I think the old saying was actually “Fly on the Wall”. Originally I was going to start with something like, ” Shuddup, then Listen and Learn”. Guess thats just not politically correct anymore.
The first night in the Upper Peninsula on the recent trip, me being the fishing fool, will jump in just about any boat to get out on the water. I grabbed my small pike set up, and another rod for catching some of the lake’s yellow perch. Stepped off in the cabin’s 12 ft rowboat and went to some of my favorite spots in the lake to cast around. Its waters are a bit like the clouds in the sky, and that old log cabin is like heaven to the members of my family.
When dad and his brothers get together up there, bits and pieces of the family history come together. I could hear dad and my second oldest uncle talking on the dock from across the lake. Sound does travel, and its normally pretty quiet and serene in the Hiawatha National Forest.
Not wanting to miss anything, I rowed back to the dock and parked the boat on shore. Usually my cousin Tom comes up from Southern Illinois with my unc, but he wouldnt be up for a few more days. So grabbed a chair, ultra light rod, something cold to drink and took it all in.
Some of the stories I have heard before, but that night I learned more about the steel mills, and how grandpa helped fight (literally) for the first unions. Few people realize what it took to get the unions in the mills, and how despartily they were needed back in those days for getting a fair wage and working conditions. Uncle Bob even started the first two unions in the National Forestry Service.
I heard about the socialist ties, and how Walter Ruether had even spent time in the Soviet Union before coming back and starting the labor movement here in the states. My history profs at Eastern left out that part. Also, heard about finding people sleeping on the couches when the family returned from their summers in the upper. Back then the mills would shut down for the summer to retool. So the family packed its bags and moved to the cabin for the summer. Those people sleeping on the couch were bootleggers who ran with my grandfather and great uncles. They had just been released from prison. That was the downriver area back in the days of prohibition.
While they were reliving the past, and I was soaking it all in, there were a fish or two caught. The 33 inch Northern at the top of the page was caught by my dad on an ultra light rod set up. Using an Abu Garcia Cardinal 300, 8 lb Power Pro on a slip bobber rig, he hooked this 9 pound fish at the end of the dock. Sometimes its good for a fly to be on the end of the dock.