And that’s how plans go, the best of days and the perfect weather mean nothing to a mature Brown Trout. They instead make the plan for you and often their plan is to tell you “not today”.
February in Northern Michigan to some is TV season and the thought of venturing outside is as pleasing as stubbing your toe on the couch but add the frigid temperature and rowing down the Wind Tunnel known as the Trophy Waters may be more like stubbing your toe on the couch while getting ready to go to the Dentist!
To the Streamer Junkie we see things differently, we watch the forecast and pick the perfect day, albeit it’s as scientific as looking outside, it's our system and we’re sticking with it. We look for the days that may be warmer, we watch wind speeds and directions we check CFS on the river and water temps, Impressive huh? Not so fast.
We checked the boxes on the above criteria on February first and hit the water. Fish were active to our presentations, yet we yielded only follows but for a “Junkie” we’re okay with that.
Fast forward a week, February ninth and the boxes again seemed checked, so again we head out to find a willing participant for Jorden and the hopes of finding his first Trout on a streamer. The day was overcast, and the wind was early for its shift in “The Tunnel”. We launch with that eager anticipation that few understand and even fewer look forward too. We are now two hours in and haven’t moved a fish and the suck is rearing its all too familiar head and starting to grin.
We pick a path that has the water that I feel will be the easiest for trout to hold in in these temps and just like that our day has taken a turn. From the center of the river and deep below the Brown shows himself and does an impressive roll over the streamer and seemingly misses, as Jorden turn to look at me as to say, “did you see that?” The Brown return to finish the fight that he had picked with us, and the line goes tight! FISH ON
As Brown Trout do and this one is quite a specimen, he heads deep and starts digging. As a guide you learn to assess situations in real time, Can I see the fly? Is it in the mouth? Can we safely rod lift this fish to the waiting net? Yes, yes, we can. With a little coaching and a readied net, Jorden lifts the rod and swings him in the bag, FISH IN THE NET!
22 inches of Pure Michigan Butter and a man that looks like he just saw Bigfoot in his kitchen is what we are dealing with, and the celebration begins. For any man a trout of this caliber is a trophy but to a man that has never caught a Brown on a streamer it’s a trophy and an initiation. An initiation to a club that its members know what it takes and what it means to be having to swallow the bitter pill of defeat again and again to then have all your expectations met in one cast and a strip of a fly.
Safely handled and meticulously photographed with the fish's safety the only important objective we release this gift back to its home to be enjoyed by another member of the club another day.
Embrace the suck, push through the cold fingers and ears and stay in the game, it takes one cast, and one cast can change everything.
Jeff Marsh, Rivers East Fly Fishing LLC