The only consistent component of this week has been the ever increasing fall colors painting the hillsides. The weather has been everything, from mid-seventies to mid-twenties, hard rain and bluebird skies, and winds from every direction. This has made for inconsistent fishing. Pretty good on some days, awfully slow on others, but beautiful on all of them.
On the Au Sable in fall, it matters where you fish. An angler fishing a long shallow glide on the North Branch at 3 pm is going to have a far different experience than an angler wading into the river at Wakeley Bridge. The North Branch will be hatching olives and the brook trout will be rising. The angler on the faster, deeper river will be fishing nymphs and streamers, but will have a shot at a larger trout. Some stretches of river, like the flats on the upper to mid Holy Waters, as well as on the South Branch, might offer both…as might much of the Manistee.
Jason with a great trout on a bright day
The best streamer color has been black. I’ve also moved fish on tan and white. The river is transitioning toward spawning time for the brown and brook trout (the rainbows spawn in the spring). This means lots of fish on the move. Everything is on the move in the fall. At first and last light, ducks are flying. So are the woodcock. On the Pere Marquette, which I floated today with my oldest son and Jeff Hubbard of OutfittersNorth guide service, the salmon were finishing up, the fall steelhead were arriving, and the brown trout were chasing streamers. With so much on the move, hunters and fishers tend to be as well. The pressure on fish and game doesn’t decrease, it simply spreads out across the state. The bird hunters are pushing the poplar stands, the duck hunters are huddled by water, the steelheaders are finding a few, the deer hunters are sitting in trees, and so on. In the fall, more pressure creates less pressure because there’s simply too much to do. In other words, there aren’t a lot of people fishing, the river is quiet, and this makes for some solitude on the stream.
I got out with Scott the other day and we attempted nearly every outdoor activity on the list above, and then some. It was a bit messy, but a lot of fun. We found some new grouse spots, turned Newton into a water dog, had some good streamer fishing, saw a few trout sipping olive spinners, ruined a pair of boots, horrified a tourist who’d stopped at the river for scenery, and otherwise achieved, with surprising but exhausting success, to squeeze fall into a day.
We have one more streamer class coming up, on October 22, with Alex Lafkas. This is an awesome class that includes everything from casting techniques to a short streamer float. We now have one opening. If you want to learn more about streamer fishing this is the class to do it.
We’re also adding an additional week to our season and will be open for lodging, guides and food until October 29. That last weekend is a beautiful mix of afternoon olives and streamer fishing. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year. After we “close”, we’ll be renting our rooms at offseason rates and while the restaurant will be closed and the fly shop only open limited hours, we will still be running guide trips right through the post-spawn season (November, December), which is some of the best streamer fishing of the year.
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 mailing address. Email it to me [email protected] to get on the list!