When it comes to food on fishing trips, despite my love of eating, I’m a minimalist. That’s because I’m far more concerned about catching fish than what’s for lunch. This is why I either bring a granola bar and worry about eating something substantial later, or I grab the same tired convenience store sub I always get because it’s easy. The trick to subs on the water, by the way, is not getting any mayo, oil and vinegar, or tomatoes on the sandwich. These accouterments will only ensure what you pull out of the cooler at midday is a soggy lump of slop, but I digress. Last week I spent two days chasing steelhead on Michigan’s Pere Marquette River with Kevin Morlock of Indigo Guide Service (pictured). As you can imagine, the weather in northern Michigan is not exactly conducive to wearing a light hoody this time of year. It was cold, the wind was cutting, and most of the time it was snowing or raining sideways. And it was during these two days of fighting through pretty tough conditions that I came to understand the importance and beauty of a hot lunch on the water.
Kevin is an incredibly patient guide. You have to be when fishing the lower Pere Marquette, because he can count on one of this anglers breaking off a rig in the never ending logjams and root snarls every 30 seconds. Likewise, this can make the experience frustrating for the caster. It gets to the point where you are not only freezing and boogery, but you’re afraid to run a drift again because your fingers are too numb to retie. But no matter how tough the going gets, Kevin makes it a point take a dedicated lunch break that includes hot food. Using a little propane grill on the drift boat, he gets the soup going around 11:30. When I first saw him do this I thought, this is seriously going to cut into fishing time. But at noon, when he hands you a steaming bowl of Chunky, it’s like the greatest thing in the world. While you’re eating that, he’s dropping burgers or beer-boiled brats on the grill. On one hand, the whole thing seems too luxurious…we’re supposed to be eating cold sandwiches from a gas station. We’re steelheading here! But on the other, hot food seems to have a resetting quality. It lifts the spirit. Makes the cold easier to stomach. Kevin cooked two of the best meals I’ve ever eaten on a drift boat, and on both days, we fished better and caught more after lunch. I don’t think that was a coincidence, and it made me think that I might need to take my own little grill out more often instead of always buying a turkey sub.