The Opener, Part 2
by Scott Alexander Burrell
I awoke to an absolutely glorious morning, especially for northern Michigan
in April. Not wanting to proceed unscheduled, however, I lounged in the
cabin while the sun-play on the AuSable teased me cruelly. After a morning
that started late and seemed designed more to continue the bonhomie of the
previous night than to catch fish, we headed out to the stream about 10:30.
We were a little light in the stomach owing to Buddy's midnight decision
to devour the 12-pack of doughnuts we bought for breakfast. He insisted
that once the packaging had been breached he considered them fair game - an
explanation or excuse my stomach could not adequately parse.
Ace lead us on an information-packed 40 minute walking tour that led up
a dirt road, along a ridge, through some sand barrens, and back to the
river. He then indicated that we had about a three hour fish back home.
Ace waded in first looking confident on his home water as he cast a
weighted nymph efficiently making long drifts against trouty cover and
through runs. Buddy, to be honest, I never saw fish much the entire
weekend. He entered the river, made a few casts, took the lead, and went
around enough bends that I didn't see him again until he came back
upstream and hour and a half later sans vest and rod wondering about
lunch. Chief had a rough morning with the equipment and had become
frustrated by the time Buddy came back upstream.
So we decided to kick back at a deep pool and take turns dredging it
with weighted nymphs. What followed was one of the most raucous bull
sessions I've ever participated in. Only Ace's fiancee and Chief's wife
avoided coming under scrutiny. Finally, after an hour of lounging on the
bank and story telling, we decided to break for lunch without any fish and
only a few sloppy rises to our strike indicators to provide hope for the
After a lunch again somewhat dented by Buddy's late night grub-fest, Ace
and Buddy took naps while Chief cracked a dusty history of the AuSable
nabbed from a cabin bookshelf. I just sat on the dock and stared at the
water. What mysteries lay below its glistening, swirling surface? I had
spent a lot of time in northern Michigan, a lot of time on trout streams and
a lot of time simply mesmerized by water, but to have all these facets
wrapped in one serpentine jewel was too great a bounty to resist.
When as Ace and Buddy slept and Chief got deeper into his book, I began
to notice some Hendricksons fluttering about followed not too long after by
some splashy rises. Since I had an Adams tied on from the end of our
morning session, I grabbed my rod and tried to reach the far bank from the
dock, but without sufficient room for a backcast, I couldn't quite reach the
feeding lane. Slightly dejected and not relishing the proposition of putting
on a pair of difficult stocking foots, I headed inside. Cheif piped up and
said "Hey, why don't you put on my waders."
I did and waded to the middle of the stream. I made five, then ten, then
15 casts underneath an overhanging birch and over the old DNR log jam
where the fish had been rising and got nothing. I gave myself five more
casts - then five more. Then a splash and a 10-inch brown and I had
thrown what Norman Mclean called the horse collar.
With a confidence bolstered by the lunch fish and the increasing number
of Hendricksons coming off, we set out again around 5:30. From another
hopeful start, we again returned fishless and puzzled. Puzzled that despite
a fairly steady hatch, we saw not one rise the entire time on the stream.
I stayed out until 8:30, confident that some action lurked around
every bend and in each degree the sun set. ~ Scott Alexander Burrell
Concluded next time . . .
Excerpt from The Riverwatch
The Quarterly Newsletter of the
Anglers of the Au Sable. We thank Bob Linseman for use permission.Lighter Side Archive