Spring fish

A big thank you to everyone from the Michigan Fly Fishing Club for putting on another great Midwest Fly Fishing Expo.  So great to catch up with folks, talk fishing, test cast rods, take over various hotel lobbies, and otherwise think about the upcoming season.  Now that the shop is somewhat put back together, I decided to get some fishing in.  I had dreams of a new streamer (didn’t work…at all — had to use Matt’s fly) and some new nymph ideas (which did work) and a whole day on the river.  Matt brought muffins to eat.  I had a jug of water and a few fly boxes.  What more do you need?

Today felt like a March day should feel.  That is, by the end of it we were dripping wet and freezing.  Along the way we caught some nice trout that ate streamers like spring trout should eat streamers, and a nice rainbow on a nymph from the only pocket we stopped to nymph.  We saw one trout rise to something, though we never saw a bug hatch that appeared worth eating.   The trout came from just about every type of cover and some even broke the surface with their enthusiasm for the fly.  They fought hard.

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Life is good in troutsville, I think.  A mild winter and a little water in the river (though it’s already dropping and clearing).   The trout we caught today — well Matt caught most of them — were uniformly perfect.  The upper river seems to be stuffed full of fish and once they turned on they were chasing all over the river which made for some exciting streamer fishing.  “Did you see that?” and “He’s still on it” and “Got him!”  Most of the trout were small.  However, we saw a trout sitting on the bottom of the river that was HUGE.  High 20s or so.  Monster.  Almost certainly a big rainbow running up the river, granite colored and broad across the shoulders.  We saw that fish, and then couldn’t stop talking about it.  I’m still thinking of it.  The river sure felt alive today.

Spring is in the air…but winter seems poised to return.  That’s what March is:  a series of fits and starts.  This March I’m fairly certain that the first half will prove to be warmer than the second half.  This will delay the bug hatches considerably, which is probably a good thing.

All our rivers are in great shape after the recent rain.  We are, however, still in a drought, and there is no snowpack or secret stash of ice in a swamp to get us out of the drought anytime soon.  The South Branch is at a near-perfect 265 CFS…but it would be a lot better if it were at 365 CFS or higher this time of year.  The North and Main are low, just not as low as they have been.  This bump in water levels, and increased water temperatures, have spread the trout out some which makes for more enjoyable fishing.  I’d rather work my way up a long productive stretch of river than huddle over a deep spot, that’s for sure.  Black is still a great color, but it being March you can move fish on yellow, white, olive, copper…you name it.  Keep changing colors, keep changing depth, keep the fly moving.

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We have had some good days of black stones hatching and a few anglers have reported some rises.  In general, the black stone is not a marquee hatch on the Au Sable as it is on some other Michigan rivers.  The Manistee can have some real dry fly fishing to black stones, but I haven’t chased them over there yet.  We’ve had a few reports of BWOs but no concrete reports of an actual hatch.  They’ll either start in the next two warmer days — or they won’t start until the weather warms back up.

Not much is likely to change condition-wise over the next ten days.  Judging by the forecast, you’ll find success fishing nymphs (more imitative now, mayfly-styled flies, drab, and fished on as close to a perfect drift as possible) or stripping streamers.  I’ll usually split my day up if I have all day.  Fish nymphs early, break for food, and then do a streamer wade.  If you’re floating, mix and match, or just do whatever style of fishing you find most enjoyable.   If you want a guide, we got them…and they’ve been catching some fish.  The river is waking up from winter, and so is the flora and fauna around it.  The red-winged blackbirds are trilling in the bankside alders.  The beavers have peppered the banks with castor mounds, looking for love.  I heard a grouse drum yesterday.  It’s very much March on the Au Sable.

Hope to see you March 30!

Spring Cleaning Sale (and Orvis/SA Demo Day)

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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