Alright, this is more like it.  It’s April 8th, and I’ve seen mayflies and a few trout rising.  The rivers are downright low for this time of year.  Black stones, mattress thrashers, BWOs, and, yes, a few hendricksons are hatching.  I’ve seen fish caught on little flashy streamers, dry and droppers, and even had a few swipes on the dry, including a short rise to a pretty sweet little blue wing olive spinnerfall.  Water temps in the fifties…and the trout are on the move.

Katrina with a nice, surface-feeding, brown 

What’s the catch?  Judging by the ten-day forecast, there is no catch.  The fishing should get better and better everyday, and by next weekend I think the hendricksons will be rolling throughout the upper river system.  The rain tonight should provide some pretty decent streamer fishing with the warmer, stained water this weekend.  This is an angler’s spring.  It’s been about eight years coming.  I know that low water freaks out river anglers.  And perhaps I should be freaked out.  But right now I think the trout, and the trout angler, needs a nice low-water spring to make up for the record precipitation of the last five years.

In other words, we are on the cusp of prime time.  And that should feel pretty good.

I took some days off to do some scouting.  Michigan sure is pretty.

I’ve hardly been fishing.  These first warm days of spring mean it’s time to get the lodge up and running for 2021.  And, yes, like last year, this year will be different.  Crawford and surrounding counties are currently a virus hotspot — near the top in the nation — but we will be serving food starting next weekend, in much the way we served food last year.  The fly shop is stacked with new stuff and old favorites.   The rooms have been tweaked, touched up, and in some cases remodeled.  The guides are starting their seasons.  I feel like we know what to do to keep people safe and well-fed and outfitted.  It will be different, but we are as enthusiastic now as we would be for any other year.  Check that, we are more enthusiastic.  I mean, there are trout rising in April!

For anglers this weekend, I expect good streamer fishing and some dry fly possibilities.  On the upper river, it’s been small, weighted, and flashy streamers.   Downriver, well, keep switching colors and sizes until you find what they want.   With water temperatures this high this early, prospect with a dry and dropper if the water remains somewhat clear after tonight’s rain.  A stonefly and a pheasant tail is a productive combo.  I like a 24-30″ dropper this time of year.  It feels like dry fly fishing even when most of the fish are eating the nymph!  Once the bugs start hatching, I usually find a comfortable seat next to a slow run and see if anything is willing to rise.  At dusk, if the fire is still burning, tie on a streamer and fish down through a run.  There’s so much to do when the bugs start hatching and the trout are fat with spring.


Open Rooms:  We have plenty of open rooms April 16-April 22, and there will be rising fish.  This is the perfect time to sneak in a trip to the river!  Email [email protected]  We will have the restaurant open, for the most part — details to come — and I think we’ll see the best April dry fly fishing we’ve had in several years.


Spring Catalog is here!

Click here to read it:  Gates Spring Gear Guide


$24.99, and signed — click here to buy online

I don’t expect this will be for everyone.  It’s just a little book about one guy going fishing.  Many of these are good memories to me.   And it’s been fun to explore some of these memories, from the farm ponds of my youth to crazy New Zealand bulls to Terry’s spoken stories about fishing and life.  And I’m still learning new tidbits.  One such story that I recalled in this book was recently clarified by my learning that Terry was a member of the Yale rifle team, and that he did not, in fact, return fire on some dude who’d mistaken him for a deer!