It has been…a pretty odd week. The big heat of late May started a ripple effect throughout the river system, pushing the brown drakes thru too quickly in many river stretches. The brown drakes remain in the Holy Water stretch. The “other” fishing – the Isonychia, sulphurs, yellow stoneflies, March Browns – hasn’t really been as good as it normally is, at least not thru the early evening. By dusk, the river is alive, the only difficulty being that all these same insects, along with the last of the brown drakes, are on the water at once. I floated with Dennis a few days ago and the trout switched between, in this order, sulphurs, yellow stones, drakes, Isos. The problem was we were one step behind, catching up near the Iso stage and landing a couple of nice browns before it was over. What burned me was that a few days prior I’d been out and the trout had been ignoring the stones and eating the sulphurs. So the lesson I thought I learned was later unlearned, and maybe there’s a June lesson in there somewhere.
A big daytime dry fly brown
The hexes are coming. This weekend, I’ll bet, will be a hex weekend, and probably a pretty good one at that. I expect strong hatches to start over the next few nights in the traditional early hex water, and then to spread very quickly throughout the river system. The Au Sable hex start in the outreaches – the way upper South Branch, the way upper Mainstream, the way lower Mainstream, and then march toward the coldest water in the middle. That march has begun.
I know the trout are ready. Discovered that the other night on the South Branch. I ended up with a nice patch of water to myself and decided to fish up with a big attractor. Nothing, nothing, nothing. At the end of a good tail-out, I finally hooked a trout, a little trout by the rise, I figured. I stripped once to bring it in, and immediately realized the little trout was actually a much larger trout, a really great trout, over twenty inches, and I fought it gingerly. It was a hook-jawed brown. I pulled my net from the belt, and prepared to get the trout’s head up, and the fly came out. And attached to my fly was this:
So they’re ready for the big food.
For all its carnival-esque atmosphere, the hex is also a beautiful fly, and one of the most consistent hatches on the Au Sable. This big bug shows little concern for air temperature, wind, wind direction, barometer, rain. If the skies are dark, they’ll get the job done. The differences between a hex and a normal mayfly are the same as a lake run fish to a river fish. They are big bugs, they do big things, and the style of fishing – a culture of fishing – has developed around them. Almost every seasoned hex angler has a secret hex fly, a preferred hex leader, a favorite spot, even a favorite seam or stump.
For many, the high season is upon us. Everything is good in June. The bass fishing is good. The morning trout fishing is good. There are some great daytime dry fly days ahead of us, pitching big attractors at the log jams. It’s a lovely time to do as we did last night, just looking at the stars, laughing, and postulating…the lack of midnight hatchers didn’t dampen the mood. When I left, Chef Haley and Tanker were about to start night fishing. It was about 12:30 am. I could hear them laughing their way up the river. I’m sure they had fun. I’m hoping it was good. I know it was.
Vedavoo has teamed up with Anglers of the Au Sable to combat the fish farm! Let’s raise some money…
Artist Jeff Kennedy has teamed up with Vedavoo and Anglers of the Au Sable to help our fight against a ridiculous fish farm permit. How bad is the permit? It’s so bad, that the permit predicts degradation to the river, and then justifies it. It’s really bad. Your entry into this sweepstakes helps us correct this mistake. This is a one-of-a-kind original piece of artwork/gear that you enter to win. Click the link, donate some money, and help us keep the Au Sable clean. All proceeds support our circuit court case. A big thanks to Vedavoo for making this happen. Click link below. Donate.
Special June Menu
From now thru July 4th, we have a special June dining menu. This is wicked June fishing grub.
Health of the North Branch
A number of people have expressed concern about the health of the North Branch. A recent DNR survey revealed a pretty significant decrease in 6-15″ trout in two small sample areas. This is opposite of the increase in 6-15″ trout that myself and others have noticed throughout the rest of not only the Au Sable river system, but also the Manistee. There have been good reports from the North Branch, don’t get me wrong. The trout at the top of this Fishing Report is one such positive report. But a team of groups including the DNR is starting to dig into what is going on. If you have anything to share, please let me know at [email protected]atesLodge.com