The buffet

After the often one-dimensionality of the spring, July can feel a bit like a buffet.  There is some kind of fly fishing to be had somewhere all the time, often two or three kinds, each their own mini-event.  This week it was tricos on the North Branch, olives on the mainstream, Isos just about everywhere, a lot of good searching with skunks, small attractor fishing, creek fishing, night fishing, bass fishing.  Yes, I know, I did a list like that in last’s week report too.  But it serves to illustrate that this is indeed the most underrated month of the season.  The transient crowds of tourists for July 4 and the Canoe Marathon (July 27) definitely bend opinions toward blanket statements such as, “gets pretty canoe-y up there” and so on.  But with a little cleverness you can miss the crowds and hit whatever kind of fishing you’d like.

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A cloud of tricos


Daytime dry fly eater for Cathy

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Midday beauty brown for Christopher and guide Jimmy

I spent a little time popping bugs for bass (as Jordan said to me, “I’ve got some bugs that need popped!) but did hit the trout stream for a short float with my younger son.  It was one of those perfect Iso/spinnerfall evenings.  Cool and sunny but wind-free and beautiful.  And I mean beautiful.  You couldn’t imagine a nicer evening for fishing, and right away the trout were on the bugs.  It began with a hatch of size 18 BWOs, which are usually a morning bug, and then dovetailed into a three-way emergence of Isonychia, yellow stones, and another bug that I’ve yet to identify but is size 14 and gray.  Then, in the thick of that, the spinnerfall:  Cahills, BWOs (2 sizes), and Isos.  That’s about six bugs.  The river exploded with small to medium trout.  The problem was that the trout in every bend were doing something different.  Fish were crushing the Isos in the riffles, and sipping spinners in the tailout.  It was wild.  And…it had happened to me before.  Since we only had one rod strung up, we did best skipping every fish that seemed to not be eating hatching Isos.

This is not in my nature.  I get fixated on a rising trout until I catch it or don’t.  But with the kid the plan was obvious.  Why stop and tie knots for the pod of trout eating size #18s when just downstream the fish are literally leaping from the water for the fly we already have tied on?

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We didn’t land or see any giants but they were all good fish. We left well before dark, smitten.  There is a main event this time of year — a time, right at dark, where a few big fish will feed.  But there is also a time to just push out, past all the rising trout, when your fishing partner says he’s had his fill.  That it was a good night and why mess with it.  I had to agree:

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This coming week I’m planning on doing a little night fishing, targeting a few fish I heard rise during hex that I never did track down.  I want to hit a morning of tricos.  There’s definitely a day of blind fishing attractors for brook trout…just a nice long wade down whatever stretch of river piques my interest.  And at least once I’ll slide back into one of those perfect, confusing evenings of rising trout and try to solve the puzzle before the light runs out.  For some, the trout season is over.  And for others, the best is just getting started.  I think my Positive Fishing Energy (PFE) increases this time of year.  Suddenly there seems too much to do!  Instead of chasing bugs, we chase fish…or maybe it’s better to say that we chase an experience.  It could be a 3-weight and tricos, or a 6-weight, a friend, and a few night flies.

All our rivers are in perfect shape.  High (for this time of year) and cold (for this time of year).  It’s looking like a great week of fly-fishing in and around the expected hatch of canoes and kayaks.

Sign up for River Cleanup:  September 7, 2024

Wonder why the Au Sable looks pristine?  This is why.  We need YOUR help.  Here is the beat list for 2024:

UPPER RIVERWading beats that require one or two teams 


M-1: Burton’s – Louie’s

M-2: Louie’s – Keystone

M-3: Keystone – Whirlpool

M-4: Whirlpool – Thendara

M-5: Thendara – Guides Rest

M-6: Guides Rest – Stephan Bridge

M-7: Stephan Bridge – Spite Road

M-8: Spite Road – Shaw Park

M-9: Shaw Park – Lower TU

M-10: Lower TU – Wakeley Bridge Access



S-1: Chase – Forest Rest

S-2: Forest Rest – Daisy Bend

S-3: Daisy Bend – Castle

S-4: Castle – Highbanks

S-5: Highbanks – Lower Highbanks

S-6: Lower Highbanks – Icebox

S-7: Icebox – Baldwins

S-8: Baldwins – Downeys

S-9: Downeys – Dogtown

S-10: Dogtown – Canoe Harbor

S-11: Canoe Harbor – Smith Bridge



N-1: Lovells – Dam 4

N-2: Dam 4 – Jackson Hole

N-3: Jackson Hole – Kellogg Bridge

N-4: Kellogg Bridge – Morley

N-5: Morley – Flashlight Bend




Previous Fishing Reports

Trying hard

You have to try hard this time of year — harder now than a few weeks ago.  I got out a few times this week and had a blast.  Yesterday

Read More »

A quiet wade

There is a little patch of the South Branch that I consider something like my home water.  It’s not my favorite stretch, but I love it.  As teenagers we used

Read More »

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