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October 16 : Au Sable and Manistee River Report

Oh man. I don’t know whether to be excited or what? We’re moving into the third week of October.  This is one of the very few handfuls of weeks that we, as Michigan fishermen and hunters, covet.  It is a time of year that makes Northern Michigan shine.

Its attributes are many. All sorts of great things happen now.

First, and not passing without notice, the Fall colors are at their best. Leaves are holding on spectacularly. The peak color season may be just a hair over prime, but we still have trees holding on to golds and oranges and reds. Just simply being outside right now makes any adventure worth the while. I don’t care if you’re canoeing down a  river, fishing, or walking a two track with a good old friend, a double barreled shotgun, and a stiff-legged old dog; this is truly a time when just being there makes your time on the planet that much more poignant. There’s something about falling Fall leaves that makes winter promises real. There really isn’t that much time left now.

Anthony and Alex II

The march goes on. For all of us.

Most of the dry fly fishing is behind us. We still have the Fall olives showing up sporadically and when they do we have some solid fishing to rising brook and brown trout. That said, the trout fishing is really turning over to streamer fishing for pre-spawn brown trout. I tell the streamer fishing story plenty. I can talk about carrying flies in varying sizes and in color. I can talk about varying your retrieve and fishing both the cover and center of river. I can talk about it all again, but I’m going to ask you to remember those things.

This time off year, you have to simply pick the best cloudy, rainy days and spend a lot of time on the water. Generally, as the John Prine song goes, “The fish don’t bite but once a night, by the cold light of the moon.” I’m not saying they’re eating after dark necessarily, but there are certainly bite periods throughout any given day.

Personally, I believe that sticking to a tried and true pattern you believe in has huge merits. To do this kind of fishing takes, above all things, faith and focus. Focus and tenacity are the most important qualities of a streamer angler. So, if the fish aren’t biting there’s only a few a realities—either the fish aren’t active, or you’re not doing it right, or the fly is wrong. Now, you can’t ever believe the fish aren’t biting or why would you bother? And, of course, our skills are always razor sharp. Failures in these areas are non-options. So, that damned fly clearly isn’t cutting the mustard! Blame it on the fly. Change it and keep having hope and keep having renewed focus.

The pre-spawn brown trout is upon us. The fish of a lifetime can be had in the coming weeks.

The upland hunting is also coming into its prime. The leaves and fruit are ever falling, so the grouse will get more concentrated around the best covers and with less leaves comes better shooting. Plus our bird dogs are getting better conditioned and just a bit more savvy. And the timberdooodles, or bog-suckers, or mudbats or whatever you want to call a woodcock are on their way. We’ve not really experienced a flight just yet but the time is near. We’ll have flight birds with the next North wind.

How a Northern Michigan woodsman can do just these couple of things well is lost on me. Plus, that’s just the beginning of the outdoor life in Northern Michigan. Fall is full.

The white-tailed bucks scraping trees and earth makes focus even more difficult. My bird covers are starting to show enough deer activity to indicate it’s time to climb a tree.

Plus you have duck season open and well underway. That’s activity is such an huge animal that you best have a friend that invites you from time to time . . . it’s just too much gear dedication for an average guy to keep up with.

We’re all just gonna have to start taking off the month of October. It’s tough to be a part-timer.

There’s just four weeks until the deer rifle season, so do your best to get in the woods soon.

Have fun out there,

Andy

Comments

  • Sounds like a "pure Michigan" ad, only true! Makes a great argument for shopping a job back "home". Nice job

    Reply
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