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July 9 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

We don’t need the weather man to tell us that this has been a cool, wet summer here in Northern Michigan. And while, that may be a bit of a disappointment to sun bathers and the fat guys ogling them, it’s promising to be a boon for summertime anglers.
Much of the fishing opportunities that are normally gone with the passing of June are pushing nicely into the month of July.
While the most of biggest bluegills are moving off beds and into deeper water now, some area lakes still have a few gills lingering in the shallows. Fish weed edges that drop off into darker water for your best results and try to catch the big ones as they slide into their summer patterns.

Queen Gene Queen Gene

Smallmouth bass are playing the same game. The fish on the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shorelines have completed most of their spawning south of the 45 parallel, but with the cold lake temperatures, we may just see another push of smallmouth into the shallows. North of that imaginary line, cooler water remains and folks are finding bass just past peak spawning conditions. Essentially, the closer you get to the Mackinaw Bridge, the closer you get to finding bass still on their beds. Take an adventure up one of our coastlines and I promise you’ll have a great day if only for the scenery.

The rivers and streams are in prime condition for great trout fishing. The year has been cool and wet and trout like it cool and wet, so they are strong and happy and biting. The generally higher than average water levels have washed a ton of food into the rivers for the last two months. The cool temperatures have kept their metabolisms from kicking in and that combination has made for some healthy, fat, but not lazy trout. I know I’ve said it several times in the last few reports, but man are the trout strong this year. It’s not that we’re catching a huge number of fish on any given outing, but the ones we are catching are angry at the hook set. It’s been common to have jumping trout and common to have the bigger fish break you off.

070914-chadjamiefish Nice Daytimer, Chad!

Trout fishermen have been offered up an extension of hatch match dry fly fishing this year. The hex hatch just seems to keep going and going. I stepped into the water the other day with a couple of good friends hoping for another great night of Hex fishing, and boy did we get it. I shouldered the burden of catching the smallest and least amount of fish, while my friends fished nearly shoulder to shoulder and not only hooked into a few browns over twenty inches long, but each landed thick bodied brown trout pushing two feet long and weighing nearly five pounds.

And the daytime trout fishing has been spectacular. One of my guides has put a daytime fish over twenty in his boat each day for his last three trips.

It’s safe to say, what May took away, July is giving back in spades.

I gotta tell you about Gene's daytime whopper. It's another story/bit of advice we tell a lot. John and Gene do a few trips throughout the year with us and this year it seems that every time they pull into the driveway, the weather is unseasonably cold and the conditions are just not ideal. But they always go and they are always rewarded. Gene has landed her biggest fish ever twice this year on one of those terrible days. The moral of the story is just go when you can. So there's that . . .

As I said, the Hex hatch is continuing on both the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers. While the consistency of the occurrence has dissipated, so have the crowds. No longer do you hear a parade empty boat trailers rattled down the dusty, washboard roads of Crawford County. And no longer do you have to fish for a spot. You simple have to go out there, cross your fingers for luck and be ready for the event. And you don’t have to sit on your fifty yards of river for hours to secure some elbow room. You can actually just get out there and got fishing for whatever will bite. All the while keeping the idea of the Hex hatch in the back of your mind. If it comes, great. If not, either go home and call it a good day or tie on a mouse and start the night fishing march. Gurglers are always a good bet, but there’s also a good reason people have fished mice for all these years. Big trout eat mice when they’re available. Don’t be afraid to put some movement on those flies. I saw a black bodied vole cross the river last year and it swam slow and steadily for a bit before sputtering about in a burst for a moment and then slid along smoothly again. He repeated that all the way across the river. I’d hate to think of what may have happened to that critter if the light would have been lower.

Mornings have been good, too. We’ve got the start of the olives and, even better, prospecting for trout with rubber-legged, foam-bodied, silly bugs has been productive. Its attractor and terrestrial time. It is the time of the Royal Coachman and Patriot. It is the time of ants, beetles, and deerflies. What a fun time to fish. This is tie on the fly and fish to a good looking spot time of year. There are no guarantees, so all of the angling is hope and surprise. There’s simply no disappointment.

If trout aren’t rising, it’s not because they’re not eating. Personally, I put my wet flies away in the summer, but that’s not because I’m some sort of purist, it’s simply because I love the dryfly. Fact is, though, that most of a trout’s diet is subsurface. They’ve been eating subsurface all year and the day you’re out there is, likely, no exception. Get down and dirty if they won’t rise. Small BWO nymphs fished behind a rubber-legger is a fine method. Small streamers on cloudy days or on virtually any morning is another proven technique.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the River.



Audio River Report July 9, 2014


  • Ted Perkins

    Where is up to date fishing report, would like to know whether to head north this weekend. Thank you for your time.
    Ted Perkins

    • Aaron Dexter

      Hi Ted,

      Our newest report has just gone live at

      Hope to see you this weekend!

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