Wow! Those are some really nice fish. I think I need to plan a fishing trip with Spence. :)
Anytime fella! :)
At Gates' Lodge on the Au Sable there is a Hog Chart. If an angler catches a Brown over 18 he can post it and they give him a Catch and Release pin. Next year the list is posted online at their web site. An angler's version of "15 minutes of fame". :)
I have always been reluctant, for some reason to post on the hog chart...Too much like showing off to me I guess. Maybe its the influence of my old mentor. :) Over the decades I have only posted on this chart when I was promoting a guide, a tyer, or a friend visiting from PA :), or my friend Mike's big fish.
Mike is post 70's, post Vietnam, post Detroit Detective, post colon surgery, and post heart attack. I felt his fish needed to be celebrated. Even though we used a guide from a different shop, and fished a river other than the Au Sable I took Mike to Gates' and posted his fish.
When John was visiting and I took him in to the shop to post his pig and get him his Catch and Release pin, I posted my 18" fish and asked Josh for my pin. He looked at me with a smile and asked just how many pins do you already have? "Are you wearing them across your vest like a five star general or something?!" He then gave me another and I handed it to John...He has two sons...He needed two pins. :)
In all these decades of fishing the Au Sable I have only posted two fish that weren't meant to promote someone else. The 18" Brown I caught wading with John above Lovell's because it was my biggest fish above town in what is rather shallow water compared to the other branches up there. The North has been known up that way as the Brook trout nursery.
The other one was an 18" Brown caught last year at "Spencer's Stoop" on the South Branch. It was a nod really to that spot where I sat from 2000-2006 suffering through my back pain, bend to the left by 30 degrees. I sat there on the bank among Marsh Marigolds smoking my pipe to ward off mosquitoes, waiting for the evening magic to begin. If it got going I'd force myself to fish down to the next exit...If not I would wade back up to where I got in and walk the trail back to my truck, stopping every so many yards to squat down and take a break before I could move on. Even on rather cold evenings I was sweating and in pain.
All the boys back in the shop knew where I was...Rusty would send me emails when I was back home letting me know that there was a female bear "in your hole" with cubs...
I had to stop playing hockey in 2003...Right in the middle of the playoffs and the doctor wanted me to stop wading as well. My response was, "Why don't you do me a favor and take me out and shoot me!"
After two operations I'm back and decided that that fish from that spot needed to be respected...That night another friend wading with me took a 16" Brown and another caught a 14"er and missed a hog.
The river has always been good to me, just being there sometimes is enough, the big fish are just icing on the cake...Some folk head to pills or a psychologist...I headed to the Au Sable...
I can remember fishing with Rusty after my last operation and him saying something like, "That's huge, Spence! I can remember a time when I wondered how you got out of bed, let alone put on the waders, and fished the river."
So. I guess I'm asking your indulgence here with my showiness...:)
I posted a fish I caught back in 2003. I had floated with a friend for the first time on the Big Water below Mio, Craig Perry. He took a pic of me holding a 20" Brown I caught that day. I was so bent over with my back that it looks like that trout weighed a ton. The following week Craig had a heart attack and died right in the parking lot at Gates'. Somehow Rusty found the old throwaway camera that Craig had used to take the pic, had the film developed, and sent me the pictures.
All these great fish we catch come attached to great memories, some sad ones, but each and everyone we are lucky enough to be there to catch are special!