Brown Bugs

Brown bugs:  The mixed bag of spinners on mid-May evenings.   It used to be that we tried to identify all of them, but our old friend Dennis B just called them “brown bugs” and that suited us better.  What are we talking about?  Siphloplectons, Borchers Drakes, March Browns, Hendricksons, Mahoganies.  Sizes 12-16s.   Fished far and fine on one size lighter tippet than we think prudent, and to trout that want the first drift done right.  Mixed into these brown bugs are the yellow bugs:  the #16 sulphurs (and, soon enough, the #18 sulphurs), the yellow sallies, the caddis (yellowish) at least.  It’s the best hatch matching of the year.  Despite us breaking it down into “brown bugs” for ease of conversation, when it comes to fishing them there is a lot to consider, and a tipped hour-glass to figure out what the trout are eating before the bugs run out for the evening.

I’m not known for my organization but when I’m on the river this time of year I am something resembling organized.  I have two fly boxes and four basic “sheets” of flies:  Brown bugs, mahoganies, sulphurs and caddis.  From these I have a general progressions of patterns I’ll try over a tricky fish.  It has been a 6x tippet game.  I’m careful to calibrate the drag on my reel to the tippet (this is more technical-sounding than it is technical…I basically just pull on my tippet and fiddle with my drag).  Everything needs to be easily accessible and quick.  A fly can be drifted over a fish a few times.  If uneaten…time to change.  The two best hatch-matching times of year on the Au Sable are now and again in early July.  These periods are when the dry fly angler has to figure things out.  One needn’t know Latin insect names to do it.  But nerding-out on bugs and patterns and drifts and all that is what makes fly-fishing so fun.

It has been a spectacular last three days, on both an astral scale:

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Northern Lights

And on a more localized scale.

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The rivers are in excellent shape and producing tons of bugs.  Popcorn caddis, yellow stones, mahoganies, sulphurs, Borchers Drakes, thrashers.  I mean, that’s a lot right there…and I’m probably forgetting some!  The warmer temperatures are starting to burn a little summer into our spring.  The evening rise is lasting a bit longer into the dark (as evidenced by the above picture).   Bug spray and headlamps are now necessary items.  I think that anglers will continue to see off and on again bug events providing great fishing and, during slow times, finding above average fishing for smaller trout on blind-fished dries.   All our rivers are in excellent shape for what looks to be a great week of casting at rising fish.


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Scott, Abel and Ross Demo Days, this Friday, May 17, 10 am – 4 pm

Join our friend, and expert Au Sable angler Phil Cook as he goes over the ins and outs of all things Scott, Abel, and Ross. These are three great companies that produce made-in-America products that we are proud to sell and recommend. Demo and test cast, great package deals, hang out, ask questions, drink coffee. Buy any Scott, Abel, and Ross product, and enter to win a free Ross reel. This is going to be a fun day! We look forward to seeing you there.

On a related note:  We are back to accepting select trade-in rods and reels:  We typically take trades for higher end rods and reels and try to match value with what they sell for on Ebay.  Trade in, and trade up!

Didymo…there’s so much we don’t know…

As almost everyone has heard, there is Didymo in the Au Sable.  Most everyone I’ve spoken to has seen this as a foregone conclusion.  It hasn’t bloomed.  It’s in the river in a microscopic form.  It might have been there five years…or a month.  But, it’s here.  What we can do is be mindful.  We have a wader cleaning station at the lodge.  We have 409 and Dawn dish soap.  Please use it.  Anchors, anchor ropes, wading boots.  I wish we had a cure-all for this so we could fish without worry, but we don’t.  We can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.  It’s better to not spread it up and down the Au Sable and Manistee than it is to spread it…so that’s the new goal.



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 »

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