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  • Writer's pictureMarc Fryt

Fishing for Birds

The reeds along the bank were still tall but instead of their vibrant summer green were now tan and dry. Above, amber and crimson leaves now speckled the trees. The gray flat light muffled every noise except the current of the river flowing and converging around my legs. It was the first morning in months I had to wear long underwear beneath my waders, fall and its chill had slipped into the forests overnight.

Fly Fishing the AuSable River in Michigan

Downstream there was a sunken log that held dark slow water around it. Casting the fly rod, the line shot through the guides making a whizzing sound. I released the line from my hand allowing the line to shoot through the air. Turning over, the heavy line plunged the streamer into the dark hole beside the sunken log.

With bits of flash I could just make out the fly as it twitched and waved beneath the stained current. It soon lost its position and was pulled into the current and traveled downstream of the log. No dragon of a brown trout pursued or struck the streamer.

Standing in the current, I dropped my shoulders and stretched my neck back, after several hours on the river casting the heavy line I was sore. Low gray clouds occasionally darkened and drizzled down rain, it had seemed to be the right day to streamer fish for a large brown trout. Yet, not a bump nor swipe at the fly had been made. By now, my index finger had a stinging cut from stripping line over it.

Fly Fishing Trout Streamer Fly Pattern

Downstream, the fly line bellied and then pivoted the fly through the current. As it swung, the streamer oscillated towards the surface with its full profile now clearly visible. All at once, a dart fired from out the trees on a trajectory towards the fly and plunged cleanly into the river. I lost sight of the streamer and then felt the line sharply tug against my hand almost causing me to set the hook, but I resisted the reaction. Flapping out of the water, a kingfisher carried my streamer in its beak. After realizing the trick played on it, the bird dropped my fly and made a couple screeches as it bounded back into the woods. Standing still and alone again, I let the fly drift beneath the current. At least the fly looked real to someone.


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