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Fishing Report

Fishing Report

Scott with a big, rare and beautiful Au Sable rainbow

Opening weekend, 2014: Happy New Year! It's time to start the fishing season. Not sure why Dennis does it, but the pink flamingos he puts outside his room at the lodge seem bittersweet in 2014. The spring peepers just started peeping. The olives are hatching well but so far have failed to tempt many trout to the surface. A few hendricksons have been positively identified, but nothing resembling a "hatch." Streamers and nymphs have caught the trout

Dennis and Matt had a classic early spring experience today. After a whole day of fruitless but enjoyable dry fly fishing, they found a fish rising to the many black stoneflies. Glory, glory. Matt eased the boat into position. Dennis -- a rising trout wizard -- readied his rod. A whole winters worth of dreaming of rising fish had come to this point: a thirty foot cast to a trout eating every stonefly coming down the river. Of course the cast went into the trees. The fish spooked.

"Well, it was a tough winter," I can practically hear Dennis say by way of an explanation.

The rivers are high but the Main, North and Manistee are in excellent shape. The South Branch thru the Mason Tract is not only unwadeable, but also blocked by a number of deadfalls (boaters beware!). My guess is that the South Branch from Smith down to the confluence is also blocked. I've even heard rumors that the mainstream is blocked below McMasters and above the confluence of the North Branch. If you're planning on floating these areas (or any other areas) please take the proper precautions.

The North Branch is in wonderful shape...bring on some bugs!

It was a tough winter. But it's going to be a great weekend. The opening day crew is sitting by the campfire at the lodge now, reliving past adventures. The movie The River premiers at the Rialto Theater Saturday night in Grayling (7-8pm: meet and greet, raffles, announcements, giveaways. 8pm - 10pm: the showing of the premier. Tickets available at the lodge via cash or check to "Anglers of the Au Sable" $10 per). The lodge is rife with opening weekend events: Simms specials and package deals, Dennis Potter demonstrating a variety of tying techniques, a new take-out window and a HUGE lunch menu (, and a "remodeled" shop stuffed to the absolute gills with toys.

The season is here. And the slow start does little to temper the passion of the many to get their feet wet, and hopefully slime a few corks along the way.


The River: a movie all about the Au Sable

To View the Trailer:

To order, visit our online store at:


Truthfully, I wasn't really interested in writing a fishing book, but I had the opportunity to do something with Lyons Press, which had been a dream of mine in high school. Dreams and feelings change, but four years ago there was little indication I'd be owning a fly fishing lodge and lots of indications that I wouldn't. So I signed on for a book. Several extensions and kids later, it's done. And I hope those that buy it feel I did this very special region proud. It's available now with free shipping on the Gates Fly Shop website:


Jackpine Planting: Our friends over at Huron Pines are putting together a jack pine planting for May 3, from 9 am to 1 pm. Jackpines aren't cedars, and the planting isn't by the river, but what makes our river unique and trout friendly are the jackpine flats and the sand beneath them. Jack pines are also the necessary ingredient to the health of the Kirtland Warbler population. Volunteers will be meeting at Staley Lake Road at 9 am. You get a free hendrickson fly and lunch for attending. Contact for more info, or, to register, go to Gonna be a cool event.