May 16, 2017
The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report
First off I’d like to let everyone know that this is the one hundred and fifty sixth episode of the Old Au Sable Fly Fishing radio broadcast report. It is also with this report that we say goodbye and good luck to Dave Shurbert—the best producer in radio history. He must be because he’s worked hard to make many of these segments sound better than they deserve. We wish you well, friend. The bluegills of Crawford County are in big trouble. You folks may want to start chasing them in other counties—Dave is deadly. He lets them all go but they’ll be well educated from now on. True at least for all the big ones.
The rivers are alight with rising trout in near perfect conditions right now. This is the time of year when as many as nine different aquatic insect hatches converge to make some of the finest, most complicated hatch-match dry fly fishing in the world. It’s a fun game to play.
Biker Dave and I lit to the South Branch the other night eager with the prospect of a fabulous evening. I was fast into my boot-footed waders and fast out of my SUV with my four weight rod already strung. We paused at the top of the ridge that offered a sweeping view and watched with anticipation. One fish rose on the peel-off at the top of a sweeper that paralleled the current. He rose tightly to the log—smartly and consistently.
Dave saw him first so it was his nod. We sat on the bank with a modicum of patience trying to decide by committee which of the multiple bugs that fish was choosing. We watched closely and we considered the intricacies of the rise form. It was gentlemanly. And then Dave got after that finicky SOB. Dave fished perfectly with no response and the fish rising to some invisible natural bug. Dave changed flies four times and only was rewarded with one refusal before he tipped his hat to me. “Your turn,” he said.
I moved that trout once on a refusal in my first three fly changes. But as the light lowered and I tied on the last fly my old eyes were going to be capable of threading onto the leader, the game changed slightly. Darkness on the Au Sable is the great leveler. The fish ate my offering and I broke him off on the hookset like an over-eager teenager on a first date.
We had size 14 dark spinners on the water. We had Sulphurs hatching and spinning on the water. We had little Mahogany Spinners. We had black caddis and popcorn caddis. And who knows what else. It wasn’t heavy, but it was a deep flight and hatch.
And we both fished to good trout. And we both left skunked.
It just doesn’t get any better. An ass whipping on the Au Sable leaves you humble and wanting more.