Grab your family, fishing buddies, and/or friends, some garbage bags and Rusty’s signature “trash pokers” and hit the river!  It’s less than a month until the Anglers of the Au Sable’s annual river cleanup.  We have TONS of beats to fill, and need your help to do it.  We’ll fill a dumpster, eat some good grillin’, and leave the river better than we found it…which is part of what being a fly-fisher is.  We clean the North, South, Main, lower Main, and the river below Mio dam.  The only reason the river looks as good as it does is because of this annual event.  To sign up, email [email protected]  Pick your beat, or we’ll assign you one tailored to your wading ability and whim.

After summer, it was okay to be wet and cold.  The rain was lake-effect, the result of cold winds from the north west that carried small squalls with them.  I forgot a rain jacket, and so my friend John decided to forget his as well.  Cold is a dish best shared.

The idea at first was to wade fish a new stretch of water.  We drove there first, but then, given the forecast and the stain in the water, we decided to float it.  We drove back to my house, loaded up the canoe, then to John’s house for his truck (which would serve as the spot vehicle), and managed to forget our rain jackets for the second time that day.

Most new water is junk, especially if you’ve never heard of it.  This water was not junk.

Working the shade during a sunny patch

The fish were chasing a small conehead streamer all over the river.  Most were small to medium brook trout.  Some were chubs.  A few were good browns.  One was a really good brown.  The best chase of the day came from a tight 90 degree turn in the river.  John fired a cast downstream and began stripping back up to the boat, through a soupy bubble line, and there was a boil, a tug, another boil, another tug.  John lifted his rod to roll cast again, dragging the streamer right up to the boat…the fish – a very solid 10-12” brook trout – in pursuit.  The fish ate a foot from the boat, with the line resting on the gunnel.  A hook set was impossible.  The fish shook free of the motionless fly and darted off, only to return on the next cast, this time only a cautious shadow.

At times we floated past long sections of just perfect river, the kind of water that in May, on a warm evening, will beckon from its tag alder grove.   Such places are hard to remember after winter.  The mystery fades in time.  I hope I remember before I forget.  The last fish was probably close to 20” and it came unhooked after an intense battle on a three weight in tight quarters.  John’s line went slack just as I vaulted out of the canoe with the net.  For some reason it seems like 90% of trout lost happen when I vault out of a watercraft with a net.  I’m not sure why this is so, but I think it requires an addition to angling lexicon.

Hungry little fellow

Aside from river cleanup this weekend, the weather is perfect for flying ants.  This late afternoon event can be awesome.  What you need is a little bit of rain followed by warm sun and some humidity.  What we’ve had is a little bit of rain, and what we’re supposed to have this weekend is warm sun and some humidity.  This isn’t a promise, but I’ll call it a prediction.  Fish the flying ant like any other hatch.  Be on your favorite dry fly run in the late afternoon and early evening.  Be prepared to fish fine fluorocarbon tippet.  The trout require near-perfect drifts. There are a lot of special nights on the Au Sable and Manistee, but to be privy to a flying ant fall at dusk on a quiet river is especially so.

Love this photo from Keith

The warmth should also kickstart another wave of tricos across the river system.  Add in some afternoon blue wing olives, a few cahills, a few leftover white flies below Mio, perfect water temperatures for fishing small streamers, and the last good two weeks of night fishing, and you have the makings of a pretty fine week of fishing.

Look forward to seeing many of you this Saturday.  If you haven’t signed up yet, email me at [email protected] for the upper river cleanup, of Greg Noviski at [email protected] for the lower river cleanup (below Mio dam).  Thanks to everyone for making this event work.

The Gates Lodge Annual Clambake: September 8th, 6 pm on the dot!

Starting at 6 p.m. sharp, we’ll be lighting the fire and serving clams outside. What better way to celebrate the harvest season? Good eats and good times. This is an outdoor event, so dress appropriately.  RSVP required.  Outdoor bar serving cocktails.  Here’s the full menu:

Garlic Herb Ciabatta

Grilled Corn on the Cobb

Green Salad

Chicken and Linguica Sausage

Steamed little neck clams

Enough butter to make Paula Dean die

Prices determined by market. This was so much fun last year!