Changing Gears

Well it’s time to pull the clutch in and change gears.  Trout Season has officially started on the Pere Marquette River.  There are a few Steelhead around.  With the warmer water temps there spawning fast and heading out to the Lake Michigan. It’s finally warming up now the banks are

  • Source: Outfitters North, Jeff Hubbard
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That’s My Boy!

(Jordan Fortuna with his first ever steelhead on a fly rod)

After years and years of guiding fathers and sons into really nice steelhead over the years it was finally my turn guiding my son into his first ever steelhead.  I’m extremely proud to introduce you to my 14-year-old

Michigan's Best Dry Fly Water?

The Pere Marquette rivals any river in Michigan in its variety of hatches, especially Mayflies. You will start seeing hennies in late April and will have mayflies all the way into fall with blue wing olives. Some of the major hatches you can count on are, Hendricksons, sulphers, bwo’s, mahoganys,

Michigan DNR fishing report for April 26, 2018

This coming Saturday, April 28 is the statewide trout opener on all Type 1 and Type 2 streams as well as all Type A and Type D Designated Trout Lakes.

Southwest Lower Peninsula

St. Joseph River: Was producing steelhead at the Berrien Springs Dam. Bluegills were caught just beyond the Union Lake Dam.

Kalamazoo River: Anglers were getting steelhead including some limit catches.

Grand River at Grand Rapids: Has a decent number of steelhead. Fish have been caught on a variety including spawn, jig and wax worm, spinners, wigglers, wobble glo’s and spin-glo’s. Crappie are starting to bite. Walleye anglers should find some fish up near the 6th Street Dam and near the bridges.

Muskegon River: Steelhead fishing continues and warm temperatures should hasten the remaining fish to run and spawn fairly quickly. Because of that, trout anglers fishing in waters accessible to steelhead on the opener this weekend will find more steelhead than usual. Other trout streams to try in the watershed would be the Hersey and the Middle Branch Rivers. As for the walleye opener, try Croton Pond and Hardy Pond.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Cheboygan River: Had good steelhead fishing at the lock and dam with spawn, wax worms, artificial baits and lures but did best with spawn. Anglers caught Atlantics on lures at the lock and dam and near the DNR Office. Spawn or a jig and wax worm also took a few fish. The Atlantics were about 20 inches and up to six pounds.

Pigeon River: Had a small number of steelhead.

Ocqueoc River: Steelhead were caught on spawn, artificial baits and spinners.

Au Sable River: Anglers caught steelhead when drifting or floating spawn bags, beads, and wax worms or when casting plugs. Despite the warmer weather, melting snow has kept the lower river temperatures around 38 degrees. Most fish were still pre-spawn and found in the holes. Atlantic salmon and a couple young Chinook and coho were caught by those drifting spawn or casting plugs in the lower river.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Overall: Steelhead fishing continues. The remaining fish should run and spawn fairly quickly so anglers may find more steelhead for the trout opener this weekend. Conditions for the opener depend on how much rain we get this week.

Bear River: Had higher water levels as warmer temperatures melt the deep snow. There were quite a few steelhead up near the dam but anglers had a hard time landing them because of the high water levels. Most were using spawn bags and flies.

Boyne River: More steelhead were starting to come in.

Traverse City: On the Boardman River, a couple steelhead were caught on spawn and wax worms. Suckers had also moved in.

Betsie River: Was producing some decent size steelhead. Anglers were catching both dark fish and some fresh fish.

Big Manistee River: Steelhead fishing continues and the fish will run and spawn quickly now that it has warmed up. Fish should also be found in the Little Manistee.

Pere Marquette River: Has a good number of steelhead as well. Trout anglers will want to check out some of the major tributaries including the Middle and the Little South Branch as well as the Baldwin River.

Upper Peninsula

Grand Marais: Had no report. Steelhead action was slow in the Sucker River. Access to the river mouth will be limited due to ice jams along the shoreline.

Two Hearted River: Steelhead are steadily moving into the river and the big push of fish has not really occurred yet. Many fish in the river are dark.

