Messing around

As you can see, there are a lot of fish spawning right now on the Au Sable, so much so that it kind of messed up our float today.  The trout weren’t nearly as far along in the spawn as I was hoping, and ultimately we mostly nymphed the pools for rainbows and the odd (and big) drop back brown.  Those nymph-eating rainbows sure are fun this time of year.  Typically this is an egg thing, but today they wanted a purple bodied, CDC nymph as much as they did the egg.  Those rainbows were all over it.  In one pool that we floated over instead of fished, there were a half-dozen rainbows, 10 – 12 inchers, suspended about two feet above the river bottom.  They were just drifting back and forth, scarfing.  To a brown trout, this time of year is something like a Shakespearian tragedy, love and all that, but to a happy fall rainbow, this is pure comedy.

Unnamed 3

The Canadians boys were down to catch some Au Sable trout this week — nice bow!

We received a nice rain recently and the river rose up and has since receded…but finally — FINALLY — there are puddles where there should be puddles, and swamps where there should be swamps, and we are all hopeful that a November of rain and a winter of snow will help protect us from a low water 2023.  With this many spawning trout, the best bet for the few anglers that will venture north this weekend is to nymph fish away from gravel or to streamer fish the lower river or, at the very least, fish areas somewhat away from the beds.  Most people, I think, are chasing steelhead and deer and ducks and everything else, and that’s fine.  Me, I like to mix in a little November fishing, and it won’t be long, days in fact, until the trout are done with the spawn, the eggs dropped and fertilized, and the trout doing a little post-spawn feeding before the big chill hits.  It’s a beautiful, desolate time to be on the water.

Img 1127

And the trout are in perfect dress:

1 2

What’s working?  Egg flies, anchor nymphs that are thin-bodied and lightly beaded, black streamers fished on a slow strip or even, at times, on the swing.  As the fish start to drop back from spawning, look for more and more trout to be huddled up in the backwaters and soft edges waiting to ambush.  The lower water temperatures are not the end of the world for an Au Sable trout.  I’ve seen trout chase a streamer clear across the river in water that is practically flowing ice.  They just chase a bit more slowly than they do in October.  We did see a few fish rise today to what appeared to be a very light drop of small BWO spinners.

“Last of the mayflies,” I said.

Maybe not.  But…maybe so.

I’ve been spending a ton of time getting my tying crap in order and will start doing some tying videos after the opening day of deer season.  If there are any patterns you’d like to see tied that aren’t 45 minutes streamer patterns, I’ll film them.  Let me know what you’d like to see.   We’ve also started processing 14 deer hides for this year’s batch of custom dyed deer hair.  We got some choice skins, great comparadun hair, and we’ll grade it all, dye some, leave some natural, and have it for sale in early to mid-December.  This is a labor of love…and we DO love it.  This is a big scale-up from what we normally do.  So if you see us running around in rubber gloves and dye-stained smocks smelling like buckskin, well, that’s what we’re doing.

The shop is open from 9 am – 2 pm everyday except for 11/15, which is the opening day of rifle season.  We’re closed that day — kind of an up north holiday — and we remind all fishers to definitely wear orange, and maybe think twice about fishing the South Branch, at least until buck fever has worn off (usually after the first weekend).

Huge “new” selection of used Rods and Reels.  Find one you like?  [email protected] or call 989 348 8462

All are in excellent condition:


Winston B2X 9′ 6wt – $500

Hardy Zenith Sintrix 9′ 5wt – $400

Hardy Pro Axis  Sintrix 9′ 7wt – $400

Orvis Helios 8’6″ 5wt Mid Flex – $350

Sage Xi2 9′ 9wt – $400

Sage Xi2 9′ 8wt – $500

Orvis Superfine 7’6″ 3wt – $300 (Newer Style)

Orvis Hydros 9′ 6wt Midflex – $250



Tibor Everglades with 1 extra spool (Black) – $700

Abel Super 8 (Black) – $450

Ross Evolution 3 (original style) with 2 extra spools, gunmetal blue– $500

Ross Evolution 2 (original style) with 1 extra spool, black – $400

Sage 3400D with 2 extra spools, black  – $350

Sage 3400D with 1 extra spool, Black and silver –  – $300

Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor II with 1 extra spool – $200

Sign up for our Holiday Catalog:  We’re just about to ship this year’s fall catalog to the printers.  If you don’t already receive our catalog, send your mailing address to [email protected].  If you already do receive our catalogs, then you’ll get this one too!  We got it full of gift ideas, new products, and more.  We are also busy working on getting new products on our online store:

Winter Hours:  We are open every day from 9 am – 2 pm except for 11/15, 11/24, and 12/24, 12/25, 12/31, and 1/1.  We also have open rooms through the winter.

Previous Fishing Reports

Scorcher (and the reprieve)

It has been terrifically hot not only in northern Michigan, but across great swaths of the Midwest.  It culminated today in cancelled guide trips and, I think, a fair amount

Read More »

And so it begins

After a few false starts, the hex have come to the Au Sable.  Not wanting to fall victim to rumor, I made it to the river tonight for some first-person

Read More »

Upcoming Events

Gates Lodge on YouTube

Want more fly tying videos? Click above to visit our YouTube channel.

Gates' Catalog