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 and dark hendricksons, black caddis, mahoganies, and a small bouquet of stoneflies.  Yes, it’s been that week.  The fishing has been very good this spring. Not so good that every day is a winner (as I’m certain some Opening Day anglers will remind me) but by and large people are catching trout, some are catching a lot of trout, some are catching great big trout, and most everyone is enjoying a pretty awesome spring 2024 season.  A recent rainstorm has put some much-needed water in the river valleys.  Spring is springing all around the river.  The forecast is for a series of warm days.  We are dusting off headlamps and not forgetting our bug spray.  The Au Sable has its daytime moments…but it’s the evening rise that puts a bow on a day on the river.

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An evening riser

A lot of visitors ask me for a game plan for a day on the river…so here would be mine, were I to fish all day.  I’d fish the caddis in the late morning and early afternoon, watching for a brief pop of light hendricksons or a few trickling spinners from a secret morning hendrickson spinner fall (yes, they do that too).  In the afternoon, if the water temperatures are above fifty, I’m not afraid to search the river with a Borchers or Purple Patriot or Mattress Thrasher Stone — maybe with a dropper — or strip a small streamer.  In the late afternoon you might take a break (we all get tired, have to eat, etc) but, if you do that, you might also miss a persistent hatch of the light hendrickson or remaining dark hendricksons.  Before dusk, the caddis will leave the alders to fly in clouds that often obscuring the hatching mahoganies and the spinning light and dark hendricksons.  We have a week that we call “Bug Chowder.”  It’s not quite that week yet, but it’s close enough to put a pep in my step.  Matching the hatch is one of the true pleasures of fly-fishing.   If it’s going to be around 60 degrees at 9 pm…I’m going fishing.

The rivers are dropping fast now but they were fairly high.  The South Branch will hold onto its water the longest, but it’s still below 300 CFS.  The main and the north are clearing up.  Take care when wading but in general I think the next week should remain pretty wadeable for most anglers.  If, however, you don’t feel like a Point A to Point B wade is doable, you should be able to spot and stalk risers during a hatch or spinnerfall when the bugs are hatching.  The trout have been pretty willing to rise this year, even in the high water.  Today’s wind, however, proved too much for the trout and the best reports I’ve had so far involved subsurface fishing.

Stories.  Yep, we’ve had those.

A client got a streamer stuck on a log.  And a trout — a nice trout — tore at the streamer trying to free it from the wood.  If only the fish had succeeded…

A dad carried his son to the middle of a big river, found a spot they could both stand, and the youngster fished to a pod of medium sized fish.  When a big fish rose at a great distance, dad asked for permission to cast at it.  Permission was granted.  A long cast was made.  A big fish was hooked.  The backing came into view.  And there they were, stranded in the middle of a big river, water up to Junior’s chest…and no way for dad to chase after the fish without stranding the kid.  Good-bye trout.

Two anglers had the best day maybe anyone has ever had on the Au Sable, judging by the pictures.  I saw one of the anglers the next day.  The look in his eyes was distant, almost forlorn.  It was beyond epic.  It was as good a day as anyone could have anywhere in the world.  It might be the day of a lifetime.  That sort of realization can put some distance in one’s eyes.

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Drive-by view at Conners

And now the dusk hunt begins.  Long leaders and fading light, bugspray and — for me, now, on the cusp of aged 45 — a pair of reading glasses!  I slide into an evening rise with the same excitement that the rest of the world waits in line for a concert.  June has its many fans.  But for me you just can’t beat May.

Hardy Day this Saturday, May 4:  Hardy rep Dirk Fischbach will be at Gates Lodge from 9 am – 1 pm on Saturday, May 4, showing off all things Hardy and Greys.  We stock a lot of of the classic reels:  the Bougle, the Perfect, and so on, and would love to show you how these might fit into your arsenal.  We also carry the Grey’s Wing fly rod, which we think to be one of the best rods for the money…and definitely one you should test cast.  Come hang out, cast some rods, spin some reels…and then go hit the afternoon bugs.  Should be a great day at a great time of 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…

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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

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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

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