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River Report - June 26, 2019, Back To The Future

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report

Hex are imminent.

They have been for the last week. We saw the big fish-flies blow up  in enormous number on Lake Margrethe and have been waiting for the big mayflies to make an appearance ever since.  It normally takes about a week of eager angling before we see the glory hatch show up on the early parts of the Au Sable.  But this year has been anything but normal.

It’s been over a seven days now by this report’s posting and we’re still waiting. At this point it is safe to assume that we’ll be casting the huge flies over equally impressive trout well into July.  In fact, there have been more sightings of Hex on the Manistee than there have been on the Au Sable.  That’s a flip-flop anomaly that I have never seen in over twenty years of fishing here.  I’ve never even heard of such an occurrence.  Generally, the Manistee sees hatches ten days after the Au Sable but, again, this is an abnormal year.

Even the guys creeping Au Sable ponds are scratching their fishing caps.

It sort of makes it all exciting. After all, trout fishing is supposed to be an adventure and fly angling is a Sudoku with missing numbers.  A huge part of the reward is figuring things out.  Without some mystery there is little romance.  And if this sort of Spring is the new normal, than we have to ease into a new, exciting relationship with our Rivers.

Brown Drakes are lingering on some reaches of the Au Sable and are hitting stride on the Manistee. Isonychia, or Mahogany Drakes, are really the evening event so far and have been producing some fine results.  Of course, you have to watch for the little Sulphurs as well.  Hope there are no Bat Flies—those vibrating little spinners can be a nuisance.  The bug is hard to replicate and it’s impossible to make your artificial move in harmony with a natural.  Big fish sometimes key on them.

Hex will probably show up before this report is posted.

It’s time now. It’s been a slow dance this year.  We’ve been courting for two months.  It’s time to consummate this relationship.   Maybe under the Fireworks.

I’ll see you on the River,


June 27, 2018

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.

Hex are still rolling on the river of Crawford County. The peak activity has crested on the Au Sable River, but there still are still plenty of bugs left in the thick muck banks of the lower river and there is lots of activity in the evening and into the darkness.  The iso’s are keeping anglers busy with some good trout as the light falls below the tree line.  And the Hex are keeping big trout looking toward the surface as the moon rises.  The density of bugs has thinned and gorged brown trout are being finicky, but anglers can hunt for trophy browns until the birds chirp in the early morning hours.

It’s been a great season so far.

The Manistee Hex hatch just keeps getting stronger and will peak before the Fourth of July. Some real bruisers are prowling the currents this year, and I suspect we’ll see a picture of a real river monster soon.  The trout are thick and strong and rising whenever there are any insects on the water.

The big push of hardcore Hex anglers is past. Many of those fishermen have burned their vacation time so the rivers will be much less crowded.  We’re moving into the second season on the Au Sable.

July marks the beginning of the terrestrial season. Grasshoppers, ants, and beetles will be the order of the day.  The fish are looking strongly to the surface now and attractor patterns like Patriots, and Coachmans will most certainly garner attention.  Anytime of the day is the right time to go, but early mornings will offer the best opportunity especially for fishermen seeking solitude.

It’s time to just simply go fishing. And it’s time to get new anglers introduced to this wonderful lifetime sport.  The Old Au Sable is offering beginner classes July 14th and again on July 15th.  The class covers everything a new fisherman needs to know.  Students will spend time learning on both dry ground and in the river.  Our class is for all ages and families, lasts for four hours and includes a free rod and reel package.  It’s a great deal and a wonderful way to get started down the path.  There is no time to start like the present.  Give us a Google and call the shop for details.  

We’ll see you all soon,


The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report

June 24, 2015

It’s the end of June and there’s only one word that fly fishermen want to hear—Hex. The long fabled, Michigan Hexagenia Limbata hatch is the stuff of legend.  Over the years, legions of fly anglers worldwide have come to our beloved Crawford County to ply the waters and try their luck on our streams and to match wits with the thick shouldered and rarely fooled trophy brown trout of the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers.  So far this year, we’ve seen fishermen from France, Japan, and even Iceland coming to visit our streams.

It can be difficult for the non-fly angler to understand what drives that sort of travel to the sandy, jack pine plans of Northern Michigan. But any angler can understand the affliction.  All fish-bitten fishermen would travel as far as their dollars would take them to experience world class angling.  And while our fishing isn’t world class every day, it is sometimes and some of those days are just in front of us.

The Hex hatch is system wide on the Au Sable River right now. I’d guess we’re going to be fishing these waters until the next report.  The South Branch may only have a few days left in the tank, but the mainstream with its thigh-deep muck banks should hold up for a good while.  Once they thin there, the Manistee River should pick up the slack.  We’ve seen just a few on that stream, but their appearance in those currents is imminent.

Most of the phone calls I answer at the shop ask if it’s worth going fishing. I can tell you that it’s rarely perfect when you think it will be and it’s always better than staying home and mowing the lawn.  We don’t have a big window here.  So, I’d say just go when you can.  The best night I had last week was on the coldest evening we’ve this June.  My best fish was a whopper that was angry and heavy and held on the bottom before he launched into the air and landed fat and flat and loud on the water.

It’s here. The glory.  The reward of suffering long winters.  I know I’ll be out.  I hope you hear my fish jump.  I hope I hear yours.

I’ll see you on the river,