Yesterday had one of those socked-in hendrickson afternoons.  You know the type:  warm enough for them to hatch, too cold for them to dry their wings.  In some stretches the water temperatures were warm enough for the bugs, but the fish didn’t really respond.  In other reaches, the trout were all over them, including in front of the lodge.  This has been our best all-around hendrickson year in nearly a decade.  It hasn’t been easy.  The low water has the fish holding in difficult spots (clear water, threat of predators, etc).  But I can’t help but think that casting at fish rising in difficult in spots is the Au Sable way, and so I’ve been enjoying this respite from what has been a slew of high water springs.

Otis with a “two-net” dry fly trout

We’re all waiting for the first really strong spinner flight of hendricksons, and, if I were to judge a book by a cover, the forecast for Saturday and Sunday looks just about perfect.  We’re also waiting on the black caddis and, again, this weekend looks perfect for them to hatch.  Right now we are fishing near-daily emergences of blue-wing olives and mahoganies and hendricksons.  Over the next week, the mahoganies — a sneaky, dainty size 16 mayfly — will become the dominant small fly.  I think the hendricksons should hang around for another week in spots, mixing with the size 16 light hendricksons.  For a few weeks, then, the daytime fishing will be 6x territory, and the angler’s approach becomes more diverse.  Swinging caddis wets.  Dry and droppers.  Double dry.  Changing flies to keep up with the tastes of the trout through a good afternoon of dry fly fishing is one of the special pleasures we get to enjoy in May.

It was a great Opening weekend.  The fishing lagged on Saturday, but many of the other days offered a nice afternoon rise.  I made it out to the South Branch on Thursday and had a great, sunny, hendrickson afternoon.  The river is very low and clear and on bright sunny days the better fish are rising in the shadows.  In the stretch I picked for Thursday, this meant I had about 400 yards of sunny, dead water…and two twenty yard patches of shadowed water that had rising fish.  It was very good fishing, but I did meet a foe from last year.  It had to be the same fish.  It was rising on a hard current seam.   I vowed to catch it.  Do things differently.  Instead, I found myself fishing in a circle all around the fish just like last year, and not catching it just like last year.  I had all these fishing plans for this year.  Now I just have one:  Catch that trout.

Upstream at Conners

There are a lot of good days coming and already I’m falling headlong into the happy mess that trout season causes. Truck is a mess.  Garage is a mess.  My closet at home is just a moving mound of layering.  I ripped my waders on a beaver dam and so I’ve got a lot of pants that are wet in an uncomfortable spot.  I’ve not reached full-on shipwrecked status…that comes in June.  But it’s on the way.

All our rivers are very low and clear for this time of year and wading is a breeze.  The upper river is fishing better than it has in nearly a decade, and the wading angler has a new-found freedom, making for river system-wide opportunity, from creek to big river.  It’s all so pleasant it feels like we’ll pay for it in some way in the future.  For now, enjoy it!


We have the dining room currently full of 50% off clothing, as well as specials on bags, tippet, and more…along with our usual massive amount of used rods and a handful of used reels as well.  Order your food, and peruse the sale racks.  The fly shop is STUFFED.  New waders, boots, lines, fresh tippet, rods, more…you can check out some of our favorite products in our spring catalog below…

Spring Catalog is here!

Click here to read it:  Gates Spring Gear Guide