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Au Sable & Manistee River Report : 6/4/2015

Nothing but good news this week.

Brown Drakes have started in the Au Sable system.  It happened right on the tail of last week’s report.   Since then, we’ve been able to get in on some great fishing to both hatching daytime drakes and to thick mating flights of the big, size ten and twelve bugs when the weather has allowed.

And the fishing was rounded out nicely with a diverse cast of other insects.  Sulphurs are everywhere on both the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers and are making for a consistent and reliable angling opportunity.   Add tan and olive caddis, yellow and olive stoneflies, March Browns, and the beginning of Isonychia to the mix and you’ve got the ingredients for a pretty fine day on the water.

Expect Brown Drakes to be on nearly all stretches of the Au Sable by the next report and Isonychia to get started on the Manistee.  We’ll be chasing these hatches for the next couple of weeks until we switch over to the Hex.  Everything is on schedule.  It should be a fun ride as the weather, especially the temperature, looks like it is going to cooperate for the foreseeable future.

Paul on a Donnie Guide Trip Paul on a Alex Guide Trip
A deer A deer
A New Fawn A New Fawn
More Drake Spinners More Drake Spinners
Drake Spinners Drake Spinners
Donnie Trip Donnie Trip
The River The River
Paul on a Alex Trip Paul on a Alex Trip
It’ll be nice to get some normalcy back into our fishing.  Just like last year, it’s been strange again this Spring.  I’ve witnessed stuff on the water that I’ve never seen before.  Like the other night when everything went exactly as I had it scripted in my head; the first brown drake spinners showed up and blackened the sky.

We had guessed the spot perfectly and we were about to have the first, best night of the year.  And then nothing rose.  And then a few fish rose sporadically.  The fish were sort of on the bugs but not really.  I mean there were fifty spent flies in every square foot of water.  Never saw anything like it in my angling life.  It just didn’t make sense.  How could they ignore all that biomass?

All I could guess was that the fish had gorged the night before on a monumental, prolific emergence and were just simply full.  But who knows?  I used to have a bunch of hair on my head before these brown trout got me to scratching my head.

Well, we went back the next night and though there were very few bugs, I found two and they were both whoppers.  One I fooled and one fooled me.  I said I’d have a fish story and that’s just the beginning.

I landed the fish quietly as there was another trout blooping occasionally in the nearby slick.  There weren’t nearly the number of bugs as the night before but there were a few hatching out of the mud banks.  It made for an extremely sparse rise.  But there was one more.  A good one.   A big bubbler feeding just occasionally in the long passing minutes.

My friends were just downstream and, being a smart man, I knew they were ready to leave when they started calling out my name and flashing their lights upstream.  I’m a team player and all but I just couldn’t yell out.

I had been creeping on this trout for a good long time and fishing like a heron—taking small, quarter steps, pushing my felts softly into the bottom, tilting my head to hear, and staring motionlessly into the darkness.   The fish finally rose just feet from me.  It was startling.  That thick, yellow-sided trout broke water just eight feet from me.  My rod was longer than the distance and pretty much ineffective.  It was every bit as quality as the last trout.   I was now dapping to a sporadic feeder.  Tenkara . . . pure angling!

I certainly could not shout back or even breathe loudly.  And I certainly couldn’t get that whale to eat my fly.  It was up close and personal.  Too up close and personal.  The rings of the rise rolled to my waders and I could see the snout neatly and deliberately break black surface.  But I just couldn’t get her to go and all the while my friends kept calling and the rain got steadily heavier.

It was just fine with me when the rain got heavier.  That brown was maddening.  A rise every ten minutes.  Letting naturals float over her.  Completely ignoring my clumsy offerings, but still showing itself randomly.  She fed small sometimes.  And then she fed big.  She was stingy and smart.  She was definitely a she and she definitely not easy.

I was okay with stepping out of the shadows when the rain cut loose.  But she haunts me.  I guess the best ones shouldn’t be easy.

There was more weird, though, as the week went on.  Dave and I fished a great spot a few nights later and the mating flights had been suppressed by the cool weather.  We stepped into the river on the first, warmest night, which wasn’t really warm at all and the drakes were spinning in mass at seven o’clock.  I was just like Dave thought it would be, although I was doubting any possibility of a spinner flight.  I mean it was already kinda cold.

It was crazy.  So many drakes.  So many.

We could not get a good  trout to bite in the bright, high sky but Dave got hung up on the only consistently rising big fish.  That fish wouldn’t even poke at his fly in the daylight.  He must have been on that fish for an hour.  Then the drakes all but disappeared.   The fish that were rising switched to Sulphurs and, Dave on a vendetta, tied on finer tippet ant switched to a Sulphur.

I was just ready to go.  It was cold.  Really cold.  And that’s coming from a guy that lives here the last couple of winters that shrink mercury to -41 degrees without the wind chill.

Anyway, I sloshed up noisily to his left shoulder and, for you nice folk, asked him if we could head for the car.  But for the rest of you rabble, you can just imagine my shivering, expletive laden, ploy for the  truck.  It was time to go!

Just then, as it got dark, when there wasn’t even on drake left in the sky . . . the words barely out of my mouth, the dark got dark enough and suddenly we had four great trout in front of us feeding hard like we weren’t even there.

We had posted up in a run just below a soft reed bend that had gathered lots of dead bugs and the currents were loosening one here and there and sending an offering down the shoot.  The fish were on them and darkness made them stupid.  It, just like that, got first cast easy.  We landed our share and were beat by the others.  That fishing made the night and without a stubborn fishing partner, I would have missed it all.

When we got to the car it was 38 degrees.  The excited chatter lasted all the way home.

Weird.  Fun.  Weird fun.  What a strange life we live.

I hope you get your chance.  It’s June.  They’re limited.