Welcome to Just Old Flies

Welcome to 'just old flies,' a section of methods and flies that used-to-be. These flies were tied with the only materials available. Long before the advent of 'modern' tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than todays modern counterparts; limited by materials available and the tiers imagination.

Once long gone, there existed a 'fraternity' of anglers who felt an obligation to use only the 'standard' patterns of the day. We hope to bring a bit of nostalgia to these pages and to you. And sometimes what you find here will not always be about fishing. Perhaps you will enjoy them. Perhaps you will fish the flies. Perhaps . .


Part Seventy

Old Men

By Old Rupe

Old men you see
Where on long porches they reside
between daydreams playing obscure games
awaiting tomorrow's closure
a symbol
like a wall across a road
useless
God's joke on life
~ T foster


I find myself falling into the above classification. Remembering more than doing. Sitting in the sun, tying flies I'll never use, exploring obscure chess openings, watching birds and squirrels, observing life as if I were from another world.

When I approach the stream it's not a search for a new experience, it's a hunt for a trip back in time, to what I once knew. Uncrowded streams and willing trout, a time when our excesses never impinged on the future, a time when good stream etiquette was mandated by God. No wonder I now sit on the porch. I look at my old Leonard and catch the reflection of the sun in the varnish and imagine myself back on the stream thirty five years ago, young and hearty, five miles of river to fish, invincible, Tying flies at Little Caesars for supper. A good sleep in the adjacent park would make it all right. Like it was then, a trip to Burton's Landing or Stephan's Bridge on the morning's agenda, Spam in a skillet, two eggs and pan fried toast, what more could I ask?

A stop with old man Borcher, he will be sitting in the sun, and I'll try for the monster trout that has worked off his dock for ten years. I really wouldn't care to catch him, it's sort of a ritual. I'll then stop at the store where the Stephan's bridge road intersects the river road and gather up my munchies for the day. A trip from the take-out to the bridge will last till noon. I'll then do lunch and work the water above Lovell's for a rising trout. Maybe I'll be lucky and run across old George Wallace, the streamer man, or the two school teachers that fish the wet flies. I generally catch their act above the bridge out of Frederic, but they fish the whole river and can be anywhere. Fishing after them is a thankless task. I'll finish up the evening below Cal Gate's lodge, trying to catch my supper. A trout fried in the canoe take-out parking lot completes my act. I'll then retreat to Frederic and Brown's cabins or the park in town for the night. Earlier I slept in the van, later I did his cabins for $15 a week. Brown is long since gone and so is his minister who liked my brown trout. Each Saturday when I was on the river I would catch him six or so. He was in his eighties then, I never met him, but for five or six years I fed him trout every month. I hope he had a good word to say from the pulpit about me. Some days his Sunday trout dinner was a tough act.

It was a good time. Sometimes during the day I would doze in the parking lot at the canoe take-out in my van and the sound of rising fish would wake me.

There's an artesian spring on the upstream side of the parking lot. I would arrive at 5 am and await the days activity. Life was great. I would make coffee from the water there and then at daybreak work up stream past the bridge. If I was really broke I would snipe on the early morning clients at the Fly Shop in town for a walk-in trip. Old man Borcher would refer clients to me and that was more work than I wanted. During the day I would live above the 6-12 bridge, or above the Shell canoe livery, a nice day on the stream.

It was a time of no money. Many trips I would leave home for the ten day a month trip with twenty five dollars in my pocket. I would trade so that there was a 10 day Michigan trip each month, but I would have to work twenty days in a row. Most people on the AuSable thought I lived there.

I fished many of the smaller streams, but I still loved the Little Manistee and the AuSable the best.

When I'm too old to wade I'll sit by Stephan's Bridge or the canoe takeout and just watch the trout work.

Just another old man, in the sun, remembering, watching a river he's fished for a life-time.

If I doze off don't wake me, I'm there thirty years before. Did you notice that nice presentation I just made. I think I see George working downstream. His wife must be at the canoe take-out below, my wife's probably talking to her there. Maybe I'll meet them there. ~ Old Rupe

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