Bob’s solitude was shattered by a sight no fisherman could imagine. Fly rod in hand, he was studying a favorite stretch of the North Branch for clues to guide his first cast. A dozen folks in waders, but without vests or rods, came walking around the bend in the River—in the middle of the River—chatting and pointing.
One of them waded over to explain they are local conservation groups, together with a professional who does their river improvement projects, meeting with three officials from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Mason Griffin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Anglers of the Au Sable and Au Sable North Branch Area Foundation were all represented.
He said they are taking a new approach to trout habitat improvement by starting in the River, discussing together what can and should be done to protect and enhance the trout population. For each piece of water they determined likely goals and then possible techniques, how they might work and why. It was just a start, but it was a good start.
As the group walked down through the River, still talking and pointing, Bob realized he’d have to hike up further than he had planned to get to fish that hadn’t been scare off by this odd in stream conference. He smiled, hopeful what he saw and heard would mean more would be done so that fishing wouldn't be just a pleasant day in the River.
All of us who were there felt it was a successful first step, confident the process and the River will be better.
(Editor’s note: This article also appeared in The Riverwatch, published by Anglers of the Au Sable. However, we thought it was worth sharing for both those who have not seen it and those who will hopefully, enjoy it again.)