The transition

Through all the warm weather and cold weather the upcoming season has kept me busy enough that I didn’t get to fish until today.  I knew this afternoon would be a crap shoot.  On one hand, we’ve begun to see a few hendricksons.  On the other hand, the water temperatures plummeted Tuesday night, and today, Wednesday, there seemed little hope the river would get much above 45 degrees…and it didn’t.  A few sunny spots helped it along, but by 1 pm a dead sort of gray coated the sky.  The water quit warming.

I brought a nymph rod, a dry fly rod, the BWO box, the hendrickson box, and the nymph box.  The river section we fished is known for getting the earliest, best hendricksons.  It has several good pools, and long shallow flats perfect for early-season dry fly fishing.   After a week of not fishing, I was far too pent up to sit on the bank and wait.  When we got to the river the midges were hatching and nothing else. The water clarity was perfect.  About three or four feet of visibility.  The river has dropped to what I consider perfect spring levels.  The pools were dark enough to be mysterious.

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Tanker, my fishing partner for the day (and for tomorrow) went downstream to sit and wait.  I nymphed my way up the river, setting my dry fly rod — which, on this cold afternoon, felt like a third leg — on log jams and working seams and cuts and everything else I could think of.  I caught a small brown, and then a small rainbow.  When I got to a good nymphing pool I slowed down, and began to adjust the weight.  Deeper.  Deeper.  Deeper.  And, finally, I hooked a good fish, a mid-teen brown that tore all over the pool.  More importantly, around that time, the first BWOs began to hatch.  The next fish to the nymph was slightly better than the first, and fought twice as hard.  Two spectacular jumps, and two drag-spinning runs.  Not bad!

And then I saw a hendrickon.  They just look huge on a cold, BWO day.  And another.  Their wings, for some reason, look tan to me until I hold them in my hand.  The wings also seem to tilt more toward their tails than other mayflies.  The hendrickson will hatch in profusion on sunny days, but to the spring angler they are at their best on cool afternoons when they struggle to escape the river.  And this would have been that day, if the water temperature was over 45 degrees.  But it wasn’t.  And I knew, at around 3:30 pm, that those were probably the only hendricksons I’d see all day, and the BWOs were unlikely to prove tempting enough to lure a trout to the surface.

Still, finally, I picked up the dry fly rod.  I tied on a #16 BWO thinking that a slightly larger fly might find a looker.  I slowly blindfished up river, hoping I’d see — between my casts — a rise.  I didn’t.  I saw nothing but a few forlorn BWOs.  But it felt good to be thinking about dry fly fishing and making dry fly casts, even if it was only a test run.

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There have been fish caught on dry flies.  In fact, there have been fish caught on hendricksons.  The heat of last week proved too much of a good thing.  The bugs hatched best in the mornings, it seemed, but not anywhere near enough to produce a quality bit of dry fly fishing.  It’s pouring rain right now.  Tomorrow is another crapshoot.  It might storm.  It might be sunny.  It might rain.  If it’s sunny, and the water temperatures approach fifty, then there’ll be some bugs and probably, in certain spots, some dry fly fishing.  If it rains, or just stays cloudy, it’ll likely be a streamer or nymph day…and probably a pretty good one at that.  The same can be said for Friday.  This weekend looks cold, but Saturday — if the water temperatures warm on Friday — might produce some dry fly fishing.  Next week it appears things will stabilize.  By the middle of next week, I think the hendricksons will be rolling, and by Opening Day, yes, there’ll be plenty of hendricksons.  I can’t wait.  For now, we sit on the very edge of the seasons.  And as hard as we want the other, it’s important to just go fishing.  Bring everything, and fish the river as it is.  Sometimes you get the trout, and sometimes…Unnamed 2

We’re open!  Finally we start our regular hours.  We’re open to 7 pm everyday starting tomorrow (Thursday).  By Saturday, we’ll be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the fly shop will be open 7 am – 7 pm from now through the end of October.  We are excited to get the season underway.


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

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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

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