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Trout-hunting in Oakland County

By Pastor Tom Anderson

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb… (Revelation 22:1)

An hour after sunrise, the trails along the Huron are empty. Wood ducks squeak and play in the marshes along the river. Bluejays jabber from the pines and oaks. The skies are cyan. The sun will soon dispel the chill left over from the evening.

The trail winds through mud puddles and across flooded boardwalks—badly heaved by many winter frosts.

In twenty minutes, my goal emerges—the check dam at Moss Lake. The water is crystal and barely above 50*F. I spot rainbows who’ve managed to hurdle the dam and find the access to the lake wide open to them. But the hatchery has not prepared them well for freedom. They linger and circle aimlessly like seniors who’ve descended to the basement but forgot what they were after.

Spring is the time when I don rubber pants and step into cold water. Despite months of sitting in closet, I’m exultant there are no leaks! My wand today is an 8 weight—stoutly designed to do combat with largemouth from a canoe. It should be up to the task of a 20-inch rainbow.

I’m not alone as I begin to flail the waters with tiny feathers on hooks tied to gossamer leaders. There are those before me and one coming after me. Solitude is not on offer in this neighborhood. But one makes such compromises for the privilege of actually hunting trout in Oakland County—home to 1.3 million people.

Snipe winnow in the distance. As a kid, I did not think these birds were real. I was treated to a now forbidden tradition of hazing young Boy Scouts with midnight “snipe hunts” which usually involved leading little kids out into the darkness and then abandoning them. How did we ever survive childhood? Where were our mothers? We emerged from these Lord-of-the-flies sessions with good humor and resilient strength. Not until college biology did I come to know the real Common Snipe. Yes, it is a thing with a remarkable sound often heard in our wetlands but rarely seen.

Round the bend I begin to see fish lining the bottom of the river. Two giants coming down stream pass between my legs. I’m fully aware they are nearly tame but the thrill is still there. I begin to cast to the fish. I adjust until my little mop fly drifts right into their noses. No reaction to the shiny bead head or the chubby little chartreuse grub-like body. I settle in for hours of casting, drifting and bopping large trout square in the nose. They are not feeding so the game is now to aggravate them into a strike. But today is not the day. The solace I take is to note that I’ve not seen anyone use their net for four hours.

The sun has come to ride high. My shoulders warm in old sol’s radiance. To smell the pines, to hear a stream gurgle and see the fish is all it takes--I go home happy wondering when I can do this again?


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