Au Sable River Scene
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Author with an 'Opening Day' walleye
Opening Day Reflections
Or 'How All I Caught Was This Walleye'
                         By: Jerry Kunnath
Previously Published in the
Michigan Streamside
Opening Day Reflections
By: Jerry Kunnath

For over 55 years, I have been here in Michigan, awaiting one type of opener or another. All year long, as
I pass our refrigerator on my way through the kitchen, I can’t seem to avoid gazing longingly at the
currently displayed month of the scribbled calendar. I cursorily make a mental note of the number of days
until the next ‘big’ day in our Michigan outdoorsman’s schedule. Whether it is the opening day of the
Great Lakes Musky season, the bow deer season, the first day of grouse and squirrel hunting, punczkie
day, or whatever; I just cannot help taking the time to dream of what is to come. I consider this one of my
sweeter addictions. However, of all the ‘Opening Days’ that come and go throughout my outdoor pursuits
each year, none is more avidly anticipated than the opening day of the regular trout season. For me, this
is the big kahuna. The spring trout season has officially arrived.

The magic of threading my way through the cedars and seeing the waters of the Au Sable at first light on
opening morn just sends chills up my spine. Granted, on some of those opening morning jaunts, my
waders were leaving tracks in the snow and my breath promised to crystallize in the air, with the
aforementioned chills spawning shivers, but it was still exciting just the same. That first false cast,
hanging the fly and leader in the willows behind me, is always one that I remember for months into the
season. Then, as the morning cloud covered sun warms the air to a balmy 40 degrees, I wait with
anticipation [and frozen fingers] for the first rise of a hungry trout. However, since opening morns here
in Michigan are most often greeted with more than cool temperatures, [if not ice flows] I usually settle for
spending the day tight-lining nymphs through the deeper holes, praying to the fish gods for a taker. By
noon, after hooking my tenth ‘historic’
Au Sable log, the resident fish have already heard me promise
them a quick and friendly release, if only they would honor me with a short, valiant fight on my leader.
Even if they ignore me though, I still end up smiling, albeit through snarling lips. Opening day is just that

To me, opening day holds many blessings. It re-unites me with friends that I have not seen since the last
fall and it signals the end of winter and the promise of the new spring. The air is alive with the music of
the returned songbirds. The soil is glowing with the warmth of the season, and the grass of my front lawn
is restarting its maniacal growth cycle that drives me to cursing fits each summer. However, at least I can
fly-fish the Au Sable for trout….and a few *&##*@ submerged logs and overhanging branches.