December 29, 2016
The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.
We’ve been twisting in the “between time” here in Northern Michigan. Every year there’s a time when winter appears and shuts down the fall fun but doesn’t quite wield enough bluster to kick on the frozen wonderland events.
It happened twice this year. Everything looked like a green light to skiing, sledding, and ice fishing but just as the woods and waters froze under a thick blanket of snow, a warm-up squashed a strong starting bell and put us back in a holding pattern once again. That’s all over now. The weather forecast has winter locked in the crosshairs. The ice is boning up nicely for fishermen and predicted snowfalls will soften the snowmobile trails and fluff up the ski hills and trails.
Ice conditions on area lakes have improved greatly. The last warm-up melted much of the thick snow that was insulating the early, thin ice. That’s allowed lakes to add important inches of ice in very short order. Many Northern lakes are showing five to seven inches now, and with the exception of the unfrozen Higgins Lake, I’ve heard of folks fishing on most of the waters in our area. Conditions vary and can change quickly, however, so continue to check with local bait shops for the most up to date reports.
It’s time to get started and reports are that the fishing has been pretty good. I’m rigged and ready. My adventures are mostly for panfish and this year I’ve twisted up some special ice flies for the bug eating bluegills. I’ve been messing with ice flies a little over the last couple of seasons but, with the help of some more experienced ice fly fishermen, I’m feeling more confident that ever. Naturally colored, unweighted, small flies that move naturally in the water and ultra-limber rods are supposed to be the ticket.
The rig I’m banking on is a modified trout fishing two nymph set-up and style called Czech Nymphing. The beauty of this system is that it utilizes a heavily weighted bottom fly called an anchor to speed the descent and to keep the line vertical. Meanwhile, the unweighted fly is knotted 12-18 inches above the anchor with a fine dropper line that allows that top bug to move naturally. The theory is solid and I’ll fill you in on the practice next time.