Fly Fishing, Hunting, Travel, Guns, Dogs, Bourbon, and other fine abandonments of duty.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Local Fix
There is something magical about the "local" fishing spot- a favorite piece of water that is closest to where we lay our head. For the fortunate angler, this place may be as grand as a blue ribbon trout stream a few steps out the back door, or it may be a golf course pond full of chubby bucketmouths. Either way, the truly dedicated angler measures his or her domestic satisfaction in direct relation to the proximity of fish-holding water (not that it improves any other domestic relationships).
The advantages of living in close proximity to water are obvious: less travel, more gravel. More importantly, this makes it easier to fulfill impromptu urges to fish. Every piece of water is different. They all have little quirks and unique characteristics that make them special. Having an intimate relationship with a river takes enough time as it is- long travel times only exacerbate this. An overlooked justification is the skunk factor. A good skunking doesn’t hurt so badly when you only drove 5 minutes instead of 5 hours. It happens, and when it does, the faster one can return to their home and commence a remedy, the better.
I believe there are 3 types of anglers- those that took up fishing because they discovered they lived so close to quality water, those that have no other option but to travel long distances to fish, and those that choose where to reside for the sole purpose of being as close as possible to a quality fishery. I can brag that I've been all three.
Growing up in Michigan's northwest Lower Peninsula on the shores of Lake Michigan, fishing became part of my life because it was so readily abundant. Everywhere you looked; there was a plethora of freshwater game fish to pursue. There was everything from trolling deep water for Lake Trout, Salmon, Walleye and Whitefish to the shallow back channels and reed flats where Northern Pike and Small Mouth Bass call home. There were little farm ponds full of dinner plate Bluegills and last but not least, there were rivers full of trout. I had no other option but to enjoy this wonderful resource. Sure, there was golf- but after making a hole-in-one at age 13 (honestly) I had in my mind reached the pinnacle of my golfing career. I discovered, no- fishing discovered me- because I resided in an area surrounded by such extensive and diverse habitat.
When I left my home in Northern Michigan for college in Tucson, Arizona, proximity to fishing was not the first thing I thought of. Without a better cliché, I was a fish out of water. Literally. This is a point in my angling journey that I wish I could do over. I failed to pursue the opportunities to fish more in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. I wish I could chalk it up to hormones and cheap booze, but since those still play a part in many of my decisions, alas, I cannot. Living in such an arid landscape, I sufficed by fishing back in Michigan every summer and spent my winters chasing coeds around the campus of UofA. Neither thirst was really ever quenched.
My college career also brought me back to my home state for a few years as I finished my interventional cardiology program, yet far from the angling that I longed for. My "local" water was still a 45 minute drive away and it was disheartening that many of these waters surrounding Detroit were polluted and trash filled with low fish numbers. One positive that came from this was my interest in rough fishing with my fly rod- however; it only came as a necessity because the closest piece of trout water was more than a 2 hour drive away.
Within the last year I was fortunate enough to find a job with a company that allows me to work from a home office, extensive travel, and also gave me the option of moving wherever I chose in the Midwest. I knew that wherever I moved would have to satisfy my fishing addiction much more bountifully than just Carp and Bass fishing. Lakewood only seemed the logical choice. Lots of hospitals for work, cheap rent, a great bar scene and last but not least, its proximity to great Steelheading. These shots were taken this morning 5 minutes from my pillow with two other anglers that are also completing their "local water" cycle. Zach and Dave are both anglers that I can find on almost any morning somewhere on the river. There is nothing better than starting your work day with a couple hours of flogging water. I'll see you boys in AM.