Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Au Sable South Branch Hunting Trip

Well, that wraps up another deer season in Northern Michigan.  I've never hunted harder.  I hunted every day of the season.  It was tough up here.  I saw deer every time but the cards just didn't fall for me.  I passed on a small buck opening day and saw a whopper on the third day that just didn't want to get eaten.  Saw a six point chase does across the river--wasn't ready.

Probably the highlight of my season, besides the whopper, was a hunting trip down the Mason Tract on the Au Sable River's South Branch.  It was like stepping back in time.  Grouse flushed across the river, eagles followed us downstream, ducks jumped around every few bends and mink, herons, and muskrats kept us alert to all movements.  We kicked up 4 deer in the thick stuff and never fired a shot.  But it was a perfect afternoon on the river and the thought of sliding into the landing with a racked buck kept us quiet and moving slowly . . . kept us eager.

Certainly time well spent.  I suppose hunting is a lot like fishing; the results aren't always the reward.  I'll take the memories.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Name that Spot Winner

Alright, enough with the suspense already.  It's time to announce the winner of the "Name that Spot" contest.

We had just a ton of great entries and one in particular that really had me second guessing my initial, gut reaction.  But after careful deliberation with a fly fishing forensics team (guides, trout bums, and other various ne'er-do-wells), I believe we've reached a solid decision.

There were six different locations proposed but two had nearly equal entries and so, were clear standouts.

One location well mentioned was the pseudo boathouse just below Stephan Bridge Landing and above the Tractor Seat Pool at Camp McGill.  The second most often suggested location was the boathouse below Spite Rd. at Shoppenagon's.  They both seem right. Both structures touch the water's surface and both have a high water mark against a light background.  But if you look closely at the picture, you can see that the branches on the upstream side of the boathouse overhang the structure.  So we're calling this the boathouse at Camp McGill.

The first person to correctly name Camp McGill was Chris Brecht.  So I'm declaring Chris the winner.  Now, since I'm still slightly wavering, I'd also like to award Jeff Turner for being the first to name Shoppenogans boathouse.

For their efforts each of the winning, Au Sable River aficionados will receive two spools of two year old 9x, one fly fishing magazine with the cover cut off, a free fly line with purchase of any $800 rod, and all the flies stuck in the shop carpet.  Stop by the shop to claim your prizes.

Seriously though, both winners will have a free gift certificate waiting behind the counter courtesy of The Old AuSable Fly Shop.  Congratulations!

If you can prove our decision wrong with conclusive evidence, you'll can have the flies in the carpet.     

Whew!  This was a tough one.  I thought I had it pegged.  Thanks to all who entered.

It was fun and we'll do it again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holy Flash

Well we just opened huge boxes of fly tying materials . . . we've got piles.  Although, it might take the rest of the winter to get everything on the wall. 

Let me know if you need anything--please.  I don't know where we'll put everything.  It's that time of year again.

Tie, tie, tie . . .

Friday, November 19, 2010

Name this Spot

Okay, if you are the first person that can tell me where Jesse is fishing, I'll put a free gift behind the counter for you.  Now, I'm going to need a specific name here . . . not just "oh that bend just above" sorta deal. Send your comments to me directly at andy@oldausable.com .  Good luck and have fun.

Alex & Marv

Alex and Marv have been good friends for a long time.  Afterall, they have something undeniable in common--an insatiable love of streamer fishing.  Along with a handful of other top Michigan anglers, these guys have been at the forefront of streamer fishing for big browns on the AuSable river for years.  Few people do it better.

Same trout . . . the boga grip is great for photos.

Nice hen

Thanks Marv and Alex for the pic's

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Lovell's Riverside Tavern located on the North Branch of the Au Sable river hosted their first annual "Shiver on the River" on Sunday November 14th.  Over 30 folks plunged, ran, tumbled into the Au Sable's North Branch in the spirit of good fun, camaraderie, and silliness.  The event was a huge success.  Cars filled the parking lot and lined both sides of the road.

Young, old, and costumed get their shiver on 

The rules required that all participants dipped at least neck deep.  Not an easy feat in the upper North Branch.  Understand that this guy is definitely sitting on the bottom.  Those boys that cut a swath in the ice of some frozen lake and quickly jump in and hop out have nothing on the "Shiver" folks.  These hardy souls have to wade out to the middle of the rocky river and ease into knee deep water.  Takes discipline drinks.

Lots of onlookers marvel at the spectacle

This thermometer on the tree next to the river says much.

