What a wild week.  I mean, it was cold and windy, and now it’s hot and humid.  It was tough, and then good, and then tough.  Unexpectedly brilliant, and then disappointing with similar unexpectedness.  My best day of fishing this year — perhaps my best hour ever on the Au Sable — was in the middle of the day this past week.  I’d gone to retrieve an item for a friend who happens to live on the river.  From his dock, I noted that there were brown drakes hatching and big fish rising.  I tore across the county to deliver the item.  I then tore back across the county to the nearest access to his house and thrashed upstream.  The drakes were sailboating down the river.  Every bend had a big fish or three rising.  They were stupid.  It was the middle of the day.  The river was fast and pinched.  Catch a fish, and thrash upstream.  It was definitely the most non-contemplative time I’ve had on the river.  I didn’t contemplate anything, except where the next rise was.  And then I just sort of quit.  Beat.
Tired.  Sweating.  Silly.  Laughing.  What a foolish thing.

Then, a bunch of bunk nights.  Nights that didn’t go…

And then a great night, but heartbreak at the landing net…

Check out this little fawn track, no bigger than a size 10 with tails.

And this cute little trout looking for something to eat.

The fishing report is pretty rosy right now.  Drakes are hatching throughout the Au Sable system, mixing with march browns, yellow stones, sulphurs, and the ever-present caddis.  The water levels allow for easy wading.  In my mind, and with some exceptions, the river is fishing pretty well with some dead spots in the middle of the day.  There is a heat wave coming, and the drakes are going to blow up — and blow-thru — both the Au Sable and Manistee pretty quickly in 2021.  Once the drakes are on, I prospect with the big dry (as opposed to messing with nymphs or streamers).  If the fish are short-striking the size 10, I’ll switch to a size 12 or 14.  Purple Daze, Robert’s Yellow Drake, Purple Patriot, Yellow Stone.  The fish are looking up this time of year.

I’m writing this fresh off the river, on a night when the drakes really DID hatch, and the fish really did rise (and are probably still rising), and I’m thinking that this week we think of drake week is magic for all sorts of reasons, from the first fireflies in the bank grass to the heartbreak and the fawns and drumming grouse (still!) and the constant, unsettling sense that wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, that maybe, somewhere, the drakes are going and you’re missing it!  I guess after awhile you learn to live with this feeling of drake despair.  The brown drakes can drive you crazy if you don’t enjoy the little things.


Got stuff you don’t need…Mason Griffith TU would love to have it!

May 29th and June 12th, 11 am – 2pm, at Gates Lodge or Old Au Sable Fly Shop

Looking for any hunting and fishing equipment that can be used to raise money at a future “garage” sale.   Includes everything but guns.  This will be a great and fun couple of days.  Questions can be emailed to:  :  [email protected]


Back to normal?  It’s great.  It’s great to be busy, and serving food, and talking to people.  It’s why we do what we do.  We just don’t have the staff numbers to be ALL the way back to normal quite yet.  Bear with us.  We’re trying.

Car Spots:  We are almost back in action!  Limited numbers available.  Spot requests must be made in the fly-shop, in person.

Sandwiches until 4 pm:  Want to pack dinner to the river?  Our restaurant will take sandwich orders until 4 pm for pick-up before 5 pm…and then offer regular dinner menu items after 5 pm.