Spanish Theater Club.
After months of learning, rehearsing, designing, constructing and fine-tuning the most intricate details of theater, two dozen 4th, 5th and 6th grade students are excited to perform Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant entirely in Español. Please join us as these brave young ladies and gentlemen put aside typical preadolescent apprehension in regards to public performance to bring our community this very rare and exciting opportunity.
What: Oscar Wilde’s El gigante egoísta
When: December 6th at 6pm
Where: Grant Fine Arts Center – 331 East State Road, Grant, MI
Although the play will be performed entirely in Spanish, the students have worked diligently to assure that English “supertitles” be featured above the stage for all of our mono-lingual friends!
Ok things are busying up what with it being right on the cusp of the holiday season and just days away from the four-day-food-and-shopping extravaganza known as Thanksgiving weekend. Man, where does the time go?
So down to it.
If you have never been on one of the epicurean expeditions Chef T. has commandeered in Croton you have not truly experienced dining in Newaygo County.
Her dinners are legendary and are intermingled in a most satisfying way with her narrative describing each dish and how it came to join her culinary vitae.
These feasts are held at Hit The Road Joe and you need to make reservations. They fill up quickly so if you miss out, ask to be put on their email list.
This Saturday, Nov. 17th it will be a journey to bayou country with a Cajun Dinner.
And it will not disappoint.
231.652.6020 for info.
The coolest seasonal gifting opportunity in our area tosses open their doors for a grand opening as NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont kicks off the annual Holiday Artists Market. From 10am-2pm Saturday you can browse the artful displays of a wide variety of creative items that beg to be gift wrapped by the fine folks of the Artsplace. Having always been a bit challenged by the wrapping process I stand in awe of their prowess in this area.
The Market will be open through December 29 but opening day is always fun and the transformation that has taken place to set the stage for this tasteful little treasure of a store is always worthy of a look or two.
Mary Poppins is on stage for their second weekend performances at the Grant Fine Arts Center. LionHeart does a great job with all their shows but their musicals have generally been the centerpiece
Check out the review then make plans to attend because community theater is truly a wonderful asset and deserving of our support.
If you’re going through some fireworks withdrawal….particularly if you live on a lake where you get to enjoy them popping off nearly every day all summer long….head to the center of downtown Sparta for a holiday celebration as they kick off start the Christmas season with a fireworks display at 7PM. You can view the winter illumination from the top of the bridge and parking lot near Balyeat Field and enjoy some hot chocolate and treats while mingling under the early night sky for this Santa's Sparkle light. Downtown shops will be open and apparently there’s a marshmallow roast starting at 5pm which can only mean one thing….s’mores.
The Santa Parade in Grand Rapids begins at around 8:50am Saturday morning for those who are fond enough of parades to drive into downtown GR on Saturday morning, find a place to park and good spot to stand so you can freeze your behind off and leave early to find someplace warm.
It’s also usually on tv starting at 9am so….
On Sunday at 2pm There will be a free showing of the documentary Dawnland at Loomis Lodge presented by the Native Circle of Newaygo County. I recall seeing this film and being profoundly moved by what unfolded on the screen.
Here’s an article on the event.
Lots of stuff coming up so count on us to deliver the skinny on a variety of happenings hereabouts.
America’s practically perfect favorite nanny has landed at the Grant Public Schools Fine Arts Center, and she is creating quite the stir. LionHeart Productions presents its latest fall musical, Disney’s Mary Poppins, and they have pulled out all the stops for this show. “We’ve stretched LionHeart in directions it has never tried before,” states Director Ron Jenkins. “It’s been a challenge on many fronts, but well worth it and I believe our patrons will agree.”
Disney’s Mary Poppins is based on the stories of P. L. Travers, and tell of a magical nanny who arrives just in time to save the Banks’ family from repeating the mistakes of the past. Mary Poppins is played by Annette Deaton who brings just the right amount of charm and sass to her role. Her voice is melodic and beautiful. Counter to Deaton is Mat Emerick who plays the role of the lovable chimney sweep, Burt. Mat’s experience with clowning adds just the right amount of fun and humor to his role. The Banks’ children, Michael and Jane, are played by Steven Sower and Jordyn Fortuna respectively. Their youthful voices are a nice blend with Deaton’s, and they carry themselves with every bit of professionalism.
George and Winifred Banks, Michael and Jan’s parents, are played by Mark Walters and Julia Coles. Mark plays the tight strung, conservative banker adeptly, and Julia will have your heart as the confused yet willful wife of George.
