Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

Fly Fishing, Grouse Hunting and Fine Bird Dogs Spoken Here!

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Expo time!

Soon, Michigan’s trout season – the official season on all rivers and streams – will open, and for those of us anal purists (those so set in their ways, nothing new has a chance of surviving unless we deceive ourselves the change was our idea) a customary migration begins in all directions to creeks, streams and rivers for a chance to engage wits with Michigan natives.

In preparation, flies are being tied, leaders are checked, fly rods are flailed in the living room and a daily countdown is made till the Michigan Fly Fishing Expo opens March 12 – 13 at Macomb Community College. I’ll be there at the tying table on the 13th from 12 – 2pm.

Stop by and say hi!

 

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Looking and seeing are two different things.

I wish I had a better eye. Oh, my eyesight is alright for an old man, but I’ve been very conscious lately about what I’m looking at and what I’m really seeing. I think some of what’s going through my mind is just the result of getting old and remembering at the same time I’m looking at something and comparing mental notes.

I had decided to sit along a ridge overlooking the bog that borders the Jordan River on the west side north of Mancelona and south of East Jordan. I had walked by that spot many times on my way to the river on opening day of trout season, but had never really seen it. There was no need, it was just a curtain that had to be penetrated to dodge deadfalls and muck and decaying moss-covered trees that made getting to the river that much more rewarding.

On those occasions when I trudged my way through, the trick was not to get the rod or line caught or tangled on the branches that reached out like arms at a jailer at mealtime. This time, it was like looking at the bog for the first time: The thick foliage was gone, revealing a much smaller tract of land that appeared almost fragile and revealed the river was actually much closer than the effort of getting there had always suggested.

Sitting high on the ridge, I was able to see what appeared to be depressions in the bog, lines really, that were deer runs. They weren’t gravel or dirt tracks, only grass and other ground vegetation that was separated slightly, suggesting something had made its way through more than once.

Using my scope, I followed the trail paying attention to subtle changes along the edges. It reminded me of training I went through before being deployed to Viet Nam that made me conscious of how close someone or something could get to you if it used the surrounding terrain for concealment, especially if you were looking without seeing.

Nothing ever came down that trail while I was watching, but there was noise behind me. It was subtle, almost competing with my imagination. Then, it broke and dashed through brush and went deep into the woods behind me and was gone. It had spotted me and watched me just as I was trying to do to it …and It was better at it than I was

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Solitude!

It is five in the morning, Seamus decided it was time for us to get up and, as he’s figured out over the past ten years, if he persists, he usually gets his way. There is method to his madness, and I’ve learned to make the best of it and truth be told, the solitude of the quiet, dark, chilly morning lends to my getting my thoughts in order.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first order of business is to make a fire. Though no snow, there is frost on the deck and on the tarp covering the woodpile. I take a handful of kindling I split from the kindling box and with the help of a piece of fatwood, get a fire going with one match. (The Boy Scout comes out and I delight in seeing flames after striking only one match. I indulge myself with a slight grin.)

The coffee is ground and brewing and the aroma filters into the living room and competes with the fire; It’s a wonderful mixture of smells that make the solitude of the morning more relaxing.

The main logs have begun to burn and steam from the moisture absorbed from yesterday’s rain lifts up and out through the flue.

It is going to be a good day. All is right.

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Careful where you step.

Is the wilderness creeping in on us or was it there all along? Green space seems to be more valued these days; at least in the mainstream of the urban population. Parks are now more than a place to put playground equipment and picnic tables. Growth of bushes, grasses, even weeds are included in the landscape to the point they’re labeled and trees especially, are revered.

These things, of course, are part of what lured some of us to the north woods and keep us coming. But, just as we expand our range of concrete and sub-divisions north, the animals we displace are coming south: Deer are a common sight in downtowns. Bears have been seen in the fringe of cities and coyotes are as common as stray dogs.

