Salvation with upright wings

WAY below freezing this morning

05/20/15  Call them light hendricksons.  Call them sulphurs, or yellow-winged sulphurs.  Call them Invaria.  #16, and slightly orangy creamy yellow.  In color, they are sulphur.  To me, they look just like hendricksons, except one size smaller and a different color.  They do not look like the dorothea, the #18 dun-winged yellow bug that is beautiful and dainty (and is, probably a #20).  They are a great hatch and spinner fall.  But they are mysterious bug, often massed in orange-egged clouds of spinners at dusk only to disappear — poof — just after dark, probably to go die on a swamp or some highway.  They are day savers, the kind of bug that dutifully begins hatching at 8 pm on a cold evening, or as they did today, at 2 pm…salvation with upright wings.

It was great to be out, but I say that always.  But especially great, and odd to see the Holy Water abandoned.  The trout were small but they were everywhere, and it was some of the finest target practice I’ve had yet this year.  Winston BIIILS, long leader, 6x tippet, and a comfortable pair of shades.  Perfect.  I managed the trifecta, never saw another person at all anywhere…not even on the bank.   A dog barked at me, but in a friendly way.  This was barb-pinching fishing.  The bugs almost got heavy enough to get some bigger trout up, and I cast at two that were probably in that 12-14″ range.


This young angler just dropped a trout.  More importantly, it was the first trout he’d caught on a fly he tied! 

It’s been a wonderful week on the river.  From some really great spinner fall fishing to the arrival of yellow sallies to snow flurries yesterday and a hard frost this morning we’ve seen everything and then some.  One of my favorite reports was from guide Steve and Lizzie and Greg.  Lizzie has been a regular on the river.  Now she is hooked on streamer fishing.  As Steve said afterward, brother, we had a day


Lizzie with a dandy

That’s what is so delicious about May.  Sure, June has its moments of unapproachable euphoria, when you’re caked in muck and have subdued some midnight river monster.  But May has diversity, and the possibility of something greater than June.  Of hitting some truly memorable and complicated hatches (this evening at Smith bridge: mahoganies, siphloplecton, caddis, yellow sallies, hendrickson spinners, sulphurs…and this was when the air temp was 53!)  Of chucking streamers with success, switching suddenly to #16 sulphurs that runs dead-on into a caddis hatch, returning to streamers (now smaller, lighter), and then hitting a great three-part spinner fall.  I mean…it doesn’t get any better.  And, to some extent, this happens every day in May.  Even the off days have something, a few moments that stay with us.Img_3520

Jordan and Randy teamed up to track down this nice spinner fall brown

The holiday weekend looks like a dandy.  One of the great self-perpetuated myths up here — or maybe in all fly shops — is that fly shop guys don’t fish on the weekends.  This is such bs.  We do.  We may plan on not fishing.  We may VOW not to fish, that we are going to stain the deck or rearrange the spice drawer.  But at about 7 pm, strange chemicals reactions (is it the years of Gink?) begin happening, and soon enough we’re quietly slipping out the back door and bouncing toward the river, crowds be damned.  To most of us, an evening of rising trout is WAY too sublime to be wasted on our absence.

The list is getting longer: thrashers, yellow stones, sulphurs (call them what you will!), popcorn caddis, hendrickson spinners, Borchers drakes, mahoganies…


More paying it forward! 

So this got started a few weeks back and keeps going.  This past weekend, a frequent customer-couple left some rods for some young anglers.  These two young ladies stopped by with their parents for lunch and to visit…and left with new fly rods!  Here’s what is even cooler: earlier that day, I tried to surprise another young angler with the rods.  He said that he already had a rod and maybe there’d be another kid that didn’t.  So he paid it forward too.

Why is this cool?

Because from George Mason famously teaching some worm dunker how to use flies to anglers groups sponsoring youth in fly fishing, there is no greater coldwater advocacy group in the country than fly-fishers and their various friendships, clubs, charters, and boards.   There have been a lot of rivers saved because we cared to develop fellowship around a goofy, somewhat antiquated, at times hip, often not, thing called fly fishing.


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!

Previous Fishing Reports

Don’t Let Them Run

Two New Events:  Okay, it took us awhile to figure out our summer calendar, but now we got something!  It’s not the Midnight Derby, it’s… 24 Hours, Aug 13-14: This scavenger

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