Newberry: For trout waters in the area, expect snowpack on all roads heading into area trout lakes and many streams. Despite the warmer temperatures, the heavy snowpack still exists and will likely make travel into any of the trout waters difficult and limited to foot traffic or snowmobile. Inland lakes will most likely be ice covered. Extreme caution should be used by those deciding to venture out as ice conditions have deteriorated and rain this week will only make conditions worse. Water levels in the streams were low but are beginning to rise with the snowmelt.

April 26 2018

Is almost time to launch the Hattrick!

I’m hoping to have the Hattrick in the water net week and get the shakedown trip out of the way asap. If you are interested in getting on the water with us this summer please contact us to lock in a day or

  • Source: Rivers Bend Guide Service
  • Read full post: April 26 2018

April 26 2018

Time flies when the run is on !

Sorry for the lapse of updates as well as fish pics, I will be doing a huge photo update and you will want to check out some of the great fish we brought to hand this spring.

The last month seemed to

  • Source: Rivers Bend Guide Service
  • Read full post: April 26 2018


Opening Day: that time of year where water levels, water temperatures, and bug hatches come to a handshake agreement to break a lot of hearts, and mend a few others.

No shoes, still some service

It’s a day that seems perfectly timed.  I mean, if Opening Day were April 1 or May 15, it’d be all wrong.  No pleasant drama.  It has to be now.  When anything can happen.

The scoop is this.  There are very spotty hendricksons in a very few areas of river.  There are strong blue wing olives across all three branches of the Au Sable as well as the Manistee.  The South Branch is flooded, and requires intense navigation in the middle of the Mason Tract.  The Holy Waters are high and stained but not unclear and the trout are rising but wading is, at best, a chore.  The North Branch is high but in good shape in the upper river.  The Manistee is high but there have been rising fish there.  That’s the current Wednesday night situation.

The river appears to have crested down by Luzerne, which means the Main and the North Branch are likely on the drop, or will be shortly.  This bodes well for the weekend.  As does the 60-degree temperature forecast for tomorrow, which should nudge those hendricksons along.  This weekend’s cooler temperatures should mean good afternoon bugs as well as some great streamer and nymph fishing opportunities.  I’ve been doing best with hendrickson nymphs fished in tandem with heavier flies to help get the rig down quickly.  There is fishing — and some dry fly fishing — to be had in the upper river.

Olive spinner, from yesterday

For the lower river, and for those in boats, the game is simple.  Fish a big streamer on a big sinking line and fish the inside bends, the shallow outside bends, anywhere a creek flows in, and keep the fly moving.  There have been some incredible streamer days this week…

Guide Josh Nethers about to release a spectacular trout

…And some slow ones.  But yesterday wasn’t one of the slow ones.  Pels said he and his client had some fish eat streamers on the surface: big deer-hair streamers that hadn’t yet sunk!  Would those trout have crushed a mouse fly?  Man, wouldn’t that have been cool?


It feels good to cast a dry fly rod after half a year of heaving streamers.  I had a nice day of it on Tuesday.

Nothing says “stay the f away” quite like this goose.

It started out slow, like most good days.  I tried to nymph around some bubble lines, some drop-offs.  I suffered a pretty dandy tangle.  I re-rigged, experimented.  Some olive spinners fluttered by.  It was one of those days, you know?  High fifties.  Cloudy.  Barely a drizzle.  It couldn’t be slow forever.  Or could it?  The trout universe is ultimately pretty fair, but it can seem unjust when viewed through a small lens.  The river was high.  Stained.  It was never so deep that I feared for my waders.  It was swift enough in spots to slide me along the rocks I meant to stand on.

I went a long way without seeing a trout.  And then, well, I saw a bunch of them.

