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River Report - March 18, 2016

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.
There’s a lot to be excited about right now for Northern Michigan fishermen. Unseasonably warm weather this past week largely cleared the landings and river accesses of snow and had anglers rummaging through their garages, digging out gear, and organizing boxes.  Spring fever is rampant.

The weather has continued to be just warm enough to keep fishermen thinking about trout. Folks are stirring around the fly shop everyday simply happy to be around the stuff of fishing and around other people that are equally as excited to talk about fishing.  The talk is of old stories of success, of yesterday’s trip down the river, and of springtime weather predictions.  And, of course, we’re all peering into our personal magic eight balls hoping to prognosticate the first appearance of the Hendrickson hatch.

An early run-off has us all guessing at a fine dry fly season that may just show up before the traditional opening day. I’d just about bet on it.  Regardless of hopes and predictions, after the frigid Springs of 2014 and 15, we surely deserve some trout softly rising in the gentle of the Au Sable on a mild May evening.  Odds must count for something.

I saw a fantastic omen of things to come on a trip down the Mason Tract. The water was high but because of the consistent and steady run-off, the river clarity was perfect.  Streamer fishing was average at best but the day was exceptional—the sun warm on our backs and returned memories around every bend of our old friend—the South Branch.  As we passed the High Banks, we saw something I’d never seen this time of year.

We saw caddis flies. First one, then two, then a few until around one corner there was a bonified hatch.  There were literally hundreds.  We dropped anchor and watched.  These were diving caddis.  They’d flit about and then hit the surface of the water and dive under swimming for a length.  Then, as we marveled, there it was—the first rise of the year.  The first rise of the year to a hatch I didn’t know.

There may just be some magic in this season.

Dust off your gear and we’ll see you soon,


PS This Thursday, March 24th community members are gathering at the Ole Barn on M-72 to learn some facts about the happenings at the old Grayling fish hatchery.  Anyone concerned with the health of the Au Sable should attend. More info here.