09/02/15  By definition, this isn’t truly an Indian summer, but the definition and etymology of “Indian summer” is ambiguous.  We’ve entered a twilight zone of repeating days: cool foggy mornings, piercing afternoons, pleasant evenings, big moon nights.  This has meant ants, and some fast fishing at times.  Two nights ago was a huge ant evening, with bugs on the water into darkness.

IMG_1509All ants, all over the water

The ants are not easy to predict, but a certain intersection of weather patterns seem present during every ant event: rain, followed by sun, followed by an overcast, muggy, evening.  This evening, away from the river (and, in fact, in the Upper Peninsula) thousands of flying ants flew about our hotel parking lot as I stared somewhat defeated, wondering if, across the straits, some fish on the Au Sable were getting their fill.

These few good days have made the ant one of our go-to searching patterns on the river.  The trout don’t seem to forget ants, a morsel that provokes in trout what bacon seems to provoke in humans.  Despite the clear, hot days, the fishing hasn’t been half-bad.  And at times, it has been very good indeed.

IMG_1520An afternoon dandy

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Another afternoon dandy

Interspersed with the ants have been the tiny olives (#24-#28), some cahills, some caddis.  Attractor fishing has been and will be strong, especially if overnight lows stay above freezing which, looking at the forecast, seems very likely.   Parachute Adams, Patriots, Missing Links, Borchers, the Awesome, and the SRB (Secret Rubber Bug) should be in the daytime anglers box throughout the summer and early fall.   But anglers have also found success switching over to fall tactics: swinging soft hackles, nymphing pockets, and fishing small streamers.  The early morning streamer fishing in the fog has been particularly fruitful.

In the mornings, the tricos continue to produce excellent fishing and, at times, some okay catching.  The tricos of September seem, if possible, smaller.  The trout, if possible, more difficult.  It is a game of the finest and far-off.  I’d pit our 6-inch Holy Water trico-taking trout against any 20-inch trout on any other river in the world.  Graham was rightfully happy for the two trout he caught this morning on tricos…and that’s after catching dozens the morning before on small streamers…though a poster of a little brook trout in hand with a caption When You Think You’re Ready would have appeal only to a handful of anglers that cut their teeth on Au Sable trico trout.

This is also (typically) the last gasp for summer night anglers.  Everything is perfect: hot nights, low water, and a shrinking moon that is rising later and later at night.  So far it hasn’t been good — not even a shadow of what we had mid-August.  But my thought is every night will get a little better than the last.  And the chance at a big fish, slightly angry and painted pre-spawn, will increase before the first big frosts of the summer.

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The first of the flying ants

Au Sable River Cleanup Sign Up: It’s time to sign up for river cleanup 2015!  This is a family friendly and fun event that covers all three branches of the Au Sable, and the big waters below Mio dam.  The date is Saturday, September 12.  The upper river cleanup is held at Gates Au Sable Lodge.  Please call (989-348-8462) or email ([email protected]) to sign up, or to find out more, or click here.  The lower water cleanup is held below Mio.  To sign up, or for further info on the big water cleanup, contact Tom Buhr at [email protected]

Grab a friend, spouse, or the entire family, and head to the river.  Together we can make the river better for everyone.

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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!