Kayak Anglers Supporting the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

The Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

The Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

The Flint River has for many years supported a productive smallmouth bass fishery.  It breaks my heart to learn that corroded pipes have reportedly poisoned Flint, Michigan drinking water pulled from the very river my good friend Ed Roden and I floated this past fishing season.  There will be those that root cause the issue’s concerns, but for this forum I encourage kayak and fly anglers to consider donating to the needs of the community as they grieve real impacts to life and home.  You can find information on how to contribute at the bottom of this article.

Over the years, I had probably made a quick glance below I-75 to the Flint River a hundred times or more on my way up to more fabled waters a bit further north.  However, my mis-informed perception of this fishery shouldn’t have been made so hastily even considering the close proximity to the nearly 4 million people residing in the Flint and Metropolitan Detroit area just to the south of the river.

Ed Roden fly fishing the Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

Ed Roden fly fishing the Flint River. Photo by Aaron Rubel

The Flint is a wide, smooth flowing river with a bottom substrate that ranges from sand to cobble to breathing pockets of underwater grass beds.  The depth in the stretch we fished varied from knee-deep to holes that were clearly over the head of the wading angler.  We floated a five-hour stretch of river that began at a small township park to a take-out at an established access lot.  Ed cruised the river in the Hobie Pro Angler 12 and I paddled a Jackson Kilroy.  Skittering a small foam cone-shaped topwater fly, it didn’t take Ed long after launching before he hooked up with a nice smallmouth.

Ed Roden of the Hobie Fishing Team with a Flint River smallmouth bass. Ed is wearing Maui Jim Banyans in bronze toned lens.

Ed Roden of the Hobie Fishing Team with a Flint River smallmouth bass.

On a float just north of a large metropolitan area, you’ll of course encounter an occasional business or two along the banks, but I was surprised at how the river cut through mostly secluded forest that made for a pleasant fishing trip.  Smallmouth bass are generally considered a species that have a low tolerance to pollutants in the water.  The clarity of the stretch we floated varied from gin clear to slightly stained which seemed typical of good smallmouth water I’ve fished elsewhere.

Aaron Rubel with a smallmouth caught on a yellow popper fly. I was wearing Maui Jim Sunglasses in Wassup frames with rose toned lens.

Aaron Rubel with a smallmouth caught on a yellow popper fly.  Photo by Ed Roden

We had a successful day, landing eight smallies between us in the 12-15″ range with Ed landing six of those caught.  The Flint River smallmouth fed from the middle of the afternoon all the way through dusk.  It was a great trip and I look forward to another float on this river someday in the near future.

Flint River Smallmouth on the fly.

Flint River Smallmouth on the fly.  Photo by Aaron Rubel

I love the textured like pattern on the smallmouth bass species. The Flint River smallies also had a beautiful hue of light blue on their lower jaw.  And so, amidst the sad news surrounding the Flint River community, I hope the history of a quality smallmouth bass fishery can serve as an example of why this watershed remains a valuable treasure to conserve and visit in Southeast Michigan.

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A beautiful Flint River bronzeback. Photo by Aaron Rubel

If you’d like to consider helping the residents who are suffering a devastating health concern from lead poisoned water, reportedly stemming from corroding pipes, donations can be made to United Way of Genesee County, Michigan at the following link:  UnitedWayGenesee.org .  When on website, click the “GIVE” button, and then there’s an option to support the Flint Water Fund.   You may also call 810-232-8121 for details.  I have donated in the amount I normally reserve for  spending on myself from my current paycheck.  I challenge you to also give to the desperate needs of Flint, Michigan residents.

 

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