*Check out the bottom of the report for important info regarding oil and gas development, and the Au Sable River...yeah, it's that bad
*Visit our updated shop specials page: www.gateslodge.com/shopspecials.php
12/04/13 It's been really cold. This giant trout was caught between ice floes on a day that was -4 degrees when Greg and Nate launched the boat at 9 am. The best fly was the one that didn't freeze (Greg reported that some of his wool-head flies were freezing solid during the retrieve, and ice was actually accumulating on the hook point itself). In this case, an olive and white articulated streamer moved the most trout during the hour that they were on the chase.
Hope everyone had a good, and safe, Thanksgiving holiday. The trout rivers sure looked nice today with some fresh snow on the banks and in the trees and fog from the warm air hanging over the water. A pair of lovely rainbows have been sitting in the soft water off the dock at the lodge. We love "the lap" in front of the lodge -- a great classroom in which to get schooled. Every winter the fish show up near their usual spots though each year is different. A half-dozen years ago the fish were stacked in the deep slot downstream of Stephan Bridge and swinging small streamers in the traditional method (quartering across) was unbelievable. Now a tree has come down above the bridge, and the fish tend to sit in the soft water under the bridge, and then in the faster water near the leaning cedar above the dock. Spending so much time fishing your home water sure makes you realize how little you know about the rest of the river -- even if you've fished it for a long time. Every year the river changes. Wouldn't be a river if it didn't.
Nate working between the "islands"
It's going to be a bit cold over the weekend and into next week. Some folks will fish through the cold (I'm one of them!) but if you hate frozen guides, cold fingers, and short trips to the river punctuated by warming time in the car, well, the next seven days probably aren't for you! A variety of nymphs in sizes 12-18 will produce. I like the old indicator, split shot, and double nymph rigs still; though any number of nymphing techniques can produce. Work the deep holes methodically, paying careful attention to the inside current seams, and the substantial drop offs. I usually work upstream with nymphs and then turn around and fish back down with a streamer. One of the mythologies of winter fly fishing is that trout won't chase a streamer. They will! They are slow chases, so fish slowly, with slower strips, or jigging the rod tip, or both. If you see a fish in pursuit, I find simply stopping the fly and letting the fish catch up to the fly and eat it works better than increasing the rate of retrieve.
And, finally...as many are finding out, the DNR has leased a number of oil and gas parcels in, around, and through the Au Sable river valley and its tributaries. There is plenty to this story available at www.ausableanglers.org, and at the bottom of this report, on a number of email blasts circulating throughout the state (and one from Gates Lodge that just went out). If you ask me, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. I'll bet many of you reading this feel the same way. This isn't the time for complacency. Write the DNR (info below) and let them know what you think about it. This one won't go away without you, all of you, each and every person that knows, deep down, that putting an oil or gas well (fracking or otherwise) near the river only benefits ONE company. That is Encana Oil and Gas -- the successful bidder on these parcels. It's not their fault for wanting the best, cheapest option to do what they do. The fault is currently with the Michigan DNR, and they have only a little over a week to correct their mistake before finalizing these leases. During this week, the more people that make their voices heard, the better.
We've updated our Shop Specials again!Mix-and-Match gift baskets, on-sale items, cool Holiday deals, and all sorts of good things for stockings or otherwise. We try to make Christmas shopping easy. Check it out here: Gates Lodge Shop Specials
Winter Room Rates: Beginning on October 27, all our regular rooms (excepting the Suite) can be rented for $50 per night for a single, and $60 per night for a double. We'll have rooms open right through the winter. Call or email to book.
Fall Shop Hours: From October 27 through December 23, the fly shop will be open from 9 am through 3 pm, every day except for November 15, and Thanksgiving day.
From Anglers of the Au Sable:
We need your help to protect the Holy Waters
Once again, the Au Sable is under threat of new oil and gas drilling.
In October, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned nearly 2,800 acres in and near the Au Sable Holy Waters corridor (between the Whirlpool and Thendara) for potential oil and gas development. Most leases were purchased by Encana, the Canadian company which is using massive amounts of water for deep-fracking wells in the Manistee River basin. A number of these proposed leases could allow surface wells, pumping stations, and pipelines.
There’s one more opportunity to stop this. A few minutes of your time could really help.
While the auction is complete, the final decision on whether or not to finalize the leases will come on December 12. Before that comes to pass, please let DNR Director Keith Creagh know that you support leaving the Holy Waters undeveloped.
Personalized letters are best. Form letters are not helpful.
You can write to: DNR Director Keith Creagh
PO Box 30028
Lansing, MI 48909.
Or you can send an email to DNR-Director@michigan.gov. Please do not call on the telephone as this will simply overwhelm and alienate DNR staff. Anglers of the Au Sable is helping coordinate this campaign. If you copy firstname.lastname@example.org on your communication to Director Creagh, Anglers will hand-deliver all comments to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission on December 12 where the final decision on the leases will be made.
Please be polite but direct. Tell the DNR:
You are opposed to any drilling near the Holy Waters.
You believe this piece of river to be a special place, worthy of special protections.
You will be watching closely on December 12 to see if the DNR will protect the Holy Waters.
A growing chorus is asking DNR Director Creagh to cancel the auction of these parcels, including Michigan Trout Unlimited (and its Mason-Griffith and Headwaters Chapters), the Great Lakes Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers, Au Sable Big Water Preservation Association, North Branch Foundation, Au Sable Watershed Restoration Committee, Au Sable Property Owners Association, the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.
Make your voice heard. Protect the Holy Waters.
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