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> > An Opening Day "Funny" Short Story

OldredbarnApril 26th, 2010, 10:26 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
That's right folks! A short story from Spence...No smart ass remarks from Jon!

Friday evening last I visited the North Branch of the Au Sable. The weather was hard to believe for the eve of Opening Day. It was in the 60's and there were bugs everywhere!

In the stream there are little islands, some man made going back to the 30's (trout hotels Rusty Gates used to call them), some natural. As most of you know that visit this site, trout love to hide under these for cover and rise just along them during a hatch.

So, Spence was running his fly along one side of these islands and the fly caught a snag of grass or a twig. I walked over to retrieve my fly and wasn't paying much attention as I bent over to unhook it.

Just as I bent down I noticed I was eye-to-eye with a mother Canadian goose on her nest. She blended in so well. She stood up and I saw the 6-8 eggs in her nest and she hissed her disapproval right in to my face...I nearly shit! Need-less-to-say Spence backed out quickly and once I was back aways and my heart slowed down again I resumed fishing.

I think she sensed that I've been a vegetarian since I was 16...That's 40 years ago for those of you keeping score...Or else she may have attempted to do me some physical harm...Uh...Sorry ma'am! Excuse me!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOApril 26th, 2010, 12:41 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Hey Spence, ol' mother goose can be pretty protective of her young. I still vividly remember the trouble I had trying to free a gosling from a snare of monofilament and hooks that some "fisherman" had carelessly abandoned along the bank of the Brodheads. If not for the assistance of a fishing buddy who managed to keep the parents at bay (no mean feat--he got the worst of it!), I'm sure I never would have been able to release the little guy.

As much as I like these birds, local populations can become quite a nuisance. We've had trouble with local Canadas crowding one of the ponds where I work and crapping all over everything. The GM, who is an "environmentally conscious" guy, placed some full-size swan decoys in the pond this spring. I suggested using real swans, but they are even more aggressive and threatening than mama geese, and he was afraid that the swans would chase more than the geese away from the pond. So far, the ruse seems to have worked. Only a few geese have alighted on the pond, and they seem to give the decoys a wide berth. (They also floated a silly alligator head in the pond.)

By the way, enough of this goose crap, how was the fishing?

OldredbarnApril 26th, 2010, 3:14 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599

That took you all of about 5 seconds to get to the fishing stuff!

Part of the problem with Opening Day weekends is also part of the fun...the federating. This also was the weekend where we held the Angler's of the Au Sables version of the memorial to Rusty Gates. All this said, I did get in some fishing.

I had all the usual suspects, as you mentioned to me prior to my heading up, in terms of bugs. Friday afternoon and evening was wonderful in just about any way an angler could imagine except of course the crowds.

I got to Grayling around noon and stopped to eat in the Grayling Restaurant...This is tradition. Even when we don't get up until later than Opening Day it's not officially trout season without this breakfast. The waitress, who has been there the last 18 years of my many years fishing the Au Sable, knew exactly what I was going to order. Tell me that's not scary!

After lunch I stepped out in to the street and called my fishing mentor and told him that it's official, I've had the breakfast, I missed him, and told him he should get his ass up here.

Then I drove to the Rayburn Lodge and freaked. It's wonderful and the group of guys I shared the place with this past weekend were wonderful as well...I called the wife. They had left me a fishing cap on my bed that said, "Michigan Fly Fishing Club 2010 Opening Day Weekend" on the front with a trout on it and on the back of the cap it said "The Gator 1955-2009"...The Gator was one of Rusty's nicknames.

I just thought that I should of done this as a private message, but hell I'm too far in to it now!

Anyway! I get to my secret/slightly illegal fishing spot where I leave the car. I headed up there thinking I'd avoid some anglers only to find that, though the place where the car is parked is still a secret, the fishing holes aren't.

There are two large islands that I was heading downstream to only to find two guys at the first one forcing me around them on the other side. I'm heading towards the next one only to see a guy standing in my honey hole on the outside bend in the river. He's standing where the fish are facing upstream trying to cast upstream over them...He's no doubt spooked every fish in that bend, but that's not my problem he is.

I am about to wade up the skinny/backside of this island and I peaked upstream around the corner. I see this nice dark run down the middle with a nice bubble stream and a fish rose. I toss my fly up there and a wild 14" Brown sucked it in. He took the fly deep and this made him fight like hell and my old Hardy screeched a few times letting the boys I had just passed around the corner know that the old fart was getting lucky! I had to give him my fly since my first attempt to extract it failed and my personal timer went off in my head to get him back in the water.

This was a nice start to the weekend and really not a bad way to start the 2010 season.

