After the cold and windy weather of the last few weeks, it is nice to see the actual Michigan spring back on track. The “trophy water” on the Au Sable is back in full swing with a weekend of prolific hatches. Saturday was the perfect mix of warmth and partially cloudy skies with little wind. The bugs came out like a living snowstorm. Sunday was solid as well, with stronger afternoon hatches, under a mostly clear and sunny sky. An added bonus was that the river continues to be mostly free of rental canoes, though lots of folks were out below Mio in their driftboats and kayaks.
Hatch activity this weekend was dominated by flurries of “grannom” caddis (size #14 and #16). To match the hatch, classic elk-hair and Hemingway patterns will work, though caddis emergers and nymphs will work better. The other usual suspects for this time of year are still out in force, including Hendricksons (in sizes #12 and #14), Mahoganies (in sizes #16 and #18), March browns, and sulphers (#16 and #18). Look for sulphers to come out front and center over the next few days with heavy and regular hatches. Some rivers are already reporting that this has happened (like the P.M.), and that it is all about the little yellow bugs at this point.
Keep in mind that with most mayflies, in addition to duns, it is also worth carrying both emergers and spinners to complete the life cycle. Trout are very selective when it comes to that sort of thing.
To a lesser degree, there are some other bugs you might notice out on the river – and the trout might notice, too. In the slower water look for Leptophlebia cupida, a mayfly which is frequently imitated by the Borcher’s Drake or the Black Quill (#14 or so). A few Midwestern salmonflies (Pteronarcys dorsata) are possible encounters, as well – though it is a hard hatch to fish reliably. They are unmistakable due to their relatively large size. They can make a potentially good searching pattern, if the timing is right (try both quite early and quite late in the day).
It is worth noting that the “old reliable” BWOs are also out in full-force. It seems that Baetis are always around somewhere, and this time of the year it is good to carry both classic and new patterns for the entire lifecycle in sizes #16 and #18.
Streamer fishing is still hot, with those big Galloup & Linsenman streamers being a good bet (reports are that light colors are working well). And even though most of us think of hoppers as a July and August option, hopper-droppers are something to consider as well. Go out and get wet.