A few nights ago we finally had one of those nights that you dream about. A lot of blurry fish pictures, bent rods, and joyful chuckles in the boat until 4:00 am. I’ll follow that by saying that for several nights prior to that we got our tails kicked. By the weather, by the bugs, by the trout. When the weather and bugs cooperated, the trout that we set up on seemed to be the smartest in the river. Then, something changed. Good drifts that had been going uneaten, began getting eaten. Fish that seemed like they were only rising sporadically finally got into a rhythm. Fish that rose 30 yards behind the boat began rising before we floated by. Most of all, it seemed like hard work had finally started paying off. Although, I did shave my beard. I’m not totally superstitious, but I think this may have played a role in all this.
This time of year it is easy to get caught up in the pressure of trying to find big bugs and big fish after dark. Don’t get me wrong, chasing bugs and fish are all that I think about at work during the day. But, I had the pleasure of watching a new fly angler land her first trout last Saturday during an afternoon float. It was a pretty 7 inch brook trout that ate a dust bunny she lazily skated in the film. On a side note, as we really get into attractor season, the dust bunny is one of my favorite daytime patterns for this time of year, as well as the Purple Patriot and a small #14 Chubby Chernobyl. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the progression of emotions in that short 40 second fight. Her immediate confusion about the tug at the end of her line quickly turned to shock, and finally to elation once she realized she’d landed her first trout on a fly. No head lamps, no deet, no pressure. Just flip flops, shorts and some floatant. This was just as special for me as slipping the net under a twenty inch fish for a close friend the following evening.
Unfortunately, I’ve had commitments other than fishing the past two evenings and haven’t gotten to see how this cold front has really affected things. Last week I wrote that consistent daytime temperatures around 80° were speeding things up on the rivers here in Northern Michigan. But, the past few days the weather has changed. It’s been rainy and cold, and I see several days forecasted in the 60’s coming up. I think this may end up being a good thing to tell you the truth. I doubt anglers will go out and see crazy Hex spinnerfalls or clouds of Isos above the riffles every evening, but there will be bugs and there will be fish caught. The cold and rain will keep the Hex hatching and spinning on the Au Sable for a while longer. The Upper Manistee is still relatively high and dirty. It seems like that weird stage between drakes (which were still going strong through the weekend) and Hex may last a few extra days on the Upper Manistee this year. Chatting with other anglers this past weekend was amusing. For every one that said they had a great night, there was at least one that said they didn’t. I overheard a conversation between anglers at the takeout that involved the statement “wonky and weird” on one side and “one of my best nights” on the other. I don’t think this has much to do with the difference in angler skill level. I believe it is much more attributable to chance. The whole right place, right time idea. The one thing that I’ve learned about fishing during late June/early July is that it is all about putting in the work. Stay patient and persistent and it will pay off, probably handsomely.