It was an odd, and foggy, and warm winter weekend.  It was busy around the shop, on the river, and on the trails.  While I was in the shop, people were texting me all these incredible pictures of big trout they were catching that morning.  Worse, Lance had two trout, in two different spots, getting chased across the pool he was fishing by much larger trout. And then Jacob sent me the pic below.  Well, now.  I hadn’t planned on fishing but if I hurried…

I went to the remotest stretch I thought I could get into.  No one was fishing, but there were people hiking the ski trail.  A lot of people, in fact.  I figured they were mostly skiers that were trying to make the most of the crappy snow conditions (which have since improved).  Well, no bother.  I had to butt-slide down the hill to avoid a calamitous fall.  It was dead silent on the river.  No wind or sound or anything except the distance, coyote-like hoots of the laughing trampers.

The river here forms a bit of a horseshoe, which I was at the top of.  The first good spot is on the right bank, below an island, where the bottom just drops away from beneath a soft water seam.  I’m not sure what caused the drop-off, probably just a long since washed out tree, but it’s one of those killer streamer spots that, when the conditions are right, almost always seems to hold a fish.  And it did.  When my fly splashed, it just appeared as an amber bolt.  It was an awesome fish.  Which led me, of course, to have delusions that I was about to embark on the proverbial “best streamer day ever.”  But it wasn’t.  It was just one hungry trout on a beautiful winter afternoon, with fog forming from the melting snow.

That afternoon seems quite some time ago.  Winter has settled in now in the form of scattered lake-effect snows and some biting wind.  It’s not cold, really.  I mean, it’s been much colder in past Januaries…but it feels pretty frigid after a very mild start to this winter.

And I’m glad for the cold.  Glad to see the lakes get some ice.  Glad to be back to skiing.  It really doesn’t feel like winter without the winter part!  Our local Gates Lodge ice fishing team (kidding, kinda) have got some of the local lakes dialed in.  I haven’t participated in the fishing, but I have enjoyed the remains from a recent fish fry.  I like ice fishing.  And seemingly every other outdoor sport.  I had to draw the line somewhere, and so I drew it just before ice fishing.

More tying videos coming, but I had to get some work done on the spring catalog — yes, it’s about that time already!  Please respond if you’re interested in participating in the survey below.

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.

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]