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River Report - October 2, 2020

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report

Fall color is upon us.  We’re getting close to peak change in Northern Michigan.  This is easily my favorite season of the year.  Splashes of red and orange and gold pop against evergreen ridges.  And over every rise and in buried in every swale, drumming grouse and whistling woodcock and white-tailed deer hunker down.

It’s hunting season and fishing season still, and the two merge together to make the Au Sable river valley a wonderland for outdoors folk.   It makes for possible conundrums.  Should I fish or hunt?  Or try to do both every day?  But it’s simple really: go hunting when it’s dry and go fishing when it’s wet.  What terrible problems we have.

There’s a lot of freedom up here, in the North woods.  When I moved here years ago, I did it all because of the crystal clean rivers and to try to catch trout and to become soaked in the legend and lore of the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers.  But what I fell in love with even more is the enormous amount of state lands and river accesses.  You can go nearly everywhere and that freedom is unmatched in much of the world.

There is no lock-step answer to how to spend a Fall morning or afternoon.  You simply do whatever you want.  Go in whichever direction pulls your heart strings on any given day.  Of course, a sad sack droopy-eyed dog watching you put a fishing rod together can tug your choice toward a finer distraction.  We own these bird dogs to watch them ply their trade for only about eight weeks a year.

But if it’s pouring rain, well then too bad puppy, it’s time to pull on rubber pants and go catch trout.  Trout fishing is hard here.  And it’s especially finicky in the Fall.  We always depend on conditions, but now we are also trying to, daily, figure out where the trout are in their annual spawning ritual.  It can be spectacular, but even the best angler can put up a bagel on the day.  Stick with wet flies and streamers from now on unless you see fish rising to olives or flying ants.  Do that and you’ll be giving your best effort, knee deep, in a beautiful river with a rainbowed background.

Good Luck out there,