No ducks were harmed in this picture.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Corner of Wakely and N. Down River

There's a old, little, long since out-of-business convenience store near the AuSable river that the owners keep interesting.  With the changing of each season, the folks change the "man in the window".  Over the years it's become a fun, comfortable, strange part of being a Crawford County local.  My wife and I sort of look forward to the new displays and even tend to compain a little if we feel the change is running late.  I expect we'll see a hunter soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fly Fishing License Plates

Good friend of the shop, Tim, gave us this cool license plate to hang on the wall.  If you've got an expired fly fishing themed plate, we'd love to have it for the shop wall.  And for your efforts we'll swap you a FREE Old AuSable hat.  If it's really cool, don't be afraid to barter with us . . . who knows what you can talk us into.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grouse Season

Well, grouse season is all but wrapped up now with the opening of firearm deer season in Northern Michigan.  I hate to see it go.  Maybe we'll go a last time or two when the season opens agian in December but we tend to leave the birds alone in the late season--they've got enough on their plate getting ready for winter.   If there's not too much snow, I'll run the pups solely for the experience.

It's alwasy bittersweet this time of year.  I just don't want to let Fall move into winter.  Rifle season is okay for a little while but it gets long for me.  And it marks the beginning of production tying, snow shoveling, wood hauling--work.  When you you make your career in  a fly shop, work isn't supposed to be involved.  You just sit around and talk fishing all day (I wish).

This fan is from a nice red-phased grouse I shot this year.  Grouse in our area are generally gray phase, so the reds can be rare.  There's a thousand theories about grouse and their populations.  I find them all weak and incomplete.  For example, some folks say that when you start seeing more red phased grouse up here that the grouse numbers are on the rise.  Maybe.  I thought the overall numbers were down this year and roughly half the birds I shot were reds.  

Then there's all the talk about the "cycle".  While there is unquestionably some sort of cycle, the reasons are unclear.  Much of the talk is a predator/prey argument.  The problem is that the predators change depending on the study/theory but the cycle remains the same.  Some talk about the bobcat numbers rising or falling, while other studies talk about gosshawks, coyotes, skunks, racoons, etc . . .     The other animals likely (I'm guessing here) rise and fall with the grouse numbers and not the other way around--kinda like the hunter numbers.  When grouse hunting is great there seems to be many more hunters.  My guess is that the grouse cycle is a very complex relationship between the bird and its habitat probably having more to do with food sources and weather.

I gonna miss chasing them this year.

Here's a great link . . . if you like grouse hunting,  you'll love the Ruffed Grouse Society .



Friday, November 12, 2010

Shiver on the River

Lovell's Riverside Tavern is hosting a "Shiver on the River" Sunday November 14th at 3pm.  I talked to Nancy and she says they've already had nearly 30 folks sign up.  That's 30 people that are set to run into the North Branch of the Au Sable up to their neck in November.  Something to do the night before deer season.  So go get a burger and watch a bunch of folks with questionable sense jump freeze . . . crazy if you don't I guess.  I'll be there.  Not swimming.

Folks in Lovells are always a little crazy.  But they're crazy like your great aunt Tess--fun loving but slightly off.  These are the same folks that do "The Lovell's Bridge Walk"  and the "Leaky Waders 1K".  Lovell's is a great small town and, hopefully, you can make a visit during on of these events.

No picture for this blog . . . wouldn't know what to post. 

Boardman River Dam Removal

Here's the lastest information that I've heard about the Boardman River dam removal.  Check it out @http://www.9and10news.com/Category/Story/?id=268943&cID=1

Deer Season in Northern Michigan

The orange army is about to descend.  Deer hunting in Northern Michigan is a right of passage and a passion passed down through generations.  Of course, many folks hit the woods more out of tradition than anything else.  It's a time when old friends and family crowd into one room hunting cabins, each chili, and throw logs at the woodstove. 

I grew up with that.  And it has a strong pull even still.  I don't have a deer camp to go to anymore, but I make sure to visit my friends that do on deer season eve.  It's pretty much a holiday up here.  The schools even close for opening day.   We'll play cards and tell lies and just generally forget about everything that's not deer hunting.

I still like to hunt, though.  And I usually get a buck.  Which is nearly a neccessity for me cause I love eating game I've harvested. 

