“…and all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde.

By Greg Frey, a fly fishing guide for Boyne Outfitters and schoolteacher in Gaylord. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 magazine. Get the next issue delivered to your mailbox by clicking here.

Northern Michigan’s summer was almost over. I’d spent most of it on the river with clients but not with my daughter, who loves nature and fly fishing. We knew we would both be back in the classroom soon enough. It was time for a road trip.

Two bikes and a boat loaded and ready for fishing.

We could have made the 45-minute drive to the Jordan River in two vehicles. But that would have taken away an hour and a half of quiet talk time. And that is a precious commodity with a 17-year-old daughter — something not to be squandered. We took one truck and two bikes and spotted ourselves.

There was no hurry that day, and no guiding pressure to compete with. We had time to smell the flowers, count the waxwings, climb a tree and study a bee hive. What could be more perfect?

A young woman reads up in a tree while the driftboat is tied off nearby.

It was a happy day. A day for light-hearted flies like Chubbies, Humpies, Patriots and Woolly Buggers with silly rubber legs. The water was low — gin clear, Iron-Fish-Distillery-Vodka clear. We fished undercut banks, gravel bars and 100-year-old petrified white pine logs with squared-off ends. They were cut during Michigan’s logging era — the Green Gold Rush. Those logs rebuilt Chicago after the fire of 1871, but some never made it to the sawmill.

How about an 18-inch brown? It was caught at midday, in the bright sun and on a river full of behemoths that rarely gives them up before midnight. It was all smiles.

The day was a road trip to remember — a float never to forget.

A father and daughter pose riverside after a long, happy day of fishing.