Too soon? Probably. But the next two weeks look…good! Every winter you know there’ll be those first “warm” weeks, and the trout will be out feeding; before it REALLY warms up, and runoff hides them beneath a curtain of dirty water. After about a month of being cooped in the house or, a few times, in an ice shanty, I had a major desire for running water…and a few afternoons free enough to get out fishing.
Matt and I did a streamer float a few days ago. There were fish everywhere but they had commitment issues. I always feel like there’s a specific trout frequency and some days it’s just hard to get tuned into it. We saw some awfully nice trout chase, but not eat, our flies. He brought some tamales to eat and as we pulled over to “have some tamales and talk about it,” I flipped a cast and a nice trout ate the same fly his brethren wouldn’t. So we ate some tamales and talked about why that trout ate it and the others didn’t. And then we went back to fishing, switching to a yellow and olive streamer, and the trout went right back to doing exactly what they had been doing. That is, not eating our flies. Picket Pin would say that they were playing with their food. Hard to disagree. There were about twenty minutes in the afternoon, when Matt was fishing, that every single good spot seemed to have a trout that would chase and not eat. It was damn exciting! And then, as it does, it just ended…and without a bang. But we caught a few, and saw a whole great many more.
But the fish of that day wasn’t a trout. It was an enormous pike that I thought was an all-tackle Au Sable record brown trout before metamorphosing into the fish you see in the picture. An old injury had severed one of its gills but that didn’t bother her. I know some people kill these critters as “trout eaters” but not me, at least not one of these big females.
The weather looks really pretty good, for the most part. We have over a foot of snow on the ground but it has started to recede on the south-facing slopes. I don’t see anything in the forecast that will rush us toward spring run-off. At least not yet. The rivers are very low. Our best streamer color has been black. For nymphs, stonefly-style, and larger mayfly imitations have been catching trout.
A big old nymph-eating fellow
We have guides available if you’re craving some late-winter/early spring fishing, and our lodge is open with limited rooms available most nights over the next two weeks. There’s too much snow to do much other than to ski and fish. And there’s too much snow to get crazy trying to get into remote areas…you probably will get stuck! But there are enough places to drive into fish if you have the winter itch.
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]
Good spring streamer fishing starts with next week’s warm-up. Guides and rooms available.
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.
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