I’ve always tagged along with my big brother Pete in the outdoors. As kids, we caught frogs during humid summer nights. We rode our bikes to ponds where we spent hours fishing for bass and bluegill. As an adult, we’ve seen the wicked snow squalls of big water diver duck hunting. And the early December sunsets of Northern Michigan grouse hunts. Each trip is unique and memorable. But the trips that stand out most are the first timers. As we get older, there are a fewer things we haven’t experienced but catching a trout on a fly was still at the top of my list. When Pete asked me to go fly fishing on the Au Sable River, I was stoked.
I took in the amazing views of the Huron National Forest as we searched to find a spot on the river. One truth about fishing is that timing is everything. And our timing was horrible. A few days after July 4th and the river was packed. Crowds of canoes and tubes blasted Kid Rock on the same stretch of water we planned to fish. Pete kept driving while I looked for alternate spots on my struggling smartphone. Which suddenly ain’t sooo smart in the woods.
We pulled down a tree-covered two track. I knew this would be the last spot we checked before calling it a day. It was already mid-afternoon and the temps were climbing into the high 90’s. We had some Blue Lights on ice back at the cabin calling our names. We parked, walked 600 yards back and found a nice spot downstream from the parties.
Umpp Daddy, Pete’s brother-in-law, hit the water first and spotted two nice sized fish in the shallows. Carolyn, Pete’s mom-in-law, claimed her spot up-stream. We scouted the area before returning from the truck with the gear, camera and our bird-dog-turned-fishing-guide Zeus. We cut through the dense pines and set-up shop.
I was using a borrowed fly rod, reel, flies and an old pair of sneakers as waders. The wet-wading was nice as the temp flirted with 100 without a cloud in the sky. Between the occasional group of tubes and back casts that found more trees than water, I got a chance to improve my casting and mending skills.
I got the hang of casting and worked myself into a nice spot in the river. The current was strong but we saw fish rising in a pool of calmer water about 20 feet across the river. I inched closer but the river got deeper. Soon I was standing in 4 feet of water and I heard a group of tubers coming around the bend. I only had time for a few casts so I had to make them count.
My last cast was looking good. The fly floated naturally but as I mended the line it disappeared under the surface of the water. I slowly pulled the rod up to cast again when I felt it. The tug of my first trout.
Pete, being only 20 feet away, coached me. I put a little more bend in the rod and worked my way to shore. Pete, my part-time guide, got his hands on it and started working the hook out. When he handed me that fish I was in awe.
I examined the fragile fish. A decent trout, almost 10 inches long. The defined black spots and pinkish- silver side made for one of my most memorable moments in the outdoors. I held his head into the current and let him work his strength back up. I looked over my shoulder to see Pete and Zeus, both watching with excitement and pride. The trout slowly swam out of my hands and up-stream. Back to deeper waters.
I looked up from the surface of the river to the tall pines and blue sky with an overwhelming appreciation for nature. I’ll never forget that view. Just like I’ll never forget my first duck or my first grouse. I have a feeling Pete will remember that trout as just another first for his little brother because he’s been there every single time.
This post was written by my younger brother Jim Thrubis and is the first official guest post on HuntDucksHookFish.com.