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Beers cold!
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Small Brown.
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OldredbarnSeptember 28th, 2012, 10:03 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2591
Fishing report: September 21st-26th 2012...Au Sable Mainstream & South Branch near Grayling Michigan.

I think that every time we visit the stream there are many new things to learn even when the fishing was tough.

I drove up to Grayling to help out with the clean up of the Manistee which is just west of town...It was organized through the Old Au Sable Fly Shop in town and the local TU chapter (Mason-Griffith Founders Chapter) and a couple of the watershed groups over seeing the Au Sable and Manistee.

The clean up happened on Saturday morning. Earlier that morning, around 5:00am it began to rain, hard...rain forest hard, and didn't stop until just before the clean up. The temps took a dive, which may have hampered the fishing.

The local boys had basically given up on chasing trout to walk the woods in search of grouse etc...I heard shot gun blasts every day I fished.

Interesting things seem to be just how shut down the fishing was. South Branch water temps were 50 degress and the mainstem was 48. The nicer fish I caught hardly fought at all and the little rainbow shown was so weird when I reeled it in I had thought I had foul hooked him?!

The Brown shown didn't put up a fight until it spotted the landing net. Some discussion seems to be that the fish take a moment to acclimate when there is a dramatic change in water temp...?

Every day I fished was a tiny mayfly day. I had hoped to see an early showing of Baetis hiemalis (now B brunneicolor) and some of the shop rats claimed to have spotted them...I did not. I had hoped to have the tail end of Iso's around...I did not.

The caddis I saw in 5 days of fishing you could of held in the palm of your hand! I will admit that even though this was the case the fish were looking for them at times. I spotted a couple that I may take as the "Black Dancer" and a small tan caddis say 18/20. I watched one of these wiggling on the water shaking eggs loose as it travelled downstream...This may account for some of the hits I had as my fly was dragging a few times. There was also a larger caddis flying just above the water towards evening...Again not many.

My old friend was ever present every damn day and made for fishing custom made for Tony...Pseudocloeon anoka (now ? Plauditus punctiventris) 24/26's...What we used to call Baetis pygmaeus (now Acerpenna pygmaea)...Then there was a mayfly that was way too small for my old eyes to deal with save when it appeared that the damn trout were eating them and only them.

I had one day of heavy winds and pulled out the old Madison rod and tossed streamers until the wind died down abit in time for the evening action.

I was sent to a spot by a guide friend of mine where he said he had two clients fishing over a large trout there for sometime with no luck...They would fish nothing smaller than a 20...? I was told to be there at 5:00pm...I showed up just upstream at 2:30 and was sitting in the weeds on an island when two canoes went by...One of which crashed in to a sweeper just upstream from the hole of Mr. Big! Damn!

I watched as the canoe went completely over and one of the guys, in a life vest, inched his way along the sweeper until his feet found botton...Then they banged around for quite some time and had to empty out the canoe and finally they went on their way.

I decided to move down below the hole and thought to myself that all was lost...The bugs had stated up around 2:30 and lo-and-behold, around 4:00, up came a nice, water moving, rise! I want to disclose that there was nary a trout feeding anywhere outside of this pool...I'm not going to discribe the situation since I don't want anyone looking for this spot...The casting situation was challenging and I did my best until the fish rose to my fly, after several rises, and I nicked him...The small Brown pictured was taken from the same area and took a size 24 imitation...

This has gone longer than I wanted so I will skip to my last day since I changed things up in an attempt to catch some fish...I fished the S Branch at Daisy Bend and hiked a long distance looking for fish...I was running out of options in my bag of tricks so I tied on a very small comparadun on 6x and ran some 7x from the bend of the hook and tied on an even smaller floating nymph...A fly that Matt would recall (olive dubbed body and darked dubbing at head/thorax area)...Barely nothing really.

I thought that the fish would hit the floating nymph...I fished this until I had a fish rise to my dun and turn away only to get foul hooked on the trailing fly...

I then found a pod of spawning brookies. They seemed to be podding up...I wish I can remember who I had a discussion with earlier this year about Dynamic Nymphing...I had a very small dark bead head that when I ran it through these fish I could feel them tapping it...I started to catch them when I started to give it a version of a Leisenring lift in the middle of them and they stopped fooling around. :) I had some good looking spawning male Brooks but had left the camera in the car.

Thats it save...I loved being there...The fall colors...crisp air...the Lodge filled with bird dogs and hunters...I did some serious hiking for few fish, but wouldn't of wanted to be anywhere else.

Spence

http://www.gateslodge.com/fishingreport.php After I posted this I spotted Josh's report from same period.
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
EntomanSeptember 29th, 2012, 6:37 am
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Man, I wish I was with you ... Gorgeous country and photos. What fly was that in the rainbows mouth?

