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Weather and Moon Phase
Weather and Moon


Stream Flow Data
Stream Flow Data

Fishing Report

Fishing Report


A week of strong winds has blown the leaves from most of the changed trees, and the tamaracks alone are golden near the river. It's great for bird hunters, but bad for leaf watchers. We've been out throwing (mostly) streamers with mixed results. Some days are great, and some days aren't. And which days are what has been tough to predict.

Monday would be a fine example. A perfectly wonderful cloudy fifty degree day that resulted in hardly a flash. Fast forward to Tuesday -- a sunny, east wind day that nary a guide went boat fishing -- and the results were far more positive:

I guess you just don't know if you don't go fishing. But I hate leaving it off at that. Is it the relatively warm weather? Or is it the cold nights? Bright days are bad, except for yesterday, or last Friday. The east wind hasn't necessarily spelled doom as it often does. I do think that the warmer it gets, the better the early morning and late afternoon and evenings will be. Traditionally, 2 to 4 pm is the best part of the day, especially a cool day. But with weekend temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s, fishing thru the early dinner hour might be the best time of the day.

And then again, it may not.

But that's just the streamer fishing... There is in fact quite a bit to do in October besides chucking streamers at the banks. The afternoon olives have been very consistent on the stretches of river where the afternoon olives are always consistent. And without describing the best runs, it's safe to say that the upper North Branch, the flat water stretches of the South Branch, the upper Holy Waters flat water stretches, and the big soft water below Mio dam, all have excellent olive hatches throughout the rest of the month and, if the weather holds, into next month.

The modus operandi for the fall olive is simple in its complexity: you fish a size 20-28 fly on a very fine, long leader at fish that are as spooky as they are not selective. Forget masking hatches or anything like that (unless it's a warm day and there are olive spinners mixing with the duns) and focus on presenting the fly very carefully, discreetly, and with significant breaks between casts. The idea is to feed your fly to the fish within the fish's rising rhythm. The hookset isn't a statement so much as it's a question. Is the fish on? It is! Lift light, and set the drag lighter. 7x is heavy, and 8x is the norm.

As the fish continue to migrate toward gravel, the upper rivers fill up with mature trout ready to spawn. This means that every foot of deep, protected water becomes very important to the trout. This is the quintessential nymphing situation. Unlike the summer trout -- which are often in exposed, shallow water feeding lanes -- these fall trout are nymphing in the pools, and weight and an indicator or deep, long line technique is required to reach them.

Clearly, though, it's the beginning of the spawning season. A gigantic fish was spotted on a redd on the North Branch. The dimensions seem to be growing with each retelling, but conservative estimates put it at 36" and 18 pounds (wink).

This is a chance for the system to recharge with fresh new trout, and the fall angler must be careful not to wade across the gravel spawning beds (any shiny spot in the river should be waded around) and to not fish towards the beds. I like to work the river as if the fish aren't spawning, casting at the cover and the dark water. There are more than enough fish this time of year willing to chase a streamer, or rise to an olive, or eat a nymph.

It's looking like a beautiful weekend. It's hard to believe that the season is winding down quickly. Last year, just over a month from this date, the overnight low was -22 degrees. If you haven't experienced late fall on the Au Sable, the lodge, fly shop and guide service will be open through November. Beginning on Monday, October 27, the lodge rooms may be rented for only $50 per night for one or two people, and the fly-shop hours will be 9 am - 2 pm. The restaurant will be closed but the board room will be open 24/7 for folks to use the fridge or use the microwave. Some of the very best streamer fishing of the year will occur over the next couple of weeks.

It's worth the trip.


Celebrate October at Gates Lodge: We love this time of year, and think it has plenty to offer. For this reason, the Lodge will be open through October. The restaurant closes to the general public on October 19th, but will remain open for lodge guests only through October 26th. Our guides are busy -- working everyday -- and anxious to share this unique time of year. This is the perfect time to get in that last great fishing adventure before the snow flies.


The River: a movie all about the Au Sable

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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: