a stroll along the pigeon...
Camp was up in about fifteen minutes, including a rain trench around the tent. At the end of another half hour, I had enough firewood gathered for my campfire that night. My fly rod was slung and ready not long after.
I had packed along a light pair of stocking waders and a pair of canvas shoes to wear while I waded. Since it was August, I didn't need to worry about staying warm. The deer flies were bad down near the stream, so I pulled a bug net over the brim of my soft golf hat. I was ready to go.
The spot where I entered the stream was like much of the Pigeon River, about two feet deep with a sandy bottom. There was a fallen tree lying in the river upstream on my left and another almost straight across from me. I eased out into the stream until I had room to cast.
The Pigeon holds brown, rainbow, and brook trout. I've been a brook trout fan since I caught my first one as a boy. They are a beautiful fish and are usually easier to fool than a rainbow or brown. The brook trout in the Pigeon are generally small, although twelve-inchers and larger are not unknown.
The State of Michigan stocks the Pigeon with brook trout every year (as far as I know they still do). The smaller, hatchery raised fish are relatively easy to catch. The larger, more experienced brookies and those born in the stream require a little more finesse. I decided to start with a traditional brook trout fly - the Royal Coachmen dry fly.
On my third cast, there was a flash of color and then a quick swirl at the fly as it drifted by the end of the log. A slight lift of the wrist was enough to set the hook and I was into the first fish of the trip.
Even on the light rod and 6X tippet, I could tell it wasn't a very large fish. It wasn't long before I had a beautiful eight-inch brook trout in the net. I took a few moments to admire its beauty before sliding it gently back into the stream.
Brook trout are among the most beautiful of fishes. The back is olive-green to dark brown with lighter sides and a silvery white belly. Wormlike marks and spots cover the sides. The spots are white or red with a blue halo. The fins are often orange with a white stripe on the leading edge and a black stripe above it. In the fall, the larger males acquire a hooked jaw and the colors are even more vivid.
By the time I was through, I had landed a dozen brookies ranging in size from seven inches to one very nice fish of nearly twelve inches. Almost all of them hit a Royal Coachman dry fly. Two hit a small deer-hair grasshopper imitation and one took a large black ant tied on a size 18 hook. I kept one ten-inch fish for dinner and released all of the others unharmed. I hadn't seen another fisherman since I had entered the woods.
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