Mary Poppins sees some regular LionHeart performers return. Graydon Gesler playing the dimwitted house boy, Robertson Ay against Kathy Jenkins’ grouchy house keeper, Mrs. Brill is pure comedic gold. Sharolyn Metternich plays the “Holy Terror,” Miss Andrew as though she was born for this role, and Jack Long lends his joviality to the role of Admiral Boom. While not new to LionHeart, but new to the stage is Dana McKnight playing Miss Lark, who I might add is unfortunately upstaged by her dog, Willoughby, played by the lovable Boston Terrier, Ellie. And Kate Sower will melt your heart in her vocal role as the Bird Woman. The ensemble sees a mix of youth and adults, and are kept quite busy through the show with a minimum of five costume changes each.
Speaking of costumes, Kathy Jenkins and her crew of stichers have done a marvelous job. Truth is after the show I wondered if the costumes stole the performance. That’s all I heard about; “those costumes.” Mike Gesler’s set design is every bit a part of the show with many “special” features woven in to help bring the magic of Mary Poppins to life. The pit, directed by Courtney King, gives a wonderful performance in their own right. And the tech side, so often overlooked, adds wonderfully to all the drama and excitement.
I really do not want to give away all the secrets and wow factor that LionHeart Productions has put into this production, but suffice it to say, you will not be disappointed. Plus who doesn’t like singing along to such favorites as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Step In Time, and Chim-Chimney. Mary Poppins runs this weekend Friday, November 16 at 7:30, and Saturday, November 17 at 2:00 and 7:30. Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors. You can purchase tickets online through lionheartproductions.org, at the Fine Arts Center Box Office any day from 3:00-6:00 pm, or on the day of the performance.
By Charles Chandler
Many Newaygo County fishermen think November is about the perfect month for chasing steelhead. The oaks and maples along the river are showing off their fall colors, and on a given day the weather can still be pleasant. The eagles, hawks, and waterfowl are not as spooky and the river appears be slowing down and getting ready for a winter's nap.
Not all is slowing down because steelhead fishermen know this is that wonderful time of the year when those chrome missiles leave the depths of Lake Michigan and streak up the rivers to their favorite winter hangouts. Steelhead are called the “King of Trout” and each autumn one of these fish brought to the net is a well-earned trophy. They are wary, reluctant to bite and once hooked, a challenge to land. At the end of the fishing day steelhead fishermen most often talk about the reel-screaming runs and those signature tail-walking, tippet-breaking jumps, rather than the number of fishes brought to hand. There are a couple of tricks that you can use to up your odds of getting a photo of one of these beauties: hire an elite river guide and choose your fishing partner wisely.
November 1 was perfect when this N3 correspondent met elite fishing guide, Nathan Hulst of Hulst Outfitters and fishing partner, James Helgemo, for a day of fall steelhead fishing on the Muskegon River. Nate has been guiding on the Muskegon for about 25 years. Jim is a retired White Cloud school teacher, Master angler, a former Fenwick Rod representative and fly-fishing instructor on the famous rivers around Bozeman, Montana. On this day there was about 65 years of steelhead fishing experience in the boat. Both Jim and I have our own riverboats and regularly chase steelhead on the Muskegon with friends and family, often fishing the same favorite spots. Curious minds might ask why, with that amount of experience and equipment, would they hire a guide? Because it makes for a fun, less stressful day of more productive fishing.
Each day these fishing guides like Nate have to solve a very complicated puzzle for their clients. To consistently catch these “King of Trout”, the guide has to solve a rubik's cube of variables while interacting with clients, watching the weather, reading the water, untangling lines, dodging hooks and all while the clock is ticking. When you fish with a guide it is a busman’s holiday and you can sit back and relax because you don’t have to work the day's puzzle. Jim and I agree we love our sport but would not be a river guide for all the money in Fremont.
The launch point for the day was Mystery Creek. We loaded into Nate’s custom guide boat or as we think of it, the brown magic carpet. With a push of the throttle, we were flying down the river watching the beautiful fall foliage roll by. We stopped at one of Nate’s hot spots and the game was on. The gear of choice was centerpin rigs and the steelhead plat du jour was 8mm custom-painted magic guide beads. It should be mentioned that steelhead fishermen are quite unrealistic about their sport, most addicted, most superstitious and all believe in magic.
