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  #91 (permalink)  
Old 07-08-2013, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

As I was saying... So, in tribute to their wisdom and their style, I set about trying to duplicate their efforts, all the while fighting my own urges to update their craftsmanship in any way, and maintain the integrity of the ties. And, by the time I finished for the evening, some 18 or 20 flies were laid out on the desk, flies to be loaded into their own special box for a later date with the Au Sable River's trout populations.

If, indeed, "The achievement of inner illumination will shine a light on the answers to all questions," then the old DeWitt fly box and its contents are very much my own personal sort of "lantern" to show me the way...
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:57 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread as a journal of sorts, seeing that I just came across it today and began reading from beginning to end. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well and that you share some of my sentiments about the Ausable river. I'd like to say that you, and/or Montgomery have a writing style similar to the late Rusty Gates in the "Seasons of the AuSable", but I've learned from my visits up north that you just don't mention his name in all sorts of various company. I only had the occasion to meet him once and he seemed fine to me, but I've seldom heard such a mixed reaction to the simple uttering of a persons name! Regardless, I enjoy your style, as well as his, and also Earnest Hemmingway's. Good luck recovering, and enjoy your getaway by the horseshoe bend.

By any chance are you a professional guide at a local shop up there? I may have met you on a few occasions.
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Thank you for the kind words regarding my "journaling" of life atop the river banks. The Au Sable River has played a major part in my journey as a fly fisherman, as it did throughout the lives of "the elders" who introduced me to the sport on the waters of the North Branch, just above Lovells. They've all since gone on ahead of me...

"Gator," aka the late Rusty Gates, was a friend for years. I met him when he still was a kid selling flies around Cal & Mary Gates establishment. We fished together on occasion, and shared a number of mutual friends. If our writing styles do parallel each other, it might have something to do with the fact that the AuSable River runs through it all.

As for mentioning his name in certain company? I've never worried about it. Like any man, he had his share of friends and what I often called "non-friendlies." Still, almost all of them will agree on a number of things about the late Rusty Gates-- he truly loved the AuSable River and worked tirelessly to protect it, and he had conviction! One can't help but admire his tenacity in facing the adversities associated with protecting this fine river.

No, I've never had the urge to be a professional guide. There is another Warrington up here-- "Big Fish" Terry Warrington --who guides often for Gate's Lodge, and the man can guide AND flat-out catch some impressive fish!! Most days, I'm just happy to have my fly land in the general vicinity of where I wanted it to go...

If you've liked the thread so far, stay tuned as I've many of the late Montgomery Jackson's journals left to read...
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:03 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

I was referred to Terry by our local fly shop owner down here in Rootstown OH for some information regarding my first trip to the UP. Terry was an invaluable source of information as we took our first trek through the UP back in '07. He spent quite a good deal of time on the phone with my brother and gave up several good creeks. Creeks that surrendered countless hundreds of brook trout that week! SO, I've talked to him, and seen his name on the brag book at Gate's lodge but I have never met him. Perhaps you know a man named "Picket Pin"? He is a legend of sorts at Gates for his night fishing prowess! He hails from my home town and first piqued my interest in fly fishing during my high school years while he was my science teacher in the 90's. And as far as the "Gator" having a non-friendly list... maybe I just found a few bad apples around grayling because he certainly did have plenty of friends also, picket pin being one of them.

Hoping I can get back to the Ausable this summer; I havn't been since last April and it is just killing me! I spend part of every day thinking about that river, re-living the best and the worst days of fishing, the vehicles stuck on the Mason track, April camping under the stars as we chased the first of the Hennies, the whippoorwills at dusk on the south branch awaiting the rises to brown drakes, the overzealous wades that my brother and I delved into, and the friends that I have shared all of these times with. Life is awfully complicated with two little kids thrown into the mix!

And let me add that it has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance sir!
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:07 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

Terry is extremely knowledgeable about all things "fly," and in a variety of locations. He "represents" well the philosophy and the legacy that "Gator" left behind, as does the crew at Gate's. A better bunch of guys-- and outstanding fly-wranglers --would be hard to find...