I spent one of these beautiful afternoons we're experiencing in the Au Sable valley scouting my area for buck activity and found this nice 9 point skull.  To me, skulls are cool.  I'd like to think it's because there's still a boy in me.  But maybe skulls are just cool.  Finding one like this means that you've missed an opportunity, but at least you know the potential exists for another one just as good to walk by on opening day.  Like a lot of things I do, the possibilties are all that really matters.  And success is just knowing you gave it a good go. 

With that in mind, I'll spend the last days before deer season looking for one more grouse and fishing for one more trout.  Hopefully, I'll tag out quick and spend all the rainy days of November fishing the Au Sable alone.   

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Johnny on the Spot

My friend John is a streamer junkie and cloudy days in the spring, summer, or fall you can find him on the Au Sable River in Northern Michigan.  He fishes the marabou black ghost almost exclusively.  I'm not sure if he was stripping the ghost on this day, but I'd bet it was tied on for at least a little bit.  He caught 3 monsters that day.  "Best Day Ever" was the title of the e-mail he sent me.  He also mentioned something about the possibility of retirement  . . . amazing what a great day on the stream can do.

Fly fishing got me out of grad school and it's gotten lots of my friends out of marriages.  Oh the power of the trout.  Be careful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Snow on the Boardman River

Spent the day in Traverse City with my friend Dave.  We went to see Bob Summers about some old bamboo rods . . . it's always a good day when you spend part of it with Bob.  He's built some of the finest contemporary rods on the market.Bob started his career working for the famous Michigan rod builder Paul Young but went on to make himself a legend in the bamboo world.  But you wouldn't know it from talking to Bob.  There's no pretentiousness in Mr. Summers and that's what makes him great in my book.  He's a true Michigan treasure.  Check out his website @ http://www.rwsummers.com/ 

On the way to Bob's we drove along the Boardman River and found snow.  It's a prelude to the inevitable.  The sign says "No Camping".  I say no problem.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ice in the Guides

This is a terrible picture.  But it's ice in my rod guides.  Lots of ice.  And it's blurred because I was shivering.  Alex and I went out in 25 degree weather to chase browns on the AuSable.  It had to be closer to 15 by the time we got off the water at dark.

I have to say it was worth it though.  We both caught really nice trout.  I'll talk about that trip and post pic's on Thursday's fishing report. 

But ice in the guides.  I hate ice in the guides.  I am haunted by the damned ice in my guides. The only aspect that's good about ice in the guides is that it means you're being hardcore  insane  . . . well you're doing something that involves fishing.  So there's that.

But what can we do about ice in the guides?  Short answer, "Not Much".  There's an ice off paste product out there.  But, frankly, if you've got extra money laying around, you'd be just as well off to send me the $4.99 and I'll send you an empty bag "full of hope".  For 3 bucks more I'll throw in the "dreams". 

You can try Vaseline.  I never have but suspect like most Vaseline applications you should probably lock the door, keep it to yourself, and hope no one finds out.

I heard folks talk about inventing something like a battery operated wire that runs up the rod . . . million dollar idea really.  Brilliant!  Smart like opening a fly shop.

You can swoop and swish your rod under the water and that works a little but your rod tip scrapes the rocks and the stripping guide feels left out.  Nope, fact is that like lots of life's unpleasantries you just gotta suck it up and deal.  Chip the ice out and bitch.  Then remember you're fishing . . . so there's that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wieners on the Porch

Is there anything better than a Coney Dog by Michigan's,  Au Sable River on a bright, sunny fall afternoon.  Probably, yes.  Probably lots.  Like fishing, kayaking, hunting, etc . . . But hey we've got a week full of beautiful weather and you just gotta enjoy it anyway you can.  Soon there'll be snow.  I'm gonna do my best to get plenty of outside time in while the gettin's good.  Even if it means sitting on the shop's porch eating a hot dog. 

If you let it, life gets in it's own way. 

Turn off the big screen and go outside.

And other such sayings . . .

Man, I'm thinking I should have used "hot dogs" in the the title . . . could get some sketchy followers.  Yikes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Famous Lovell's Riverside Tavern

Lovell's Tavern made Outdoor Life's "25 Greatest Fishing Bars"

It's always cool when something/someone from our area gets recognized.  Nancy and Roger have done a great job up there.  If you're ever fishing on the AuSable's North Branch, Lovell's Riverside Tavern is the place to find a bacon cheeseburger and a beer.   The locals are crazy enough to be fun and interesting but not nuts enough to be scary . . . a perfect blend I'd say.   Sorta feels like home to me.  Here's a link to the article.