05/06/15  Working at a fly shop you rely on reports — and your own experiences — to fashion the word.  A wandering bear cub at Guides Rest, the arrival of mahoganies, the first black flies of the season, the increase in the number of ticks, the all-day bounce of hendrickson spinners on Tuesday (all true).  The last week, it’s as if our fly shop is located on a hundred different rivers.  The black caddis are everywhere.  There are no black caddis.  The fishing stinks.  Best fishing in seven years.  Great spinner fall.  Never saw a spinner.  Only brook trout.  Only brown trout.  And so on.

I guess the fishing has been inconsistent…but there have been moments of sweetness:


Check out the video of this fish rising on our Facebook Page

There’s a lot going on.  And the prevailing theme of this past week has been that you have to work hard, cover water, and get just a little bit lucky to find itit being the way we think trout fishing to be.  But it is there, and with increasing frequency.

My guess is the coming week will tell two different tales.  It is supposed to be mild (or even just hot) thru the weekend, which will mean bugs in the morning and the evening.  And then cooling down early next week, which will mean good hatches throughout the day.  We are at the peak of the hendrickson hatch, though the best fishing has been to the spinners in the evening.  We are also seeing a black caddis, blue wing olives, mahoganies (the size #16 variety), black stones, and mattress thrashers.  This leads to an interesting mix of bugs, and lots of masking hatches: when the presence of one bug distracts us anglers from the greater presence of another.

There is nothing quite as uplifting to the angler’s spirit as seeing the air above a river occupied by thousands of egg-laden hendrickson spinners.  There’s the excited hand rub, the careful addition of 5x tippet, the choosing of the magic fly, and so on.  What goes missed are the few caddis emerging, or the almost invisible mahogany spinners (or duns), or the need, in general, for 6x.  Yes, it can be frustrating.  But just remember, we waited all winter for this exact frustration.


Tom and Matt solved the puzzle with a nice dry fly rainbow

The rivers are in perfect shape.  The water temperatures are also perfect.  The guides have done well blind-fishing attractors (Purple Patriots, Borchers, Adams) or just blind-fishing hendricksons and caddis.  Larger fish can be drawn from the wood by fishing a Mattress Thrasher stone (black body, yellow thorax, name of some questionable genealogy) near cover or twitching it across backwaters.  Every day just seems to build upon the previous one.  And while the fishing seems “off” at times, I also haven’t seen blanket bugs anywhere except, a few rare times, at dusk.  The sunny weather has prevented the bugs from sitting on the water during the day.  Which means that swinging wets or fishing a dry and dropper can be the best way to “match” the hatch.  But that same heat has given us some wonderful evenings on the stream.


Holden likes when the fish are rising!

Mother’s Day weekend is shaping up to be a beautiful combination of conditions and hatches.  Every day feels like a holiday right now, and the expectation of more wonderful evenings spent working rising fish makes me greedy.  I want to grab the hour hand and slow it down.


More fly fishing classes at Gates Lodge: We thought after five years of offering fly-fishing schools, the demand would decrease.  The opposite is true: our original offering of classes has either booked up, or is booking up quickly.  So we added some more.  Check out the Wet Fly/Dry Fly Class on May 30, and a second Fly Casting Essentials Class on June 6Mark Hendricks has taught hundreds of folks how to fly fish — many have now become Au Sable regulars and consummate anglers.



We’ve been thinking about it, and thinking about it…now we’re going to do it:  a simple, fun, homespun fly-fishing catalog.  If you want in, send an email to me at [email protected] with your mailing address. We’ll also have sign-up forms at the shop on Saturday and beyond. We’re looking forward to making it, and we hope you’re looking forward to reading it.  So far the response has been HUGE!  We can’t wait to stumble through issue #1!