Terry Drinkwine Outdoors!

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Where did the river go?


There are writers who can put a romantic spin on a place or object and the thought or memory fills your head like pipe smoke circling Santa’s head as he sits and contemplates how best to leave his presents on Christmas Eve. I don’t know if I can do that. I do have a romantic vision of certain spots on different rivers I’ve fished and caught fish or not caught fish and just enjoyed myself on; to the point I didn’t want to leave.

Anyone who follows my writing knows, the Jordan River in Antrim County fills that niche for me. The Jordan River was the first river in Michigan dedicated as “Wild and Scenic” and it was and is, a pristine place that holds brook trout, rainbows, browns and salmon and steelhead. It is truly a wonderful place to fish, photograph or just spend time exploring …especially the upper stretches that meanders through thousands of acres of forest.

I’ve fished the Jordan for over 30 years and have not covered it thoroughly enough to discover all of its secrets. In its hey-day, the Jordan was a “premier” trout stream. In fact, it held Grayling – maybe longer than the Au Sable or Manistee. Guides out of East Jordan guided clients from Graves Crossing to the mouth at Lake Charlevoix in East Jordan and catches were legendary. Someone said, “The Jordan is where guides come to fish the Hex hatch.”

Being a small river with a fast current, the Jordan soon became a great river to canoe, kayak, and tube, A few spots along access points and roads became local swimming holes. And the river, for all its charm and character, began to feel the stress of its users; some might even characterize it as neglect.

Mother Nature too, plays a hand in changing the character of the Jordan. Rain and wind that causes erosion along it’s exposed cedar banks drops cedars into the current, changing it if left un altered. One such change occurred at “Rainbow Bend” a place where rainbow trout could be counted on being caught – at least most of the time. It was a section of the river with a moderate current, sediment rock bottom mixed with sand and vegetation along the edges. A wet fly pattern would produce more times than not and the best way to wade was to enter from a feeder creek and work downstream.

After the long cold snowy winter and wet spring, “Rainbow Bend” lost a cedar just above the bend and changed the flow of the current and created a natural sand trap. Now it is easier to wade upstream, cast into still water and catch all the creek-chubs you want. There is little vegetation, no sediment rock on the bottom …in fact, it’s all sand.

The swirling pipe smoke faded from around Santa’s head; and the aroma of tobacco is gone. I will relive the years of wading “Rainbow Bend” in my mind many times …and hope the Jordan gets a higher priority on the DNR’s list of priorities …I guess I still believe in Santa.


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