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Weather and Moon Phase
Weather and Moon


Stream Flow Data
Stream Flow Data

Fishing Report

Fishing Report

Chase Bridge Access

04/16/14 The big story is the big river. We got pummeled with 3 inches of rain, followed by 3 inches of snow. The river was already high with thaw. The resulting flood has relocated some docks, shuffled some trout cover, caused some moping, some fruitless streamer floats, and otherwise momentarily squelched the decent thing we had going.

My 3 yr old woke up, looked out the window, saw snow, and began crying.

The good news is that the snow has melted, the Mainstream and North Branch water levels are falling, and the forecast is warm enough to turn things around. Undoubtedly the medium to large trout have been feeding heavily on worms. My friend sent me a text with his new 6-inch long articulated nightcrawler pattern and the words: "San Juan worms are for prissy Rocky Mtn guys." The South Branch has crested at over 1000 cfs (or 3 times normal high water flows) and it's not going to drop quickly. When it does though...

A dandy fish like this make an otherwise slow day a treasure

I'm so pumped up about the season I can't wait. I'm ready to write one of these reports and say something other than "waiting for spring" or some other kind of preseason BS. I need the words: olives, hennies, rising, spinnerfall. Or just one of those four words. I'm ready to spend a sunny spring day perched on a wet bank waiting for a target to present itself. Hopefully in a bubble line. More likely beneath the tag alders with six oozy currents between us. I enjoy all types of fly fishing, and most forms of fishing in general. But I realize at times like this, on the eve of the season, amidst frozen ground and flood waters, that I truly enjoy rising trout the most. From the teeny tiny impossible ones off the dock at the lodge, to the heart attacker that unexpectedly began eating duns at 2 pm on a sunny day.

I think all this. But then I remember just how much I enjoyed a float nearly a week ago down the Manistee. From the strange private launch (I put the money in the slats of deck) to the beautiful start (two good fish hooked, one landed), to the unexpected squall that froze us to the bone ("hell, it's April, I don't need a fleece"), to the two wonderful trout Greg boated before the "good" water, to the enormous follow I had across a sand flat not once but twice while an elderly man watched it unfold from his window in the house above us, to the trout with the bright red spots that appeared as a bolt of shadow from twelve feet downstream of my fly and clobbered it in the time it took me to strip once. We saw stones. We saw midges. It felt the way it was supposed to in April.

For the Easter weekend, wadeable or floatable water will be at a premium. The Holy Waters are currently NOT WADEABLE in my opinion. The North Branch is in spots, and will be more so by Saturday. I think the Holy Waters may require an extra day or two though much of this depends on the amount of snow still beneath the cedars up in Frederic. The fishing though should regain it's footing rapidly, even if it's best done from a boat. Mio dropped a 1000 cfs in the last day or so. The edges will clear first, and soon the river will run clear but stained, the kind of beautiful brown water that seems drawn from the whiskey bottle of wild Michigan trutta and begs a copper, dirty yellow, or olive and white streamer (or black, but that's almost always the case). As always, call the shop with questions and we'll give you an up to the minute report on what's happening.

The restaurant opens this weekend and it'll be all systems go. Huge new breakfast menu. Take-out sandwiches galore. And a fantastic dinner menu. Stop in and check it out.

We also have a few canceled dates to fill. These should be premo and are probably worth playing hookey for:

April 27 - May 1

April 27 - April 29 (3 nights)

Call or email to sign up.


Check out the The River trailer. Get heartsick for spring. Then...go fishing!

To View the Trailer:

To Pre-Buy Movie and Benefit Anglers of the Au Sable:


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.


DNR Plans to Sell State Land...A Letter from a Lodge Guest

Friends and guests of Gates' Lodge,

Some legislators in Michigan have decided that the state owns "Too much land", and they want to reduce state land ownership. To this end, the Michigan DNR is beginning an effort to sell off massive amounts of state lands.

The first parcel up for sale is the "Graymont Proposal". The DNR is considering the sale of a prime parcel of 10,000 acres of contiguous forest land. You read that right. The DNR is seriously considering the sale of 10,000 acres of public forest land in Michigan. To a limestone mining company.

If you think this is a lousy idea, please tell the DNR that. Public comments can be sent here:

If you are a Michigan Resident, tell the DNR you oppose selling our public resources. Please consider telling your state legislators the same thing.

Many of you come from states which do not have the wonderful public land resource that Michigan does. If you come from out of state to enjoy the public lands Michigan offers (and to spend your fishing and hunting dollars here), please make sure the DNR knows that.


Marvin Roberson (the guy in Room 17 with the Gordon Setter)


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: