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Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


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River Flows:

Mio Dam
2080 ft³/s
Smith Bridge
539 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
1840 ft³/s

April 18 : Au Sable & Manistee River Report

It took close to a week but the rivers are receding and clearing more each day. Streamer fishing has not been easy but it has been good. On most days the fish are not charging hard for streamers but they are coming for them and nipping. This is not uncommon behavior in receding water. When the water rises it is comparable to sitting at thanksgiving dinner and putting on a major feed. A few hours after thanksgiving dinner you may start picking at leftovers but you are usually not ready for a steak. The fish fill up and then lay back especially in cold water when the metabolism of a trout is slow. The key is for the angler to stay focused and keep the fly in the area and the fish will usually finish it. Natural colors have been more productive than bright flies on most days.


Ben Hunting with a two footer that came on a Trout sized Double Nickle


While I have been plying the big water looking for the beast, the boys on the upper river are finding a few willing participants with the dry fly during the heat of the day. Black stones and Blue winged olives have been the bugs on the water. Shouldn’t be long before the first henny’s start to pop on the upper river sections. Nymph or streamer fishing will be the way to go before the water temps bump in the afternoon. Sight fishing can be good also as many fish will push to the sand flats on sunny days. Sight fishing is not for everyone as it takes an exceptional eye to spot the fish and a delicate cast to present the fly as to not spook the fish. But the challenge is what makes it fun. Working on finesse presentations will make you more prepared for the dry fly season. I have started using RIO Products Trout LT line in these situations. It is much lighter so you need more line out to load your rod but it will land much softer on the water and spook less fish.  I wouldn’t recommend this line to anyone but advanced casters as you typically need to carry and extra 10 to 20 feet of line to load most rods.


Ben Hunting with another nice brown


The steelhead fishing on the west side is probably half way through or more depending on the river. The farther north you go the more front edge towards peak you will be. The bottom end of the Sturgeon River should start firing anytime, as well as the Jordan and Elk rivers. The lower AuSable usually holds fish later into the spring also. I got out with Russ Maddin the other day chasing steelhead with streamers and we ended up with 3 in addition to a nice brown that surprised us.  We fished a small stream out of my FlyCraft raft which was ideal due to the portages involved. The Sage Smallmouth rod worked great in the tight quarters and had plenty of backbone to hold on to them. The advantage of the short rods is in fish fighting ability. With less flex in the tip of the rod you can hold on tight and steer the fish much better than with a 9’ rod. Casting the short rod is a little more difficult as there is less margin for error which requires a clean casting stroke.



Russ Maddin with a quality steelhead on the strip


Next week looks like it could slow down the dry fly fishing a bit with the cold nights and lack of sun but with that should come some very good streamer fishing as well. The hardest decision will be where to fish as they should be firing all around the state. Get out and enjoy.


Alex Lafkas


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