Got a chance to chat with a couple of good guys who were instrumental in making sure the end of the night went as well as the early part of the evening. Often we forget about the guys behind the scenes, we see the bartender, know his or her name, but do you know the various men and women behind the doors in the back of the house that have been prepping all day to make sure the dinner you are enjoying is top notch? Far too often we tend to overlook these unsung heroes of our days work and I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know a little bit about the guys who were vital to having my truck and trailer at the take-out every night we floated the Au Sable for nearly a month with a prolonged hex hatch season this year. Their names are Jake and Scott, they have a rather unique tale to tell.
TNT: Let’s start out with you guys introducing yourselves how old are you where you come from where you went to school.
Scott: Scott here. I know Jake just wrote a nice long email to you but I’ll try to add a few words from my side. Some of it might be repetitive but here goes…. 27 years old, grew up in Oxford, MI, started fly fishing around ’06 at the suggestion of Jake. Went to college in NC so I did a good bit in the mountains down there. I really got hooked and knew fly fishing was cool after we hit an awesome night of drakes on the south branch, After that I dabbled in it when I could and progressively ended up needing a boat. I think Jake wrote a bit on that so I’ll keep it short.
Jake: My name is Jake Crowell, but my buddies call me Bakesale, and I’m 27 years old. Went to High School in Oxford, MI and attended Oakland University.
TNT: Tell me a couple of your likes, favorite sandwich, stuff like that people don’t know.
Jake: Talking sandwiches… I’d say that burritos kick the shit out of sandwiches. Like all burritos, and fish tacos too. I enjoy good food and better whiskey, but I haven’t indulged in either since we set out on this epic journey. I eat a lot of beans, rice, and noodles to save money for the important things like hooks and tippet. Coors banquet beers and McMasters whiskey when we want to party. Again, it’s all about priorities, and ours is fishing.
TNT: When did you guys start car spotting? I know what your ambition was at the beginning of summer and you’re in Montana right now so I hear you built your own boat and this is what you wanted to do, tell me a little bit about that. Was there ever a night where you thought you guys might have bit off more than you can chew? I know in a couple of nights I showed up at the takeout and they were at least a dozen boats waiting in line and 40 or 50 trailers up at the top of the takeout, how in the world can you park a straight a night like that? It’s gotta take a lot of talent in just a little bit of magic…
Scott: The whole idea started out as “think we could just build one? They don’t look that hard” Well there isn’t any readily available plans so we just decided to go for it. Found a few dimensions online and some pictures that gave us a good idea of how it all went together. We settled on ’18 because my garage was 20′ long and 18′ seemed like a good length. We did some research on the wood and marine grade would have been nice but the price was ridiculous and the plywood pros said it wasn’t necessary. So I went to home depot and dropped a few hundred bucks on a stack of wood and got started. From there we mostly just winged it, or ‘finessed it’ as we joked. Since no one wanted to take a weekend off from fishing we decided to bust ass and try to get it done in a week. So for a week we went straight from work to my garage and worked until well after midnight most nights. Between some young and dumb motivation and lots of Grizzly and Budweiser we had a boat in a few days. We put it in the lake behind my house on Thursday night to make sure it floated. Sure enough it started sinking! Another case of beer and we started filling all the pinholes in it. Friday morning I dragged it to work with the ‘glass still wet in most spots and we went up north that night not even knowing if it floated. Sat am it went in the water at Stephan Bridge and didn’t leak at all! The rest is history, its been beat and abused non stop ever since without any problems.
Bakesale: Around November, maybe December, we were kicking back a few beers on dollar beer night complaining about the grind. You know: Work a long week, get the lawn mowed, fix something around the house, have the boys over for fly tying night, pack everything, and leave after work on Friday evening in time to night fish. We’d fish hard until Sunday night making the drive home terrible, and we’d get home with just enough time to get a couple hours of sleep before work on Monday morning. So we decided to put real life on hold and go on one of the most amazing fishing adventures. We already built a river boat in five days, so we decided we could fab a camping van in a couple months. We finished everything around April and left the careers behind. We’ve been living in the van since then. If you want more info on the van, the boat, or the travels you should totally check out TheDryft.com. We made the web site to keep our friends and family informed of what we’re doing. Basically, we fished Michigan from April into July. We then left for Montana and the rest of the West. We’re going to be out this way until the end of September when we start heading south. We want to be fishing the Flats on the Mexico – Belize border by the first of October, and not return to the states until spring.
