Summer is officially here which means fall is just around the corner. It’s not that I’m wishing my life away, not at all and certainly not at this age. What fall means is that the salmon will be running in Michigan, the females making that last swim upstream to lay eggs for the next year’s catch. It’s that catch I am yearning for.
You see I once referred to myself as a fly fisherman whose passion was salmon. But having not braved those banks of the Pere Marquette, Au Sable or Manistee rivers of Western Michigan for salmon or trout in several years my mind is beginning to wonder if this might be my year.
I do not tie a fly to get myself in the mindset of fly fishing, nope my preparation is even more challenging. Hanging in my garage is waders. I would venture a guess waders is something that seldom enters the minds of men. They simply pull them out of storage and head north.
For me not so quickly. Let me tell you what I go through in preparation for my fly fishing adventures. It’s those darn waders! I get all the catalogs showing properly dressed fisherman. I peruse the choices of hip, chest or waist high waders. Then there’s the boot or stocking foot that requires special boots that are costly. Because I don’t fish often, the latter always costs more than I want to spend.
In the 20 or so years I’ve fished I’ve probably bought three or four pair, some developed leaks, others simply no longer fit and here is the problem, the fit.
Waders made for women are based on shoe size and I wear size seven. Those who know me understand when I say I am short but not petite. No way will waders that fit my feet will ever stretch over my ample hips. Enough said so I head to the men’s department where I not only try regular sizes but I’ve swallowed my pride to try stout but the problem isn’t solved. If they fit the hips they are always too long for my extremely short inseam (or too long for my feet, will discuss that later). Neoprene, nylon and other waterproof fabrics pose the same problem; I can’t bend my knees because the length meant to accommodate men is not ideal for a short woman. Consequently my gait resembles that of Lurch from the Adams Family.
This requires a bit of explanation about riverbank fishing. I have yet to find a spot to leave the car (legally) and cross a flat field to the ideal fishing spot. It’s always a long trek in, then down the hill and over a fence or two, sometimes finding footing along tree roots or hanging on to vegetation to maintain balance is necessary but if your feet don’t fill the boot it’s another obstacle to overcome. Climbing down means it’s uphill coming back.
When the knees don’t bend and feet aren’t steady, it’s not a graceful sight, think Michelin man and you’ve got an accurate picture.
Having gone through all this it is only fair that I tell you I do not let these shortcomings hinder me. I am or was, a decent fisherman and have photos to prove it. I have caught both salmon and trout and I do not snag, at least not intentionally. If it happens the catch and release is quick or I cut the line. I want a salmon that fights and one that’s green not brown and I really prefer it when there aren’t a lot of hooks hanging from the fish I catch or release.
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Judy Sinnott is a member of The Messenger’s Board of Contributors. She is a past recipient of the Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year award and continues to be active in the community.