I was excited to learn that the Perseid meteor shower will peak on August 12th, the night of the Midnight Derby.  I heard it was going to be the best meteor shower in human history.  It’s not.  But if the skies stay clear, as they’re supposed to, the rising moon may do little to dim the spectacle. It’s going to be a long, awesome day on Saturday.  It starts at 9am with the Kid’s One Fly (Box) Challenge and ends at 3 am with the Midnight Derby.  Information is below, but both events are booked tight.  Currently we have no openings left for the Kids Challenge and just a few spots left for the Midnight Derby.

We’re finally having some good summertime fishing.  Cool nights and good stream flows have made for a lively river that has stayed free of the dog day doldrums.  The best evening rise I’ve seen so far was at a bridge I was crossing on my way to a bass lake with my kids.  The trout were lined up along the bank, feeding in a seam off of a tag alder.  They were rising in rhythm – three or four rises, regroup, and rise again.  Size 18 olive spinners danced around.  It was early, only 8 pm.  I knew they were big fish.  Holden, sitting on the upstream side of the vehicle, saw the rises and suggested we fish right there.  But this wasn’t a thing for two kids – hard wading to the spot and flat water.  So I texted my friend Andrew who lives just downstream.

I just drove over the bridge and there are GOOD fish rising you should go fish it dude they are good ones for this time of year

 Okay thanks man suiting up now

 The next morning he texted back:

Got 2 about 16”

 Sometimes you only got bass tackle when the trout are rising.  I guess that’s how it always is.  But popping bass is just too much fun on some summer evenings when you don’t feel like matching the hatch:

The morning tricos have been steady though the rise seems to be less enthusiastic in some parts of the river than in others.  The river in front of the lodge has been noticeably quiet in the mornings but has been fishing just fine in the evenings.  Go figure.  But upstream of the lodge, as well as on the North Branch, the trico fishing has been superb.  The big morning olives – size 18 – have been hatching on all three branches of the river as well as the Manistee.  The afternoons are spent fishing terrestrials, or matching the small olives that tend to trickle off throughout the dinner hour, and the evenings are a summer hodgepodge of the size 18 spinners, the size 24 spinners, a variety of caddis, and the cahills.  There is still plenty of hatch matching left to squeeze from the summer…and that’s not including the white fly hatch below Mio, which is due to start soon.  Jordan has been vacuuming trout from the river with nymphs on his days off.  A few guys have done well on small streamers.  Etc.

A good morning about to become a great one

But…

As the moon rises later, and the ferns get crispy in the woods, and the hatches start to dwindle, many of us will take to the midnight river to enjoy some of the finest night fishing of the year.   Not everyone likes night fishing, but I do.  I like that the birds are different (owls, mostly…but also the last of the nighthawks), the trout are different (browns mostly, and bigger than in the daytime), the sounds are different, the feel of the water, the level of expectation, the flies, the way a known river is once again unknowable.  I like talking to a buddy as we fish and not even seeing him, just hearing the smack of his fly, and occasionally, the reaction of a trout.  It’s a mix of high adventure and almost timeless contemplation.  I’m no skydiver, but I’m guessing that the feeling one has while night fishing is the same feeling one has after leaping from the plane and before the parachute opens correctly.

We had a jam-packed week last week.  Women on the Water were here and they caught a pile of trout and one bat and had a blast…and so did we.  Looking forward to next year already:

This bat met its match

We have only a few spots left for the Midnight Derby.  Please let me know as soon as possible, preferably by calling the shop, if you’d like a spot.  We have great prizes:

And great food, fire, Tiki Torches, and so on.  Maybe for once it won’t be 30 degrees.  Maybe I won’t have a picture of Tanker mooning the camera.  Maybe the trout will feed like they did last year (it should be good before the moon rises).  No live music this year – Keith Scott was already booked – and so we’ll be playing a Keith Scott CD instead.  Take the mailbox challenge.  And we’re going to have a new distance competition…with a bit of impossibility thrown in.  Your support has helped us raise nearly ten thousand dollars for the Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  This is at heart a tongue-in-cheek fundraiser, so let’s raise some money to help erosions sites on the Pigeon and Black Rivers, and have a blast!

Have you ever seen so many people who think going fishing at midnight with a box full of mice is cool? Neither have we. So we celebrate it: a night fishing one-fly “competition.” Every year we raise well over $1000 for the Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited. This is a fun event. Not a serious competition…though we do offer some real prizes through our partnerships with Hatch Reels and Sunrise Distributors. Includes a huge barbecue at 7 p.m., music, and the infamous mailbox challenge. The bell rings at 8 p.m. Anglers may fish anywhere on the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers, but must return to the lodge by 3 a.m. with a picture of their RELEASED trophy. The Derby is open to everyone and anyone, from guides, to those being guided, to folks casting off their docks, and anyone else who wants to go night fishing for a good cause. $50 per team of two people.


The Kids One Fly (Box) Challenge:    CURRENTLY FULL!  PLEASE SEND EMAIL WITH CONTACT INFO TO BE ADDED TO THE WAITING LIST…