TNT: Did you ever have a night or you forgot somebody? I know I showed up at the takeout in my truck wasn’t there I know the feeling… do you guys plan on being back next year? What are your future goals? Would you like to own your own fly shop tour guide service? What’s your favorite truck or fish to catch? Where do you think the best fishing is for four seasons? What about the best fishing period->>
Scott: The car spotting now. The whole point of this trip was to fish. We quit our jobs and had some money saved up so that we wouldn’t have to let work interfere with the trout. Josh at Gates was the one who suggested we car spot. Skip (the usual spotter) was overloaded and Josh thought we could make a few bucks without working too hard. Some business cards from Vistaprint and we were open for shop. Some nights were slower than others but during the hex peak we did quite a few. Our rule (so we could fish!) was no spots after 8pm. Some guys didn’t like it when we said we were full for the night but everyone else was cool about it. There was a few nights we did break our own rule and spotted until almost midnight. So yea, I never really aspired to be a pro car spotter, it just happened. It was a lot of fun though! Met a lot of people and had the pleasure of knowing exactly where everyone was fishing! Even saw a topless chick at Parmalee once. As far as I know we never messed up a spot. We had a notebook that we wrote down everything in and that helped keep things straight.
As for the future, I’m not really sure. I could go back to being a machinist, which I enjoyed, but whatever I do, I have a feeling it will be in northern Michigan. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of the world (perks of another job) but always came back to Michigan. It doesn’t get any better than the South Branch!
Bakesale: Anyway, Lets talk about shuttling cars… We hung around Gate’s Lodge quite a bit because Josh always took good care of us, and we became chums with everyone working their. He was talking about how many people came in asking if they spotted cars, and suggested we start being the shuttle guys for said fishermen. It’s kind of a perfect scenario. There are two of us, we didn’t really do too much during the day once Isos started, and making some chedda would only prolong our irresponsible adventure. We made business cards the next day. We went down state and picked up my Jeep so that we wouldn’t run the van into the ground and maybe save some money on gas. We laid down some ground rules that didn’t really work, but whatever, we still floated almost every night. Right on the card we said no spots after 8pm. So everyone just wanted a spot a 8 and we’d work until midnight… Some days we’d only move a few cars, but others were bonkers. There were nights during Hex that we’d be lining trucks up and down the road. There were times where the phrase “Mac to Parm” almost made me go full step dad on guys. That is a long haul, the fish are big, and the bugs were great for over a week their. Everyone was fishing that stretch. So I make it sound like the worst thing ever, but it basically supported our fishing and other habits. We never forgot anyone, and just about everyone we moved was great. We had some fav clients, and we had one particular jackass that was a chore, but I wont go there.
I don’t really know what the future holds for a couple of trout bums like us, but I do know that I’ll try to keep this up as long as I can. I could go back to the career, house, and a girlfriend gig. But what’s strange is that I don’t miss any of that. I love exactly what I’m doing. Working a shop would be awesome and being a guide would be great, but I’m not dead set on anything yet. I guess the epitome would be running a lodge somewhere – anywhere that you really love to fish would be best.
I also just want to say how awesome Michigan is for fly fishing. Michigan is the real players club for people wanting to catch trout. There are a lot of great fish out here in Montana. You can go out and stroke really nice fish all day. Like a lot of 18”-20” fish. It’s amazing really. But Michigan has some huge fish that are not so easily caught. Guys in their 70’s are wadering up at night in Mich. Walking through deep swampy rivers full of pissed off beavers in search of nocturnal brown beasts. I don’t think that it’s really a thing out here. Michigan fishing is pretty hard core.
Favorite fish? Ask me after I catch a tarpon!
Favorite truck? I had the pleasure of test driving a lot of nice ones this summer! Ain’t nothing like a Chevy diesel! Pels’ Tacoma is nice too!
Hope that’s what your looking for!
TNT: I would like to thank you guys for always being there for me and taking care of my vehicle. It is nice to have your vehicle and trailer in one piece, seat and radio where you left it, and clients Cool Ranch Doritos still there in the back seat when you get to the take-out at 2:30 am. Have a great day and it was great to meet you on the water. Look forward to following your adventures…
Be sure to keep up with their travels at THE DRYFT>COM.