When me and mine first moved up to Grayling, I received more than my share of Terry's mail. After all, what are the odds of a "Terry Warrington" and a "Jerry Warrington" living in the same town? And, no... we're not related, though I wish he'd gift me with some of his fishing skills!!

And, as for the late Rusty Gates? Like most of us, he had his share of fans and detractors, though I'd say that he had more friends than "non-friends" by a WIDE margin! "Gator" was often direct and to the point, a quiet sort, if you will. If you got him talking on the subject of protecting the AuSable River, however, he was an endless stream of facts, background and knowledge. A river couldn't have asked for a better man to oversee its welfare.

I think that the AuSable River and its three branches tend to bring out fierce loyalty and dedication to keeping it safe from harm, just because it is such a special collection of fishing haunts. Once, a few months before his death, the late Montgomery Jackson lamented that he had but one regret about his life spent astream-- that he would pass on before he could explore/fish ALL of the AuSable rivershed. When time and health allow, I'm trying my level best to put a bow on that box, as I fished most of the same waters with him and I'm now following his lead via his own personal "river journals."

As he and my grandfather were fond of saying, "The river always leaves you with more pages to be written, and more nooks and crannies to explore..." If my luck holds, I'll carry them both with me as I go about finishing that which remains to be done...

And, one last thought? Please know that you're always welcome on my stretch of the AuSable River... anytime...
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Old 07-09-2013, 10:00 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

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Originally Posted by hairwing530 View Post
\Once, a few months before his death, the late Montgomery Jackson lamented that he had but one regret about his life spent astream-- that he would pass on before he could explore/fish ALL of the AuSable rivershed. When time and health allow, I'm trying my level best to put a bow on that box...

And, one last thought? Please know that you're always welcome on my stretch of the AuSable River... anytime...

My brother and I have set out on the same sort of journey; to wade every riffle and bend of the Ausable that can be waded. We got ourselves in a little trouble of sorts last April on a far south stretch of the South Branch. I don't recall the names of the trail stops off hand but it was a ways south of the Chapel, maybe south of High Banks and it was awfully swampy. We are both young, strong, capable and naive enough to try any waters without first seeking advice so off we were; if the water gets too deep we will walk ashore....

The course we set was something like this a mile two of river to wade and hike back on an established ridge top trail that ran several hundred yards away from the water on the west bank. If it gets deep, we can walk the shore. It got deep. This particular stretch really didn't have a shore, it had a wader boot sucking muck-bank that was mostly impassable and a river bottom that was very black and silty. I had read in Gator's book about "Loon ****" but I never really understood it until I met this stretch of river. Just passed the muck-bank there was an impenetrable pine forest; the likes of which I have never before encountered. We, literally on our hands and knees at many points, crawled out of the swamp about an hour before dusk, narrowly escaping an overnight emergency camp there in the swamp.

At one point a guide from Gates passed us in a boat, said hello with a puzzled look on his face and asked where we put in and where we were getting out. When we told him he responded only with, "that's a pretty ambitious wade". This was towards the end of the trek, we were frazzled, not too proud to ask for help at this point. Had we known that the worst was behind us we would have kept our mouths shut and pride intact but thinking about the 25 degree overnight forecast had us really wanting to get ashore and back to a real camp. We'd been trying to get to the west bank of the river for hours because we knew that the trail was through the swamp-pine thicket and just atop the ridge; we had been eyeballing that ridge, so close yet so far away. The conversation went something like this, nearly verbatim:

"That's a pretty ambitious wade"

"Well worth it, the Hennies have been spectacular today!" Slight pause, "Yeah, we didn't realize the river would be like this though. How's the river in front of us?" We did try to save face, hoping he would say it clears up and gets shallow and we could leave pride intact

"Deep, soft bottom."

"So it doesn't get any better than this?"

"Not for a while."

"We just need to cross so we can get out of here, we have to hike 2 miles back to the car. Is there anywhere we can cross?"

