November 28, 2016
The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.
It’s been a turbulent 2016 Deer Rifle Season here in Northern Michigan. The thermometer in my truck read temperatures from seventy degrees all the way down to a chilly, nine degree morning start. We had everything from Summer to Winter in a sixteen day season. The drastic changes and short-lived weather patterns made it difficult predict deer movements and plenty of hunters (at least in my circle of friends) ended the season empty handed. I’m guessing that the harvest rates may be a bit off from last year’s season in our area.
That said, I did see some really heavy antlered bucks taken. Maybe part of the production slow down amongst my group of friends is that the boys seem to be getting a bit choosier. Every one of us that saw horns passed on young bucks this year. Now we’re not in the “Let ‘em go, Let ‘em grow” camp that would pass on a 3 1/2 year old, but we are, more and more, in a camp that passes on one year olds. And it’s made for a fun season. I’ve seen seven different small bucks this year and one “shooter” that slipped away. And even though I’m sure the neighbors took some of them, I’m excited thinking about seeing just a few more two and a half year old racked bucks next year.
I’m always sort of relieved when the rifle season ends. It’s like taking off hiking boots or waders—it feels great when you first pull them on and it feels just as good when you kick them off. The season is a bit long for me and part of that feeling comes from the fact that a lot of other seasons are closed. Rifle season sort of dominates the forest.
December is like a new start in field. The game cameras still have a lot of nice deer posing on them and bow season opens on December 1st, while muzzleloader opens on the 2nd. Small game hunting resumes on the 1st as well and it’s once again safe to take your dogs for a woodsy walk. I know mine can’t wait to get a change in the program. And, frankly, neither can I.
I may even hit the river, but then again . . .
I have always loved the year ‘round fishing regulations here, but after watching anglers target spawning trout and harass fish during deeply brutal winters, I find myself on the fence. I always thought that the weather would be a self-limiting factor in the depth of winter. And that ethics would prevail when fish lay vulnerable on redds. There’s a season for all things and maybe I’ll just find something else to do. Maybe.
Spending all that time in the woods this Fall sure has given me a lot of time to think.
Hope you can find some time too,