July 7, 2015
The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report
It’s Summer here in Michigan. The season here is the epitome of Summertime. It’s cook outs and noodle salad and it’s swimming in the lake and it’s camp fires and s’mores. It’s about kids twirling sparklers and chasing fireflies. And, of course, for us it’s fishing on placid lakes and jeweled streams. It’s a time best served by spending it with friends and family. When the rest of the world watches a movie about summer fun, they’re watching a movie about and probably filmed in Northern Michigan.
The shift is upon us. It happens every year and I’m always amazed how abrupt it occurs. One day it’s the end of June and determined anglers are teaming through the fly shop plucking hex and drakes from the bins and striking out for the river and then it’s the Fourth of July and the afternoon is slow at the shop and we catch our breathes for a moment and we celebrate the holiday watching fireworks at dusk from our front porch.
The next day The Old Au Sable slowly fills up with wide-eyed folks that have just always wanted to give fly fishing try. I absolutely love it. The first part of the season is a hard-core charge to the river. We fish long and go every night for a couple of months, chasing some of the best trout fishing in the country. We do it like a job—like we have to do it. Because we do. After all, it is why we live here. But in this second season, we get to share it with new people and maybe that’s just a little bit better.
Folks are coming to the right place. They bring in hand me down and garage sale found gear and we clean it up for them and make it functional. They pick up inexpensive starter outfits and they take inexpensive lessons from great guides and good teachers. We do a good job with new anglers and that makes me proud. There is nothing I care about more than teaching and sharing our passion and our waters.
Everything is in great shape by the way. The cool, wet spring has our rivers and lakes in fantastic shape. The trout are biting and the shallows of our still waters are producing plenty of fish for the fly angler. The panfish, bass, and pike are haunting the lily pads and weed beds. They haven’t been pushed to the depths by heat. Sloshing around in reeds and working the edges of a favorite or new found lake or pond is a fine way to spend an afternoon. Use poppers or rubber-legged trout flies to tempt the warm water fishes. Cast your fly close to cover and when it splats on the surface, let the ripples settle before giving it twitch hard enough to kick the legs and make some more rings in the water. Be ready—the bite will happen quickly.
On the river, look for blue-winged olives in the morning. And take your tricos with you—they will certainly show up very soon with the warm forecast. If the fish are rising, they will be rising to one of these small flies. Pick a reach on any of the Au Sable branches when the sun stretches over the tree tops and you just may have a lonely spot with a fine rise. If not, you’ll find some pretty fast action on small attractor flies like parachute Coachmans, Patriots, Borchers, and Adams.
As the sun gets higher, poke around something bigger. It’s time for foam flies and hoppers on the Au Sable and Manistee. But for my money, I’d fish drake and even Hex patterns as an enticer. We like to tie on hoppers here and for good reason—they work. But the fact remains, that the only hoppers that ever landed on the Au Sable were the ones we caught and tossed in into the currents. The fish simply eat them opportunistically. But the trout have been eating drake sized flies for the last thirty days. I’d bet a dollar to a dime that they will recognize those offerings as food.
It’s a good time to be on the water. If you just still need that trophy, the mouse hatch after dark always happens and you can scratch that itch. Big trout need big offerings.
If you’re lucky enough to have some youngster or newbie wanting to spend some time with you on the water, take them. There’s just nothing better.
My boy Jack has been dying to go, so I took him to Jones Lake the other day. He just wanted to go fishing with Dad. He did a great job. We waded out knee deep. His knees. And cast a spinning rod to the weeds. I cast. He reeled. We caught weeds some. And we swam more. We had a great time. It was the best day of fishing I’ve had this year.
I can’t wait to do it again. I can’t wait to get him in a boat. But that means I’ll have to be in the front showing him the how-to’s and keeping him from falling in the river. If I could swing it, I’d hire a guide to drive the boat. If you can swing it, it’d be a great way to spend and afternoon. Let some else deal with the details and drag the boat—let you focus on family.
And, I can’t wait to myself and fish to thick pods of short trout rising to tricos in the growing, morning, lonely light.
Get out there. Where else would you want to be?
See you soon,