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River Report - March 15, 2021

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report

What a wonderful, mild beginning to March.  Temperatures have given us highs in the forties and even a beautiful stretch of fifties.  The trend has begun a slow melt of ice and snow that is much welcomed as winter winds down.

Who knows what the coming weeks will hold? We could very well see snowstorms and big rains, but for now the promise of a gradual run-off is very much exciting.  We’ve had a nearly five year run of long, sustained, high-water Spring Seasons that had the river raging well into May.  And while that has helped trout survival in the late Summer months, it’s not without negatives.

It is commonly accepted that high, sustained Spring flows hinder the new, young of the year trout recruitment.  High water washes freshly spawned trout from the safe nooks of their nests and washes them into dangerous, deadly waters where survival is dubious.

For the last bunch of years, cold and high-water Mays have made for inconsistent and bunched up hatches.  It’s created tough dryfly fishing conditions, and left Au Sable anglers plying their trade subsurface.  But this Spring has real promise.  Hopefully, we will see trout dimpling the surface in most May afternoons.

Trout fishing is very much about Spring for me—alders with bulging buds, fawns in the tall grass.  Massing insects over the shining streams.  Rising trout.  Just a couple of months that pass in a glimpse.

Fly fishing techniques include nymph fishing and streamer fishing, and while I truly love all of the excuses that allow me to use my flyrod (and they are the most effective methods right now), the fact remains that those techniques are really underwater, spin fishing techniques adapted for the flyrod. We are forced to fish subsurface all winter long, so dryfly angling is a wonderful change.

Dry fly fishing is truly when the fly line shines—it is the technique where only a fly line is the perfect tool for the job.  And May and June are the perfect months to roll out dry flies.  Those are our bug months.  Water born insects emerge from the river and trout feed heavily on them.  When it goes perfectly, mayfly and caddis and stonefly hatches roll off the river in fairly predictable progressions and anglers get to cast floating flies to fish feeding on the surface.

This year is full of hope and it begins with a mild Spring and rising, wild trout.

For now, grab your beadheads and buggers and beat trail to the water.  It feels like Springtime here.

Take care,


P.S.  I need some decorations for the shop.  I’d like to borrow any old Grayling or fly fishing stuff or mounts that you’d be willing to display here.  Please poke me if you have anything.

I’m also a short on shop help.  Looking for folks that want to get out of the house and babysit the shop for a few hours at either end of the day—few days a week.

The lodge upstairs is completely open for the Month of April - including opener, and I’ve got a bunch of openings up there for all of the other months as well - crazy!!  We’ve had a bunch of late Springs but it seems different this year.  This could be your chance to lock down days for years to come.  The upstairs is nice and it’s super inexpensive at $129 a night and sleeps a bunch of people.

Guide trips are really filling up.  There are limited days left.  If you want to get in a boat with one of our guys, you should pick some dates and act quickly.

Lastly, on a personal note, I’d like to rent a place on a local lake for a number of weeks in the Summer, so that Jack and Gloria can swim and hang out with friends every day.  If you hear of anything, please give me a poke.