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> > Esky River adventures 3/30/2011

Pryal74March 31st, 2011, 6:46 am
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
I fished on the Esky main branch today with my brand new, Sage Flight 5 weight. I entertained hopes of catching it's first fish. My brother and I fished a few holes and only brought 2 strikes. We proceeded to the deepest hole we could find. I worked an olive nutcracked slowly, stripping it to me after the swing. I had a monstrous take! I landed this dandy, 22 inch Brown Trout moments later. This is my biggest Esky River Brown Trout from this stretch. It was by far the prettiest Brown Trout I have seen live. We only fished for 2 hours but the evening was surreal. We saw Bald Eagles, ducks, geese and deer. Along the shore, we saw some kind of bugs hatching and crawling along the ice. We also saw wolf and bear prints. I put my hand next to a bear print, to show you the size. While making our way along, my brother found a 13 inch Brown Trout with talon marks on him, dead. If you look closely, you can actually see where a bird made a hole through his head above and behind his eye.





-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
Pryal74March 31st, 2011, 9:03 am
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
I know so many of you on here have VAST knowledge of insects etc. Could someone please tell me the exact name and scientific name of the insects we found hatching? They look like a small stone fly to me. Thanks.
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
TroutnutMarch 31st, 2011, 10:17 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2736
Beautiful 22" brown!

I can't see well enough to tell what the yellow stonefly on your hand is, but the relatively large black stonefly on the snow is probably a willowfly, family Taeniopterygidae. I can't get more specific than that from your picture though.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123March 31st, 2011, 4:24 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2590
I would second the motion, a winter stonefly, possibly Taniopteryx. This is the time of year when you see them. They would hatch out of the Huron River downstate in good numbers, but nothing would feed on top at this time of the year because the river was too deep and fast. Once again James, nice fish! And watch out for that bear!!! He obviously likes fishing there too...

Got my new Michigan 2011 license today - if the weather holds over the weekend (possibly doubtful), I will throw flies into the river from the bank. Our Weekly Fishing Report also mentions a few fish being taken from the pier in Tawas Bay (about 20-25 minutes away) and near the mouth of the East Branch Au Gres from the surf (about 45 minutes or so away) so I have a few possibilities. The piers at the mouth of the Au Sable are just about snow-free now too. The river behind my place is way too deep and fast (and cold) to wade without risking my life. It'll be different when it's warmer and lower, and all I'm wearing is a pair of swim trunks and my Sling Pack...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Pryal74March 31st, 2011, 6:39 pm
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
@ Troutnut, thanks. I wish I knew insects more. I never had much time to study them intently.

@ JMD, I figured you and a few others would know exactly what kind of insects those were. I wasn't certain. I'm not worried about the bears or wolves to be honest. It's more likely I would get attacked by an angry goose than anything. I will be back steelheading on sunday, I'll let you know how I do.
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
TroutnutMarch 31st, 2011, 6:47 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2736
If you want to get really exact IDs (closer than family, or sometimes genus) you usually need to provide close-ups of the bug at multiple angles, taken with a camera with a good macro mode in good lighting. It's frustrating, but that's how it goes. And the ID isn't even guaranteed then, because even some genus-level IDs require a microscope.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
EntomanMarch 31st, 2011, 8:04 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Hi James (or do you go by Jim?)-

Looks like you're having a ton of fun!

Some questions:

The snow made your photo show the bugs as silhouettes. Is the Stonefly on the snow (upper bug) the same as the one on your hand in the other photo (color, size)?

Did you notice any fish working (rises, swirls)?

The other flies in your snow photo appear to be possibly Epeorus (Quill Gordon) Mayfly duns or maybe moltings. Did they have visible wings?

Regards,

Kurt

"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Pryal74March 31st, 2011, 9:01 pm
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
@ troutnut, I didn't realize how detailed I had to be to properly ID them. Good tip for next time! Thanks.

@ entoman, Jim or James is fine, all the bugs in the photos were all different ones. The stone fly on my hand, is a yellowish grey color. The two smaller bugs next to the tiny black stone fly looked to possibly be molts. They were not moving and I couldn't see wings for sure.

I know the river very well and there were absolutely no rises, sips, boils, swirls etc. This time of the year the fish hold in deep holes, runs and the like. They stay there until the water warms and the suckers spawn. We have witnessed numerous trout following the suckers when they do. I imagine to consume their roe.
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
Jmd123March 31st, 2011, 9:46 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2590
I saw a big school of suckers in the lower Au Sable behind my place two days ago. Good news! Time to throw some "sucker spawn" eggs?

