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River Report - October 21, 2015

The Old Au Sable Fly Shop Fishing Report
What a great time I’ve had this week. There’s so much good stuff happening in the North woods and I was lucky enough to take some well needed days off to enjoy some of the reasons we live here.

The leaf drop is happening quickly. Fall colors came late and suddenly and, almost as quickly, the leaves started to drop to the forest floor.  As much as I hate to see the spectacular, flamed forest colors start to disappear, the thinning trees make for some fast shooting in the upland covers.  If you love Michigan, you can’t help but love the season changes.  And if you’re a sportsman, you love just as well the secondary changes that happen with both the weather and with the changes that occur with our wildlife.

This week, while tromping through the grouse woods, I saw some of the first and best buck sign I’ve yet to witness. The antlered whitetails have started to leave their calling cards to does—scrape lines are beginning to form in the best reaches of woodlands.  If you can find an oak ridge laden with acorns that rubs against thick bedding areas like swamps, young aspen cuts, or young jack pine you’ll be in the mix for some fine bowhunting and in a great spot to set up for the Michigan rifle season.

On the river the brown trout have started to move to the rock. White-washed spawning beds are beginning to show up in the graveled stretches of the Au Sable and Manistee Rivers.  The brown trout are shining up their mating lies and are becoming active.  Please avoid fishing to or stepping on these spots as you wade the streams, but be sure to fish to all covers in the vicinity of good spawning gravel.  Tie on streamers dressed in black or olive and let those flies hunt.  Natural colors have been best, so if you need to change from the tried and true, twist on tan and maybe even copper colored offerings.

Just tons of good games to play right now. A great, old bird dog breeder I knew, Tom Ellis, always said, “Heaven must be all Octobers”.

I think that might just be true and I think I stole a day this past week.

I have three bird dogs. They’ve been pretty okay and even good at times, but this week two of them really turned a corner.  The dogs worked superbly; the boys not only adjusted their range for cover but acknowledged scent early and respected the cagey, running grouse of Crawford County.  We were able to get close to and pin more chickens than I have been able to catch up to in a one day hunt in years.  They backed one another’s points and slid closer to the sprinting birds once we released them.  They were able to snake up on birds and we were rewarded with close clear shots.  To make it all better, when we dropped a grouse in the South Branch of the Au Sable, one of the dogs retrieved the bird from the running water.  Water retrieving is a rarity for any English Setter, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve even been a part of in upland woods.

Thanks dialing in and try to get outside,