River Report - July 11, 2018
Each summer about this time I write something about what I consider the 'Mid Summer Reset'. This is the time that the major hatch seasons are slowing waning, with hex coming to a close, and looking forward to a good few months left of dry fly action on terrestrials, attractor patterns, and small flies.
The hex was great up north, despite the heat wave. For the majority of the hatch, the northern-most rivers stayed in relatively safe condition. However, there were a few nights where thermometers should have told anglers (and other guide services) to go fish bass. I cancelled or moved a few trips due to water temps - but I digress. There were good bugs, good fish, and good times had by all. The heat wave pumped the bugs hard, and shortened the season, but the fish took full advantage of it.
And then we hit the Mid Summer Reset. I took a day off. I spent time with my fiance. I watered the lawn (still have to mow it though). I was able to spend more than a couple hours here and there in the shop - in fact, I've been in the office nearly all day today - shocker, I know. But it's nice to get caught up on some much needed backlogged office work, talk to my guides, and chat fish with other anglers.
Hatch season to me is about brown trout, and brook trout are merely a bycatch - a beautiful bycatch at that, but a less targeted species nonetheless. However, when we hit the reset, it's a complete flip flop. My mind goes into brook trout mode. I think of those days up a backcountry creek - tag alder leaves dancing in a warm summer breeze, and cold water on my legs. A brook trout finning on a sand flat watching shadows nervously as it thoroughly examines each floating particulate through the gin-clear water. A pilleated woodpecker hammers away in the distance, and the scent of sweetgrass and wildflowers drifts on the wind. This is summer in northern Michigan...and in my opinion, a much more relaxed version of fly fishing compared to the stringent hatch-match dry fly standards laid out by May & June brown trout. These are the days that you can fish the cool waters of the morning - tricos and summer olives in full force - and head home for an afternoon barbeque and bonfire....or sleep in on the cool days, and catch a flying ant hatch on a warm summer afternoon. There is something a little more laid back chasing brook trout - busting through brush into backcountry fisheries, sunburn, gin-clear water, poison ivy ... oh wait... well... yea, those are all part of the deal if you want to make the magic happen...but to me, an 8" colored up brookie on a July afternoon can sometimes mean way more than a large brown feeding eagerly on mayflies in late May ... and usually, I have the river all to myself. Those summer brook trout are like little mental clarity gems - they let you lose yourself in the river and just fish - and forget about everything else that may be going on in your life. And even if they don't want to play...I've yet to meet someone who complained about being on a northern Michigan river on a sunny 80 degree day in July... and even if I have, I obviously forgot about them pretty quickly.
So kick back, relax. Throw on those wet wading sandals and go find some little backcountry gems. The Mid Summer Reset is here, and it's time to enjoy summertime in northern Michigan!