Like everywhere, it’s been hot. The rivers have held their own so far but we could see some high water temps Friday and Saturday. The upper rivers are diurnal and will drop in temperature overnight and will be at their best in the morning. The size 18 olives — both latin-ly and commonly known as the latas — are emerging just after dawn and can last for several hours. This is some of the best daylight dry fly/rising trout fishing of the year. This is also the best hatch to fish a dry and dropper. For a few hours after the hatch the trout will continue to eat the nymph.
It’s been a pretty decent week of fishing. During a short float on Sunday we had great skunking, which transitioned into an early, and heavy, spinnerfall of the tiny olives (#24s) mixing with the #18s as well as the odd Isonychia. We pulled the boat to the inside of a big pod of trout and had an hour of great fishing to small to medium sized fish. The fish toward the middle of the river seemed to be eating the Isos and the fish on the bankside were sipping the olives. At least that was my take on it.
Downriver we found a hard riffle spitting out enough Iso duns to get three good fish up and we managed one of them.
All this before 9 pm.
At dusk we worked a pod of fish eating Iso spinners and landed one nice, fat trout that pulled with the energy of this high water spring. No picture of that one, but got texted this nice pic of a beautiful Iso trout from the lower river.
Tonight Lance I did a little hatch-matching in the upper river. The heat delayed the bugs but at dusk we had a decent spinner drop. The fish never really got consistent but I hooked and lost two dandies including one fish that was all of 15″ that ate a size 20 on 7x and came off at the peak of a dramatic cross-river leap that is currently emblazoned in my brain. Meanwhile, Lance took some good fish upstream. Still, it never seemed that we cracked the code. Shining a light on the way out we saw what we thought were hebe spinners, which is a sulphur-looking mayfly that hatches out of the puckerbrush and spins at dusk. Add that to the I wonder if they might be eating ___________ list which, in the fading July light, can seem maddeningly long.
Next week looks cool, highs in the 70s, and perfect for olive spinners. This morning there were hex spinners all over the shop, lodge…everywhere.
There are some cinnamon flying ants around. There are tricos in the mornings. For the dry fly angler, this is some of the very best match-the-hatch fishing of the year. Grab the little rod, the light tippet, and go enjoy. For the night fisher, well, the swinging of the mice has been pretty good too. Get out and enjoy it.
Many of you have expressed the desire for a more comprehensive one-day fly fishing casting class. This is it. One day devoted entirely to making you a proficient fly caster. The goal is simple: regardless of starting ability, you’ll leave this class able to cast. Includes lunch. More details here.
Have you ever seen so many people who think going fishing at midnight with a box full of mice is cool? Neither have we. So we celebrate it: a night fishing one-fly “competition.” Every year we raise well over $1000 for the Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited. This is a fun event. Not a serious competition…though we do offer some real prizes through our partnerships with Hatch Reels and Sunrise Distributors. Includes a huge barbecue at 7 p.m., music, and the infamous mailbox challenge. The bell rings at 8 p.m. Anglers may fish anywhere on the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers, but must return to the lodge by 3 a.m. with a picture of their RELEASED trophy. The Derby is open to everyone and anyone, from guides, to those being guided, to folks casting off their docks, and anyone else who wants to go night fishing for a good cause. $50 per team of two people. Email [email protected] to sign up.
The Anglers of the Au Sable sponsors this annual event. This is our 7th Kids One-Fly (Box) Challenge for anglers 17 years and younger. All participants will receive a complimentary fly box with donated flies and, if needed, volunteer chaperones to take them to the river (or pond, or lake, or creek) for a morning of fishing. Awards! Prizes! Anglers must use the flies in their box of choice. We do this because kids are awesome, and a kid fly-fishing is even awesomer. Our favorite event of the year. We’ll meet at the lodge at 9 a.m.. Kids receive instruction and a casting lesson from FFF Certified Instructor Mark Hendricks. At 10:30 a.m., we go fishing! Meet back at the lodge between 12 and 2 p.m. for lunch, drinks and awards. We try to have enough rods and waders for youth participants, but encourage those that have their own to bring them.