Yesterday the trout wanted the green caddis and that was okay with me…I’d tied a bunch of them, if only because they’re so easy to tie!  I’ve really been working on getting my fly boxes filled.

On the green…

But my primary goal right now is getting my dry fly boxes set, which means I’m working on flies that I know have the it factor.  I’ll need the White Knot and Borchers in various sizes, Purple Patriots, some Hackle Stackers, Robert’s Yellow Drakes.  You know, the building blocks, the flies that not only keep our fly boxes looking full, but also serve as a spiritual IRA.  Where do you start on a June day?  A May evening?  And then, moving past that, you get to your specialty bugs, and these are trickier, changing every few years.  The confidence bug from the previous year is tied this year in bulk.  Here is one such bug that has been good to me over the last two years.

Until the longer days of March, the Au Sable is plunged into a short, gray day cycle that requires planning for the future.  The last few days, though, have provided ample respite.  It feels like March.  With thickened January blood, it takes a simple hoody to stay warm.  The warmup brought some fishing with it.  I’ve been hitting the river.  Many of the rest of the team have been on the ice.  Denny and Kim have some fancy new electronics.  Jordan and Lance found some huge crappies yesterday at some secret lake.  Ice fishing and fly fishing are kind of kindred spirits, if only because both allow the angler to geek out on ridiculous minutiae.  And both, if you think about, are somewhat ridiculous.

I’ve been enjoying the quiet river, fishing an hour or two when I can, often in new spots, working on new flies and new techniques and just enjoying the running water.  The river is like a heater in the winter.  There are animals around it.  The other day I spooked a mature eagle from the left bank.  I went to where it had spooked and saw the remains of a fish and the tracks of an otter.  Had the otter dragged the fish up and been spooked off the fish by the eagle?  Or had the otter eaten its share and abandoned it?  As I investigated, I looked downstream and saw two deer crossing the shallow riffle.  They let me wade right to them before they spooked.  Day made.

And that’s what I love about the winter.  It takes just a few little things to boost a normal day into a good one.  It makes some of the stresses of spring seem inconsequential.  I mean, did I really stress about where to fish like every single day last June?  Come on!


Material List for the Wonderbug:

An all-around great dry fly during complex hatches.

HooK: Scud Style #12-#16. https://www.gatesflyshop.com/fulling-mill-czech-nymph-hook-barbless.html? or Daiichi 1130:  https://www.gatesflyshop.com/daiichi-1130-special-wide-gape-hooks-25-pack.html 

Shuck: Rusty Poly Yarn. https://www.gatesflyshop.com/polypropylene-floating-yarn.html?id=54162587&quantity=1

Body: Turkey biot or Polish Quill, Olive. https://www.gatesflyshop.com/polish-stripped-quills.html?id=55269370&quantity=1

CDC Wing: CDC Feather, Callibaetis. https://www.gatesflyshop.com/natures-spirit-cul-de-canard.html?id=56125938&quantity=1

Dubbing: Rabbit Foot Dubbing, Callibaetis. https://www.gatesflyshop.com/natures-spirit-snowshoe-rabbit-foot-dubbing.html?id=55782569&quantity=1

Wing: Deer Hair, comparadun. https://www.gatesflyshop.com/natures-spirit-x-caddis-deer-hair.html?id=55774150&quantity=1


Thinking about March and April

Don’t know what this spring will bring other than there’ll be some fishing, and we’ll be open for it.  The pandemic left a lot of gaps in last spring, and those translated to some prime open spring slots in 2021, especially in April, for guide trips and rooms.  Plan for some great subsurface fishing while holding out hope for some afternoon dry fly fishing.  A diverse, and uncrowded, time on a trout stream.  Shoot me an email if you’d like to look into an early spring trip:  [email protected]


Angler Survey

Participants Needed for Angler Survey on Au Sable and Upper Manistee Rivers

We will be conducting a survey of fishing results on these two streams from April 15th to November 1st

Participants must have an All Species fishing license and agree to fish at least twenty (20) days on the designated waters. Licensed fishing guides and employees of fly shops, bait and tackle stores or any outdoor/outfitter businesses are not eligible. Each trip will be recorded on a form and turned in on a monthly basis. All results are anonymous. Respondents will receive $100 dollars in gift cards at the end of the collection period. A total of twenty (20) participants will be randomly selected from a group of applicants.

If you are interested please email [email protected] under the heading “Angler Survey” or send a postcard or letter to Tom Buhr, PO Box 300, Luzerne, MI 48636.

This data will help to better understand the nature of our fishery and inform both habitat projects and related policy positions.