The other day while walking Seamus in a park close to the house, a snake slithered across my path. I did a double take, mostly because I hate snakes, but it was a garter snake. These snakes are the most common of snakes and are in some of our more ambitious gardens. They harm no one, but don’t waste your time trying to convince me of that, it’s almost like fear of snakes is ingrained in my mind.

Check it out for yourself the next time you hike in a local park, even if it’s deep in the city.

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble!

The first grouse hunt of the season is going to have to wait a week because “She Who Must Be Obeyed” had her knee replaced and Seamus and I have been delegated the jobs of nurse and gofer. I’m OK with the situation because I know the roles will be reversed sometime in the future, but I’m chomping at the bit to drudge the thickets and swamps for early season grouse and do so in my mind. I settle for the next best thing and rehash what I’ll need and gather, sort and fondle “stuff”.

bonasa umbellus

bonasa umbellus

Seamus isn’t quite sure of what’s happening, or not happening; he gets up early, makes sure I do too, and hangs around like a fly. He gets an extra walk every day and his stuff is ready to go too – although if he sees his bell and beeper collar, well, I’ve learned to pack it away without his seeing me do it.

Waiting for the opportunity to go opens a lot of time to make choices: what gauge gun do I take (I’m careful not to ask out loud, eyebrows would be raised as to why I was able to make a choice.) But after the 20’s, 16’s and 12’s are handled, cleaned and shouldered many times each, it’s the Ruger Red Label 20 gauge that gets the nod and extra shells are loaded.

When the time does come when I pack the Jeep and load Seamus, give me a break …keep right, I’ll be in the left lane all the way.

TD

 

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Think. Reason. What’s that?

Every now and again I find myself out-thinking myself. It’s a habit I got into when I was a kid, when I looked for reasons to not have to do something I was expected to do (or do something I was expected not to do). My dad first brought it to my attention – sometimes in an abrupt way – while I tried to explain my logic. Apparently, others have the same habit.IMG_0096

I’ve been hearing a lot, both in the media and from seemingly intelligent well-meaning people, about the cruelness of those who leave their dogs locked in cars with windows cracked, while they’re in a store or restaurant. It’s gotten to the point of people calling 9-1-1 to report it …after all, it IS an emergency; the dog has long hair and his tongue is hanging and it’s hot out.

These are the same people who dress their dogs in scarfs and goofy looking garb that give the animal a human quality because it’s cute and after all, treating the dog like it was human …well, that’s the humane thing to do. Too bad the dog can’t talk, there might be a comment or two his human wouldn’t understand why it was said.

I take exception to being told I’m hurting my best bud, my hunting partner, the one I share my sandwich and ice cream with. I take exception to someone who knows nothing more than having seen a story on a so called news program that ran with a horrific incident where an animal or child was left un attended in a car when the temperatures reached the 90’s and above. I take exception with the busybody who can’t think and reason out what he or she is confronted with.

I know we are in an age where everyone has rights; where by the push of a button or touch of an icon something will happen that enables us to be instantly in charge; where someone will make someone else do something for no better reason than we think it should be done/

If you see a Brittany sitting in the back of a Jeep with the windows cracked and his tongue hanging out, don’t call 9-1-1, it’s Seamus, the dog I make room for when he jumps up on my bed; the dog I share what I’m eating with; the dog I spend an hour picking burrs from his coat after a hunt, because I hurts me to see them intertwined in his coat because I think they hurt …the one I feed and water before I have my morning coffee.

So, unless he’s trying to climb through the partially open window to get out, mind your own business. By the time the cops get there, I’ll be back and gone anyway.

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

Even by accident, a find is a find!

A find! It took sliding down a hill (sandals don’t make good hiking shoes) while following Seamus as he explored his old haunt along Lake Michigan on the bluff on the south end of the Natural Area. We seldom go to that part, but there were more people than I wanted to content with on the beach area, so into the woods on the high bluff we went.

