As the sun slowly rises and warms the cool north woods air, I awaken to the distant sound of a splash. My curiosity causes me to leap from my warm bed and quietly descend the log steps that snake down to the lake. I stop at the water’s edge and scan the horizon; its stillness reflects the trees and clouds and holds a morning fog that gently creeps from the bays. A second splash breaks the deafening silence and quickly draws my excitement and attention to its origin. I see the rings dissipating from a target that is within a distance I can cast my line to. I swiftly move to where my rod is leaning against a tree, while maintaining the location of the rise in my periphery. As I make my way to the edge of the dock, rod in one hand, line in the other, I feel my heart rate elevate with anticipation and excitement. As I pull out line to cast, I hear the buzzing of my reel and feel the coils hit my feet. Raising the rod upward to ten o’clock and then forward to two o’clock, my line shoots through the eyelets with smoothness and power. With two false casts, my fly is in range. I gently lay down the cast and let my fly fall to the water’s surface. Instantly, I see the water swell from a hard kick of a tail and my fly is engulfed by the enormous mouth of my mysterious fish.
Ever since I was child, my family has spent a significant amount of time during the summer months at our cabin in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This dock that I fish from has been a place that I have revisited every year of my life. It is the first spot that I walk to when we arrive, and it is the last spot I visit before we leave. This place is where some of my strongest connections to nature began, and it is a place that I continue to revisit and reconnect with those feelings.