Okay, it’s not over. But it’s over. It’s part restlessness — a taste of some good old-fashioned July-style skunk fishing got me fired up — and part reality. We had a light flight of bugs tonight. Didn’t stay to see if they’d hatch. Caught a few nice ones. It was fun. But the heat of this holiday weekend will burn out the rest of the bugs in the waters that I fish. And…there’s just a lot of other fly fishing to be had.
I think that this is one of the most underrated times of the year. The bugs of June meld with the bugs and opportunities of July. I love it. Morning olives. Deer flies and skunks (or any other rubber-legged fly) in the afternoon. Isonychia, tiny olives, #18 olives, cahills, caddis, the last hex, mice. On one little float with a friend this past week, we had it ALL. Every bend was something different. One deep, choppy run had a big brown eating Iso emergers. That fish was caught. Another bend had a fish on the outside sipping softly under a bush. That fish was not caught. Then a tail-out had a pod of fish that we finally figured out were eating the cahill spinners and a nice trout was landed. All that before the hex. Yeah…that’s good stuff.
In fact, it’s so good that I’m sitting here drooling over the summer fishing. It might sound insincere, but I truly love the Au Sable in July. When the hex is over, there’s time again to explore, blind-fish, and do a million things other than sitting on a bank waiting for the bugs to fly. Now, about ten months from now I’ll be REALLY ready to do this all again. But right now, yeah, I’m content. So goodbye hex. The next time I see you, it’ll be a happy accident. And that’s okay.
The river levels are back to good. We got doused with rain. The water temperatures are going to be high toward the end of the holiday weekend and I’d encourage anglers to target the mornings and later evenings, or to focus on the cold water stretches like the lower Holy Waters or upper Manistee. Most nights, the river above McMasters Bridge is back in the 60s on the even the warmest days.
We’ve done well blind-fishing Yarn Skunks, Hippie Stompers, deer flies, beetles, and Isonychia-style flies (an Adams parachute is quite alright!). Small streamers can wake up a seemingly dead summer stream. Small dropper nymphs fished 18-24″ behind a dry makes for a great late morning or early afternoon technique. Over the next week the #18 olives, the latas, will hatch in the mornings and spin in the evenings, and it won’t be long until that hatch is the most consistent in the system and begins to drive even some of our blind fishing.
It was a crazy-long hex year. Dead nights. Good nights. Not as many great blow-out nights as in a normal year. But that’s what you get when the bugs begin in early June and are still going on July 1. I mean, that’s a long time! As fast as the drakes were, this was a very long hex year indeed. There was some adventure tucked in there, most planned, some best-forgotten. I have some stories, and I’m sure you do too.
Live on the Holy Waters, have trees, and want some trout cover? Matt and I will be planning another winter trout project for 2021/2022. What we need are land owners on the Holy Waters that want trout cover to contact me, at [email protected] We will need winter access, fallen logs or trees that we can cut, and your permission. The plan is to pepper in fresh trout covers throughout the Holy Water section to keep up with the aging out of past trout covers. We can’t guarantee we’ll get to everyone who provides us permission, or that our permit application will be approved, but our goal is to make the river a better trout fishery…and we need your help. Again, [email protected] Please spread the word.