What is life if there is not laughter?
Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
April 23rd, 2001
Those Things That Define
All that is in me goes back to the Hudson
It's amazing how the childhood years shape the man. I
never had the Hudson River or Hyde Park, but I did have
the Au Sable River in Michigan and Jackson County, Ohio.
Even though I was never President I wouldn't trade my
childhood for his. At an early age, from my father and his
friends, I learned a man's word was his bond and one should
always help his neighbor. Maybe I've forgotten those credos
a little over the years, but the basic ideas prevailed. I still
love a slow moving stream with small flies and long leaders,
and years ago I made a firm resolve to never drink a single
malt younger than the girls I date. I think the single malt was
the more expensive of the two, a sad tritest on the modern world.
and those days as a boy in Hyde Park
It was a great time growing up. Walter, Gerald and my Dad
hunted together every day of the season. Each would take turns
cooking during the noon break. I was a senior in high school
or so before I realized Gerald was black. It just never seemed
to matter I guess. A man was judged by other criteria. If you
could bust four quail on the break and were the right sort of
person you were accepted. There are few today like Walter,
Gerald and my Father. My Father and Gerald are long dead
but Walter still exudes the same quiet integrity when he steps
into a room. Maybe in the summer months he coached John
Wayne. If John had any sense he would have really paid
There were the early lessons of never killing more than you
would eat. I also remember the hard work planting food so
the game we hunted would survive the harsh winters. Selective
harvest was adhered to with a religious fever. Some game we
shot or caught and some we didn't. No one had to tell us,
I learned my fly fishing on the Au Sable in Michigan with old
George Wallace and the two school teachers who always
fished the wet fly down from Deward and so many others.
I tied flies with a kid of sixteen or so that went on to become
rather famous. Chris was even a nice guy which is unusual
in fly tying today. I have never forgotten the girl that sunned
herself on the dock below Stephan's Bridge. Over the years
I have read two articles that mentioned her, just watching her
was better than trout fishing.
There was a stone fly (moth?) that was as long as my forefinger
at McMaster's Landing. I was never afraid to fish a big fly
Big Creek one day held a motorcycle climb where I was fishing,
charging through the stream and up the opposite bank. God favored
them, I think. That day I had left my 45 in the van. It would have
I remember the doctor who had a cabin above Stephan's landing
that wanted to trade his Winston presentation rod for a Lamiglas
rod I had made. Once he understood the leader thing his Winston
was safe. He thought it was a Russ Peak rod. It's amazing what
the right leader will do. He dumped his shrew of a wife and a
successful OBGYN practice and worked emergency rooms three
days a week. That let him fish and maintain a cabin on the water
and the prettiest nurse I have ever seen. I never heard her say a
word, she just seemed to be part of the scenery. After talking to
his ex-wife on the phone one day I understood the move. I have
always felt the Lamiglas was the better of the two rods.
One morning we had high winds of 70 mph plus. I parked the van
so that limbs and trees wouldn't fall on it and watched as limbs
as big around as my leg floated down stream. I was amazed to
see two fishermen dodging logs and fishing wet as they worked
down stream. One was the director of The Cleveland Museum
of Modern Art and the other owned a seafood restaurant a mile
from my home. I had never been to the museum and would never
return to the restaurant. I showed them the nymph-under-the
indicator bit and watched them catch trout between floating
tree limbs. It took awhile but I had finally found two fly fishers
crazier than me. A few small Baetis were hatching in the
protected areas but the fish weren't on them. I didn't feel
so bad about fishing during the tornado that touched down
in Grayling the year before.
I had found some water where I could take 70 to 80 trout a day,
every day. It took me years to really understand why I only
fished it on rare occasions.
Many evenings I would fish the water upstream from the CCC
bridge. Big trout at dusk. One evening I had 5 fish open up
Mustad 833's. I was devastated. I have never used them
One of the deadliest acts I have ever seen was this old man
fishing a long spinning rod, probably done on a fly rod blank,
pitching live minnows into the cover on the far bank. The minnows
were threaded on the hook and a weight was placed ahead of
the hook. I now understand fly only and artificial lure rules.
He didn't carry a creel, he carried a basket.
The thought that caused me to write this was the comment of a
friend asking, "What I am is the result of forty years of fly fishing?"
I can relate to that.
It hasn't been a bad sixty years and I wouldn't have missed
the other players for anything. ~ Old Rupe
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