As we watched our indicators (floats) drift through yesterday’s hot spots, the boat chatter began. When we saw a Great Blue Heron wading along the shore the conversation turned to the challenge the Muskegon rainbow and brown trout are having. According to those in the know, this year the rainbow trout population on the Muskegon River was decimated. The likely causes were the unfortunate timing of maintenance on Croton Dam with the lack of rain resulting in low water levels, minimal flow and excessively warm water temperatures. Trout simply cannot survive in water temperatures like we had in the Muskegon River this summer.
It is suggested that another ongoing factor in their demise is predation by the growing numbers of Great Blue Herons that are stalking the riverside. These voracious fish catchers have learned where the fish hatchery trucks dump fingerling trout. They know that after being dumped at the boat ramps and bridges these small trout hang around for several days making them an easy meal. The river guides say that it is rare to land a Muskegon River rainbow trout that does not have a scar from a near miss by the dagger-like beak of the Great Blue Heron.
After giving the herons what for, we are off again and flying up the river to the next secret spot. Nate is constantly changing the puzzle pieces trying to find that elusive combination of factors that will elicit that magical bite.
It is very dramatic when a hot fall steelhead bites. It typically freezes your reflexes and the decision-making part of your brain. When you hook one of these bullets a good steelhead guide knows that usually the battle is lost in the first few seconds. He will stand six inches from your ear and scream as loud as he can, “DON’T TOUCH THAT REEL”, “HOLD THE ROD UP”, or “REEL, REEL, REEL.” Sometimes this works and your body reacts automatically, but most often not.
The first matchup for the senior correspondent resulted in a total beatdown by one of the bright silver acrobats. The fish cartwheeled across the river like an Olympic gymnast, as I predictably dropped the rod tip giving the fish of dreams enough slack to dive into a world-class log jam, breaking the spider web tippet. There is nothing like that feeling when the line goes limp and your friends quietly tell you, “It's gone.”
After one of these heartbreaking moments, if you have chosen your guide and fishing friends well, they will comfort you and help you recover some sense of self-respect. In this case, a short break was recommended so Jim broke out the greasy donuts and sliders. Hot coffee was poured all around, Jim fired up one of his trademark cigars and someone told a joke. While we drank coffee, we did the obligatory instant replay, shedding all personal blame for the previous loss (kind of like the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboy football coaches do at the end of the season). By the time the denying and lying and coffee break was over, hands had stopped shaking and Nate had tied on another magic bead. It was time to get back in the ring.
So went the day on one of Newaygo County’s great rivers -- zipping along the river on a brown flying carpet, chasing steelhead, sharing sandwiches and coffee and telling those “Do you remember that big fish…?” stories with friends.
It was truly a thrilling and magical day on the Muskegon River.
For a day on the river, whether new to the sport or an experienced veteran, there are many different methods and types of gear you can use to fish for these great sporting fish. Additionally, there are many quality river guides in our area that will accommodate your skill levels and preferences.
For a variety of very good reasons I always recommend two Guide Outfitters: Nate Hulst and Kevin Feenstra and his guides. These outfitters are usually booked a year in advance so make your appointments early and wait impatiently. More details can be found on their websites: http://www.michiganriverguide.com/ and http://feenstraoutdoors.com/wordpress/
Sidebar: Sports fishing on the Muskegon River makes a significant contribution to the Newaygo County economy. During peak fishing season you will see cars from a variety of states. We have fishing friends living in Denver, Kansas City and Dallas that come each year to fish for Michigan steelhead. It is strongly argued that you have to fish the storied rivers of Oregon, Idaho, Washington or British Columbia to find steelhead fishing as we have here in our home waters. The local guides, lodges, B&Bs, fly shops, custom boat builders, car spotters, and restaurants all receive a share of the proceeds delivered up by these fishermen.
As a cautionary note, our Western Michigan salmon and steelhead are a fragile resource and must be carefully monitored and managed. As the reputation of the Muskegon fishery grows so does the number of fishermen. All factors in the life cycle of these sporting fish are important and impact the health and numbers of these migratory fish. These include the impact of invasive species on their food chain, the DNR stocking programs, the quality and amount of the water in the Muskegon watershed, their predators like Pike, Lamprey, Heron, Osprey, Eagles, Kingfishers, Mink, Otters, and the number of fishermen and the “catch and keep” creel limits. All fish and their environments can take only so much stress, be it from loss of habitat, over-fishing, predation or changes in the larger environment. Many of the rivers are losing their steelhead population and in many of their former ranges, they are being listed as extinct or an endangered species. We cannot take our Western Michigan rivers or these great sporting fish for granted.
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