Below Scottville

Steve and Kevin had a double trip late last week. They floated from Custer to Scottville, the second lowest float on the Pere Marquette River and one that holds early salmon well. The fishing was tough, but each boat got into a few. The day was a success because everyone had a good time and that’s the whole point, right? The river was relatively busy for a weekday, but all the other anglers they encountered were friendly.

They dropped below Scottville for the last two hours of the day to hit some spots that tend to hold fish and everything turned to shit. Unknown to Steve and Kevin, Scottville was apparently hosting an early fall gypsy encampment. Or possibly the Scottville boat ramp is now a reentry point for the recently paroled.

While Kevin could go on-and-on about the folks he met in that enchanting two hours below Scottville, one individual in particular cannot go unmentioned. This woman was the icing on Kevin’s cake.

Steve and Kevin are at the boat ramp, about to make their way to retrieve trucks and trailers when a woman of indeterminate age staggered out from behind a tree carrying a Busch Light box. This was a woman who had clearly lived a hard life. The top was torn off the box and the bottom was soaked through with blood. The blood was dripping steadily from one corner of the box leaving a trail on the parking lot asphalt.

She was approaching the different groups of people at the landing carrying her box of gore. She finally got to Kevin and Steve, flashed a beautiful meth-toothed smile and snarled around her cigarette: “y’all want’s to buy some salmon eggs? They’z fresh, gots’um this morn’n.”

Below Scottville is the roughest area by far on the Pere Marquette. The other 75 miles of the Pere Marquette is quite nice for the most part, but that bit of river below Scottville brings out what Kevin calls “the lowest element,” dunking skein, keeping their daily five fish limit for three days in a row, lots of snagging, poaching, boats running up on step in the no wake zone, littering and generally making a mess.

Our conservation officers work their butts off, but they are too few against too many. Do we need new regulations? Would new regulations make a difference or would these folks still come on their Pure Michigan harvestcation for a one fish daily limit? Should we educate with signs: “These are all wild fish. The more fish you let go now, the more there will be in four years”?

The fishing is usually good below Scottville so that’s where you have to go sometimes. And it’s not every day that you see something as scary as Mrs. Meth Teeth Skein Hawker. But it can be frustrating to be part of the circus day in and day out for a month.

Below is a picture of the kind of rig you might see below Scottville (in fact, it is a picture of a rig actually seen the other day below Scottville then seen behind a camper in the Wal Mart parking lot later that night): out of state plates, lower unit oil leak, sweet drunken loading job, random board. And guide Walt Grau after a hard day below Scottville.

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