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October 30 : Au Sable & Manistee River Report

The tides are certainly turning in Northern Michigan’s outdoors. You can feel the nip of November in the air and the fishing and hunting is beginning to live up to this month’s promise.

Streamer trout fishing has taken a turn for the better and, though, many brown trout are on spawning redds and paying more attention to replenishing the species, many more are either on a pre-spawn or even post-spawn bite.

Fish the cover around spawning gravel to target fish that are truly looking to bite, and please leave those fish on beds alone. Believe me, I know how tempting it can be to swing a fly in front of the biggest fish you’ve seen all year while he’s hanging out in the middle of the river protecting his gal and his nest and his off-spring, but leave him alone. We need those fish to spawn unmolested and there’s no glory in stealing a trout off a redd. We like to fish in non-stocked streams to wild fish.

Besides, when you find those fish, you’ve nailed down an address and the trout will feed on a ravenous, post-spawn bite after they finish their business.  Get’em next time on fair grounds and after those great genetics are passed on to the next generation.

So the fishing is picking up even as the upland bird hunting is slowing with well-schooled, late-season, cagey grouse and the ending of woodcock season on November 4th.

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I guess you’d have to say there’s a little bit of a lull in November’s hunting opportunities if you’re not a deer hunter.

There does exist one truly cool hunting option right now, however. I actually went squirrely hunting the other day. Now, I hadn’t chased squirrels since I was nine years old.  It just didn’t seem all that appealing to me. You know, I sorta thought, “Big deal so you walk around and shoot squirrels out of a tree.  What’s the point?” Well, I’m changing my tune. I had an absolutely great time.

Squirrel hunting isn’t about some thrilling adventure against a powerful target. They’re squirrels, after all. It’s about having another way to get into woods and, even though they’re just squirrels, they are wild animals and hunting them requires that you slow down and melt into the woods.

It’s important to slow down once in a while.

IMG_20141005_151356_336I wasn’t in the woods long before I discovered that simply walking down the two track wasn’t going to cut it. You know, it’s like a lot of things in the outdoors - you drive around and there’s deer all over the side of the road and you can barely avoid the damn critters, but get in the woods and try to bag one and you’d swear there isn’t a deer in the forest. It was the same with those squirrels. I’d been seeing tons of them crossing the dirt roads while I’m on the way to bigger and better adventures. That’s actually why I decided to give hunting them a whirl. But they certainly weren’t tolerating the noise of me shuffling through the oak leaves. It ended up being a lot of being still and watching treetops between limited steps in the fallen bracken. It was a nice change from dogs and bells and fishing tales. I noticed the silence most of all and realized how little of it I’ve had recently. I recommend it.

Have fun out there,

Andy

Comment

  • scott zimostrad

    Nice report, there, Andrew. Just one smart ass (per usual) comment. Beautiful dogs, and clearly outstanding pointers - I'm just hypothesizing here - but you must be the dog HANDLER this year, cuz all of them birds look, well, shot by SOMEBODY...

    Also, how did you prepare them tree chickens you shot? and, do you know a good way to skin
    them little feckers? You can tell me the next time I stop by. hi ho, Scotty

    Reply
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