By Steve Siciliano
Now that we’re semi-retired, my wife Barb and I have been spending a lot of time at our cottage, which means we’ve been spending a fair amount of time driving around on country roads. We take those roads to get to our fishing spots and we travel down them on our occasional trips to the stores, restaurants, bars and fly-fishing shops in the rural areas of Lake and Mason counties. Since there’s never much traffic on those roads, I see more vehicles on my five-minute drive to Siciliano’s than I do during a week’s worth of driving up north, and I’m better able to focus on the lovely country scenery. That’s not to say that you can completely zone out. You have to keep an eye out for the ubiquitous deer and for the flocks of oblivious turkeys.
While many of those roads are paved there’s still a good number that are not. I prefer unpaved roads despite the fact they're dusty when dry, muddy when wet and have the tendency to get terribly washboarded. There have been times I was driving down a gravel road at a pretty good clip when I hit a stretch of ripples that rattled the truck so hard that I feared the fillings were being dislodged from my teeth. But the scenery always seems to be better on those roads — the dilapidated barns, the pine-stump fences, the meadows of wildflowers, the rickety wooden bridges over the occasional creek.
Perhaps another reason I like gravel roads is that they usually lead you to the best fishing spots and lately we’ve been doing a fair amount of angling. Barb has been learning the intricacies of fly fishing and last week she caught her first brown while wading in the Little Manistee. She was lamenting the fact that the trout was a tad small until I relayed to her what the late Pete Hamlin said to Harry Winston and I one night at the Bear Creek Inn. “If you can catch a trout on a fly in the Little Manistee,” he told us, “you can catch a trout on a fly anywhere.”