It began with a half-hearted nymph “drift” through an almost stagnant backwater that ended in a leaping brown that was every bit of sixteen inches that threw the nymph from his mouth and directly at my face.  This second massive tangle necessitated a small bead-head streamer, a simpler game.  And then it was incredible.  It wasn’t a trout every cast, but then again, I was throwing a lot of casts.  But it was a trout in every good spot.  And a good spot, at least today, was in the “second river”, the one that forms in high water along the otherwise shallow, tangled banks of the Au Sable.

My streamer fishing was brought to an end by this:

I boldly phoned a friend, and requested the delivery of a spare.  It was an awkward request, but — I think — understandable.  I couldn’t just quit.  Right?  John met me at a dock and we sat and watched the first few olive hatch, and the first few trout rise.

“I’ll keep going,” I said.

“I’m going to get in my waders,” he said.

I waded down and the olives were sparse but there were enough of them.  The big slick was empty but I thought I saw something downstream on the left…

And there it was: a rising trout working a bubble line beside one of the remaining snowy banks.  The hatching olives bounced, fluttered, were blown by the wind.  This trout wanted only the still ones.  I tried 5x first because it’s spring, and the water is dirty.  Nope, this trout wanted 6x.  And it didn’t want the comparadun.  It wanted the cripple, and so the cripple is what it got.  The take was surprising, but then the first few dry fly rises are.

Matt with a nice afternoon brown from today

The next fish was one of several, a pod working a tiny bubble line about fifty feet from the main channel in what is normally a nothing-muck flat.  I believe the were rising in water that is normally dry land.  They were sweet fish in difficult spots that were completely foolish.  One brook trout — a nice one over ten inches — was nothing but a black nose poking up through a small mat of foam.

The last trout of the day was on the other side of the river along a parallel log. It took two fly changes to fool it and the way it ate made me think I hadn’t fooled it completely, and that maybe it was just hungry enough to not care.   It leapt nearly into the cedar tree above it.  It took drag!  No winter gator-rolling for this one.  It was cold and firm in the hand, like a piece of spring river.

The beginning of the season reminds me how I should feel at the end of the season.


On trout: there are a lot of them this year.  Specifically, there are a lot of 10 to 14- inch brown trout in the river system, particularly in the upper river.  This is a bounce back, I supposed, from the few years previous when there weren’t.  This is a strong age class of fish that are just coming into spawning age.  It’s important for all of us to be as careful as possible with them.  I’ve been thinking about this, and trying to practice being more careful.   Catch and release works…when fish are caught and released well.  It works more experientially than it does biologically, though I believe 100% (and think I have the data to prove it) that it improves the health of a heavily-fished river in both ways.  The fact is, you can’t kill a trout in April and catch it again in May.  And no counterargument in the world can alter the truth of that previous sentence.  One of my best trout all winter was this one:

Rob with a beauty

Except that’s not me holding it.  I caught the same trout a month earlier. I texted Rob about this and he said: awesome.  It is indeed.

I got a chance to fish around a bit this winter.  I don’t travel well or often.  Don’t see the point in leaving up here.  But I fished the South Holston.  I fished the Smokies.  The rivers of Northern Michigan are something different.  They are few, but they are magic.  And if you’ve forgotten, as we all sometimes do, they’ll be there to remind you, soon enough.

Have a memorable 2018 trout season…

Two great events this weekend, among many:

Bob Linsenman Book Signing:  Water Songs is a superb collection of short stories and the author — and Au Sable guru — Bob Linsenman will be at the fly shop from 9 am – 1 pm signing them.  $40 for a signed copy.  100% to Pere Marquette Trout Unlimited.  Cash or check is preferred.  While supplies last!

Demo Days: Rio Line Test Cast: We all need new fly lines in the spring, but the line you choose can really impact the action of your fly rod.  Here is the best opportunity to find the perfect line.  Bring your fly rod to Gates Lodge on the Opening Day of trout season, April 28, anytime after 9 am, and you’ll have the opportunity to sample just a ton of Rio fly lines.  We’ll have giveaways and deals to help ease the sting of some new string.





The post Opener appeared first on Gates Au Sable Lodge.

  • Source: Gates Au Sable Lodge
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