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Weather and Moon Phase
Weather and Moon


Stream Flow Data
Stream Flow Data

Fishing Report

Fishing Report

Foam and beads

07/16/14 A typical afternoon this chilly July: 70s, mostly cloudy, a few fat raindrops falling so infrequently they can't be considered "rain." There was little provocation to go fishing. I called Jordan, waking him from post-guide-trip slumber. "Dude, let's go fishing. See you at two." By 2:30 we were in the water.

Perfect day

So often these floats start slowly and I couldn't help but consider it a good omen to be skunked thru the first stretch. How often have we heard the story of the big fish caught off the boat launch...and not another trout landed all day? This day was different. Like any good day of fishing, it began with experimentation. Pink hopper. Then a fly called a Stomper. Then the Stomper with a dropper. Bingo...a rainbow. Olives were now hatching, both the tiny ones (#24s) and the bigger ones (#18). The dropper was a size #20. Close enough to either.

Halfway thru the float, and the fish began rising in pods. It was a sight so rare this year that I found myself enjoying immensely an event that any other year I'd simply take for granted. It's the Au Sable, the fish were supposed to rise! The trout took a Missing Link on 6x fluoro. For an hour we fished to individual rising fish. It wasn't stellar, but it was pretty darn good.

No, wait, it was stellar.

The rise quit around 5 pm, and we switched back to the dropper and a Crystal Humpy and were back into trout. Two quick ones on the dropper. And then a few on top. Finally Jordan cut off the rig and put on his beloved pink hopper and began throwing it at the wood, twitching, jiggling, skating, and otherwise trying to make things happen. They didn't at first. But then, as the sky darkened, they did. We'd been switching from angler to guide every hour. Now we began switching spots every two or three fish. It was fast and furious fishing. We contemplated calling the car spotter to have our vehicle moved further downriver. A move that had two potential outcomes. We'd either continue catching trout, or our luck would run out, leaving us to remind ourselves just how good it had been before we added two hours to our float. We chose to say enough is enough, and take our good cheer straight from the river.

A great way to end the day

The fishing is truly as good now as it has been all year. The trout are rising in the mornings to the #18 olives. These olives -- latin name latas -- hatch in the morning or throughout the cloudy days. They spin in the evenings. This is excellent fishing. We match the dun with a variety of olives. The spinner is a #18 Borchers or Purple Patriot -- if you can get away with it. Sometimes the fish play dumb, sometimes they don't. Sometimes it's a pink hopper. Sometimes it's a #18 brown spinner that is invisible at dusk fished on 7x to the slight glimmer of the ring of the rise. Sometimes it's a masking hatch for the smaller olives. Sometimes it's just the light cahill. The challenges of July are no different than those of the so-called hatching months. I think July is the most underrated time of year. Reports of tricos on the North Branch only add to the possibilities.

The rivers are flowing well -- the lower North is heavily stained from a good rain on Tuesday. The South and Main have a nice stain down the middle and are up an inch or two from where they were.

We have two super events coming soon, both on August 9th. First we have the Kid's One Fly Box Challenge -- an awesome morning that includes free casting lessons for kids up to 17 years old. This is followed by time on the river with a chaperone guide (parents usually accompany kids and chaperones to the river), a free lunch back at the lodge, casting games and prizes. Later that same night, we'll be hosting the 3rd Annual Midnight Derby: a now annual fundraising one-fly competiton that begins at 7 pm and ends at 3 am. Some folks take this seriously. Some are just there to be a part of something cool that is raising money for a TU Chapter that has worked against all odds to have a destructive dam removed from the Pigeon River. A huge barbecue, live music, prizes, and a long-burning campfire make this annual event a night to remember.


The Midnight Derby, August 9, 2014

The Third Annual Midnight Derby: "The Full Moon Year", August 9th: It's time to sign up for the Midnight Derby, our tongue in cheek night-fishing competition. From the hardcore to the "don't-care", this is can't miss fun and entertainment. Some folks fish til 3 AM. Some fish for fifteen minutes and call it good. Either way, good times are had. Teams of two -- each teammate gets one fly -- hit the river in search of big fish that feed in the dark. It's truly a Michigan event.

The Midnight Derby has raised thousands of dollars for the Pigeon River as it recovers from the Song of the Morning Ranch dam malfunction. Well now the dam is gone thanks to solid conservation work and tenacious efforts by river heroes, and as the river clears and defines itself, these extra funds will go toward helping the Pigeon River recover. Every team makes a difference, and even if you've never night fished before, get out there, make a few casts, and help the Pigeon. It's a terrific event.

Who: Teams of two. $50 per team. One fly per teammate.
When: Gates Lodge, August 9th, 7pm - 3am. Dinner and prizes and games from 7-8pm (or later). Teams can fish anywhere on the Au Sable and Manistee (and tributaries) but all teams must return to the lodge before 3 am with ethical photographic evidence to qualify.
What prizes: Best Fly, First Fish Reported, Largest Fish, Best Picture.
To sign up: [email protected]
The One Fly Box Challenge, August 9th
The Anglers of the Au Sable is pleased to announce the 2nd Annual One Fly Box Challenge for young anglers 17 years and younger. All participants will receive a complimentary fly box with donated flies and, if needed, volunteer chaperones to take them to the river (or pond, or lake, or creek) for a morning of fishing. Awards! Prizes! Anglers must use the flies in their box of choice.

9 am: Meet at Gates Lodge/announcements/free casting lessons
10:30 am: Go fishing!
2 pm: Lunch, drinks, awards

This is one very best ways for young anglers to experience fly fishing. We will provide as many waders as possible (we can't satisfy every need, but wet wading isn't so bad that time of year either!) and fly rods as well.

To sign your kids up, or to volunteer to take a kid fishing, please send emails to [email protected]


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: