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River Report - June 2, 2021

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report
It’s been a wild ride this Spring. Temperatures have burst into extreme highs and have, in short lived blasts, plunged quickly into low depths. It’s been confounding, successful, and frustrating.

I knotted on a brown drake and caught the first fish on a big bug a week earlier than should be normal. Before-the-crowd-hatches are fun and rare and sitting on a bank then, is lovely loneliness. That success was short lived and promise left with it, as cold times settled into the river valleys and disrupted hatch progressions.

Then more heat and another wave of brown drakes returned in comfortable afternoons against their normal, diurnal movements. But rolling, nighttime cold fronts snuffed out spinner flights.  Success trails bugs here; bugs trail weather.  Fishermen try to predict trends in Northern Michigan’s schizophrenic climate.

While this is truly nothing new in Crawford County, it does seem to be more extreme. The Au Sable River is a tough place to find consistent success—always has been. It’s led to sayings like, “if you can catch a fish here you can catch a trout anywhere”. I believe that. And have done so.

Our successes have great value and are fleeting but purposeful.

I inherited a huge collection of old fly-fishing magazines and while thumbing through them found a great quote from fly fishing writer Len Wright in a rag from 1972.  It goes, “Memory is especially merciful to fishermen. We relive our successful days astream over and over again, while our fishless hours are easily forgotten. And yet I think we pay a high price for this kindness since it is out failures that teach us.” I’ve been preaching that sentiment for years without knowing it had been said before. Like the waterborne cast I use out of necessity and without training.

There are three categories of anglers on the Au Sable: those that are new and arrive with great expectation and keep at it, those that have tried and failed enough times to never come back, and those that have seen what it can be with bugs swarmed in the air and fine fish fooled.

This week should feed anglers that come. Brown drakes are on the Au Sable and with them renewed, great promise.

We’ll see.

I’ll see you on the River,