Jonathon

P.S. Not sure if it was just a shadow, rock, or log, but I could swear a saw a big dude sitting behind them...
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123March 31st, 2011, 9:48 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2590
P.P.S. More work is coming in! Including a trip up to the Duluth, MN area for some stream habitat assessment work, not sure when. Fisheries in the area???

JMD
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
PaulRobertsApril 1st, 2011, 8:10 am
Colorado

Posts: 1776
Did you actually measure that fish? Or estimate?

Don't usually question fish photos, but.. there's a lot of info in those pics. Unless you have mighty big hands, that fish does not look 22". Or...is that a different fish?
EntomanApril 1st, 2011, 9:38 am
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Jim,

Then the little guys are probably nymphal husks from a smaller species of stonefly. Your description of fish behavior in late winter conditions is mostly my experience as well and I suspect by far the most common.

Regards,

Kurt

"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Pryal74April 1st, 2011, 3:55 pm
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Weird I posted a reply but it didn't go through. Yes the fish was 22 inches, measured and yes I do have big hands. =( my Grandfather Ferrari gave them to me. My joke is, "thanks gramps, I can't even pick my nose." I hate picking out gloves. 14.5 size hockey gloves. Obscene.

@ JMD123, Hey Jonathon, you should definitely get out and toss egg patterns right now. We had a guided trip on Sunday and the guys caught one and hooked 5. If they were slightly quicker on the draw, they would have had possibly 3 fish 10-12 lbs. Fishing has been slowing lately because of a cold snap but is now on it's way back up. I'm not sure about Minnesota's fishing bud.

@ Entoman, thanks for the help on the info too. I love the Robert Traver quote. I had to get some info at the Marquette courthouse a few years ago and they have his books in a case by the marble stairs. He was a judge there, but I'm sure you already know that. I'm sure we have both fished some of the same water. He (Voelker) fished the Escanaba frequently.
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
Jmd123April 1st, 2011, 5:52 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2590
James, didn't you say you're into Mixed Marshall Arts? Your opponents must HATE you with those huge hands...WHAM!!!

So that bear's paw print must have been REEEEAAALLLLY big!

The problem with the lower Au Sable is that the water is just HUGE (100 feet wide or more) and the holes REALLY deep (10-20 feet). How to get it down to them without attaching a brick's worth of lead to my leader (MISERABLE to cast!) is beyond me. I'm actually thinking of large streamers, either very gaudy (like chartreuse & hot pink) or natural (silver/grey or brown/gold) to entice them off the bottom. Your situation looks shallower and more concentrated than mine, I've got too much water to get egg patterns down in their faces. However, with those schools of suckers coming in, the big dudes might be tempted to sit behind them, and if so then they are within range! Eggs and big nymphs...I'll keep you posted!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Pryal74April 1st, 2011, 6:49 pm
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
Jonathon, that's perfect. If the river is that wide and deep than yes, that would make for some tough fishing. Even on the Esky you can get right on top of the fish and make an "offer they can't refuse."

As far as my hands go, yeah they are giant. I guess that's why my sparring partners don't like to stand with me when I'm in one of those moods. Haha! Only kidding.

Oh and the bear paw melted slightly so I'm sure it was a little smaller, but big black bears around 400-500 pounds DO get killed and spotted around here constantly. I have a photo of one about 250-300 pounds last trout opener. It was right by the side of the road.

As far as streamers, go with BRIGHT. I mean in my opinion. Pink or purple. Good luck if you do =)
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
Jmd123April 1st, 2011, 7:47 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2590
An old friend of mine who is now somewhere in Oregon (Klamath Falls is the last I heard, and that was over a decade ago) told me a story about seeing a bear in the UP. The folks who warned him about it said look out, he's out by the dumpster looking for food. He told me he went out back of the hotel, and he saw what looked like one dumpster sitting on top of another. Then "the one on top" started to move...HOLY SH*T, THAT'S THE BEAR!!!!!

I myself have only seen one bear in my entire life. I was in Oregon (lived in Coos Bay, August '92- August '93), working as a field biologist (my chosen career - not financially lucrative or steady work but it's the only thing I can do and be happy!) at a place called South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Four of us were walking down the trail one day toward a remote part of the Reserve, blabbing away, when we all looked up at the same time and saw this big black hairy rump running away from us...One of the folks I was with said, "Uh, I think I left something in the car, maybe I better go back and get it!" We followed the tracks for a good quarter mile before it took a turn off into the brush...and that's the only one for me! Guess I usually make enough noise to shoo off the others...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Pryal74April 1st, 2011, 8:57 pm
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
The only time I see them is on the way or coming from fishing OR if I'm walking in the woods and it's extremely windy. I walked up behind a huge sow and cub one day bird hunting. Needless to say I stopped and slowly started to back down the hill. We have only Black Bears here and there are far more than people think.
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing

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