It was a busy two weeks. After the Flygirls gathering at Wakely
Lake, the folks from Fly Anglers Online started showing up at Gates
Au Sable Lodge, a top notch meeting place, near Grayling. I enjoyed
my usual reconnaissance through the Fly shop. I picked up a few
more local patterns, bits that I needed, planned my
final purchase for later in the week (birthday present) and caught up
on the latest shop gossip.
It was even more fun this year than last year. The area and the faces
are beginning to feel quite familiar and like old friends. I run into
many of them through the year at the tying and fly fishing shows in
Michigan over the winter. The really interesting thing is that this fly
fishing world is really a lot smaller than one realizes. Borders do not
matter. It almost doesn't matter who you run into or talk to...they
will always know someone you know. With Michigan being next
door to Ontario, there is a crossover of shared info, interests and
friends. Conversations are always easy to start...just start talking
fly fishing and you'll have a new friend in seconds. The knowledge
base is worth the trip alone. You don't have to be on old hat at
this stuff...a neophyte is going to get a head full of new info and
some mentoring, as most are very eager to share what they know.
The Fish-In is an informal gathering. We mostly go about our
own business through much of the time but it is a place to meet
up when things get slow on the river (Canoe Hatch time) or at
the end of the day to compare notes and tell stories. It's also
nice to be able to hook up with others, so you don't always have
to fish alone. (My husband does not fish.) It can also be a good
place to get out of the rain. We had access to the conference
room (at Gates) for the full week. One could sit and tie flies,
learn to furl leaders, check the weather or fishing reports, or just
have a good chin wag.
We ate well too! You want to have Joe Valencic in your group.
The king of bread makers!
We ate VERY well on this trip, because not only was Joe at
the Fish In, but he was camped beside us at Canoe Harbor.
He's also the king of hot breakfasts and Dutch Oven cooking!
YUM!!! This man has talent at the camp stove.
We did some more eating on July 4th...celebrating the day with
GOOD food, good drink and great friends:
We even had a special guest casting instructor that day!
Of course the Fish In includes some fishing:
Here is an AuSable River Grand Slam (Trout Slam):
Now if I can only find a tiger trout. (hybrid)
If you are looking for trophies, they are there to be had, IF you work
hard. My main goal this year was to learn some new techniques so it
wasn't all about numbers. I tried a few new things this year, like really
trying to get the Kelly Galloup method of stripping BIG streamers down
to an art, and though I didn't hook up too many trophy size fish, I did
raise a lot out of the logs. What a thrill it was, in it's own right. I actually
landed two very nice fish, but here's the sad tale. I was setting up to take
a photo of the first...a nice 18+ rainbow. I had it settled down in the net
and just about focused when I heard a "kerplunk"! What the heck was
that? My camera shut off!! Drat! Low battery? NO...it was NO
BATTERY! The battery door had popped open, dropping my lithium
proprietary battery into the rushing water, never to be seen again! I
slap my head, swear for a few minutes, to get it out of my system and
release the now fully revived fish back into it's hole, then give myself
another smack. LESSON #1 - Duct Tape the battery door shut on
the camera before heading into a river...or lake.
I have to fill you in a little before I go on with the fishing and the
next bit. On this day I also had my new purchase from Rusty's
(Gates) shop. I acquired a new vest to replace the old worn out
pouch I carried my flies and gear in. I finally found one I liked after
many years of searching...and I finally reasoned with myself that it
was in fact worth the investment and now was the time to get it.
Here she is on the right:
I felt really cool wearing this baby! If I was a guy...I'd be feeling like
Brad Pitt! In fly fishing...clothes make the fisherman....and if you
believe that...YOU need a smack up side your head. None the
less...I was feeling good that day.
I also had one of those little magnetic fish net do-hickey holders
lying around so I was eager to try that out, too. Well, another
expensive lesson was learned that day. DO NOT TRUST magnetic
net holders to hold your net all by it's self. ( I have some words for
my local fly shop owner.) I had returned the net to it's proper holding
spot (Magnet) and continued to fish. I don't use the net very much. I
only pull it out when I have a fish of good size that I want to get in without
playing it too long, for a healthy recovery. Well this was a GREAT day
of fishing. I had been landing fish right left and center...32 by the end of
the morning. I only needed the net twice however. The first time was the
lost photo op fish.... then the next one was about an hour later...a beautiful
near 20" brown! I had the fish pretty close, reached around my back to
grab the net...the net.... uhhhh ...where's the &%$#ing NET?
Got the fish to hand, give it a look and released it without a photo...without
a net...and a lot of "F" bombs.
LESSON #2: DO NOT TRUST A Magnetic net holder. Use a net tether
WITH the magnets.
So if anyone found a nice large ash and cherry wood fishing net with
a half of a magnetic holder attached (made out of Cocobolo wood),
floating down the river below Mio, it's mine. I'd love to see it again.
We're old fishin' buddies.
That was an expensive day! Oh well...I watched eagles over the river,
got hissed at by a family of mink, saw some beautiful scenery, caught
my share of fish , and had some great entertainment. It was chased
down with some cold beers sitting with friends, old and new, around
the campfire later that night. What more could any one ask for?
Jack Hise wins the Accuracy contest!
And the Winner of the Long Distance Casting Contest...JC! The
old man proves he still has it.
So does the grand lady!
Here is the next generation:
This is one thing I can not stress enough...the future of our lakes,
rivers and streams are our children. Teach them to fly fish and
with that you will be creating awareness and a love for these
precious places. It will be these children who will continue the
fight for clean water, clean air and wild spaces and filling the seats
of the old guard at organizations such as the Anglers of the
Au Sable. While you're at it, teach them (how) to vote.
Don't just teach your sons. Teach your daughters too. The very
best times I recall in my youth, are with my now long gone father.
They were the days we went fishing. Don't miss the chance to
make life time memories. Take a kid fishing! ~ Deb Freele, Ontario