The Bamboo and I have reached an understanding- a detente if you will. I agree not to call it fat, and it agrees not to call me speedy. Or thick-head.
I took The Bamboo to the UP. The Bamboo was not impressed. ""Land of Hiawatha" you say?". I didn't say that. The Bamboo and I searched a new stretch of river for brook trout. We didn't find any. The Bamboo is starting to believe that the legends circulating about the UP may just be idle gossip, or misinformation spread deliberately by Yoopers to get tourist dollars. "Where are all these fish you keep telling me you have?" demands The Bamboo. I made him hang in the closet for three days for that remark.
|The UP, sans brook trout|
"I am a gentleman" he kept reminding me.
"Yeah, and a pain in the ass" was my retort.
"You are a very coarse individual."
"And you are a dilletante."
"You are not a good angler"
"You don't know how to cook...."
The Bamboo still doesn't have an answer to that one. Years from now The Bamboo will be laying on a leather couch, blathering to his therapist. " I didn't know I was supposed to cook..."
There's a lot The Bamboo doesn't know, but I acknowledge that I am a coarse person in need of some refinement. The Bamboo family is accustomed to the finer things- the best rivers, the best guides, float trips in traditional Au Sable boats, shore lunches, silk rod socks, saffron tinted fly lines. The Bamboo reminds me of this on a daily basis. I am used to marginal small streams, thick forest, horrid swamps and no food at all. And rods I don't have to cater to. I snap the heads (tips) off of rods just for looking at me funny. Or for riding in my car.
Finally I relent- I will scrap my plans to explore the UP for a whole weekend and take The Bamboo to fish the Au Sable river. "Will that make you happy?"
"No, not after what you put me through. Well, maybe if you take me to the Holy Water."
"What? I can't afford that. How about the North Branch, just you and I? Wide open river, old cottages..."
"You promised to make things up to me..."
"....The North Branch Outing Club..."
|wide-open, North Branch, Au Sable|
|Mike Schmidt on the broad and spacious river|
We got up early (too early) the next morning. The air had a definite chill. I could hear The Bamboo shivering in his case. The Bamboo is very civilized, and doesn't tolerate immoderate temperatures or people.
"You left me to die last night" he whined.
"Would you rather have spent the night in the tent?"
"That's what I thought. Stiff upper lip Bamboo, let's go."
"That's Mister Bamboo to you!"
|Mr. Bamboo, still swaddled in his case.|
We drove down to the river, but the chill had put a damper on the bug activity. As it turns out, Tricos are the gentlemen of mayflies and will not stir from their lairs unless the temperatures are just so. I would say that The Bamboo and Tricos are cut from the same uppity cloth, though from different molds.
|token fish, but oh so satisfying. Notice that The Bamboo is smiling just a little.|
We caught a token fish that morning (as The Bamboo shivered). We went back to camp, scraped through the crusted foodstuffs we had brought, raised a fine cooking fire, and ate granola bars out of the wrapper. If I may make any claim to refinement, I drank fresh, hot espresso from my portable pot, and I might add, it was fine. We dozed (while The Bamboo stewed in his case) until noonish, then Mike Schmidt kicked my foot. I wiped the drool from my arm and sat upright in my camp chair.
"Hey, these guys are going to do their own thing this afternoon- want to hit the river again?"
I didn't bother to consult with The Bamboo.
The North Branch Au Sable River near Lovell's is indeed civilized, nay, genteel, water. It is wide open, flowing languidly past cottages and weeping willows, graced with all of the classic hatches- sulfurs, BWO's, mahogany's, hexes, tricos, white flies, all kinds of caddis, and it has a large population of gorgeous brook trout. Very finicky brook trout. They see a lot of rods, and a lot of boats and flies, and they are not impressed by The Bamboo. I am. This is a river where I can really test his fibre ("moral fibre" he would say). I relax the back cast and power the forward. I'm waiting until I can feel his "fibre" load, then haul it just to goad him a little. He doesn't care. He's Bamboo, and under that genteel patina he is a workhorse, and once you put the spurs to a good horse it responds. The Bamboo would like to hide his working class roots, or should I say, his grass roots? In the end, he is what he is, and when I flex his spine he responds in good manner.
We don't get any fish this afternoon. We spend a pleasant outing in the company of Mike Schmidt (who does get a fish), and enjoy skulking down river, laying out cast after silky cast, fishing to wary trout, some of which slash away at our collusive deceptions. We miss for reasons we know not, and stumble happily to the take-out.
The next morning Mike is up waaay too early, and is waaay too chipper, something about a lonely missus. He is on his way home, convinced that the tricos aren't happening. I whisper something to The Bamboo.
"What was that?" Mike demands, but I'm not sharing with him. He caught the last fish, and on a zero weight Sage no less. Piffle. I fold up my camp post-haste and soon we are underway.
|the "Other" river...|
|my happy fish|
I don't want to tell you about the next outing. How I took The Bamboo out on what is a night club for bamboo- private water, groomed banks, wild fish, 15 inch brookies, steaks on the barbie, and a monster brown trout that finally tested Mr. Bamboo's moral fibre. I'm afraid that The Bamboo enjoyed it far too much, and while he enjoyed getting put to work by that brown trout, I suspect he took even more satisfaction when the line parted, leaving me speechless and numb.
We've bonded a bit I'd say, The Bamboo and I. He's come to appreciate to some degree my wild rivers full of wild trout, and I've gained some appreciation for his cultivated manner. I'll be sad to see him go, and I'd like to think I've left my mark on him. I hope he's scarred for life.
Mr. Gortowski, you're next.
I want to thank The Outdoor Blogger Network, Montana Fly Company, Rio and Fall River Fly Rods for making this happen, as well as Michael Schmidt of Angler's Choice Flies for inviting me along on his trico trip. I had a great time with the rod and hope that the bloggers who follow me enjoy it equally. By way of review, I really enjoyed this rod, and once I relaxed it threw a lovely tight loop, and line speed is not a problem. I cast it for at least 25 hours while I had it and loved every minute of it. It is a bit heavy for the daytime trout I fish, and I would never consider taking such a rod night fishing, so I wish I would have taken it out for bass. It's a perfect smallmouth rod. Next time- I hope.