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Woods, water & worse/Jim Junttila

A midsummer night’s stream

August 21, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

I'm as interested in the origin of words and expressions and making them flow as I am in the origin of brookie cricks, what they flow through, and where they flow to. While nobody has ever confused this column with great literature, I reserve the right to recognize and report a fishy play on words when I see or hear one, and milk it for a column whenever I can. That's poetic license to go with your fishing license. It adds a little intrigue, romance and culture to the mix, like correspondents Dolly Partanen and Dolly Vardenen do.

When many of you hear the name Shakespeare, you think of fishing rods and reels, don't you? So do I. But William Shakespeare was more than a fisherman, he was a playwright. And I'm sure he wouldn't mind my doing a take-off on his romantic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The U.P. in general and the Keweenaw in particular are fulla trout streams of your dreams that turn on this time of year. Even little no-name, jump-across cricks, too brushy and buggy for most fishermen to fool with, are teeming with brookies growing fat and sassy on a bumper croppa aquatic insects, bugs, crickets, hoppers, worms, crustaceans or whatever comes their way during these "dog days of summer."

One of my favorite midsummer night streams is Marquette County's Yellow Dog River. And you can't turn the news on without hearing about blue dog democrats.

"Don't forget blue tick hounds," said WW&W senior tick correspondent, Woody Tikkanen, "Wherever you find dogs and brookies, you find ticks."

"And checking for them is half the fun," said brook trout correspondent Dolly Vardenen.

"Dog days of summer" usually refers to unusually hot weather, as in last week's heat wave. Having lived in hideously hot, humid, sub-tropical places like Tampa Bay and way down yonder in New Orleans, I think of our short-lived heat waves as sultry, sweaty and sexy, like Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

The difference between our dog days and theirs is ours don't last all summer long. I love a good 72-hour heat wave with 90-degree days and 75-degree nights when I go float tube fishing with WW&W correspondents Sandy Bottom and Fanny Hooe to cool off. Lake Superior does the trick no matter how hot and sweaty you are.

Brookies prefer cold water, too, but this time of year, they're not fussy and will settle for any water that's deep enough to cover their backs and keep the ticks off, even if they have to share it with low-life chubs and shiners. They head for the deepest, darkest beaver dams, undercut banks and foam-covered pools they can find and play hard to get, but can be lured out of hiding with a juicy cricket, hopper, halfa crawler, Gulp earthworm or the flash of a small Swedish Pimple, Mepps or Panther Martin.

But you've gotta be willing to work for it. Woodtick Crick flows through abandoned farms, apple orchards, lush ferns and Elysian Fields fragrant with hot pink sweet peas and wild roses, lush ferns, daisies, brown eyed susans, Indian paintbrush, buttercups, purple thistle and joe pye weed. Wading through that stuff is the easy part.

Next you've gotta pick and eat your way through blueberries, chokecherries and thimbleberries covering her deeply undercut banks without disturbing the brookies beneath.

Be patient, you're almost there. Just fire up your chainsaw and bushwhack through that blackberry bramble with thorns that puncture your hip boots, waders and flesh like barbed wire. I know, it would be easier calling in a napalm air strike.

Now all you have to do is penetrate that impenetrable wall of tag alder they oughta call snag alder and you'll be wetting your line in a Yooper Midsummer Night Stream.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at



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