We followed the warm(ish) forecast up to Grayling last weekend to encounter temperatures much colder than advertised. The fish fortunately wanted to play a little bit on Saturday but Sunday was especially brutal as it was below freezing all day and the only thing biting was a strong east wind.
This weekend looks like it may hold real, actual, spring weather across the Midwest. And maybe one of these days it will stay.
The winter weather is fighting the calendar so with rain, clouds, high 30s air temperatures, and the big Michigan fly fishing show in the forecast, Joe and I thought the conditions were good enough to spend last weekend on the Au Sable. It turned out to be the right decision. We had the river to ourselves, and after getting spanked Saturday morning, we picked up Jordan from Gates Lodge for the afternoon portion of our float and he almost immediately showed us how to get things done.
A week previously, we were drilling holes in frozen lakes and having fried bluegill for dinner. A week later, we looked at the weather, called Josh at Gates Lodge to confirm that the mid-winter heat wave wasn’t an illusion, and drove up to the Au Sable. Now, Josh and his guys will fish all winter, but they may be of a heartier breed than me. It gets very cold and very snowy in northern Michigan, and typically the weather doesn’t allow for much open water fishing until March.
What a difference a week makes...
But we aren’t the only people able to decipher a weather forecast, because when we arrived at the boat ramp at first light one boat had already launched and gone, one was launching, and one was waiting to launch. Eventually we got on the water, found some solitude, and thoroughly enjoyed the warm sun and 50 degree air temps. In the middle of January. In northern Michigan. The smell of spring in the Northwoods was on the air. It was enough to forget that it was the middle of January, in northern Michigan. Until we woke up Sunday morning to freezing rain and sub-freezing temps. And then stepped out of the car that evening back in Chicago to 18 degrees. Winter is still here.
The glimpse of warm spring was an unexpected reprieve from the cold winter, and it will make the next couple of weeks at least a little more bearable. The Wisconsin trout opener will be here in about six weeks, and although the weather then may just as easily be cold and snowy as warm and sunny we will know that spring is here, with another winter behind us.
In Michigan over the holidays, Joe picked up this beautiful brown on the swing. No steelhead, but a nice resident is always welcome.
I am heading up to Michigan this next weekend and will have both the single and two handed rod in tow. The weather as of now looks to be bright and sunny with low water conditions. With that in mind I tied up a few smaller size spey patterns to have a larger bag of tricks to throw if necessary. Both flies are body wrapped with krystal flash and wire, the collars are black strung neck hackle and the wings are stacked deer hair.
Big victory for the Au Sable River and those who enjoy it.
Yep, Brown Drakes. Last time I fished Drakes there were thousands of them merely feet above my head spinning and getting ready to fall. They never fell and the rain that forced them to leave and left me and my “girlfriend” at the time, now she’s my wife, Anne running for the campsite. Good times but none the less, I am rookie when it comes to Brown Drake fishing. This Past weekend we got a good Drake emergence on Friday and Sunday evenings. I was able to take advantage of the stairs that were quite close to my campsite accessing one of my favorite stretches of river in Michigan. Sunday night I kept running down to the river and at around 9:15 I was about ready to give up. “One last check” I said to Anne, next thing I knew I was flying back up the stairs and sprinting to the campsite to gear up. Anne wasn’t to keen on suiting up in a hurry so she followed me down and took a few snap shots for me.
We had caught a few fish the night before and had a great time kayaking on Grand Traverse Bay. Fishing was good all weekend and I nabbed two of my personal best during the end of a much-needed thunderstorm saturday with streamers. See, I didn’t bring my camera so….., there has to be some kinda saying for that.
Congratulations Niall and Jillian! I’m Glad that the rains cleared and you had a beautiful day!
Niall and his beautiful wife were married last weekend on the Leelanau Peninsula. Having been in very close proximity many times, but never actually having visitied Traverse City, I was excited to spend the Memorial Day weekend with the wedding party in Northern Michigan. The ceremony was as beautiful as the surrounding area, and what began as a dark, cold, stormy wedding day ended with bright sun, blue skies, and wonderful memories. And testament to the fine qualities of his bride, throughout the weekend, the groomsman were even allowed to get away from time to time, and fish the flats.
Jillian, Niall, and Zadie
Wedding weekend wading
Aaron and Brian tried to get me to come along but I resisted the urge and stayed home this past weekend. They both snuck out early from work to take advantage of the light expressway traffic and made it to the skyway in record time. It was a good thing they did, that night they had some success with the night bite and rolled a good number of fish under a new moon. This was Brian’s first trip to the Au Sable and diving in head first with Aaron as his guide was a good call.
Fish were ready to eat at night. The Sulphurs were around and so were about four or five other options. Aaron fooled this guy with a mahogany parachute from Gates. Anne and I are going to strap the kayaks on top of the car and head back to the Au Sable tomorrow. the plan is to do a bit of paddling in Grand Traverse bay and then catch some fish on the evening rise. Thanks for the pics Brian!