The maples have dropped their leaves along the river and yet the rest of the Au Sable valley is pretty plain. Up north, in the hills, the colors are still just turning. The lack of fireworks int the foliage is undoubtedly a disappointment for those who don’t fly fish. For those that do fly fish, the lack of fall colors has been counterbalanced by a definite uptick in the fly fishing these past few days. The trout, now definitely in pre-spawn, are chasing streamers, nymphing in midstream, rising to afternoon olives, and otherwise making themselves more available. My friend Keith even managed a teener off the dock of the lodge yesterday!
There’s some good fresh water in the river, flows are strong, and this helps both fish movement and the streamer fishing. We’ve done well across the fly/color spectrum. My advice is to target the fish you want. If you want lots of action, fish a small streamer. If you want to trophy hunt, go big — but not too big. Fish the cover and keep the fly moving. Traditionally swinging streamers can work, but not often. Keep the fly moving. Fall fish are aggressive. So should your streamer approach.
Conversely, if you want to nymph, go slow. The trout that are feeding on nymphs are out in the middle. This afternoon, I worked one riffle on a long-line and found a lot of fish right in the middle slot, the kind of place a downstream-wading streamer angler would walk through. In this way, the two approaches — sometimes lumped disdainfully under “wets” — form a yin/yang. You almost fish to your mood. The streamer angler is in the mood to wander, results somewhat related to the amount of meters covered during the wade (among other things). The nymph angler is more into wonder: is there a fish here, or here, or here, or here?
I expect the fish to hop onto gravel next week. At that time, we’ll be targeting pre-spawn fish away from the gravel and, the week after, the first post-spawn fish setting up in the deep holes. It’s a nice time to be fishing, hunting, or just being outside.
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End of the Season: We will be operating under “off-season rules” after we serve breakfast on October 31.