One last thing. Saturday I headed down to the South Branch and found two guys just gearing up at the spot where I enter the river. I called out to them to ask if they were heading up or down and they said it really didn't matter just come on in. I think they were father and son and they have fished the South Branch since 1963! After a wonderful conversation I finally got them to admit that they would prefer to head downstream. I wished them luck and told them they had senority on me and I'll just move on upstream. The last thing I told them was something about how I now know why it's so difficult to catch a trout in that stretch...they have been educating them since 1963!


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOApril 26th, 2010, 4:28 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
I just thought that I should have done this as a private message....

Not to worry, Spence, up to this point it is a private message. :)

Despite the inevitable crowds, I'm glad to hear that you had a chance to celebrate your favorite Opening Day traditions--with friends and fish!
Jmd123April 26th, 2010, 7:09 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2437
Waddya mean, no smart ass remarks from Jon?!?! In reality, you're probably lucky you didn't get an eye pecked out!

And, I was wondering if you were going to hit the MI opener. I was going to hit a couple of streams near my cousin in the Metamora area but got spooked off by bad weather predictions, which of course then failed to materialize...SOON, though, probably this week...

So, Spence, any fish??

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123April 26th, 2010, 7:10 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2437
Ooops, just read the rest of the post. Glad to hear you were successful!

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnApril 27th, 2010, 7:50 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2599
They used to joke up at Gates' that they wanted to know when I was coming up so they could come before or after I left. For several years they were thinking about naming cold fronts after me. Well, those lucky anglers who were up there Monday or today have to be grinning ear-to-ear because they are probably knee deep in Henny action. The sun is shining again and I'm back behind the desk.

Saturday on the South Branch was slow. I know! I shouldn't have left fish for fish and picked the South over the North when things were popping up there Friday night. But it was interesting. It rained on and off most of the day but around 4 or 5 a little sun peaked out and the Hennies started to roll. I caught a few fish and the bugs stopped...They were just petering off after and I had to pound up Brookies from all the likely places.

At the Rusty Gates memorial on Sunday it rained all day and probably didn't reach the 55 degree mark they were calling for.

Bugs...Friday afternoon my first few fish were on a size 18 parachute Baetis imitation tied on a scud hook...The post was dark dun CDC and the hackle was dark dun as well...The abdomen was wrapped two hairs of moose mane and the thorax was Spencer's secret beaver Baetis vagans/now tricaudatus blend. How's that for sharing?

The old anglers tale (as oppossed to old wives tale)is that poor weather calls for Baetis and this is true, but they are very hard to see and I believe usually missed in the mix when other bigger lighter in color bugs are about. They are prolific and spotted easier when they are the only bugs on the water...They are the "hidden hatch". They were about all weekend. I am going to have to resort to some tricks to help me spot my fly on the water because I can no longer see them.

Friday evening I had egg bearing Paraleps by the score and took some nice fish with a Borchers parachute. They were coming down as the Hennies were heading up. In this confusion of bugs there weren't as many feeding fish as one would of wished for. The ones that showed themselves got poked and I was wondering if I wasn't discouraging them from feeding on the surface in the future...

There was a dark stone with gray wings around as well and clouds of caddis...The Little Black caddis (Chimarra) and the Grannom (Brachycentrus)...I could not prove to myself that the caddis were on the water, but seemed to just be flying around by the thousands.

Really, bug wise, one couldn't of asked for better on Friday. Saturday on the South was quite a bit leaner. They were there, but not in the numbers, and I did not see an actual rise for a couple hours...Water temp flatlined at 50 degrees.

I tried a Sawyer type nymph that I had tied with just fine red wire and dark pheasant tail, but I'm not a confident nympher and I never seem to give it a fair chance. My Henny pattern this time up was a parachute version and I had a softhackle pattern that worked like a charm on the Brookies...This softhackle was taken from a Syl Nemes book and his was a March Brown version, but it worked just fine. Mark (Softhackle), everything about this fly said emerger to me and though I don't speak trout I believe they thought so too. It floated so nicely in the surface film with those soft hackle fibers just teasing the shit out of those Brookies! They were a confidence booster and a good caster with a box of these flies needs to get them out of the box and out on the water! Thanks for nudging me in this direction!

Anyway...That's about it. The season is here and there's fun to be had. Tightlines everyone!


I need to get a small pocket digital camera...I have an early version from Nikon but it's too big to haul around...I carry too much shit as it is. Any suggestions? Are there any smaller ones with a macro feature?

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
WiflyfisherApril 27th, 2010, 4:06 pm

Posts: 612
I need to get a small pocket digital camera...I have an early version from Nikon but it's too big to haul around...I carry too much shit as it is. Any suggestions? Are there any smaller ones with a macro feature?

I got recently a Canon 780IS that takes great outdoor photos, macros and HD videos. It's really small and fits easily in my pocket.

I also did a short test HD video while fishing a couple of weeks back. There were little brown stoneflies floating down the river. In front of me a large trout was rising. Of course, when I took the video the trout quit rising.
John S.

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