It’s not for every fly fisher, but it’s hard to deny the pleasures of fall. The fishing can be hit or miss but the scenery is beautiful and the hits can be pretty big.
Sunday’s forecast included a ridiculous flash-flood warning which, you know, isn’t going to happen in September on the Au Sable unless we get about ten inches of rain. What we got was a nice stain to the river and some great streamer fishing which should continue thru the weekend and into next week. Fall streamer fishing on the upper river is about fishing small to medium sized flies accurately (by medium, I mean medium in the modern streamer sense: 3-5 inches. For more traditional anglers, these are size 4-8 feather wing streamers). I like a floating line or a sink tip (I use those attachable Versileaders from Rio) and a conehead fly and trying to pick apart the shallow cover. Even the in the bigger river downstream I keep my flies moving fast and on the smaller side.
We’re catching fish on nymphs fished on tight line, below indicators, or below dry flies…but there is still plenty of dry fly fishing left in the season as my friend Kevin demonstrated recently.
Size 20 olives, bigger attractors, size 14 Adams (seriously a great fly in the fall), Patriots, and I expect there’ll be a few more afternoon/evenings of flying ants, especially early next week if the forecasted warmup happens.
This is the season of change, more so than any other time of year. This makes for options, sometimes confounding. A streamer day can be interrupted by the sun, a good olive hatch blown away by the wind. The tricos might come — for another few weeks at least — and draw the attention of all the small trout in the river. You might anchor yourself to a nymphing run, or fish a big dry fly along the wood. A promising ant day can be rained on, like today…but then again, they might start chasing streamers at dusk. Still warm? Maybe it’s even worth swinging a mouse.
The mix of hot and cold coming our way has my tying desk an absolute mess. This season, though enjoyed by many, is full of potential and empty rivers. There’s just a ton going on around the state: salmon, bird hunting, the upcoming deer season, and trout. This makes for a lot of river to call your own and enjoy. Not much moss growing on the folks around the lodge right now. Bird hunting in the morning, trout fishing during the day, and an early bedtime to recuperate. Every hour of daylight feels like the last hour of daylight, ever. It’s the start of what many — myself included — consider the sweetest season up here.