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.
After I posted this I spotted Josh's report from same period.