From a bluff overlooking the Two-hearted. This picture is from my 2005 trip down this river.
Unless you have been on it, you would not know that the river is even more beautiful than its name. And as others have said, its name is pure poetry. The Two-hearted! The name enchanted Hemingway and he used as a title of a short story he based on a fishing expedition on the Fox River. As far as anyone knows, Hemingway only saw the Two-hearted on a map. If that’s the case, he missed a treat.
I’ve paddle a lot of rivers, but this river has become my favorite (its closest rival being the Waccamaw River in Southeastern North Carolina). The stream meanderers back and forth through a thick forest, it’s bottom alternates between gravel and sand, and at places its banks rise high where the stream has cut into an ancient sand dune. Fishing is good. We put in at the Reed and Green Bridge (not to be confused with the Red Green Show). A few bends downriver, I cast a small spinner up off the bank. After only a few cranks on the reel, a trout took it and immediately jumped, doing a dance across the top of the water. He was too big to be a Brook Trout, but he got off before I could get him into the boat. A few minutes later, J. caught a Rainbow. It would be the first of many we would catch that day. Most were two small, under the 10 inch limit size, but we did catch more than enough large ones for our evening meal.
The best fishing along the river was around the confluence of the East Branch of the Two-hearted. The East Branch, with its noticeably colder water, came into the main branch on a sharp curve. We beached the boat on a sandbar on the west bank, just upstream, and fished down toward the confluence. Both of us caught large trout just above East Branch and placed them into the cooler. As we were walking back toward the confluence, we each picked out a hole just below it to fish. As a canoer first, a fisherman second, I’d been using light tackle including my pack rod. J. was also light line, but his spin-casting rod is 10 ½ feet long, longer than my largest fly rod! With 4 pound test line, a rod this long can reach out and touch anything. It also creates problems as J. is constantly tangled up in branches and there were many places with low hanging trees making it durn-near impossible to cast that pole. As we were walking over toward these holes, J jokingly cast over his long line out into my hole and immediately a trout takes his spinner. It’s the largest fish we catch of the day. But he’s stole my fish, and in fishing that’s the unpardonable sin.
However, there are plenty of fish to be caught. And below the confluence, the river widened and there were some small rapids and I pull out my fly rod and continue to successfully tempt the fish. But by this time it’s getting late in the day and we have to start paddling. When I had paddled this river before, you could hear the waves of Lake Superior several miles before the river arrived at the lake. However, the day was calm and we don’t hear any waves till right before we got off the river at 8 P.M. We quickly select a campsite at the river’s edge, locked up my canoe, drive back to the bridge to retrieve my truck. After watching the sunset across Lake Superior, under the light of a lantern, we fixed another trout dinner accompanied with fried potatoes and onions and dark coffee. The next morning, I drive south, crossing over the Big Mac and back home.