The Sparrow

It’s getting awfully near brown drake time on the Au Sable.  A week of miserably hot weather, skyrocketing water temps, and warm nights has started the first of our big bugs hatching on the nearby lakes and on some of the marginal stretches of the Au Sable.  It won’t be all too long until we’ll be camped out on the bank waiting for the first drakes to begin dancing above the cedars and spruce trees along the river.  That adventure is coming.


It got so hot we did a little bass flats fishing!

Shop regular Keith has, for years, told me to fish his rendition of the Sparrow fly — a buggy nymphy-wet fly with a marabou tail and loose amber/tan dubbing and a pheasant rump hackle.  I have…and I’ve caught fish.  But I’ve never had it really bail me out like it bailed me out on Tuesday.  The fishing had been good.  But too much heat, and then an inch and a half of rain, conspired to produce high, warm, dirty water.  So Tuesday morning I’d scheduled to float a friend and we were going to float, come heat or high water.  The water temps were good that morning, low-sixties, but the river was brown and getting browner.  The obvious pick, streamers, didn’t produce like I thought they would.  Could have been the sun.  Could have been the three previous days of heat.  We tagged a fish on a dry.  One decent brown on a streamer.  The size 16 and 18 sulphurs were hatching well.  A few caddis too…but nothing was rising.  I tried the dry and dropper.  Tried the LaFontaine caddis emerger.  We switched and switched and switched.  Finally, I thought to try the Keith’s Sparrow in a size 10, fished behind an equally small beadhead streamer, and cast at the muck beds.

That is called desperation.

I figured it would look like a brown drake nymph.  Did it?  I dunno.  But it worked.  We caught a couple nice browns and missed a couple more on a day that was absolutely dead and seemed to be getting even “deader.”  I will lament, of course, how good it would have been — with all those hatching bugs — if it hadn’t rained the night before.  We would have caught brook trout after brook trout in that stretch.  But there’s something to be said to getting at, or nearly at, what the trout are doing.  They were nice brown trout, nothing even remotely huge, but better than average for that stretch and fat with the glut of the season and the rain.

And I guess that’s why I’ve chosen this as the subject of the fishing report.  The fishing has been mixed, at best.  Today the heat broke in the form of walls of wind — and I mean wind.  It is right now 62 degrees and blowing straight out of the west…but the sun has just emerged.  Will the wind settle?  Will the air temp bump up to 65 degrees?  It’s always worth it to go fishing, but is it, you know, worth it?  I think the fish are almost always feeding this time of year, and it’s up to us to solve the riddle.  Do I go try the Sparrow at dusk?  I’m going to finish this report and decide then.

By all accounts, evidence, and hatch cycles, “June” is going to come early to the Au Sable.  I expect the river will drop quickly over the next few days.  The South Branch held it’s level in the rain.  The South and Main jumped up and dirtied…but clarity should be coming by tomorrow afternoon.  Looking at the forecast, the air temperatures should be warm enough for a mixed bag of evening fishing but not so hot as to put down the fish during the day.  We have been seeing TONS of stoneflies.  Blind fishing a big stone can produce some pretty great surprises this time of year.


Hatches…well there’s a lot of things hatching.  Anglers can expect to see yellow stones, olive stones, golden stones, thrasher stones (black abdomen and yellow thorax), sulphurs in two sizes, popcorn caddis, March Browns, Borchers Drakes, size 16 mahoganies, and I wouldn’t be on the river without a few brown drakes as well.  The river is going to throw us some pretty good nights over the next few weeks, and the mosquitoes and the ticks are only a slight tax compared to how good it can be.

I received a one word text the other night from a friend on the river (he must have known I couldn’t go fishing).  “Magic.”

Exactly.  I’m going to fishing.

Simmsfishing bachaphoto wetwademissoula 0514 detail

St. Croix, Simms, Hatch Demo Day:  This Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm  Come join us for an awesome Saturday! Our friend and sales rep Tony will be here showing off all the great new Simms gear and St. Croix rods. Spend the day learning about products, demoing new rods, and chasing the bugs of May. We’ll have sales, combos, deals, coffee. From the new Simms’ Freestone Z Bootfoot waders, the updated G3 boot, to the full spectrum of St. Croix rods, this will be a super fun day of kicking tires and tossing loops.  If you are thinking of a new pair of Simms waders, this is the day to do it!

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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