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River Report - March 2, 2016

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report.
You get a nice winter warm up and then Old Man Winter punches your chin with yet another bought of cold temperatures and snow. Welcome to Northern Michigan.

The warm ups are exciting, allow trout fishermen to steal a few more extra days on the stream, and can produce some of the nicest fish of the year. As it did this past week when we saw temperatures soar into the upper forties and even crest fifty.  Only in Michigan can someone say the words “temperatures soar into the upper forties”.

Trout guide Donnie Richards hit the Manistee with his good friend Brian during the warm-up last week. They moved fish on streamers right away and boated two nice ones by the end of the day.  Donnie’s came out tracking the fly and when Donnie paused the retrieve it piled on the bait.

Our rivers are full of sculpins and darters. Those baitfish like to charge away from predators and then, after a couple of feet, pause and settle to the bottom, so stripping the fly quickly, especially in cold water, doesn’t always trigger the strike like stopping the action will.  There’s nothing like a big fish charging out from cover, losing interest in the chase, and then wheeling around 180 degrees to pile on a bug left hanging near the bottom.  When you do that, you’ve beat them at their own game.  A feat we all seek in the outdoors.

It’s shaping up to be an early Spring. The warm-ups are forecast to be longer and the cool-downs shorter.  That’s early for this time of year.  That means streamer fishing, some of the best trout angling of the year, is on our doorstep.   It also means, just maybe, that early dry fly fishing this year might actually materialize this April.  Gives me goosebumps to think about it.

I live here largely for the fine hatch match dry fly fishing in April and May and June, for the mild Summers, and for all of Fall and the fantastic amounts of state and federal lands that we all have access to. Unfortunately, April and May haven’t fished well in the Upper River Systems for  the last two years.  But it doesn’t look like that trend will continue this year.

I have visions of hooked over Hendricksons laden with yellow egg sacs in the failing light and some of the best fish in the river slurping up their spent bodies with abandon. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good Hendrickson spinnerfall, but if I never have another one the last time will flash before my eyes on my deathbed.

Tie your flies and sharpen your skills, because this just might be one of those years.

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