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River Report - August 6, 2015

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.
Thunderstorms are enthralling at the beginning when the skies quickly blacken and the light changes strangely and the thunder rolls. Last week I watched through the window as the hail crackled against the deck and trees bent deeply with the wind. And then the wind howled harder. And then those trees broke. Huge pines snapped neck high and old oaks uprooted and toppled into my back yard. There was nothing to do but hold up in the middle of the house and hope that no one would get hurt.

Then, just like that, the fury was over. The whole thing couldn’t have lasted more than about half an hour, but the damage caused a power outage that lasted for days. I got lucky at my house and escaped the storm without significant damage. Other folks were not so lucky. Tree removal work started immediately. My hands smelled like chainsaw gas and pine pitch for three days. Wakely Bridge Road was impassable. At least for a little while. One of the great things about living in the woods is that there is a chainsaw in every garage and a guy who isn’t afraid to use it.

Like many folks in my area, I was caught off guard with not enough gas for the generator and too few batteries for the flash lights. I needed to get to town and both my private drive and Wakely had heavy trees tipped across them. I just grabbed my saw and leaned into the necessary work. Even as the rain fell, men pushed into the tangles and gathered together to clear openings in the roads. We hopped out of our truck and lent a hand to whoever was working. Whining saws made it too loud to make introductions among normally reclusive neighbors, but the work got done even without social niceties. Something great about being able to depend on strangers—especially when they are your neighbors. People up here depend on each other—they have to.

I am happy to live here.

The storm and weather change did good stuff to the rivers, though. We got a nice and needed push of water in the system and the cool down has done wonders for the temperatures. Tricos and olives continue to make up the bulk of the morning and evening rise, but be ready for flying ants to start sprout wings and recolonize. If fish are consistently rising outside of the predictable hatches, you’ve likely stumbled onto winged ants. The usually run size sixteen to eighteen and are either cinnamon or black. If you get into them, stay put as this event can be extremely localized.

Attractor dry fly fishing will continue to produce, especially on the cloudy days. Fish rubber-legged foam flies in larger sizes, but don’t overlook the patriot, royal coachman and purple haze in size sixteen for fast action.

If you want to try for a bigger trout, get up early and fish olive wet skunks subsurface or get out after dark and go mousing. That action should pick right up with the darker moon phases.

Try to treat yourself to a guided float trip this month. We’re having an extremely pleasant August and the fishing has been good. A 4 hr float down the Au Sable or Manistee in the early morning or into the evening is time well spent. For a real treat, go the whole day with a friend or relative and have the guides cook you a shore lunch. I love leaning back into the bank after a warm streamside lunch.

School’s almost back in session, too. So now is the time to take those kids on a fly fishing lesson. It’s $140 for a four hour instructional and we’ll supply the rods and waders. All you need to bring is a positive attitude.

Whatever you do, get outside and enjoy your time in Northern Michigan.

We hope to see you on the River,