Catching Colds

It’s been a week of bugs.  Hendricksons are something of a solo performance.  They can be awesome…or they can cancel the show all together.  But now that we’re well into May, we enter something more harmonious.  There is no star of the next show.  On a short early-evening float, we saw popcorn caddis, black caddis, mahogany duns, mahogany spinners, light hendrickson duns, light hendrickson spinners, hendrickson duns, hendrickson spinners, Siphloplectons (aka the “neverfalls”), yellow sally stones.  That’s just in a two hour float.  How was the fishing?  Not very good, to be honest with you.  There were never enough of any one bug to create a main event.  The air temp hovered on the cool side of what the bugs wanted.  We found some rising fish.  They were all small.  Holden and I call the little fish Pickles.  And we figured that if the river was going to give us pickles, then we’d make a pickle sandwich out of them.  So when a fish rose we dropped anchor and worked it like it was a sixteen incher instead of a six incher.  And even the pickles were hard!  We worked one fish for a good ten minutes and on the third fly change we caught him.  Maybe nine inches of brook trout.  It was feeding in front of a little stick and it was a hard drift and Holden whooped when he came tight to the trout.

We got off the river too early.  There were a fair number of spinners in the air and it would have been worth waiting but he had school work and I had a fishing report to write.  But it was fun to go after those little trout, and even better that they were tricky.  One pod began eating caddis when the sun blazed.  Another pod chowed on mahogany spinners when a cloud came and the air cooled and few of the bouncing bugs dropped to the water.  The game is the same be the trout small or big.  There have been plenty of both this week.  It’s been a great week of fishing.

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Randy had a great week on the Au Sable

In my opinion, we currently have perfect water levels.  I wish it was like this all year.  You can wade the spots you can usually wade, but the river has a healthy flow and a nice copper tinge.  The next three or four days should be all about the afternoon and early evening fishing, with mixed hatches of light hendricksons and mahoganies and caddis.  A lot of anglers have been mixing in some nymphing and/or soft hackle swinging.   As the weather warms into next week look for another shot at spinnerfall/dusk fishing, which was pretty good this past week.

The most difficult part of all this is the timing.  A spinner flight is pretty easy to time:  It happens at dusk.  But timing hatching bugs is slightly more difficult.  I’ve seen light hendricksons emerge in the mornings of warm days, and at 2 pm on cold days.  But I’ve also seen strong hatches at dusk, even on cold days.   Mahoganies can hatch at 3 pm or at 9 pm.  Caddis will hatch, in my experience, just before the warmest part of the day…which was about 6 pm today!  The list goes on, of course.  In general it seems the best dry fly fishing on the cool days this week will be around dinner time.  On a day when the air temperatures climb above 65 degrees, the best times seem to be around noon for the caddis, and towards dusk for the other bugs.   If you love to fish pretty hard, this is a good time of year for you.  If you like to cherry-pick the best two hours of the day, your quest will have a bit of a gambler’s edge to it.

You really do have to keep the faith in May, especially when the weather turns.

Yesterday one of our guests was out working the Fence Hole in front of the restaurant.  It was a cold evening, gray, east wind.  No bugs.  But he was up here to fish and the fish are in the river so there he was, in front of a full dining room, plying his craft.

“The only thing he’s going to catch is a cold,” a diner announced, loudly, to scattered guffaws.

At just that moment, our faithful angler came to tight to what turned out to be a 15″ brown trout.  The restaurant emptied out and the diners stood along the fence clapping as the trout was netted, displayed briefly to cheers, and then released.

Enjoy your time on the Au Sable these next two weeks.  They are my favorite of the year.



Used Rod List:  Email [email protected]

  • Thomas & Thomas HS 10’ 6wt $400
  • Sage Pulse 9’ 5wt $300
  • G. Loomis NRX + SF 8’8” 7wt $500
  • R.L. Winston Alpha + 9’ 7wt $500
  • G. Loomis NRX + LP 9’ 5wt $500
  • Thomas & Thomas Paradigm 8’ 4wt $400
  • R.L. Winston IM6 8’6” 5wt $600
  • R.L. Winston IM6 8’ 5wt $600

In 2025, let’s go travel… (Driftless Trip is currently full…accepting waiting list request.  Two spots remain for the Lamar Valley trip)

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Previous Fishing Reports

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

Read More »

The Evening Rise

What a week of wind and rain and hendricksons!  Angling hearts were both filled and broken.   The one dimensionality of the hendricksons has faded into a pleasant mix of light

Read More »

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