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River Report - July 7, 2016

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.
It’s a great time to be a fisherman on the trout streams of Northern Michigan. There are many tactics that can work in the weird, little world of fly fishing and right now all of them are in play.

But, of course, there’s a problem – you’ll have to be ready for every scenario if you want to have success. You just can’t force your will on the wilds.

Mornings and evenings will likely be the best fishing of the day. That is if the weather acts seasonably and cool mornings and evenings sandwich sunny, summer-hot afternoons.  If it’s cloudy or cooler than normal, then the early p.m. hours could just be fantastic as well.

Mornings are starting with blue-winged olives hatching over the length of the Au Sable and Manistee. Fish are rising steadily to flies in size eighteen.  And we’ve seen the first stirrings of the trico hatch on the North Branch.  That emergence and spinner fall will just continue to get stronger as the dawns pass and will be system wide and thick very soon.  Its tough fishing - the patterns are very small, the hatch heavy, and the trout are selective. It takes an accurate, well-timed presentation and a skillful approach. But there are rewards. Many consider it the best dry fly angling of the year. There countless targets to ply your craft, and it turns good dry fly fishermen into great dry fly fishermen.

As the day warms, prospecting with attractor patterns and terrestrials could be a fine way to spend the sun-high daylight hours. My best advice here is to cast to the shade and stick strewn lairs and to fish your fly actively like a living, land based insect that is struggling in the moving liquid of the stream.  Twitch and pause it and always be ready for a trout eruption.  If fish are rising regularly, you may just have stumbled into a flying ant recolonization.  If you are lucky enough to be in that event, keep your feet quiet and don’t walk out of a good situation.  The ants can be highly localized and may only be covering a few hundred yards of waterfront.

Take you entire fly selection with you to the river in the evening hours. There are any number of hatches that may show up for the dinner menu.  We’ve got cahills and Iso’s and caddis and stoneflies and olive spinners.  Any could be the most important offering of the darkfall.

And then there’s the darkness. We’re still having some great Hex fishing.  The predictability if failing, but the bugs just seem to keep showing up as night falls.  Stay for the evening rise and once it settles, stay just a little bit longer.  There’s no need to shine your flashlight to see if the bugs have arrived, you can just listen for the rises.  If the big trout are rising, the bugs are on the water.  Whatever you do, don’t discount a small rise as a small fish.  Small trout rarely hang around after dark—they know if they do that they may just end up in the gullet of a slob brown.

If the Hex don’t show, well then it’s just time to tie on the nightfly. We call it mousing because sometimes that’s the pattern and the meal a trout may take but, really, it’s a style of fishing.  Predacious browns hunt by darkness in the Summer and will consider anything struggling on the surface as a mouthful of opportunity.  Think like a secretive brown trout and stalk the waters silently.  Think like a mouse or frog and gurgle and swim your fly like you’re trying to get away.  If you do those things, you may just find some serious excitement and your best fish of the season.

Yep, it’s a fine time to fish and the rivers are quiet again. Hope you can make it and I hope to see you all soon,