River Report September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.

On September fifteenth I was awake at four a.m. and just couldn’t force myself back to sleep.  The opening day of grouse season is one of my favorites of the year.  A dog on point, like a spawning colored IMG950231brook trout, or a buck in a misty morning meadow means Fall in Northern Michigan to me.  Some things may just be as good, but nothing is better.

I loaded my gear into the car the night before.  Not because of my excitement, but because I didn’t want those dogs of mine turning circles and clicking crazily on the hardwood before the sun came up.  All it takes is an orange hat to get those boys whimpering for the woods.   It sorta worked, too.  I was able to make have a quiet cup of coffee and fry up an opening day breakfast, but all under the watchful eyes of a few, not completely fooled, setters.

Truth is I was just as ready as they were and scraped half of my breakfast into their bowl before I was finished—partially for an opening day treat and even more as a decoy as I made for my hunting boots.  It hardly worked and those hounds left the better part of eggs over easy and jumped on the door.  They may not have a calendar, but they know . . . oh they know.

Opening day, like all opening day is very much about tradition.  But, for grouse, it’s equally about scouting for birds.  Folks always like toIMG_20131002_190144_511

believe in secret spots and, sure, there are those covers that just seem to produce year over year, but any pullover can be the new secret hollow at the beginning of the season.  Grouse can have around ten chicks per clutch and ten new birds’ turns last year’s empty woodlot into a red hot turn through the trees.    The trick in the early season is to do a bunch of quick hits.  You’ll be able to dip your toes into a lot of different spots and you’ll keep Summer fat dogs fresh on your search for first year grouse.

If you find ten new clutches, you’ll have as many as eighty birds to hunt over the coming season.   It’s not just good hunting, its good conservation.

The brook trout are podded up and already starting to spawn in some stretches of the river, so be prepared to walk a far distance between brook trout bites.  And be prepared to use every fly and technique in your arsenal.  The fishing is dynamic this time of year and you’ll want to be just as versatile.  Dries like Chernobyl Ants and Parachute Adams will certainly continue to produce, but wet flies will likely be the golden ticket.  Knot on a nymph, traditional wet fly, soft hackle, or small streamer for your best chance at success.

Have a great week in the outdoors,


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