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Fishing Report

Fishing Report

Much of fly-fishing exists away from the water. From tying flies in winter, to reading the latest fishing mag on the back of the toilet, the fly angler lives a life of perpetual plans and constant reminisce. We were lucky to have noted angler and author Joe Humphreys at the lodge this past week for some fishing. Over drinks and story-swapping in the Board Room, Joe stopped and said: "I love this."

We knew what he meant.

A great many fly-fishing stories begin with a mistake. And the next day -- groggy from the drink and drunk on hearing the story (and the backstory) of the largest fly-caught brown trout ever landed in Pennsylvania -- I took my son Holden and some fishing stuff and drove across the state to see my friend and guide Jeff Hubbard to see if Holden could catch a salmon. There were lots of stories from the fishing, sure. The unexpected steelhead. The final, victorious, enormous salmon that Holden reeled in ("salmon are cool," Holden said. "But steelhead are SO cool." Good boy). But getting to the river was as much a battle as were the salmon. I forgot my waders back home. I realized this about twenty minutes outside of Grayling. Instead of turning around, I went to the PM Lodge to rent a pair. No problem...except I locked my keys -- and my son -- in the truck.

As people gathered around the truck, and various implements were wielded by onlookers (golf clubs, fly rod tips, a dowel rod), I yelled instructions through the closed window to Holden -- who was strapped into his car seat -- as to how he might escape his entrapment and unlock the truck. Alas, the wrecker came and set us all free. Thanks to the PM Lodge for the help...and the waders!

Halfway through the salmon float, I got a text from Matt.

"He got one." Meaning Joe Humphreys caught a big fish.

Joe with an Au Sable dandy

It's all about the fishing. Even if we all know it's not.

But about that fishing...

Streamer fishing isn't for everyone. But for those it's for, the next two weeks are the time to be on the Au Sable and Manistee. We're moving fish on 2-3" conehead streamers in a variety of colors. All three branches of the river are up and stained which is perfect. The forecast is for way more clouds than sun, which is also perfect. It's the right time of year, the right water conditions, and the right weather conditions. This doesn't mean everything, but it means something.

A beautiful dry fly brook trout

The higher and dirtier the water, the larger the fly. While many do choose to float this time of year, even with a bit of high water there are still plenty of places to wade and plenty of open water to fish (general trout season closed the first day of October).
Don't be afraid to mix it up and try nymphing the pools through the rest of the month. There are more trout in the upper rivers now than there are at any other time of the year. As fish move upriver to spawn, they will stop, rest and feed in pools. This makes them very susceptible to nymphs fished with a little bit of split shot and an indicator.

The season doesn't taper off so much as end with a bang. And I'm confident in saying that for those that like streamer fishing, some of the very best fishing of the year is yet to come.


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

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: