It sure felt like fall today.  The wind whipped from the north, the clouds sat puffy and motionless in front of a rich blue sky, and I even saw someone wearing a jacket.  This type of weather makes me think of brook trout in low, clear streams.  To others, this is a salmon wind, and Lake Michigan’s water temperature plummeted over the last twenty-four hours, as have some of the warmer trout waters.  The river below Mio is safely below seventy degrees, the white flies are hatching (though some of the best nights were lost to the heat), and the addition of this big water will allow for some different approaches, fishing small to medium streamers, nymphing under an indicator, and hitting the evening rise to fish that haven’t seen a lot of pressure.

A late night carnivore

Other signs of fall: we had two decent afternoons of flying ants.  Matt P and I floated the South Branch and while I think the fish were eating ants, we caught them on a skunk, including a dandy brook trout in the early evening.  The flying ants will continue for the next month and they can be particularly good on those humid, hazy or cloudy days, particularly after a rainstorm.  This can be great fishing, as good or better than a good day of hendricksons.

The tricos are going strong on all three branches of river but especially on the Holy Waters and North Branch (which is fishing much better now).  The South Branch will get small flights of tricos but the trout are far more eager there to make mistakes.  Which can be a good tonic after a tough morning of Holy Water fishing.  The Manistee has had good evening spinnerfalls of Light Cahills.  And the fall Isonychia are making their mysterious rounds.  A size 12 or 14 Parachute Adams is a good place to start.  Otherwise, some of our summer hatches – the 18 olives, the 24 olives – are winding down.  This is a blind fishing time of year.  It is a great dry and dropper time of year.  A small streamer or wet fly time of year.  It’s the time of year to wade into a quiet creek and go fishing.

I did so on Monday.  I followed an old scent – one from years ago that I’d lost – and after asking a few questions of a friend, and receiving a few questions in return (“who are you taking?”  “When are you going?”  “Just you, right?”) I was able to find the spot.  Such screening is not only natural, it’s necessary.  We’ve been fishing together for twenty years.  So I knew it would be good.

And it was.  It’s a stretch of creek that flows through high grasses that are full of grasshoppers.  It might be the perfect stretch of Michigan grasshopper creek.  It seemed a scene from the west.  The banks were undercut and the grass hung over.  A mouse, I thought, at midnight.  Or, if one could trespass, it would be possible to sight some of these trout.  Or, just a big foam hopper cast upstream and to those banks.  And it was the latter that I had available to me, and it worked plenty fine.  The two good trout I landed were both healthy teenage trout, fat, and they leapt as if the river were electric.  This was a secret.  And I understood the screening.

That night I waded into more familiar waters with Kaleb and we worked quietly through a moonlit river and found a few good trout willing to eat.  The final three fish came in and around a single down tree on the inside of a bend, and the last was a 21” fish with a hook jaw and big fins and the perfect end to the evening.

There’s much to do on the late summer Au Sable.  And the last ticking of the season is enough to motivate.  The river does the rest.

And speaking of the river, it’s time for us to help it:

It’s time to sign up for the 24th Au Sable River Cleanup!  Saturday, September 8…Mark your Calendar!

Once again, the Anglers of the Au Sable is sponsoring the annual cleanup of the Au Sable River. This year we’ll be cleaning both the upper and lower Au Sable. Includes a great barbecue lunch! We need volunteers – each and every one of you makes a difference. To sign up, or for more information, talk to Josh: 989 348 8462, or [email protected]

Wanna clean the lower river?  It needs it!  [email protected]

Details here: https://gateslodge.com/event/au-sable-river-cleanup-2/