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River Report - February 16, 2018

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report

Winter in Northern Michigan can be an affair of shivering and suffering in solitude.  Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but this winter is flying by for me.  I guess I was charging through it with my head down, but when I looked up we were well into February.  And the mornings were glowing with sunshine.  Or maybe I just am choosing to see the sunshine.

Either way, these winter warm-ups are getting my blood up.  I am not mired in winter and glowering over my wood pile.

I’m thinking about Spring and trout fishing.  Speaking of which, there has been great winter fishing this year.  The anglers sliding into the River have had some good success swinging small, naturally colored streamers.  Winter fishing here doesn’t mean tons of great big trout, but it does mean fish striking short from wooden lairs and showing themselves.   And it does mean pulling a heavy trout to hand once in a while and it does mean being outdoors on the finest trout stream in North America with no one else around. It’s that kind of stuff and it is fun.

Me . . . I’ve been ice fishing and that’s been just fine.  But it is not dry fly fishing for trout.  These nice days have the smell of the ground in them and that makes me think of rising trout.  Now there’s lots of ways to catch a fish and I fully support them all and practice most, but there is nothing like catching a fish on the surface.   I love catching bass or pike on a Hoola Poppers or bluegills on panfish  poppers, or a musky on a walk-the dog lure.  It’s visual and violent and exciting.

But hatch match dry fly fishing is different.  You trudge too eager too fast into the water, look around and then sit down and wait and let everything settle.  It takes a while and you get to have to hear the birds and get to see the mink.  When you disappear into the woods and water, the trout start to rise.  First the small ones.  And then, if it’s good, the big one.  And you sit on the grass on the bank trying to disappear—trying to be a part of it    And sometimes you beat the fish at their own game.


Charles Chlysta a.k.a. “Picket Pin” is an avid Au Sable Fly Angler and one of the most innovative fly tyers of our time.  Picket Pin’s flies are some of the best kept secrets on the water.  His flies are creative and interesting and better yet—they work!

We are fortunate enough to have Charlie join us at the Old Au Sable Fly Shop for two days of fly tying demonstrations.

Clear your calendars for Saturday February 24th and 25th.  Picket Pin will be conducting demos from 12-3 p.m. each day.

On Saturday, Chlysta will focus on some of his fantastic trout flies.  He’ll show you how he twists up his “X-Dun”, “PF Usual”, as well as his Flymph recipes for Iso’s, Brown Drakes, and Hex.

Then on Sunday, you’ll become acquainted with flies for his other passion—Bass and Bluegill fishing.  You will witness Pin tying “The Stealth Bomber”, “The Bass Crawler”, “The Blue Gill Pooda” and his version of the ever dependable “Gurgler”.

There is no cost for the event.  We hope you can all attend.

See you all soon!