The bright days

The bright days…we’ve had a bunch of them.  Driving south today, I’d peg the spring-line somewhere around Clare.  Saw Red-winged Blackbirds in the cattails, and open water in Houghton Lake, and V’s of geese on the wing.  I wasn’t going fishing today — a pity, I know.   But plenty of people did.  It was hot today.  Low 70s.  My experience is that sometimes the heat can shock the trout a little bit.  Drastic temperature swings have never served me well.  But if I had a window…yeah, I’d have been out there.

But, like some of you, I have been going fishing…and it’s been pretty good.  Yesterday I spent an hour just picking my way upstream with a lightweight nymph rig.  The trout were everywhere.  I saw one black stone, but I’m guessing there was a lot of insects moving around the bottom.   The trout were pushed up right to the very tip-top of the runs, which is fun, fast-water fishing.  It was the most productive fishing I’ve had since the summer.  The rainbows were staged in the pools (though many will begin spawning during this upcoming warmup) and the browns on the soft-water side of them.  The air temperature was in the high 40s, which is just perfect for an early-spring warmup.

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Bow Bow!

All the rivers are both low and accessible.  We are in dire need of precipitation just to give the trout more river to live in later in the season.  Right now the fish seem happy, fat, and well-fed.  Today’s heat wave finally broke the snowpack completely.  Aside from the piles in the parking lots, and the odd shaded north-facing hill, we are bare ground.  Whatever snow we receive during this next cold front won’t last long as another week of heat moves through.  We are racing to a completely, all-too-early spring.  That said, there isn’t anything we can do about it.  I expect we’ll see major black stone hatches if this forecast holds, and we’ll be talking about mayflies in the near future.  These early springs make for some great fishing opportunities, and the overall accessibility of the river means there is exploring to be done.  Our guides are back on the river, cherry-picking the good days and skipping the ones like tomorrow (40 mph winds, 20 degrees, snow).  By mixing nymphs and streamers, they are finding fish on even the bluebird days.  It’s not usually fast and furious in the spring…but if you stick with it you can find some nice fish.

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Curtis with a sunny day fish from low water 

When it comes to fishing streamers, I’ve done best fishing smaller flies on these warmer afternoons.  The water is so clear that you can pick apart a good, long section of bank with a size 2 streamer (as opposed to the mammoth flies we are usually throwing this time of year) and find some fish, often sitting just off the cover eating nymphs.  Jordan did well with the dry and dropper, and a black stone dangling a small nymph on very light tippet is a fun way to cover water on the warmer days we have in the forecast.  The low water can (and should) alter your plans and your approach.  A little yarn indicator and a pair of nymphs, the smaller streamers, the lighter lines…that has been the key over the last week.

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I have to say that this weather has buoyed the spirits around here.  Sure, we could have a cold late March and get delayed.  That happens all the time.  But the thought of those first good days of BWOs is enough to get me thinking about all the adventures soon to begin.  The real season begins and ends with mayflies:  BWOs in both cases.

March is moving month for us.  We have the show, and we have to get ready for the main season.  But if you want a low-pressure, fun weekend, I wouldn’t overlook the opportunities of the next month.  We have guides and rooms available pretty much everyday (we are going to close the lodge during the fly show weekend, March 9th and 10th) and there are going to be some great afternoons of fishing.  With the pressure spreading throughout the steelhead rivers, the Au Sable and Manistee stay pretty quiet until mid-April.  Our guides run a 3/4 day  special in the winter to embrace the warmer parts of the day.  Rain, snow, sleet, and sunshine…there is fishing to be had.  It’s the pre-season season.  And 2024 looks like a good one.

Previous Fishing Reports

Fits and starts

The last few (beautiful) days we’ve seen a little bit of everything on the Au Sable.  Strong BWO hatches that, due to the sunny conditions, haven’t been of much use

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The first mayflies of the season mean something every spring, even if only serving as a sign of spring itself.  For two of the last three days, the mayflies have also meant

Read More »

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