This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
November 5th, 2006

Home Waters

An interesting string on our Bulletin Board this past week asked folks to post what was their "home water." Many replies and some photos as well. The late Al Campbell asked us to start a Home Waters section here on the website, and we did - but it didn't get very much least only a few submissions. I suspect part of it is because folks don't consider themselves a "writer" - but I've suggested many times anyone can write, just pretend you are writing a letter to a family member or an old friend. If your writing is truly awful, we have a very good editor. So no excuses, write something. (Unless of course you just don't want anyone to know where you fish.)

JC and I were raised in Michigan, and as adults our "home water" became the Au Sable. We don't get back very often, so the Michigan Fish-In is a perfect excuse to go there. For the record, one of the reasons we still list the Au Sable as our home water is because it has been under attack from several fronts. With a little support from FAOL and us personally, we hope to encourage other folks to join the Anglers of the Au Sable to help preserve a wonderful watershed.

The term home water can be deceiving though. The first one in my mind is the Devil River and Lake Huron. Then the Ocqueoc where I first learned fly fishing with my Grandfather. The Au Sable next and then the move to Montana. Oh my, so much wonderful water. We spent three months camped in Yellowstone National Park one summer, and did not fish all the available trout water. I loved the Spring Creeks just south of Livingston, and caught my personal best trout on Nelson's - will always be tucked away in my mind. We guided on the Spring Creeks and the Upper Yellowstone as well. The last time we fished in the park, we thought the numbers of insects were down, as well as the number of fish. But then, somehow we always view the past fishing experiences as 'the good old days.'

Chico Creek, shown in Castwell's column this week, is a dependable and easy to fish salmon estuary. Fishing in the creek itself, where the banks are above high water, is prohibited. The estuary is very large, and there is room for hundreds of anglers - and that does happen from time to time. We just had a couple of good days of rain, and the fish are there! It's about fifteen minutes from our front door. How can you beat that?

We have another favorite, Point No Point on Admiralty Inlet, (part of the Pacific Ocean). Here you fish, in waders, just off the white sand beach for Coho and King Salmon. Castwell did catch a steelhead there once, but it's not a recognized steelhead spot. As much as we really like the location, there is a serious problem in fishing there. There are several open or closed seasons, and it is confusing. The rule of thumb seems to be, if the fish are there, it's closed. Not there? Open.

We've spent enough time at PNP to know how low a low tide really is, where the deep holes are where the fish hold, and to recognize the riff which develops on an incoming tide change. Early morning and just before dark are the best times - especially if the tide is right. We did not fish there this year at all. But I still consider it home water.

How can that be?

I've listed a half-dozen or more of my 'home waters.' They all exist and aren't a figment of my imagination.

I don't think I could pick just one.

Each has a special place in my mind and heart - and maybe that is exactly the way it should be.

We fished up in Quebec this summer with Chris Chin on his 'home water' the Ste. Marguerite. Chris was raised in British Columbia, and I'll bet he has a stream or two from his earlier years which have a special place in his memories too. Recently he has changed jobs and moved to a different region (still in Quebec) and I've already seen some comments on the Bulletin Board to the effect he has lots of new water to explore and learn. If he's there for any amount of time, I suspect a new home water will be added to his resume.

Now that I'm thinking about it, there's some flats off South Andros Island, Bahamas which I would like to include as home waters too. But of course we don't live there, just visit from time to time. Does one have to live on or near a particular piece of water to have it as home waters?

Birders often have 'life lists' where they record the new birds they have spotted. Some will travel great distances to add to that list - not as part of something else, but especially for the bird watching.

Is that what we fly fishers are doing? Building a life list of our favorite places to fish? Hmmm, that doesn't seem to be it. Are we creating a fishing resume? I suppose that could be true for some. But I think there is something else.

Those home waters are more than a place we fished. They are a part of who we are. We may have learned something in fishing there, had an experience that added to our knowledge, or just our overall appreciation of the outdoor world which surrounds our fishing.

Just as those home waters have become a special part of us, in our memories and recollections, we have become part of them as well. And you know what? We've left a part of ourselves there too.

So if and when we return to those home waters, it really is going home. ~ LadyFisher

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