Fishing Tiny Brooks Feeding Northern Michigan’s Legendary Trout Rivers

That fish staring at you is not just for show. Something about the rich spiciness of the drink and the smoky flavor of the meat: the two paired so well together that somewhere between picking the bones clean and calling for a tall glass of something dark to wash it all down, I determined that a smoked chub was so essential to the taste and enjoyment of a proper Bloody Mary that it would only be proper to get out there and try to rustle up some garnish of my own.

In a single summer, I went from never giving creeks a passing thought to fishing them with almost every spare hour. From my wide-brimmed canvas hat and hip-boots, to the fly boxes in my pack filled with tiny, hand-tied ants and mosquitoes, I fit with the image I always had of a proper creek fishing aficionado. But unlike in the books where fly fishing on creeks led to profound metaphors for living and sometimes even the face of God, the only thing I discovered is that I wasn’t very good at it.

For starters, while there are many hundreds of miles of tiny, nameless brooks and runs feeding the legendary trout rivers in Northern Michigan, it wasn’t easy finding the perfect conditions necessary to support fish. Instead of a sandy bottom, you needed a firm bed of gravel riffling with good-moving water. Sometimes slow-moving water was good, too. Sometimes a creek with lots of shade was good, until you started finding fish in the sun.

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