The trout fishing on the Au Sable has been tough.  Low, clear water and high, clear skies, spooky trout, and days that shorten perceptibly, one after another.  We’ve resorted to small streamers, droppers, and attractor dries.  I think that when the weather breaks overnight tonight, and the rivers get some rain and some cool, the #20 olives will start to hatch in the afternoons and the trout will chase streamers and all will be right with September.

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Ready for a day of fishing

I’m anxious for the change of seasons more so today than I have been yet this fall.  I left the house this morning and headed straight to the grouse woods with Newton, ignoring the ideal streamer conditions.  The bird hunting has been very good this year.  The woods are full of fruit.  The season is short.  After two hours, I was wishing I’d gone streamer fishing.  But by then I was pleasantly lost (meaning I knew within a mile of where I was, but wasn’t quite sure how to get back to the vehicle) and there was no quick escape.  We found birds just before we found the way out of there:

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And a place for the hound to cool down:

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The plan tonight, after some pike fishing with the kiddos, is to go night fishing one last time.  With the heat the night fishing has been pretty awesome even with the nearly full moon.  And while I’m very much ready to throw streamers and wear a sweater, and fish the olives on flat Au Sable runs with leaves falling around me…we’re just not there yet.  This early season cast and blast is a bit unorthodox, but it still counts.

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Steve with a dandy late night trout

So far, 2016 has not been a good ant year.  I’m hopeful that the best is yet to come.  A flying ant remains an effective attractor, as does the Missing Link, Patriot, and parachute Adams.  Dropping a small nymph on very fine tippet off of any of the above is probably the most effective approach to take.  Alternatively, swinging wets and soft hackles through the bumpy runs on any of the three branches is an easy, low impact way to search the water and watch the scenery.  Or you can do what most of the guides are doing and fish small — or even very small — streamers as close to the cover as possible.

PB and Lance were doing this on a sunny day this past week when a HUGE trout — mid-twenties was the description — chased Lance’s fly across the river, ate, and won the tussle.  Both were visibly shaken when they came into the fly shop.  This was on a breezy sunny day…the kind of afternoon you simply shrug, say good day for a boat ride, and come what may.

Small, flashy streamers fished on a steady, quick retrieve on a floating line — or at most on a shallow-running short sink tip — have been the go-to.  Typically, pre-spawn trout prefer streamers under 3 inches, especially on the upper river.  The trout have begun to move around the river system, and we’ve jumped several monsters that were seemingly out in the open in the middle of the day…though the more likely explanation is that they were simply going from point A to point B.  Our trout are ambush predators almost all the time, anyway.  In the fall, that is all that they do.  Cast far up into the cover and toward the banks, even if the water is shallow.  And stick with it.  It can feel like you’re going through the motions, but if you make enough good casts, you’ll get a trout to chase.


Saturday, 24 September: The Manistee River cleanup and project day. 

This year’s clean up and volunteer day will be on Saturday, September 24, 2016. We will be meeting at the former Ole Barn (now called Tinker’s Junction) at M72 and Military roads at 9:00 am. We will be meeting back there at noon for lunch.

We have a paddling group going from M72 to Yellow Trees to remove trash. At this point we are looking at dividing the rest of the volunteers to do work at the access sites between Deward and Yellow Trees Landing. Many of these sites need clean up, some staining and repairs. 

If we get enough people we will add clean-up work in the 612 to M72 stretch as well.

Let us know if you can make it. You can email us at [email protected]


River Art…a contest (DEADLINE SOON)

Love to fly-fish?  Love to write, photograph, paint?  We’re looking for everything…funny, sad, reflective.  Take your best blog post, photo or doodle, and send it!  The absolute max word limit is 2000 words.  Please don’t send us anything that is already published.  We welcome all mediums, though it must in some manner — however obscure — connect to Northern Michigan.  All entries will be judged by an alternative but indifferent third-party.  There’s only one winner, but other entries may be published.  Deadline is October 1st.

Honorable Mentions: $100 Gift Certificate to Gates Lodge

Grand Prize: $500 Gift Certificat to Gates Lodge

All entries must be submitted digitally to [email protected], subject line: “Contest 2016.”  We reserve the right to publish any submissions we receive in our spring and fall catalogs.


This will be our second year of producing a print catalog for those that still check their mailboxes!  Good back of the toilet material, if nothing else.  This is a print catalog, so we’ll need your mailingaddress.  Email it to me [email protected] to get on the list!

FallCatalog