This is Peak Dry Fly Season

June 12, 2020 3 min read

My dad and I went up the the Au Sable river earlier this week for some trout fishing. Like many of you, the Au Sable and Gates Lodge are truly special places for me. Many of my best memories of my life are fishing trips and one of my first ever trips was to the Gates with my dad and uncle.

Upon arrival at Gates, we drank red wine and watched small trout rise to mahoganies, sulphursand drakes.

Monday found us fishing at Keystone Landing to small trout on Patriotsand other attractors. Fishing during the day at this time of the year can be a bit slow and today was no exception. After fishing for a few hours we pivoted to hard-earned naps.

For lunch we both had delicious Master Gunner sandwiches. The sandwiches were so good we both decided to get them for dinner later that night. On a side note, the restaurant should be fully open later this week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We met my friend and our guide for the evening, and dropped into the water at 5 pm for an evening of fishing. The forecast looked very promising. Stable and warm air temperatures meant drakes were likely to spin.

The boondoggle fishing was fun but a bit slow. I started fishing with a Pteronarcys Califonica which is a humongous dry fly and a total blast to fish. We slowly sized down to smaller dry flies in an attempt to find more willing fish.

Dinner was another Master Gunner with a beautiful northern Michigan sunset. As it began to get darker, we began to see rises from the size of fish we were after. We started to see drakes above the pine trees and our optimism rose. Sulphurs, mahogines and Isosalso started to show up. As the night went on, the rises remained infrequent. It seemed like we'd see a rise 20 yards from wherever we were. We'd row over to the rise, throw an entire box of flies at it but the fish wouldn't take.

Around this time we got a clear indication of what the other boats thought of the fishing. All 5 of them quickly rowed past us towards the take out. They were calling it and I wondered to myself when we would too. Steve continued to work hard to get us on rising fish, rowing us from one bank to the other and listening fanatically risers.

Eventually I convinced him to let me rig up a mouseon one rod. As we slowly drifted down, looking and listening for risers, I fished the mouse. Then we found another small riser. Steve rowed us over to it and I began casting. 3 flies later and no takers, he handed me the mousing rod, and that's when we heard a big fish rise just 10 feet from the boat.

"Ok, lets try this one more time"

I made a short cast to where I thought the rise was, then another one, then another one. And then finally the fish ate.

big brown on a brown drake on the au sable

He fought hard and it took me a few minutes just to get him high enough in the river to see what I was dealing with. Steve netted him, we snapped a few hero shots and dropped him back in the river.

We fished to a few more rising fish but our work was done for the night. The boat launch was empty when we got there at 1 am.

So how's the fishing?

Good but be prepared to work for the fish.

Drakes are still going strong. We saw tons of iso and sulphurs and a few mahogonies. The main branch is in pretty good shape. It's wade-able in the holy waters but still has a stain given this time of the year.

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