The Tug is the Drug


By Steve Siciliano

It seems like ages since I’ve been able to satisfy my fly-fishing addiction. The last time I felt the tug of a trout at the end of my line was about six weeks ago when my son Chris and I fished a stretch of the Pine just north of Luther. I was reminded that day how physically demanding angling for trout in Michigan can be. After tucking the truck into a clearing on a dirt road we geared up, hiked up a small hill then scrambled over moss-covered logs and through dense patches of brush until we hit the river. It took us about three hours to work our way back upstream. Unfortunately we didn’t have much action that day. Chris netted a decent-sized rainbow but I was daydreaming when I got my one and only hit and after a few rod pulsating seconds the trout shook free.

The Pine is one of the few rivers in Michigan’s lower peninsula that resembles a western trout stream. It’s rocky, fast and when the water is high it can be difficult to wade. There are times when you have to climb up on the bank to get around a deep hole and you have to stumble through the thick woods until you can skitter back into the river. It’s not easy fishing, especially for an old codger like me who’s had two hip replacements.

Later that night I was leaning against my neighbor’s deck trying to get him to spill the beans on some of his Little Manistee hot spots when I shifted slightly and felt a sharp pain in my calf. “What the hell!” I thought. I hobbled back to the cottage and before going to bed consumed a large tumbler of bourbon. The pain was still there in the morning so I popped four Advil’s and brooded about the fact there would be no fishing that day. By the time my wife got up I was convinced a blood clot was working its way to my heart and that the grim reaper was rapping on the door. That would mean the end of my fishing.

“Did the Advil help?” my wife asked coolly when I shared my fears of imminent demise with her.

I admitted that it did.

Then it’s not a blood clot,” she said matter of factly. “You’re fine.” I should have known better than to try to elicit sympathy from Barb. Last summer I got a nasty bite on my hand while breaking up a dogfight and my finger ballooned to the size of a hunk of kielbasa overnight. “Suck it up buttercup,” she told me when I suggested that I should probably see a doctor.

Anyway, back to the pain in my leg. It hung around for about a week and when I felt ready to hit the streams again it began raining and continued to rain for a couple of weeks. It’s not wise for a man my age (recall the two fake hips) to wade in rivers that are nearing flood stage.

The tug is the drug. It seems like ages since I’ve been able to satisfy my fly-fishing addiction and I’m jonesing for a fix. The other morning I woke up in a cold sweat and now I’m worried that I’m going through withdrawals. When I mentioned that to my wife she looked up from her book and rolled her eyes.

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2840 Lake Michigan NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49504

616-453-9674

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