"Bout 500 yards up is yer best chance" and he pointed to a narrow spot with solid looking banks. "Both know how to swim, right? Make sure you tighten your wading belts up before you go across.........good luck."

I've done a little brush busting up there, so perhaps I've fished "your stretch" already, perhaps not. When I get the occasion to head north I will look you up.
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:36 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

The rod bent in a graceful curve as the young man's line cut through the air and dropped the fly within a few feet of its intended target-- an amazing feat, given his short time astream with fly rod in hand. Attentive to every detail as the #12 Pheasant Tail parachute bobbed along within a foot or two of the log-jam just beyond the mid-river seams, the take was everything that one would want it to be-- quick, decisive and hard! Rod tip raised and hook set, the tug-of-war was on!!

As I leaned against one of the large, aging cedars that line the banks of the AuSable River, I resisted the urge to shout out instructions. As it was with my own introduction, there were lessons to be learned from his first fish, the teaching of skills that only would come with time, subsequent fish, and more hours spent "paying his proverbial dues." That he would absorb such lessons was a given. After all, he was the grandson and heir-apparent to the legacy of the late Montgomery Jackson-- Montgomery Jackson III.

A splash upstream pulled my attention away from the ongoing battle just in front of me, turning just in time to see our daughter, Jesse's, rod twist and contort in a way that was indicative of a good fish. Her favorite stretch of water at this time of year has long been known for giving up an occasional brown trout in excess of 20 inches. The chances were good, given all appearances, that the fish in question might well fall into that elusive category.

Glancing back and forth between the two scenes being played out, I was struck by the differences that each one brought to the table. It was a "side by side comparison," if you will, of years spent with a fly rod in hand and numerous fish versus weeks of learning about fly fishing and a "first fish."

Jesse knew well the game of "give and take"-- when to give line, and when to take it in and put on a little pressure. Montgomery Jackson III, on the other hand, was holding on for all he was worth, his technique running dangerously close to the tippet's breaking point. Still, the fine art of knowing when and where to apply pressure only could be taught by experience and a savvy fish.

As the battles came to their inevitable endings, it turned out that both fish had won their release-- Jesse's by hand, and Montgomery's by the resounding "snap" of a tippet parting ways. Climbing up onto the river bank, each participant in the river drama just witnessed... (to be continued in the post below...)
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Last edited by hairwing530; 07-13-2013 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:21 PM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

"each participant in the river drama just witnessed" shared the same smile of satisfaction, despite the differing results.

Watching them break down the rods for the day, I was reminded of the last day that the late Montgomery Jackson and I shared on the AuSable River. The results were similar, only it was he who released his fish by hand, and me "snapping one off." And, as we walked back to the ol' "Fish Truck," he said little except to thank me for having taken an old man fishing one last time.

When my own days grown short and I'm well on in years, I sincerely hope that one-- or both --of these two young anglers will see fit to take this old man fishing... one last time as well...
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Old 07-14-2013, 06:07 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

I hesitated to draw back all of the window dressings, fearful that the heat outside would somehow start to raise the temperature of the cabin's interior at "Trail's End." Still, I needed more than just the light of an old lantern or oil-lamp to re-mount a few of the cupboard hinges, and I had no urge to go back out into the sweltering heat and spend an hour or two trying to coax the engine on the old generator/power plant to life. It's been known to be a bit "fickle," no matter how much torque one might exert to the vintage
"notch it, wind it and give 'er a pull" starter rope. One day, I promised myself, I'd replace the starter assembly.

With the remaining sunlight literally filling the old place, the hinges were quickly anchored into place, thereby securing the cupboard doors. As I picked up the few tools necessary for the job, I looked around the interior of the cabin known as "Trail's End," marveling at the fit of the tongue-and-groove cedar planking. Long a fan of the "northern Michigan" sort of finish to the place-- think Adirondack style in a Michigan setting --what amazed me most was how easily one could hide the odd "cubby hole" in among the walls. The sunlight spilling in from the windows reminded me of a few that had escaped notice for quite awhile...

