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
During my time off work last week, I made a couple trips to the upper section of the Grand River. This river has had its share of hard times in the past couple years. Last year it was the abnormally high spring and summer temps, which resulted in nearly unfishable conditions for much of the summer. This year, temperatures have been ideal, but the record rainfalls have had it running extremely high and dirty.
With a break from all the rain and cooler temps of late, I figured the river should be back in tip-top condition. So, last Thursday I set out at sunrise with an arsenal of Tricos, expecting to be tossing tiny dry flies to eager fish. When I arrived, the river flows were as expected, but the water was inexplicably murky – as if a huge rainfall had just gone through. Apparently, the heavy rains in weeks past have caused somewhat of a backup of sediment and algae in Belwood Lake, which is still being released from Shand Dam. The river was definitely more slippery than I’ve ever seen it, so blaming it on algae seems logical. Still, I didn’t travel 45 minutes at 6 am to turn around and drive back home.
Other than the water colour, everything seemed normal. Deer on the river, Cranes and the resident Osprey about and a bit of insect activity, hinting at the likely hatches in the coming hours.
It’s becoming a common occurrence to be greeted by a Deer in the morning
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.