I was looking forward to this trip for a while. Mention LOG CABIN and you get my interest. Add HISTORIC and with good fly fishing , in front and I’m in like flies on …well you know. I have to say… this did not disappoint. In fact, I’m putting my hand up RIGHT NOW for a repeat next year. (and every year) SIGN ME UP!! I knew this was going to be good…
First stop, Gates AuSable Lodge for some flies, tippet and what ever else I felt I had to have. I was also in for the latest scoop on the river conditions both for fishing and the legal battles. The AuSable "Holy Waters"…
… just down a few steps from our cabin, great women who love to fly fish, the smell of cedar and pine on the wind … Yes, it was going to be good, BUT I didn’t know it would be THIS good. Wa Wa Sum was magic from the very second I walked through the creaky old screen door.
When I walked in, there was some "Fishin’ Music" playing , the smell of a wood fire burning in the fire place and an inviting sofa .
I sat there for a few minutes, quietly soaking in what I was feeling. I couldn’t stop smiling. This was my version of heaven and I was still breathing!
When you walk out on the porch you see and hear the AuSable River below. The rocking chairs are all hand made bent willow and cherry. There were a couple of beds on the porch , too. If it was a little warmer I would have stayed there. As it was, it was freezing at night with heavy frost in the morning, high bright skies, stiff winds and low 50s during the day. Just to add to the off fishing, the clouds came in with some cold drizzly rain and snow was in the evening forecast. No fish showing on the surface this trip. This spring has been unusually cold. OR I should say it was like spring used to be when I was a kid… back in the 50’s and 60s. It didn’t help the fishing any, but who cares. This was heaven and I found it in Michigan , and nothing mattered but the moment.
This was another Flygirls of Michigan adventure. Kris was nice enough to invite me down to her place a day earlier. This was great because it saved me from having to get on the road at an ungodly hour to get to the cabin in time, which made the day much more enjoyable and relaxing. The border always throws surprises and as it was ,it took me two hours longer to get to Grayling because of border delays. Kris and Tina have a nice place in the bush not far from Kneff Lake. There are dozens of bird feeders, squirrel feeders (they get the cute little red ones) and a deer feeder. Kris and I sat at the table looking out the window over good conversation. There were Rose Breasted Grosbeaks ….dozens of them.
I rarely see them in my neck of Ontario. There were wild turkeys, nut hatches and other birds more common to me. The deer started showing up at dusk. The first one , a yearling button buck, limped in alone. It had been left behind by its usual group. It looked like it may have had a run in with a car. I heard a lot of coyotes later that night and I really wondered if the button buck would show up again the next day, or were the coyotes lucky. After it left , others came in to feed…and there were some interesting challenges for dominance between a doe, heavy with a fawn and a younger female around the feeder. "THANKS KRIS" for letting me share this!
The other women started arriving to the cabin not long after I did. I had time to explore , meet the new faces and get re acquainted with the familiar before starting in on our activities. We were going out to learn access points on the famous branches of the AuSable . I did the North Branch which was great because that was the one I had never spent time on before.
This is a group of eager anglers getting ready to take off on a float down the North Branch from Dam 4. These are Au Sable River Boats. I later found out, from Judy, at Fullers North Branch Outing Club, that this group of anglers was from London, Ontario. Fancy that…and I didn’t know them???
In the evening we had guest tiers come and share there knowledge and skills. Jerry Regan is known as the keeper of the Au Sable River patterns. He shared is knowledge of the traditional Michigan fly patterns and their history. Here is an article about Jerry.
Followed the next night by Dennis Potter who talked about more current patterns and the benefits of synthetics like Z-Lon and foam. He’s a very funny guy. Almost as funny as **Ian James. Sorry Dennis, I didn’t get a live action photo of him. I felt like a little kid back in school again and was too afraid to take the shot and get scolded!! LOL. So I’ll steal one from the Internet:
Press Photo/Cory Olsen
Here is an excellent and interesting piece on Dennis : http://www.mlive.com/grpress/slideshows/20080425-fly-tier/ I’m Looking forward to seeing you again on the Wakely Lake / Hex Weekend in a few weeks.
We also had a special treat:
Charlie Weaver is an Au Sable River Boat guide who also has another talent. He provided a couple of hours of soothing entertainment with a number of songs. You can find his CD here: http://www.chartingnature.com/books.cfm?book=B6881
Hey Charlie!! I think I caught you last summer on my camera. Check out this link and scroll down! http://flyfishingforums.hipwader.com/viewtopic.php?id=2704
Here are just a few more photos from a fantastic Flygirls adventure. I just wanted to say a special "THANK YOU" to camera shy Colleen Jenkins for all her efforts in putting this all together. I sure hope I see this one come again next year. I’m serious…Put me on the list!
Camp Wa Wa Sum
Camp Wa Wa Sum is a Michigan State University conference center and a research facility used by the departments of Fisheries and Wildlife and Forestry. It is located on the AuSable River, 6 miles east of Grayling. The name Wa Wa Sum means "plain view" in the Chippewa language and was given to the camp in 1905 by Chief David Shoppenagon, an AuSable River guide and outdoorsman. The first building was constructed of red pine and tamarack logs in 1897-98 by Rubin Babbit, an AuSable woodsman who later became Michigan’s first wildlife officer.
The camp is used for Fisheries and forestry research . Non profit groups can use the site for educational purposes.
A frosty morning on the porch overlooking the river.
Telling stories under a watchful eye.
Back seat knitter!! BUSTED!!
All that outside air, at the end of a day, one tends to fade by the warm fire.
Bed sure looks good!
(click photos to see full size)
Thanks Again, Flygirls of Michigan, Kris Nichols, Jerry Regan , Dennis Potter, Charlie Weaver and Colleen Jenkins for making this a trip to remember forever.