A flyfishing road trip has a life of its own, usually changing drastically from the original plan to something entirely unexpected, something entirely different. Perhaps that’s why, finding himself on one of northern Michigan’s fabled trout streams during the epic hexagenia hatch, writer Jim Lampros can only think about Lake Michigan’s big, brutish carp. Inside the 1973 Dodge Sportsman Royal known as “The Big Orange,” fish are scarce, time is short and anglers are getting desperate.

It’s Friday morning and the sun is rising over Lake Michigan. We pack our bags at the Beachcomber Motel on the north shore of Lake Michigan and begin driving east. As we cross the Mackinac Bridge, a thick fog hangs over the lake, fading into a summer haze when we head south on M-31. Fired up and feeling good with the greasy licks of the Black Keys oozing from open windows, we roll into Traverse City hot. It’s pretty much the only way to roll when you’re pulling an 18-foot driftboat behind an orange 1973 Dodge Sportsman Royal.Subscribe to start your collection of the world’s best flyfishing publication.


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