Even a parched earth couldn’t help but spit some of this water back into the rivers.  Yes, we have water.  Enough to fill the log jams, float some boats, hide some trash, and get the trout chasing streamers.  For about four days it was just right, and the fishing was awesome.  Check out this trout caught on a flying ant:

A great dry-fly brown…especially in September

My friend Greg and I had an annual fish planned for Labor Day and it started off right: a night of rain, and a morning of clouds.  I woke up late, to his phone call actually, but a quick trip to the window to check conditions was enough.  No coffee needed, but it was still appreciated.  I loaded the raft, readied the rods, started to drive, and…

No problem.  Dump the raft.  Dump the drift boat.  Execute a trailer switch.  Inflate the raft to full.  Wipe sweat from brow — humidity has been around 100% — and go meet Greg.

The river was stained but not as much as expected.  The trout were on, once we figured it out:   Floating lines and a jerky retrieve that allowed the fly to hover over the holding water.  Olive was the best color.  There were stretches that a trout, or multiple trout, chased every cast.  It was so sweet to see, to be fishing a streamer, to see a couple maple trees turning, to just witness a river alive.  It was so sweet that we didn’t mind the lack of actual trout eating.  Our best trout is at the top of the report.  But we saw others.  So many others.  Some big.  Many small.  The appetite for fall was at a peak by the end of the day.

More rain.  But it was still kinda good.  A little bit of fall, and a little bit of summer:

Gary and Matt found a big trout that didn’t mind the rain.  

And then even more rain.  Now the rivers are high and stained.  The Manistee is pretty dirty and may take a day or two to clear.  We’ve been needing this flush of water and the cool down (which should begin tomorrow) for about, oh, 60 days.  It hasn’t been as bad as some have suggested, at least not in the cold water stretches, which more or less remained fine to fish — at least in my opinion — on all but the very hottest of days.  But it has been bad.

As the water clears and the sun shines and the evenings are pure, I expect we’ll see some excellent flying ant fishing all next week.  That alone is enough.  But mix in some small streamers, some dry and droppers, some afternoon olives, some prospecting with bigger dries, a few swings of the mice…and I think this week is going to be pretty tough to beat.  With the cool nights, the best fishing will be from late morning thru early evening, usually peaking (at least in regard to dry flies) between 4 and 7 pm.

But…we have high water.  And this weekend is the Au Sable River Cleanup weekend, which means for third time in four years, us volunteers will have to work the margins, work carefully, and work diligently to make sure we put the river to bed cleaner than it woke in the spring.  The South Branch is creeping up toward 200 cfs, which would be low water in mid-May…but is above average for this time of year.  But there’s still work to do, and we’re going to do it.  To sign up…see below.

Gates Lodge has rooms available this weekend due to a few cancelations.  If you want to come to cleanup, or just hit the river, let us know.


Au Sable River Cleanup

Saturday, September 8

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]