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July 3 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

The Hex hatch, and the angler’s quest to find big brown trout, continues throughout our region. Fishermen have been well satisfied on the Au Sable River (or should have been) and the hatch there has peaked on all reaches and is now just past prime. We’ll continue to have some good angling opportunities and we will have less traffic in the stretches with the thickest mud banks for the next ten days but the most consistent Hex fishing is behind us on the Au Sable.

On a hex trip with Jamie.  Just a good, solid trout. On a hex trip with Jamie. Just a good, solid trout.

Other rivers, though, are seeing some the first nights of hatching. Hatch activity is running just a bit behind their normal annual schedule and that’s good news for many fly fishermen. The end of June is can be bittersweet. The evening hatches usually come to an end and with that end is, generally, the end of huge fish rising consistently to heavy insect flights.

 

070314-donny-hex1This year, with the late arrival of our most gloried hatch, anglers can prolong their chances at the trout of a lifetime feeding on dry flies. Rivers like the Manistee, Boardman, Jordan, Maple, and Rapid are about to offer up their treasure. They are about to be in their prime.

And this is great timing. The only rub on Hex fishing is really just the crowds of anglers. It can be tough, even on a big river to find a lonely stretch of water. The converse may just be true over the next week.

There will most certainly be big bugs and great fishing under the fireworks this week. For many this poses a problem. We all know that life gets in the way of fishing, sometimes. At no time is this truer than on a Holiday weekend. And the Fourth of July is really more of a week-long celebration for most of us. It is a time of hot dog roasts, campfires, s’more’s, and noodle salad. It’s a good time to be with family. A good time to be with family when the fishing is red hot makes for tough choices and family should trump good midnight fishing. It will for most of us.

 

Ate the Iso on a trip with Donny Ate the Iso on a trip with Donny

What that means on the water is that the river will only be populated by bachelors, young couples, folks with older children, guilt-laden fathers, and apologetic husbands. It’s a much thinned demographic.
My advice is to spend as much time with your family during the day as possible—try to win family person of the year. Maybe go poke at the very last bluegills on beds with the little one, cook breakfast, take everyone out to lunch, make a fantastic dinner. And do all the dishes and chores. Let everyone know how much you love them and when the camp is silent and everyone’s asleep, slip out to that spot you know and go once more into the breach of the Hex hatch.

If that doesn’t work, I’d give you the advice I always give, just go fish. Fish whenever and wherever you can. The river is fishing pretty darn well even in the daytime. Iso’s and cahills are still showing up in the evenings almost everywhere and angler numbers are down now. You should be able to bite off a piece of favorite river and pitch it around with some success.

Tie on those drakes you didn’t quite get to use for a good attractor pattern. Fish with ants, beetles, and stoneflies. Ply the water with attractor patterns like patriots of even parachute coachmans. Pitch it and twitch it. Fish to the shadows. Do all the things you know how to do as an angler. It’s still fishing season and the water temperatures are great!

Water levels are still just a bit high and stained and that means wet fly fishing is at its best. Give the River what it wants. If they won’t eat that dry, get down and dirty. Use a nymph of a recent hatch for good results. If Hex have been on that water in the last few days, tie one on and swim that thing like the strong swimmer that fly is. Remember that trout don’t want to rise—ever. It exposes them to predators. We like them to rise, but if they’re not, don’t force the issue. Get out of the box and get a bite! And don’t say, “It’s fishing, not catching”. It’s both. I know I want to catch ‘em.

070314-daisyThis July is shaping up to be the best one I can ever remember. We’ll see, of course. The ten day forecast is for nice, cool weather. I’m hoping that trend continues and so should you. If I’m right, there’s plenty of well-fed trout that haven’t had to rise much to random dries. They’ll get hungry soon enough and that surface offering will be enticing.

I’m excited that Hex are still here and that evening fishing is still good on Iso’s, ect . . . and I’m even more excited that rubber-legged, foam-bodied, attractor fishing may just be as good as it gets this Summer!
There’s cool stuff going on and there just may be a lot more to come. Pretty soon we’ll just be able to go fishing no matter what’s happening with the hatches.

On a personal note, lots of people ask me when your kid is too young to fish. I’ve got a great little guy that’s not quite 2 years old. I’m going to find out pretty soon when it’s too early. And it’ll be too soon. He’ll see it shortly and he won’t be able to cast, of course. But I bet he likes being on the River. I know I did. Got a picture of myself with a bluegill and a walleye on a stringer when I wasn’t much older than him. I don’t even remember the day.

Man, I hope he doesn’t become a trout bum—we already have one of those in the family! Hope, for me, that he likes math.

I’ll see you out there.

Andy

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