River Report – December 19, 2021

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report

It seems it’s always snowing sideways when my family piles in the truck and heads to Gaylord for our Christmas tree. But undaunted, we travel to Martell’s Christmas Tree is Farm in Gaylord on a drive that brims with eager anticipation.

It’s funny how we only loosely remember the way to our newish, annual pilgrimage. There’s the house with the big “W” by the suspicious turn and the blow-up yard decorations past the turn that tell us to double back. But once we get on the right-looking road, I know exactly which path to take because the drive into the farm is perfect bird hunting cover. The Martell’s are experts in forest management.

And that family of foresters grow some precisely pruned and perfectly sized Christmas trees. I like the Fraser Firs best with their soft needles and ornament stout branches, and their handmade wreath with the red ribbon hanging on our front door makes me feel like I’ve somehow arrived to a new place in my life. Maybe it’s adulthood and maybe it’s just in the nick of time.

The fishing report is buried in that story. It goes something like, “When Christmas is coming and a snowman making blizzard is imminent, don’t go fishing—take your kid on an outdoor adventure and hunt down a snow-frosted, present-umbrella of a tree.” At least, that is, when you’ve grown too old for blind obsession and too wise to accidentally waste time. There is a perfect space for all outdoor pursuits. Recognizing those windows is rare understanding.
Unseasonable warm-ups are really the point of winter angling on the Au Sable.

Winter nymphing and streamer fishing is really just a way to shake off cabin fever. It was never intended to wage war on our weary trout. They need rest in the off season.

There will be ice on the lakes soon. When there’s ice, it’s time for ice fishing. Temperatures are hovering in the mid-thirties. It’s nearly time to stow the boats and long rods and to dust off the ice shanties and short poles. I love ice fishing because, if you let it be, it’s simple and cheap.
That’s actually true of most outdoors endeavors . . . just not of mine, but I’m working on it.

December also opens the winter fly tying chapter. It’s time to inventory your fur and feathers and hooks and such. A notepad helps to remember the recipes you want to twist together and to list materials that are running thin. It’s always good to make a list.

I’m still debating with myself about in person fly tying classes but will decide by the next report, so please keep posted.

So much to do. The Holidays can be hectic; I hope you can take them slowly.

We’d like to help kick off you Holiday weekend by hosting an open house from 12-2 p.m. on Christmas Eve Day. We’ll have finger food and drinks to toast in the joyful season. And, of course, we’ll run some deep, customer appreciation discounts on last minute presents.

I truly do appreciate you all.

Take care and stay safe,


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