BTW - Is that the new trout wagon?
"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
JesseSeptember 29th, 2012, 2:30 pm
Posts: 378
Spence that a baby. I love hearing the details of the trip because it's like a story to me. And despite the pretty fish sensitive waters you were in, like you said, there is ALWAYS something to enjoy brother. Your one of the few that can make the best out of the situation. Good stuff!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
OldredbarnSeptember 29th, 2012, 11:23 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2591
Kurt...The fly, unfortunately, is a bit crumpled up there in the photo. It is a pattern from an old friend and is a variation of a Clouser...A Marabou Clouser. He ties it with marabou and craft hair and some flash. This particular day, with the cold water etc, I was getting quite a few "short hits" on it...Oh! I forgot the diamond braid along the shank...

Jess... I've become quite adept at "making the best of a situation." :) The dialectic really never ends and when it does and I'm no longer learning, or open to learning, you can show me the rocker and the front porch of the old-farts home. :)

It is easy to see you are a brother-in-arms kid-o...Keep pushing that envelope!

Spence

Jess...One more thing. My friend that sent me to the spot looking for the large fish...I saw him a couple days later and jokingly threatened to strangle him...He asked me why and I told him, "You know how obsessive I am! I fished over that fish forever before I nicked him!" I was unable to walk away from the situation until there was some sort of resolution to it...Even after I knew I nicked him I still half hoped he'd rise again. Maybe it's not anything about fishing I really need to learn rather than a little more about myself...:) It wasn't an accident that I somehow ended back at that pool a second night and I'm sitting here planning a return. :) Wanna go?

PSS Did anyone notice the stumpy fin there on that Brown? It was a bit odd. I wonder what happened there.
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GldstrmSamSeptember 30th, 2012, 12:39 am
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
PSS Did anyone notice the stumpy fin there on that Brown? It was a bit odd. I wonder what happened there.


Do they stock that stream? The stumpy fin is something that I have noticed on stockers.
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
AdirmanSeptember 30th, 2012, 6:56 am
Monticello, NY

Posts: 490
Very nice report! I almost feel as if I was there as well!
PaulRobertsSeptember 30th, 2012, 9:20 am
Colorado

Posts: 1776
Nice images and report, Spence. Not sure which would lure me more, the trout or the grouse. Love those details that make us feel as though we are part of it. Thanks for taking the time to share it, although I know that's fun too. For me it actually helps me "solidify" a trip in memory. And before a trip I can revisit my own stories, and can almost pick up where I left off. Sure beats having to reinvent the wheel each year.

Sorry the weather wasn't more conducive. That can throw things off. It's one thing when you live on a river, another when you have traveled there for a limited time. I have an elk permit this year, open all of 4 days. Conditions will make or break it for me.

As to your pondering/question about acclimation to temperature changes -laboratory studies have shown that trout can acclimate within about 24hrs. But this doesn't mean that the whole system rebounds to "normal". The fact that your fish were sluggish says a lot I think, especially if you are intent on dry fly.

The other part is that anglers don't always adjust very quickly either. Often we have to re-acclimate to our water's ourselves, fish the way we want to, and then start adjusting. Although trout do acclimate, they also are limited by overall temperature as to what they can do physically. One learns this quick in winter fishing, or they never return.

During a severe drop the trout will likely be where they were, but shrink to calmer flow. Nymphing is probably the best bet and fly speed weighs in heavy, as does very specific location.

Best answers I can offer from a long way away. But fun to ponder at least.
OldredbarnSeptember 30th, 2012, 1:02 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2591
Do they stock that stream? The stumpy fin is something that I have noticed on stockers.


No. They haven't stocked here since before my time. "Wild" trout...It is hard telling what was going on with that fin. The river has more than its share of predators and they contribute to the wariness of these fish. Above the Mio dam they stock and this attracts the boys looking for bigger fish and maybe not equipped with the same skill sets as needed below the dam or closer to Grayling. :)

Paul...Yeah. I think you are correct...Maybe I'm a bit slow on adapting to a situation. I lean towards the dry fly and am easily led in that direction. The first night of fishing, after the river clean up, we went to a place called Truttner's on the S Branch (second pic above). I entered the river just below a beautiful bubble stream and saw a fish rise...Turned out to be the only one. :) But I fought the good fight anyway.

Over the next couple days I switched things up and fished streamers and some nymphs and tried some different rigs...In terms of the dry fly fishing...It was compounded by more than just the weather.

I used to get up a great deal in the fall, but haven't for some time. The river is down, clear, and the fish are seeing a smaller variety of bugs and this just compounded my issues. The big fish I was obsessing over was in a pool and, along with a few more fish, were feeding pretty steady while the rest of the river seemed dead.

They were taking their good time too Paul. You would of loved the challenge. I should send you a picture of the spot...Imagine sweepers upstream protecting the hole but speeding up the water between me and the feeding fish...I should of trespassed and maybe fished from their side of the pool, but I may have spooked them...I also thought of an approach from downstream behind the current...Big hole here, tag alders behind, etc.

So, I cast with an upstream mend to place an upstream loop over the current and then mended like crazy to replace the loop over the current and keep my dinky fly over them a moment longer. He would rise and ever so slowly, with absolutly no panic or rush and swoosh! Spence would go to set the hook and pull it away from him...I tried everything to slow myself down...My pattern must of been right in the pocket.

