12/16/15  That’s what winter streamer fishing is.  Casting.  Lots and lots of casting.  In the big water from a boat, it’s long casts fired toward, but not necessarily at, the banks.  In the little water, it’s pinpoint casting at the cover, the blackish backwaters, the little depressions.  Or, like today, it’s lashing your fly rod into a 30 mph rain-laden headwind hoping your fly and half your fly-line don’t end up in a cedar tree.  Oh what fun…

Lots of casting this week.  Some catching.  A huge rainstorm doused us with enough water to last most of the winter!  If you went to the big water, like I did, well…  If you stayed up high, like I should of, you probably found some trout.  Kevin found several like this one:


Even today, two days after the storm, the trout were on the chase.  And chasing.  And chasing.  Alas, very few cared to do more than to  follow our streamer up to the boat and hover there with contempt.  They’re full.  I get it.  And I’ll take it.  Having big fish chasing your fly is fun.   Black moved the most, but light olive got some looks and was easier to see in the dark water.  We got a little fish slime on our hands.  Battled the wind.  Saw no one.  A fine winter day indeed.

This weather has been awesome, but these short days stink!  No sooner do the fish start chasing then dark closes the day.  But this time of year is full of moments of beauty and life that spring from the winter silence, like ducks from the river at sunset:


Last week I posted a picture of some “dens” on a riverbank.  We noticed them on our float downstream, and this past week I walked in for further investigation.  It turns out, the dens aren’t dens at all, but the frantic diggings of some creature with long nails.  I immediately thought badger, but there was a distinct trail to and from the river.  A lot of folks posited they were from otters, and maybe they were.  Or maybe the trail and the diggings aren’t connected.  Either way, I set up a game camera with the hope that whatever it is returns for more of whatever it was looking for.

We have rooms thru the winter for $50/single and $75/double.  Hardcore anglers or lovers-of-solitude…this is a fine, quiet place to stay by the river.

Holiday Shopping at Gates Fly Shop…Last day to ship before Christmas is December 21!

Our fall “gift” catalog is in the mail.  We ran out of room, and are tweaking it for spring 2016, but we hope you like it, and will consider us for your holiday shopping.  Check out our online fly shop at: http://www.gatesflyshop.com.  Don’t see it?  We’ll get it for you.


Matching Grant #1 is Fulfilled: on to Round #2!

We raced through Round #1 of the No Fish Poop Matching Grant to help fund our legal opposition to the permit for a fish farm located at the old Grayling Fish Hatchery.  Another anonymous donor has stepped up and offered $10,000 more in matching funds!  We’re racing toward that goal now.  This has been a humbling experience, and Katy and I are backlogged processing thank you notes.  We need A LOT to make this happen — it starts with all of us saying no to a permit that aims to treat the Au Sable like a septic field.

August 25, 2014 John L. Russell

Here’s how to do it:

1. Mail check to:

Anglers of the Au Sable, PO Box 200, Grayling, MI  49738


2. Donate online:


Go to “One-Time Donation”.  In the box entitled “If you would like this gift to go towards a certain cause The Anglers are working on , please note below” type “FISH FARM MATCH”


Watch this video or check out the Anglers of the Au Sable’s new website (www.ausableanglers.org), and learn about the fish farm and what a bad idea it is