Feral and I did a long walk into a remote stretch of the Sturgeon River near Vanderbilt a couple years ago to a favorite spot that gives up some big fish. We hit it just right. The river was up and stained, the cool fall weather meant big browns were moving upstream to spawn and we had the river to ourself. We put in on a straight section that held some good cover and right off the bat Feral landed a nice fish. I moved into the lead and caught the fish in the above photo barely two minutes later. We hadn’t moved upstream 10 feet and already had two nice fish. We looked at each other and grinned. We were in for one heck of a trip.
Just then a couple fishermen appeared along the bank. They didn’t have waders. They saw the fish in the landing net and asked what lures we were using and we steered them in the right general direction figuring they would move on. The public water went for miles both directions. Instead they put on lures and started casting right in front of us. We spoke up and said we were fishing this stretch and would they mind finding a different stretch and they were indignant about it, like who did we think we were? They moved up another 30 yards and started casting again. I was angry but Feral brushed it off and figured why make a fuss – they are idiots or worse. Sometimes you run into people like that.
I hope it isn’t a symptom of a New Era. As kids, our Grandpa raised us to respect other fishermen on the river and that meant if you run into another angler you figure out what they are doing – then you adjust your plans around theirs. Don’t interrupt their fishing experience. They were there first, after all.
Later I tried to rationalize what happened. Maybe the two guys were part of the salmon crowd that fishes Michigan rivers. For that type of fishing anglers often stand right next to each other, elbowing each other out as it were, like it is part of a game. Which brings to mind a funny story.
Our Grandpa (Jake Lucas) tried every type of fishing including salmon. When salmon were first introduced to Michigan rivers he was in a crowd of anglers on the Betsy or maybe Bear Creek and an angler upstream had on a nice fish which broke his line. Jake could see the severed line floating down past him so he cast over it, snagged the line, then tied the end of the line to his pole. Then he fought and landed the fish. Meanwhile, the angler upstream was watching the event unfold. When he saw Jake land the fish he rushed downstream to his side and said, ” Man, I sure was lucky to get that one.”
Jake gave him the fish. I think he figured anyone desperate enough to make a logic leap like that needed the fish more than he did. I should take a lesson. Maybe those two guys on the Sturgeon needed a trout a lot more than we did. One thing for sure, their grandfather didn’t teach them to have respect for other anglers.