I find myself falling into the above classification. Remembering
more than doing. Sitting in the sun, tying flies I'll never use,
exploring obscure chess openings, watching birds and squirrels,
observing life as if I were from another world.
When I approach the stream it's not a search for a new experience,
it's a hunt for a trip back in time, to what I once knew. Uncrowded
streams and willing trout, a time when our excesses never impinged
on the future, a time when good stream etiquette was mandated by
God. No wonder I now sit on the porch. I look at my old Leonard
and catch the reflection of the sun in the varnish and imagine myself
back on the stream thirty five years ago, young and hearty, five miles
of river to fish, invincible, Tying flies at Little Caesars for supper.
A good sleep in the adjacent park would make it all right. Like it
was then, a trip to Burton's Landing or Stephan's Bridge on the
morning's agenda, Spam in a skillet, two eggs and pan fried toast,
what more could I ask?
A stop with old man Borcher, he will be sitting in the sun, and I'll
try for the monster trout that has worked off his dock for ten years.
I really wouldn't care to catch him, it's sort of a ritual. I'll then
stop at the store where the Stephan's bridge road intersects the
river road and gather up my munchies for the day. A trip from the
take-out to the bridge will last till noon. I'll then do lunch and
work the water above Lovell's for a rising trout. Maybe I'll be
lucky and run across old George Wallace, the streamer man, or
the two school teachers that fish the wet flies. I generally catch
their act above the bridge out of Frederic, but they fish the whole
river and can be anywhere. Fishing after them is a thankless task.
I'll finish up the evening below Cal Gate's lodge, trying to catch
my supper. A trout fried in the canoe take-out parking lot completes
my act. I'll then retreat to Frederic and Brown's cabins or the
park in town for the night. Earlier I slept in the van, later I did
his cabins for $15 a week. Brown is long since gone and so is
his minister who liked my brown trout. Each Saturday when I
was on the river I would catch him six or so. He was in his
eighties then, I never met him, but for five or six years I fed
him trout every month. I hope he had a good word to say from
the pulpit about me. Some days his Sunday trout dinner was
a tough act.
It was a good time. Sometimes during the day I would doze in
the parking lot at the canoe take-out in my van and the sound of
rising fish would wake me.
There's an artesian spring on the upstream side of the parking lot.
I would arrive at 5 am and await the days activity. Life was great.
I would make coffee from the water there and then at daybreak
work up stream past the bridge. If I was really broke I would
snipe on the early morning clients at the Fly Shop in town for
a walk-in trip. Old man Borcher would refer clients to me and
that was more work than I wanted. During the day I would live
above the 6-12 bridge, or above the Shell canoe livery, a nice
day on the stream.
It was a time of no money. Many trips I would leave home for
the ten day a month trip with twenty five dollars in my pocket.
I would trade so that there was a 10 day Michigan trip each
month, but I would have to work twenty days in a row. Most
people on the AuSable thought I lived there.
I fished many of the smaller streams, but I still loved the Little
Manistee and the AuSable the best.
When I'm too old to wade I'll sit by Stephan's Bridge or the
canoe takeout and just watch the trout work.
Just another old man, in the sun, remembering, watching a river
he's fished for a life-time.
If I doze off don't wake me, I'm there thirty years before. Did
you notice that nice presentation I just made. I think I see George
working downstream. His wife must be at the canoe take-out below,
my wife's probably talking to her there. Maybe I'll meet them there. ~