Ready for River Cleanup Weekend?  I love it.  Not just because it feels good to clean the river, but also…fall.  Fall is here, kinda: flying ants, some red maples, some streamer days, some late season Isonychia, a few jinging dog bells.  The fishing has been here this week.  Not every day, or every night, but some of both.  This past Saturday we sent two boats down to the big water for an innocuous white fly float, and they ended up with five big trout, four of which were caught on dry flies.  White flies?  Nope.  Skunks.  Hoppers.  And the fall isonychia.  Yeah, that’s a great day.

A good one

Another good one

Well…you get the picture…

The water temperatures are perfect and the river is clear and at normal levels.  The next three weeks are some of the best flying ant fishing of the year and as it warms up this weekend, drizzles, dries, and stays humid…I would anticipate some huge swarms of ants in the late afternoons.  This makes for some great, long days of fishing, with trout rising in the morning to tricos, gobbling nymphs through the late morning and early afternoon, and willing to chase streamers if they aren’t preoccupied by the ants.  Mix in some night fishing — yes, that’ll be good this weekend as well — and there are some very fishy days hidden in this forecast.

For streamers, we do best on smaller beadheaded and coned streamers right now in a variety of colors.  I generally don’t fish big flies for pre-spawn fish unless I’m in big water or the conditions are perfect.  Dark day/dark fly isn’t one of my favorite maxims, but this one time of year it seems to be true.  Overcast day, and I’ll fish black or olive.  Bright day, and I’ll strip a sparkle minnow.

Katy with a healthy trout

My favorite fishing this time of year is to fish a small beadhead beneath a flying ant on very fine tippet and to move slow and pick the midriver pockets (meaning behind weed beds, little shelves, and so on).  That’s a personal preference.  And yes, I typically catch small trout doing it.  But when you’re really dialed in on the technique, it’s so much fun.  Around 4 pm the fish will switch off the nymph and I tend to do better with the streamer, blind fishing a dry, or swinging soft hackles.

If you haven’t signed up for River Cleanup this weekend, and figure we have enough volunteers…well, we could use some more, honestly.  Join the fun and help us clean the river.  This resource is only as valuable as it looks, and a clean river is often the one worth protecting.  We’ll meet at the lodge at 9:45 am on Saturday, September 7th.  Email us at [email protected] to sign up.

Also, we have an artist in residence this week!  Jeff Kennedy is hear right through the weekend.  Weather permitting he’ll be set up outside.  Jeff is one of the most respected and well-known artists in fly fishing, and a very approachable guy who just loves to share.

Boat for Sale: Beautiful wooden drift boat built by the late noted rodmaker Lou Burhart, a true friend of the Au Sable.  This boat is ready to row.  It is priced to sell but rather than put the number out there please email me: [email protected] if interested.  It is a deal.