The first of the late Montgomery Jackson's favorite "nooks and crannies" sits to the western end of the cabin, almost at a 45-degree angle from his old desk chair. Large in stature and with a complement of hidden drawers below, it brought back the memories of other similar holding areas scattered around the cabin. In those "secret" places such as this one, he'd been known to stock-pile a few random items, just in case...

The hidden handle took a moment to find, and with its discovery, I pulled gently on the door. Half-expecting the aforementioned "stock piles" to come spilling out onto the floor, the interior was amazingly empty, at least by the standards of the late Montgomery Jackson.

The smell of its cedar interior came rushing out as the door swung wide, a good omen that the items within would have been protected from any moth infestations. There, hanging from a wooden rod, hung a pair of fly-fishing vests, one of the old Abercrombie and Fitch ilk, and the other somewhat newer. Beneath them sat a note atop a box from the W.C. Russell Mocassin Company, makers of some of the best hunting/fishing/hiking/all-around boots and shoes on the market.

As I looked over the vests, I was amazed at how well they'd weathered their time in the "nook." And, the boots were brand new, and just my size. As for the note? It was vintage Montgomery Jackson, in that it read-- Happy Belated Birthday, Lad... What the heck took you so long? Regards, Montgomery...

This morning, with my feet enjoying the fit of the new boots and another of the late Montgomery Jackson's journals on my tying desk, I find myself asking "me" the very same question...
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:53 AM
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Default Re: I Met Myself Last Night...

His breathing was slow and somewhat labored, his airways assisted by the oxygen flowing through the mask that covered his young face. Lying there in the harsh light of a hospital room, this two-time student of mine looked frail by comparison to the robust 13-year old I'd taken fishing with his Dad not more than three months ago. How quickly things can change...

I got the call around 11:30 last night, answering a ringing summons at an hour that seldom brings with it any good news. The boy's father had but one simple request-- could I come to the hospital ASAP? It took me less than 10 minutes to throw on some decent clothes, grab a few things and make for the door and the waiting "Fish Truck."

As the "middle of the night" drive through "deer country" kept me somewhat focused on safe travel, my mind tried to lay out a mental script of sorts for me to follow, one that might help me better handle the emotions that I knew were soon to follow. With the miles before arrival growing shorter, however, I cast the mind's work aside and opted to run on gut instinct and just speak from the heart.

The hospital elevator moved at a snail's pace, slowly counting off floor after floor until the doors finally opened and I stepped out near the ICU ward. There stood the boy's father, wearing a face that I'd seen far too often in my work with "my kids"-- the resigned look of the inevitable. During our exchange of handshakes and hugs, he whispered "he wanted to see you," and with that, we made our way down to the boy's room.

Pulling a chair close to the youngster's bedside, I noticed Mom and Dad taking their leave. In my hands, the boy's left hand felt small, yet still strong enough to grip my own. Through eyes half-closed, we talked about fishing and tying in quiet voices, stopping occasionally to put his oxygen mask back in place. One of his nurses finally broke in on the chat, citing the boy's need to rest.

As I rose to leave, I took from my neck a chain carrying a religious medal once given to me by the late Montgomery Jackson-- a medal bearing the likeness of St. Peter, a fisherman-- and placed it in the boy's hand. The youngster left this Earth at 2:48 this morning, still gripping the medal and chain. It will be buried with him as well...

(Continued below...)

---------- Post added at 04:53 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:25 AM ----------

Once, a student in one of "my kids" asked me a very philosophical question for an 11-year old-- "Do you think there's fishing in Heaven?" I answered that I believed there was, adding that there would be a cast of some of the greatest "guides" waiting for them there-- my grandfather, "Doc" Holship, Montgomery Jackson and a host of others as well. And, there would be a great little riverside cabin in residence, one that is better suited for a name like "Trails To Forever," rather than the earthly version known as "Trail's End."

You see, I have to believe in that premise, as it gives me a sense of comfort this morning in the gathering light. Just knowing that the Heavenly crew now has a new addition to their mix and that he will be welcomed by them all brings with it a sort of peace that I need at this juncture...
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Last edited by hairwing530; 07-16-2013 at 05:49 AM.
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