Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
July 10th, 2000

The Opener, Part 2

by Scott Alexander Burrell

I awoke to an absolutely glorious morning, especially for northern Michigan in April. Not wanting to proceed unscheduled, however, I lounged in the cabin while the sun-play on the AuSable teased me cruelly. After a morning that started late and seemed designed more to continue the bonhomie of the previous night than to catch fish, we headed out to the stream about 10:30. We were a little light in the stomach owing to Buddy's midnight decision to devour the 12-pack of doughnuts we bought for breakfast. He insisted that once the packaging had been breached he considered them fair game - an explanation or excuse my stomach could not adequately parse.

Ace lead us on an information-packed 40 minute walking tour that led up a dirt road, along a ridge, through some sand barrens, and back to the river. He then indicated that we had about a three hour fish back home.

Ace waded in first looking confident on his home water as he cast a weighted nymph efficiently making long drifts against trouty cover and through runs. Buddy, to be honest, I never saw fish much the entire weekend. He entered the river, made a few casts, took the lead, and went around enough bends that I didn't see him again until he came back upstream and hour and a half later sans vest and rod wondering about lunch. Chief had a rough morning with the equipment and had become frustrated by the time Buddy came back upstream.

So we decided to kick back at a deep pool and take turns dredging it with weighted nymphs. What followed was one of the most raucous bull sessions I've ever participated in. Only Ace's fiancee and Chief's wife avoided coming under scrutiny. Finally, after an hour of lounging on the bank and story telling, we decided to break for lunch without any fish and only a few sloppy rises to our strike indicators to provide hope for the evening.

After a lunch again somewhat dented by Buddy's late night grub-fest, Ace and Buddy took naps while Chief cracked a dusty history of the AuSable nabbed from a cabin bookshelf. I just sat on the dock and stared at the water. What mysteries lay below its glistening, swirling surface? I had spent a lot of time in northern Michigan, a lot of time on trout streams and a lot of time simply mesmerized by water, but to have all these facets wrapped in one serpentine jewel was too great a bounty to resist.

When as Ace and Buddy slept and Chief got deeper into his book, I began to notice some Hendricksons fluttering about followed not too long after by some splashy rises. Since I had an Adams tied on from the end of our morning session, I grabbed my rod and tried to reach the far bank from the dock, but without sufficient room for a backcast, I couldn't quite reach the feeding lane. Slightly dejected and not relishing the proposition of putting on a pair of difficult stocking foots, I headed inside. Cheif piped up and said "Hey, why don't you put on my waders."

I did and waded to the middle of the stream. I made five, then ten, then 15 casts underneath an overhanging birch and over the old DNR log jam where the fish had been rising and got nothing. I gave myself five more casts - then five more. Then a splash and a 10-inch brown and I had thrown what Norman Mclean called the horse collar.

With a confidence bolstered by the lunch fish and the increasing number of Hendricksons coming off, we set out again around 5:30. From another hopeful start, we again returned fishless and puzzled. Puzzled that despite a fairly steady hatch, we saw not one rise the entire time on the stream. I stayed out until 8:30, confident that some action lurked around every bend and in each degree the sun set. ~ Scott Alexander Burrell

Concluded next time . . .

Excerpt from The Riverwatch The Quarterly Newsletter of the Anglers of the Au Sable. We thank Bob Linseman for use permission.

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