Saturday, June 24, 2017


      There are a million chores that arrive with spring. Up here in northern grouse country, spring doesn’t come until summer, so much is jammed into a short period of time. The grouse have stopped drumming and a woodcock hasn’t been seen flying up the valley in over a month. Both could be sitting on nests or tending to their young. Abundant foliage crowds the forest, limiting visibility and providing cover for ambushing armies of mosquitoes. When the chores are finally caught up, what is a grouse hunter to do?
      Trout fishing!
      Both sports share similarities, with long histories and loads of nostalgic traditions. Finely crafted rods are works of art, just as fine doubles can make a man’s heart flutter. Volumes have been written and tales romanticized to questionable extremes in both sports. If only our dogs could participate.
      In the valley below Camp Grouse, a small stream rushes to join the larger river two miles away. Every year it is different, and this year fallen trees appear every which way, like a giant pile of pick-up-sticks atop the water.
Pick up sticks.
      A favorite fir tree that leaned out over an undercut bank has succumbed to gravity. It should look like a fallen Christmas tree, with the collection of lost flies decorating it, but the trunk is awash and the flies are gone forever.
      The jammed up log piles offer shelter for the brookies, or squaretails as some of the locals like to call them, and make for challenging fishing. Thinking and figuring is what it takes, just like grouse hunting. Knee-high rubber boots are all that is required for most of the stream, along with a rod and a box of favorite flies.
Is Maggie pointing a trout?
      Simple, that is the way fly fishing should be. Just like grouse hunting, where a shotgun and dog are all that is required. Breakfast swims under all those tangled trees.
      And the dogs wait, patiently, watching the goings on and trying to understand what we could possibly like about trout fishing.