Blue sky, red stained leaves, and a river covered in ants.  Fish rises are the only interruption to the fall reflection.  The trout fishing has been great this week, from this:

To this:

To this:

It’s a stunning time of year when the trout aren’t feeding, but when they are, it is especially sweet.   The other morning (well, late morning) I had two hours of trico fishing at Stephan Landing.  I never even put on waders.  Later that day the ants covered all branches of the river, from Mio to the Manistee and beyond I’m sure.  The teeny tiny cinnamon ants (#18s and smaller), and the much larger black and cinnamon ants (#14s and #16s).  The fish were eschewing the thousands of smaller flies for the few larger ones.  It was sweet.

We’d actually gone to the river to pitch streamers in the lowlight of a warm fall evening but then again, “maybe the ants will be on” we both said.  The ants were on.  Each turn in the river had three or four good fish.  Some were really good.  The streamer was removed.  Tippet added.  A few flies got chewed to shreds.

We’re having a warm September.  Warmer than much of August was.  This heat is to continue, reaching into the 80s.  The dry fly fishing should be especially good through the late afternoon as the ants mix with the fall Isonychia and the last of the hopper fishing (or whatever it is that Au Sable trout, having lived a life free of natural grasshoppers, think a grasshopper imitation is imitating).  Mix that in with relevant morning tricos, the start of the size 20 BWOs, the fish chasing small streamers, and some stellar night fishing (Matt and Kyle landed three trout over twenty inches last night), and you have way too much to do in one day.  It’s worth a shot though.

This past weekend’s river cleanup was awesome.

We cleaned the river from tip to stern.  The river above Mio was dirtier than last year (this could be the result of high water obscuring garbage the last two river cleanups) and the river below Mio was cleaner than last year.  Two great volunteers even set up a recycling station.  They were able to recycle nearly 70% of the overall weight of the garbage pulled from the river.  This was a welcome addition to an already great event.   Thanks to everyone who helped get the river clean.  It makes a huge difference.  The world is busy enough…don’t need any evidence on a trout stream to prove it!

If you haven’t enjoyed fall on the Au Sable, now is the time to try to squeeze in one last trip.  Could be the last night fishing of the season, or the first good streamer day, or just a color tour.  Could be grouse and woodcock, or just a pass through to the UP.  No matter what the reason, fall on the Au Sable is always time well spent.

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