If you follow my blog, you probably know that the special regulations trout waters of the upper Credit River have been host to the occasional Northern Pike. These toothy fish have continued to escape from Island Lake on a regular basis, but I’ve noticed my catch rates steadily increasing in more recent years. It’s possible that my findings are inconsequential and due to either (bad) luck or an increase in targeting big fish. Whatever the reason, it’s somewhat disturbing knowing how many Pike are lurking in the deeper holes of the Credit.
Not too long ago, I was out on the Credit for the last couple hours of daylight. The weather was decent and I had hoped to have a run-in with either some Isonychia or some leftover Hexagenia. I encountered a decent hatch of the latter on some Brook Trout water a few days prior, but hadn’t had the luxury of fishing them to Browns yet this year.
A Hexagenia Atrocaudata spinner from a few days prior.
If this wasn’t a fly fishing blog, you might think this post was about our fellow Canadian rapper/musician who shares the same name. Come to think of it, the title of his hit song Started From The Bottom is surprisingly appropriate for the topic at hand. Maybe he was thinking about aquatic insect hatches when he wrote it… or, maybe not.
Of course, I’m referring to mayflies here, the Green Drake specifically. If you fly fish the upper Credit River, you probably know that the Green Drake has been going through a rough time. Once a prolific and highly anticipated mayfly hatch on the Credit, it underwent a rapid decline in the past couple decades and had all but disappeared. Dr. Henry Frania, an entomologist with the Royal Ontario Museum, has been studying the Green Drake issues for many years and rather than reiterate his findings, you’re better off Googling it yourself. Essentially, it had been found likely that the nymphs were dying due to ingestion of a toxic substance (chemical or organic). As a result, very few nymphs were reaching the adult stage, leading to the Green Drake being (for the most part) functionally extinct on most of the Credit River.
Fast forward to 2016 where (as I indicated in my previous post) the season started with some of the heaviest Hendrickson hatches seen in years. Blue Winged Olives were also in good numbers, followed by Sulphurs, Yellow Sallies and Gray Foxes. Next up was the infamous and ever-absent Green Drake. I was told they made a half decent showing in 2015 (relatively speaking), although I managed to miss them entirely. In serious need of a break from work and feeling optimistic with the number of bugs so far this year, I took a few days off in hopes of witnessing some of these giant mayflies. As it turned out, the weather and timing were perfect and I was able to spend three evenings among what was possibly the largest showing of Green Drakes since their decline many years ago.
A slightly beat-up Green Drake Dun from the Upper Credit River
If you haven’t heard, the MNR is currently considering a plan that will see a number of changes to the current Credit River fishery. The plan is focused around improving the existing native Brook Trout population and protecting the Atlantic Salmon that are being stocked into the Credit as part of the ongoing (and largely unsuccessful to date) Atlantic Salmon restoration program for Lake Ontario.
Details on the working proposal can be found here. Apparently, the MNR will be going public with this at some point for broader feedback. When they do, I sincerely hope they get lots of eyes and feedback on these changes, especially from those with intimate knowledge of the river. My main beef with the plan as it stands is the proposal of removing current catch-and-release regulations for Brown Trout on the upper section of this river. They want to allow (and encourage) harvesting of Browns of any size from this excellent and one-of-a-kind fishery. The thought of even considering this change is painful in so many ways… I simply can’t understand the justification.
Looking downstream on the main branch of the Forks of the Credit River
Last weekend marked the end of the 2013 trout fishing season here in Ontario for most inland rivers and streams. It’s hard to believe it’s come and gone so fast and we have a long 7 months to wait until we can fish for local resident trout again. It still irks me that nearly all of our rivers here are special regulations (catch and release only, artificial, single point barbless hook), yet we still have such short fishing seasons. Not only does it mean we’re stripped of our favourite pastime for more than half of the year, but it also means money lost by both small and large businesses related to fly fishing: fly shops, big box stores, tourism, etc. Yes, there’s bass (until December) and Steelhead fishing opportunities – and I appreciate that. But for many, including myself, it’s just not the same. Using many of the top resident trout fisheries in the US as an example, it’s easy to see that it can be very viable to keep special regulations trout water open for a much longer season, if not the entire year.
This is my favourite time of year to fish. The scenery is at its peak with the fall colours and fish are becoming more aggressive as they beef up for the coming spawning and winter seasons.
I love fishing small, quiet water like this during the fall
Last week was a bit slow on the fly fishing front, which is a bit of a shame considering there’s only a couple weeks left of trout season.
I took my two boys out for some pond fishing Saturday morning. The oldest (8) has his own fly rod and waders, but I left them at home since the younger one (4) isn’t quite old enough for the trout streams yet. Fishing for panfish via hook and bobber every once in a while keeps their interest peaked and that’s the most important thing at this age. The fish in this particular pond were absolutely ferocious. As soon as the line hit the water, swarms of sunfish would rush to devour the worm. Unfortunately they’ve become so good at stripping the worm off the hook, that I spent a solid 2-3 hours doing not much more than re-baiting hooks. At least the action was consistent and the kids caught some fish.
It’s always a great feeling when you succeed in matching the hatch: you determine exactly what the fish are feeding on, manage to find a fly that closely resembles it and start catching fish. Often times this is how fly fishing goes. However, there are times when none of the logical patterns seem to work and instead, a fly that represents nothing the fish are currently feeding on seems to work best. It might be an Elk Hair Caddis when there are no caddis on the water, or it might be an attractor pattern. The Patriot is a good example of the latter on many northern Michigan rivers.
I got out again Friday morning before work. There weren’t many bugs early morning, so I started fishing wet flies. When that was unproductive, I moved on to nymphs and later tried streamers. Fishing was slow, with little more than a couple missed hits on the wet flies.
As the sun came up and the temperature began rising, I started seeing a bunch of these:
Lots of Tricos were hatching an hour or so past sunrise
At least once a year I try to make a trip up to northern Michigan, to fish the Au Sable River and its neighbour the Manistee. This summer has been unusually busy and last weekend was likely the first and last time I will be up there this year. I took Friday off and drove 6 hours after work to get there for Thursday night.
The weekend was a combination of fishing and partying, as it was the big Au Sable Canoe Marathon weekend. Visitors from all across North America come to Grayling for this weekend to watch the race, making it the busiest time of year for both Grayling and the Au Sable River. Because of this, it’s not exactly the ideal time to be fishing the area – at least not the main branch. However, quality fishing can still be had on the Manistee, the North and South branches of the Au Sable and (to my surprise) even on the main branch the very morning after the race.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took a well deserved week-long trip to a favourite destination of ours on the banks of Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan.
Grayling is a fly fishing paradise. I won’t go into detail on why this is such a great fly fishing town, but suffice it to say that it’s surrounded by several blue ribbon trout rivers, it’s host to river stretches with nicknames like the “Holy Water”, it’s got more fly shops than most towns have gas stations and it’s the birthplace of Trout Unlimited… you get the idea.
I made an effort not to spend too much time on the water this trip, since my wife doesn’t fish and we had other things planned for the week. Most of the time I didn’t stray too far from the place we were staying. Located on the Holy Water, one of (if not the) best stretches of trout water on the entire Au Sable, it’s just too convenient.
The main hatches for the week included Tricos in the mornings, terrestrials (mostly ants) in the afternoons and some sporadic BWO hatches in the evenings. No overly large trout were had during this trip, but a nice assortment of brown, rainbow and brook trout were caught. That’s one of the things I love about the Au Sable in this stretch… all three trout species are very plentiful and on any given day it’s entirely possible to hook up with trophy sizes in all of these fish.