Might as well get the bad news out of the way first: New Zealand mud snails have been found in the East Branch of the Au Sable directly downstream of the Grayling Fish Hatchery aka the Grayling Fish Farm. Dr. Mark Luttenton made the discovery and a regional EPA lab confirmed that indeed they were mud snails. Please avoid wading in the contaminated section — from the fish hatchery down to the mainstream. We should see some serious attention from the DNR and DEQ soon, and updates from Anglers of the Au Sable and the Mason Griffith Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
So…within that shadow and the many different things it implies, the fishing.
Hot and cold, literally. Drakes like the hot weather, and so we had some very good nights over the weekend. They do not much care for the cold weather, and so we had the first meaningful hatches of Isonychia during the recent chill. The many overlapping hatches — headlined by these two size 10 bugs — will coalesce for what should be an excellent weekend and week. The brown drakes are very widespread, waning on the north, but still strong on the South and Main, downstream past Mio dam, and on the Manistee. The heat should kick them back on…for a few days anyway on the warmer sections. There are many left to hatch on the Manistee.
Corey’s Cheetos Spinner…When all else fails.
The Isonychia, on the other hand, are just getting going. This neat bugs makes great nights of “slow” ones. Look for them to emerge from the heads of the fastest riffles. They are battleship green/gray as duns with solid wet-pavement-colored wings. Their legs are creamy white, like tiny bones. The nymphs are strong swimmers. A good Iso emergence will tempt the best fish in the river to the center bubble lines, and send them crashing around like they’ve lost something and are trying to find it with their mouths. More often, you get a light hatch, and a careful angler knows to wait and listen for that one big rise, stalk into position, and not wait for the next.
The Iso spinners will mix with the meatier drakes but fall earlier, and more sporadically. They are often on the water before dark. They are a merlot colored spinner with the same white legs. Trout eating Iso spinners tend to do so quietly, at the tail-out of a pool.
Yellow stones, sulphurs, march browns, a plethora of stoneflies, caddis will flutter around the early evening riffle water. There is simply a ton of hatch matching to do before dark, and it’s fun to wage wits with the smaller trout in the riffles before the main event. Though sometimes they aren’t so small.
The big heat that caused the midnight drake hatches left a bit too early for more than one or two big spinnerfalls. But drakes are drakes, and they’ll do things other mayflies won’t. On Monday, they decided to fall at 8 pm…sporadically, but meaningfully. When we arrived at the river at our chosen spot, which is a high bank overlooking a shallow run, the drakes spinners were glowing in the sun, a few females dragging a cylinder of eggs with them. Trout rose beneath the pines below us.
Whenever I park to go fishing, I can’t help but immediately walk to the river. Why? Dunno. But I do. This time, I quickly ran back to the truck, chucked on my waders, and just about fell down the bank to get into position on the first good trout I found…which was a dandy. It was owning a slow bubble line in that way only a big trout can.
Easy cast if it were a six inch brook trout. Hard cast for a twenty-inch brown.
I get used to sitting around and waiting on the Au Sable. That’s what we do, crouched in the weeds, or resting on a good sitting log for an hour or two watching the night develop. It’s hard to switch that around, to arrive at the river in the middle of a brown drake spinner fall…and 10 minutes ago I was just getting out of the truck, and none the wiser to the rush of adrenaline I’d soon be feeling as I chased that trout downstream.
That’s what I love about June. The quiet of it…and the loudness of it.
Simms Saturday: Tony Ferrie from Simms will be at the shop all day Saturday. We’ll have promos and specials and tons of information. We’ll be featuring Simms’ huge Insect Shield line up which has received rave reviews from many an evening angler. Waders, boots, shoes, shirts. If it says Simms on it, we’ll probably have it!
Fly Tying with John Sheets, Sunday, June 12, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm: This is a great class for the already experienced fly tyer. New techniques, and new thoughts on old patterns. This is the class for the tyer that thinks he or she has seen it all. Learn extended body and stacked hackle techniques from someone that ties them commercially. This class won’t interfere with your evening fishing, and will teach you something new. $75. Includes materials. Bring your tools and vise.
Bring in any old unbroken serviceable rod, and take 20% off any made-in-USA Orvis rod. Better yet, your old rods are donated to TU youth camps and other youth organizations that offer fly-fishing activities. That’s awesome! May 13 – June 19. No fine print.
The Fish Farm Fight Flotilla:
Not only does this raise money for Anglers, you also can get a guide during times when there are otherwise no guides available. Cigars and dinner included. Fun guaranteed! Click here for more info.