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Our ‘Frenchman’s Pond’

June 26, 2013

Have you read any of the books written by John Voelker? This gentleman was once a Supreme Court Justice of the State of Michigan. If not his book, perhaps you are familiar with his short essay, “Testament of Fisherman.” In all of his writings, he used the pen name Robert Traver. He burst onto the national scene when in 1958 he wrote the novel “Anatomy of a Murder.” The book attracted the attention of Hollywood. It was made into a movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick. The financial success of the book allowed Judge Voelker, late in life, to devote himself to writing and fly fishing. His favorite fishing place was located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His name for this secret spot was Frenchman’s Pond. The pond and the rickety old cabin that sat beside it were made famous through his books, titled “Trout Madness,” “Trout Magic” and “Anatomy of a Fisherman.” He often wrote of “the pleasure of sipping bourbon out of an old tin cup.” I own his three fishing books, and they are great reading material. His short essay, “Testament of a Fisherman,” begins with the line, “I fish because I love to; because the environs where trout are found, are invariably beautiful; and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly.” In a one-minute reading, he sums up why fishing is such an attractive sport. Charles Kuralt, famous for his commentaries on radio and television once described Judge Voelker as, “the greatest man he had ever interviewed.” Kuralt, himself, was an expert fly fisher.

Our stay in Texas has proved to be longer than expected. First, we were here for our grandson’s high school graduation. Now it is the ongoing efforts by the oncologist to stabilize the way Barbara’s blood reacts to the medications she takes for her chronic myeloid leukemia. Over time, both of us had developed a bad case of Fishitis. The only cure for this particular malady is to go fishing. This prompted us to seek out our own Frenchman’s Pond. We did find one. It is a small pond only 25 minutes east of Trophy Club, TX. It is known that Judge Voelker’s pond contained mostly small brook trout. Similarly, our pond’s largemouth bass and brim are not exactly tackle busters. Even so, on a two-weight eight-foot, eight-inch Winston graphite rod, the bass and the brim are capable of putting a pretty bend in the rod.