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River Report - January 19, 2017

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report
Ice fishing season continues to blossom here in Northern Michigan.  Nearly all of the inland lakes have at least some fishable ice conditions.  Although, the extreme warm-up has the surface a mess.  And the largest bodies of water and rivers should be treated with extreme caution.  On frozen rivers or on big lakes like Higgins, it’s always best to check with the local bait shops for the latest information before hitting the ice.

I’ve been finding a little time on the hard water.  My ice fly experiment is coming along nicely.  It’s difficult to get off the bait program, so I’ve been dipping into it slowly.  My standard bait rig is a light teardrop knotted a foot and a half above a heavy Hali.  After watching fish on the Vexilar move to empty hooks previously pecked clean, I replaced the top teardrop with a nymph.  Short-shanked, size 14 nymphs seem to be the most consistent producers, but I have yet to truly dial in color—both natural and bright colors occasionally work.  I’m not sure it produces as well as bait, but I do seem to catch some better fish on the fly.  At the very least, I like the idea that there is always an offering on my line when I’ve missed a strike.  I’ll definitely keep at it.

I’ve also been sticking to some tricks that have served me well in the last couple of years.  Firstly, I drill multiple holes as soon as I get to likely area.  Finding fish that are willing to bite just makes sense and mobility is the key.  I’m also leaving some slush in the holes to limit light pollution from the surface.  It seems to help.  Having a handful of rods rigged is also a fine technique.  Ice fishing rods are inexpensive and it’s great to be able to simply toss a tangle aside and grab a fresh set-up when the fish are biting or to quickly drop a different rig down the hole when fish are finicky.

Try some of this stuff.  It keeps it all interesting and versatility is always the best bait for anglers.

This is also a fine warm-up for trout fishing the rivers—reminds me of the good old days.  I mean if it looks like Spring and it acts like Spring, I say treat it like Spring.  There will be some fun days on the River this week.

Lastly, don’t forget about our Fly Tying Saturday’s that start January 21st and running until the Spring Thaw.  We’ll be offering a free beginners course from 10 a.m. until noon and an open tying session from more experienced bug twisters from noon until 3 p.m.  Materials will be provided for the beginner’s class, but not for the open tying session.  Bring your questions during open tie and we’ll be happy to demonstrate any pattern or technique you may want to learn.

See you soon,