GO WITH THE FLOW
Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine|April 2021
Celebrating an unconventional trout opener among friends.
ANDREW VANDRIE

IN YEARS PAST, THE LAST SATURDAY in April followed a familiar itinerary. Dad would load the kayaks into the roof racks, pick me up midmorning and we’d cruise along the bay and swing east until we jounced along the neglected county roads that finally surrendered themselves into plain dirt. We’d wend along a dust-choked track to the ill-marked put-in, unstrap the kayaks and laden them with waders in the hatch and soft coolers with lunch and beer. We’d strap cased flyrods to the bungee netting on the bow, and then we’d shake up a Bloody Mary in a thermos and make a toast to friends, fine weather and another Michigan trout opener together.

This year, our annual agenda had been washed out—flooded with a deluge of house projects yet to complete and the swirling unknowns of a pandemic still at large. We postponed for some sunny morning in June when the stream had warmed and the trout’s appetite wakened. Few diehard traditionalists will freely concede that the snowmelt-chilled streams are usually less than ideal for dry fly takes.

But rather than chalking up the day as a wash, I arranged alternative plans. It was the opener after all! A certifiable holiday for the mayfly maniac. Whether the fishing was poor was entirely irrelevant, and to suggest that this hallowed Saturday be spent indoors was bordering on sacrilege.

A few texts later, a meet-up of three pals was quickly sorted with a gentlemen’s tee time of 1:30 p.m.—a far cry from the lunatics that set alarms for the witching hour and hike up their waders in the dark in an attempt to catch the sun with its pants down. I gladly packed in my boots, waders, trusty 4 weight and let a few adult beverages rattle around in the cooler. We convened in Kyle’s driveway, combined our wares into his truck and, in a nod to years past, headed east.

IN PURSUIT OF TROUT

BOARDMAN RIVER, TRAVERSE CITY Forks State Forest Campground: Off Supply Road and Brown Bridge Road

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