Well, another opening day has come and gone here in the great state of Michigan.
The conditions were certainly more favorable than in certain past years with the snow gone from sight in the northern lower peninsula and moderate to low water levels. On the famed AuSable, where I have spent many opening days but, this year the water temps were the deciding factor in the slow fishing.
At the Keystone Landing, on the 'Holy Water', the water temp on the afternoon before the opener was a chilly 39 degrees. On Saturday, in spite of the sunshine , the water temps remained in the high thirties and I believe I saw a high water temp of 44 degrees. The nights were cold with frost, and the wind was out of the north east most of the weekend. I saw a substantial hatch of Olives in the afternoon on Friday with many flies on the water and not a single rise. The Trout were just not 'looking up' in the cold water in spite of the available bugs on the water. I spoke to a group of anglers in the restaurant in Grayling and they had Hendricksons on the water at Wakeley on Sunday without ever seeing a rising fish.
So it goes as they say. It was still good to feel the water rushing past waders that had been in a suspended (pun intended) state of dryness for too long and the sky was a classic, northern deep blue that helped remind me of why I do what I do, and that catching is not always fishing in of itself.
Julie and I spent The forenoon in Lovells, as has been a tradition for a few years at the Fly Fishing Museum enjoying the fishing artist display held there this year.
For those not familiar with the Museum, it is a wonderfully rustic log structure that though diminutive in stature, is jammed full of reminders of the historic role that Northern Michigan streams, notably the three branches of the AuSable River, have contributed to fly fishing and conservation of precious resources. Walking around inside the place makes me feel connected in a warm and fuzzy kind of way, and it just makes me feel good to know so many people care about something that happens to have been a very important part of my life for a very long time..........probably why my youngest son is named 'River AuSable Karaba' (poor kid).
After we left the museum, we followed our yearly tradition and headed to Fullers North Branch Outing Club. Now here is a place that if you Google 'fly fishing history in Michigan', well, it should be first on the first page. This the old Douglas Hotel that had as regular guests in its day such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and many iconic wealthy industrialists as regular patrons. It is owned and operated by Judy Fuller and has been brought back to its historic condition, and you can even see the old guest register on the counter with names that are recognizable throughout the world. They were trout fisherman that got together as is still done today, to get 'up north'. They headed to the cold, clear and crisp northern air and waters that as I have said many times before, are always better than at home.
And so as a traditional trout opener has ended, so begins an entire new season for those of us with this particular affliction that is fly fishing. And soon the arrival of the front wave of bird migration will show up and we will be treated to a new chorus of song to harmonize with the sound of flowing water around our legs, and the cedar and sweet fern, in time, it will become that familiar elixir that makes us day dream in our waking hours of the cold and seemingly endless winter months. There will be a rise and a familiar ring on the water, and the sky will fill with mayflies and Cedar Waxwings, and we will realize that this is real and now.
And so it begins.
The Fly Factor