I heard it before I saw it – the leaves were like a curtain, which was one reason I slipped down the hill – but my curiosity got the better of me and after pulling back the curtain of leaves, there, below, was a rocky creek – mostly from runoff that was probably half the force it was in the spring. Since I was already down in the gorge, I followed it to its mouth to a sea-grass rung area at Lake Michigan.

The creek reminded me of a miniature Gibbons Falls in Yellowstone. Water was cascading over rocks at an elevation too steep for pools to form but the last hundred yards leveled out. I think it will be worth checking out this fall and next spring for spawning salmon.

The rest of the afternoon was spent looking for an easier way down, which of course made for an easier way back up. One thing’s for sure, no sandals the next time we come back.

TD

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

IF… – a poem by Rudyard Kipling

 

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

What’s old is new …if you wait long enough.

The boy had little in the way of equipment and yet he managed to have a good time catching fish. His three-piece bamboo pole (not to be confused with a bamboo rod) was bought at a general store in Chesterfield, Indiana, and it came with line (cord, actually) tied with a nondescript knot to the tip. A piece of stiff monofilament was tied to the cord that had an Eagle Claw hook …probably a size 8 or 10. A round bobber was attached to the mono along with a split shot and It cost only a couple of dollars; all that the boy could afford.

It was his prized possession for several years and he used it whenever he could find someone to take him fishing. The pole caught pan fish mainly, but the occasional bass and pike took him to the expectation of bigger fish …if only in his dreams for the time being.

As he grew older, his equipment grew with the addition of gifts of old rods from relatives and family friends; equipped with open-faced bait casting reels, the kind that produced a bird’s nest of tangled line if he didn’t apply the right amount of pressure with his thumb as the spool let the line wind off.

The line was a black braided material that was used for almost any species; it was strong and had to be cut to break. And as with everything else at the time, was relatively cheap.

The boy grew up, was able to afford more and his equipment grew. He turned his preference to fly fishing and trout. It became his passion. Soon he had the “latest and greatest” of everything the magazines and books said he needed. He even took a job in a fly shop, just to be near the “latest and greatest.”

But, as sure as the earth turns, things change and fads – new and old – take center stage. Tenkara arrived on the scene and, as with other fads before, it became the new “must” in the fly fishing world …and of course as it caught on, the price of the one piece rod with the line tied to the tip with a mono leader and fly, went up as well.

As the boy got older and wasn’t as persuaded by advertisement in magazines or displays and claims in fly shops, he dug out the first pole he bought back in Chesterfield, Indiana, took off the bobber, split shot and Eagle Claw hook, replaced it with a larger than usual fly, let it float over a bubble line and caught fish.

Over “two fingers of bourbon” he smiled and chuckled to himself. If he had known at the time he was Tenkara fishing, he might have bought two of the poles. He could have made a profit.

TD

 

 

 

Category Archives: Two Cents Worth

The thumb is part of the mitten too!

It took the course of a year to bring me back to The Thumb. To be more precise, it took the spawning of smallmouth bass to bring me back to The Thumb … Port Austin to be exact.11259469_10207039200003731_24118184625435048_n

To some it might seem strange for grown men and women to follow the mating habits of fish, but spawning smallmouth in waddable Eagle Bay and Grindstone Harbor have that allure. So 50 plus anglers – fly fishers to be exact – members of the Michigan Fly Fishing Club took over the Blue Spruce Motor Lodge and the several restaurants in the not so busy town that will assuredly go through a transformation after Memorial Day and swell in population.

Port Austin is one of those little towns along Lake Huron that, at one time, were fishing villages or places where Michigan’s natural resources gave residents a livelihood.

Today, after losing the industry, those hamlets have beautifully transformed harbors for pleasure boaters and sport-fishers. From perch to salmon, The Thumb is a destination for vacationers wanting a two hour or less trip from the Detroit area.

The fish were there, the town was hospitable and a little restaurant next to the harbor, served the best breakfast I’ve had anywhere. Couple that with friends and it doesn’t get any better.

See you next year.

TD

 

 

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