I have been known to suffer a bit from "Big Fish"/"Buck" fever. :) When the ante is as high as it was this day and the challenge so damn fun...If I would of caught Mr. Big here it would of been a big deal. I would of "out-fished" the guys from my guide friends boat who refused to go below a size 20 and we would of had another hog pic here with Mr. Big and my smiling face behind it...:) Pride does goeth before a fall...;)

The Brown in the above pics was living in this hole with Mr. Big...Any fish smaller than this one would of been dinner for him...This guy may of felt he was living on borrowed time himself. What I saw of this fish and the water he moved will sustain me through the harshest winter to come my friend...I hope like hell he has a safe winter. :) You know where I'm coming from...I know this for a fact. :)

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
PaulRobertsSeptember 30th, 2012, 1:30 pm
Colorado

Posts: 1776
My last venture out, last week, saw 46F water temps, and I fished a dry. The brookies were a lot happier with them than the browns, but I was in a predominate brown trout stretch.

In summer, I'd have as many as 6 or 8 fish working a small pool. But last week I had no more than a single rise per pool and many pools with no fish showing. Water type weighed in and I only had rises in calmer flows but at the main current tongues and some were small ones -as if few fish were actively feeding. Others were likely hunkered or feeding lightly on subsurface drift. Those browns I did catch were sluggish fighters. They tried but they just couldn't get their muscles going.

By afternoon I'd moved out of the forest into a stretch below a large old beaver impoundment, and found the water a few degrees warmer. And the trout rose more aggressively there. "The last hurrah for the dry fly", I thought.
OldredbarnOctober 3rd, 2012, 4:02 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2591
Paul,

Just saw a cartoon in latest issue of Fly Fisherman mag that reminded me, unfortunately, of the pool I was obsessing over...It shows two guys casting flies on the river and a chorus of "Ha,ha,ha,ha, ha's" coming from the river...The caption reads, "That's never a good sign." :)

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
SayfuOctober 3rd, 2012, 4:27 pm
Posts: 560I'll give a good fishing report before it even happens. How about that for quick reporting? A cold front moved down from Canada dropping nitetime temps below freezing, and daytime temps in the 55 degree range. The BWO's will be coming off on the riffles, as well as the Pink Alberts. The water release continues to drop as well. Fishing WILL be outstanding.
PaulRobertsOctober 3rd, 2012, 4:30 pm
Colorado

Posts: 1776
Spence, they always laugh at me. The trick is not to let it get to you.
AdirmanOctober 3rd, 2012, 5:03 pm
Monticello, NY

Posts: 490
Sayfu, what are Pink Alberts? Never heard that name before!
SayfuOctober 3rd, 2012, 5:43 pm
Posts: 560
Guess it is a local term. They are Epeorus Albertae, in the Heptaganidae family of clingers. Beautiful cream colored Mayflies with a pink hue in our waters. Long tails and big wings, and when they come off the water in the Fall they are something to see, running size #12-14. They transform as adults off the bottom, or in ascent, and a soft hackle tied to match the color works very well, as well as fishing an adult pattern when you witness surface rises. They come off in the faster water well off the banks. They are also referred to as Yellow Quills, and Pale Evening Duns.
JesseOctober 3rd, 2012, 8:26 pm
Posts: 378
Spence I'm in northern PA living now, so give me some more details on your last question to me ("wanna go") haha!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
EntomanOctober 3rd, 2012, 8:42 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Adir,

"Pink Albert" is one of many common names used for the prolific western heptageniid Epeorus albertae, and it seems to be gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, it is often erroneously applied to many other species. Epeorus albertae's prime habitat is found in large mid to low elevation rivers like Jere's SF, which makes his use of this common name probably accurate. Though not explained anywhere that I know of, "Albert" is obviously a play on the species name. Ironically, it's the females (pinkish cast depending on locale) who are the cause for this common name, which makes the male handle ill-fitting to my way of thinking.:)

To say western heptageniids have never had universally adopted common names is the ultimate in understatement and probably explains why you've never heard of "Pink Albert" before. This is undoubtedly due to so many genera having different species that share similar body and wing colors while paradoxically most species having highly variable body and wing colors. Besides Pink Albert, the western species in this complex of genera (Epeorus, Heptagenia, Cinygmula) also go by Pink Lady, Pink Quill, Pale Evening Dun, Yellow Quill, Western Light Cahill, Ginger Quill, and even Western Gordon Quill on those streams with the darker variations. There are many more names as well.

In my view, the best way to straighten the mess out is to follow Arbona's lead by applying a common "common" name to the genera and add a descriptive word or two to differentiate by appearance (which is after all the point of common names). As inferred in his western hatch bible "Mayflies, the Angler and the Trout", he seemed to prefer "Cahill" for Heptagenia, "Gordon" for Epeorus, and "Quill" for Cinygmula. "Western March Brown" seems to work well for Rhithrogena, except even Arbona had trouble here by calling the much darker inland varieties of the same species "Black Quills". I think it would have been less confusing to refer to them as "Dark Western March Browns", but that's the way it goes. Do I think this system (or one like it) will ever be adopted? Not a chance...:)
"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

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