I have held off doing a post about Mike, one of the trout camp regulars, mainly because he is more of a philosopher than a fisherman. After the sun sets, around the campfire, Mike is the guy with astute observations and philosophical ideas about the world. We try not to hold that against him. I am not saying he is not a great fisherman, of the people I fish with he is maybe the best underhand flip caster and my understanding is that his biggest brown trout surpasses my own, which I also try not to hold against him.
At some dark point in his life he started showing up at trout camp with golf clubs. Or a sketch pad on which he would draw Botticelli nudes. He briefly tried bass guitar, harmonica, and bongos but traveled to a different drum so it comes as a surprise he felt uncomfortable jamming with Rock Bottom and the Out of Tuner’s, the original “different drum” trout camp jam band.
I find myself revisiting some of the camping trips and stretches of trout water Mike and I fished together. Back when the steelhead were first introduced to Michigan streams Jake Lucas, our grandfather, took us on weekend trips to the Little Manistee / Indian Club in the spring. According to the the legend on the back of the photo below, Mike and I were good for a seven pounder each, Jake caught two eight pounders. Sound fishy?
Thinking back, seems like Mike was always Jake’s most apt pupil. And Mike was tough. He would go ice fishing or smelt dipping with Jake, deer hunting, Mike was game for whatever came up. And no complaints, which was a hit with grandpa.
I recall a trip up to the Pine River in Lake County, just Mike and I, whereby he waded without waders on a cold day that turned miserable. We fished upstream from the canoe landing off Edgetts Road. I was bundled up pretty good but cold rain started coming down. I kept asking Mike about heading back and finally he agreed. He had to be freezing! We decided to cut across country through some bad brush fraught with nettles and various prickers and by the time we got to the vehicle he was scraped up good but no problem. No complaints. So that is how I think about Mike, whether he is sketching a nude, is buried in a book, talking philosophy, or taking an afternoon nap. He’s tough. He paid his dues. He doesn’t have to prove anything at trout camp.