The next trip would be with Dan.
Since leaving Michigan for California a few years back, we don’t get out fishing as much but we still usually find a week in spring to do something we both love- streamer fish.
We planned on doing two 2-3 night over night floats on two of our favorite rivers in northern Michigan.
When we first put the boat in, everything looked to be perfect. It was humid, overcast, and there were Hendrickson duns floating down the river.
And trout eating them.
The low skies also screamed streamer fishing, so we did that while the rower kept an eye out for bigger fish rising. And the fish also seemed to be on the streamer.
So much so, that one jumped completely out of the water to chase my fly as I skimmed it over some wood.
Nothing makes me happier than trout chasing streamers like so, except for what we saw next.
In a slack water lie, behind an alder with small green budding leaves we saw a head, dorsal, and tail fin riseform. The only type of rise-form that a large trout makes, in a tucked away lie where only a large trout would be.
We anchored and watched.
Head. Dorsal. Tail.
Followed by a ring that followed the slow current downstream and slowly dispersed when it met the main current.
I cast the fly just upstream from the alder, and let it float by.
I did it again, tucking it closer to the alder.
Still too short.
The only way would be to land the fly behind the alder in the slack current, a foot above where the trout was rising. An almost futile plan.
I lowered my rod tip to my right during my forward cast landing the fly behind the alder, and immediately started to frantically toss more line downstream as this angle took away the advantages of a reach cast. I probably fed 15 feet of line into the mainstream for my fly to move that one 1 foot in the trout eddy. But when it got there..
Head. Dorsal. Tail.
I lifted, and felt the all of the trouts weight. The slow head shake. And then suddenly nothing.
It never rose again. But that was ok, because it was getting late. And we were hungry.
Geeked up about the fishing our very first afternoon, we started our first full day overdosed on enthusiasm and coffee buzzes.
But the sun got very high. And the trout stopped chasing. And everyone in the boat got sleepy.
That evening no bugs came out, and no fish rose. So we set up camp early.
The next day proved to be the same. High sun and slow fishing.
We were exhausting ourselves by streamer fishing for so many hours in high sun. So we did the only thing we knew to do when the suns high, and the fishing’s slow.
We got drunk.
That night some bugs came, and the river was beautiful.
The next day the skies were low, and a front was pushing in.
Which meant one thing- streamers.
In the morning we moved a few big fish. But they just wouldn’t commit. After 3 days of slow fishing we started to question ourselves, the fly, and the water we were fishing.
We fished through a section of expensive houses and near the end there’s an old wood cabin that’s a bit weathered in all the right ways, and significantly more blue collar than the rest. The only way to explain it is that it’s the epitome of a northern Michigan cabin. Those that have been know what this means. The old man was out front and after exchanging a few pleasantries I said
“I just wanted to say how beautiful your cabin is”
“Oh, why thank you. It’s a perfect day to open it this spring.”
After a short pause he softly added
“I love it up here”
Which he said half to himself, and half to us.
After realizing he unintentionally ended the conversation he added once more-
“You guys have a great day”
I looked around, and saw the common grackles teal heads expanding like something from Jurassic park with every call. There was an osprey calling overhead, a river sparrow in a cedar tree singing away, and a Hendrickson fluttering down river.
I thought to myself how I love it up here too. I thought how I’d rather be no where in the entire world than this stretch of river this time of year.
A few hours later we caught this.
And a few hours after that we caught this.
So we did the only thing we know to do after catching two beautiful trout.
And that’s get a little drunk again.
A few more hours later we caught this when the spinners fell.
We rowed out, ordered a greasy bar burger we craved all week. And slept in the next day until 10am before driving home.
I thought to myself driving, how much I love it up here.