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 Nineteen


AuSable River

Photo from the AuSable Journal, Frank Amato Publishers
By "Old Rupe"

Spring; a time to witness natures rebirth and to revisit those secret places of the mind that sustained us during the long winter. These visits are necessary, not only to replenish that which is the essence of "us," but as a form of reassurance that these places still endure. We bank these places only withdrawing from them that small measure required to sate the hunger of inner peace unfulfilled. A quick fix for the pressures of the work-week, drawing on the memories of only one or two places, or during some winters liquidating whole accounts just so we can survive.

These are solitary excursions. Not a husband and wife trip, or a best buddy jaunt. These are life saving withdrawals from natures bank to prepare us for the year to come. An experience that if shared would diminish us and the place. Each of us has his accounts banked away for that "rainy day." Here are some of mine.

I have a place in Michigan on a major public river where I can catch 50-80 wild trout a day on a dry fly. These trout top out at about sixteen inches. It's been there for years. Big blackwater browns that are relatively easy. During the last twenty years I have shown the spot to only four. I don't believe one has betrayed the confidence. One was a kid I was teaching. His father and I fished secondary water while he caught and released over 55 fish losing count before the end of five hours. If he lives to be a hundred he will never forget that day. How could he?

There is a stingy stretch of water below Browns Cabin's in Frederic that I can spend days on. Sometimes fishing, sometimes just sitting there for hours at a time. Recharging.

Behind the bar at Lovells, where I saw the biggest brown trout I have ever seen. A hatch every night. Flat water and the occasional big fish.

The Mad River above the tractor crossing. Nice fish eating bark beetles, where a 2 wt rules.

Evenings on the back of my boat at my dock on Lake Erie. Sitting by myself, reflecting on life.

Big salmon below the railroad bridge on the Pere Marquette. The big fish are gone now but every few years I return remembering the day I caught five that two members of the Rainbow Club had to help me carry up the steps. Now, when I return, I sit under the Rainbow Club bridge remembering a different time. Seldom fishing. My quarry has long since departed.

The stretch from "guides rest" to about a mile below Stephan's Bridge on the AuSable. I can see that stretch as if I fished It yesterday. I have fished that stretch almost daily in my mind for the last 30 years. Every chance I get I spend a day or two on that water. No wonder they call it the "Holy Water."

Last year while visiting the family farm, I saw the bridge under which many years ago I caught my first fish. A fish that I caught all by myself. A real bent pin and thread caught 2 inch blue gill. The same bridge under which I stole my first kiss.

Over the years I have wondered if those two events were responsible for my life long fascination with fishing.

Sigmund were you right?~ "Old Rupe"

I will have to confess to my regret that I remember the fish better than the kiss.

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