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    Fly Fishing Destinations
    [ Fly Fishing Destinations ]

    ·Trouting on the Au Sable River's South Branch
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    ·Private Salmon and Steelhead Fishing on the Garden River

    A 'Good' Fisherman

    Fly Fishing News Jerrykunnath writes "Recipe for Fly Tying Success
    By Jerry Kunnath
    [originally published in Michigan Outdoor News]

    A ?Good? Fisherman
    I spent some time the other day fly fishing Lake St. Clair with my two friends, John Vincent and Judson Street. At the end of the day, after we returned to the Harley Ensign MDNR access site on the Clinton River, we sat near the trailered boat for a spell and just talked about our day. We discussed the pleasure of each other?s company, fish lost, fish landed, and the monsters we never quite saw. The conversation evolved to talking about some of the more pleasant esthetics of fly fishing. The way the surging current of a stream massages your legs on a calm summer eve. The musical sound the song birds make as their notes mingle with the riffle sound of the river. The relaxing time we spent fishing for bass on that wonderful lake. Pretty much the usual meanderings of most of us outdoors people. Judson stopped and thought for a second, and then thoughtfully asked, ?Just what makes a good fisherman? What qualities or skills does one have to own or practice to be considered a ?good? fisherman?? The conversation went quiet for a few seconds as all three of us thought over his question, searching for the one correct answer. Lacking a sound, concise reply, I told him that his question would be a great idea for an article. John and Judson nodded their agreement and we bid our farewells, promising to meet again soon for a day of drowning flies. I have been thinking about Judson?s question quite a bit since then.

    Over the years on our lakes and streams, I have had the opportunity to fish and talk with many memorable individuals. They have shared some of their insights and experiences with me, often impressing me with their wisdom, but always entertaining me with their stories. Sometimes I have been keen enough to store their comments and impressions away in my memory or on video tape for future reference.

    Bob Seager is an octogenarian who spends some of his free time at the Flymart drinking coffee and talking with us about the ?old days? fly fishing the Au Sable. He has told us of catching his first trout at Dam 4 on the North Branch, right around 1932. With a smile on his face, he talks of days spent on the river with close friends. Then he looks down and frowns sadly, as he mentions that they are now all gone to their reward, that he is the only one left. He humbly tells us of the many days where he walked off the river with his limit. Then proudly relates that he has not killed a fish now for over twenty years, deciding to release his catch live. He told us how, ?He learned to cast in only fifteen minutes, but that I am still learning how to fly fish sixty years later.? Bob recently told me, with a tear forming in his eye, how he often told his late wife, ?That with fly rod in hand and waders afoot on my beloved Au Sable, I never felt closer to God, than when I was fly fishing.?

    Recently I was fortunate to be able to tape Bob Smock Sr. tying some flies in his small but famous fly tying shop in Grayling, Michigan. While tying an Earl Madson?s Skunk, a renowned Au Sable fly by an equally renowned Au Sable fisher, Bob told us of his fly fishing memories of time spent on the river with Earl. Of days spent trouting with his friend Fred Bear, who, in Bob?s words, ?Fred Liked to fly fish more than he liked to bow hunt.? Of time, spent fishing with his family, and of fishing with many of his friends, most now long departed from this earth. He told me of the work that he and his acquaintances have done over the years to keep his home waters clean and alive with trout. How the first chapter of Trout Unlimited was formed almost on his front porch. Of the work that has been done since then to save the river for our grandchildren. Bob Smock Sr. also showed me, by his artful tying skill, and with his down to earth stories, how much he loves fly fishing, the river, and fly tying.

    For many years, well over thirty, Nevill Geake and his son owned and operated Geake?s Sporting Goods on Woodward in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan. Now Nevill and his son are retired. The shop is closed and Nevill spends his time fly fishing, when he can, and talking about fly fishing when he cannot make it to a river. His famous pipe in hand, he comes in to the Flymart every once and a while, flashes his warmest smile as he grabs a coffee, sits on a stool near the door and talks fly fishing. He enthralls us with stories of fly fishing all over the globe. Nevill talks of fishing in Australia, New Zealand, most of the States of the Union and Canada, and even in Asia. He tells of fishing with Mort Neff and many other well known fishers. However, his fondest memories are of wetting streamers and floating flies with many of the people who grew up buying materials and hooks at his local shop. Whole generations of outdoors people got their first rod and reel from Nevill. Many of them enjoyed a life of outdoor interest while getting answers to their questions from Nevill Geake. I am one of those people. Never once did Mr. Geake ever make me feel stupid or feel as if I were taking up his valuable time. He always had time for helping a newbie get started in the outdoors. He always made the time to help.

    I have thought about an answer to Judson?s question quite a bit since our day on the lake. Just what does constitute a ?good? angler? Is it knowing what fly to use to match the latest hatch? Is it being able to make a tight looped perfect back cast? Is it knowing how to tie a Blue Wing Olive? Is it a certificate showing that you are a ?master angler?? Is it knowing exactly when and where to float a ?hex? for the big browns of summer? Well, maybe partly. I think that all those things do matter. I think that knowledge of how to fish and how to fish successfully is important and that those particular facts and skills are important to pass along to others. However, I think that some of the things that I have learned by example from and by listening to people like Bob Seager, Bob Smock and Nevill Geake are much more important to all of us. From these people, and others like them that I have been lucky enough to know, I have gleaned some of the more treasured truths of fly fishing. Such as, the common sense etiquette that we should use on the river. How important it is that all of us are staunch conservationists. How important it is for all of us to obey all game and fish laws. How important it is to value and respect our quarry. Moreover, the obligations that all outdoors people have to pass on the heritage of the outdoors to their children and their children?s children. These men have given us the ?keys? to the outdoors. These consummate sportsmen have given us the information to make it possible for us to hand down the heritage of fly fishing to the next generation. We must choose what to do with that information. Will we choose to squander this chance to continue the thread of outdoor knowledge by taking the knowledge that they have given to us to our graves? Or, do we make a commitment to share that knowledge with those who will follow us on this earth? I have made up my mind to do all that I can to pass on the ?torch? to those after me and I pray that you do likewise. Make it a point to take your children out to the waters and fields with you. Have patience to answer their questions. Help them learn to enjoy the wonders of a fly rod and the excitement of seeing a shimmering brook trout. And always, and I mean always, teach them to respect nature and to respect other fishers by following your golden example.

    When I get on in my years, if I am lucky enough to do so, I hope that there are people who respect my contribution to continuing our fishing and outdoor heritage as much as I respect those who have used the rod and the gun before me. I hope that people remember me with at least half of the fondness and reverence that I have for Bob, Bob and Nevill. I believe that these men are a perfect example of ?good? fishermen. I believe that they are a perfect example for all of us to emulate. There are many ?good? fisher people in our State. I hope that I will be one of them. Make sure that you will be one also.


    Posted on Tuesday, July 13 @ 09:04:43 UTC by admin

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