Each morning this week has felt a little more like fall. A brisk air during the night hours has descended upon northern Michigan, and I've noticed some steam rolling out the bathroom window with the day's shower or the smoke like rise off of morning coffee. It's safe to say that fall is coming, but it would be wrong to say that fishing season has come to a close. I typically like to distinguish autumn from fall in that autumn is the combination of summer and fall with a month offering a little of the best of both, but not much of the bad.
Although bittersweet due to the waning days of summer creekin' and warm-day explorations to hidden water, September sometimes proves to be one of my favorite months to be an outdoor enthusiast and sportsman in northern Michigan. The dog days of summer are coming to an end as the waters flow a little cooler each day, a welcome feeling for our coldwater residents. However, the daytime temps can still be extremely comfortable with partly sunny skies and temps in the 70s. Along with the foliage of the northern hardwood forests, brook trout start donning their fall spawning colors, easily making them one of the prettiest fish on the planet. Brown trout start to feel the spawning urge too, and start being a little more defensive and a little more willing to eat throughout the daylight hours. A fish of the night during the summer months, large browns start showing themselves during the day as they start pounding calories in preparation of the fall spawn and long months of winter. Dry fly opportunities persist throughout September, with most of the terrestrial game still in play in the afternoon hours - but with your favorite trout stream typically void of other anglers. Several fly species also hatch throughout the month offering some additional hatch-match specifics for those willing to play to the fish. Mousing holds for those still looking for a night bite. Chinook salmon ascend the river looking to complete their life cycles. Pike and musky start cleaning house. Lake trout and splake return to the shallows. Some days are definitely better than others, and some days are down right tough... however, if you're looking for diversity... September easily proves to be one of the most diverse fishery months we have in Michigan. There are more opportunties for more species than most any other month of the year.
It doesn't end there. Grouse & woodcock season open for the wingshooting enthusiast. The few last summer beach days typically appear out of nowhere. Power boating is quiet as the summer residents have returned to their primary homes in the south. Bird watchers delight at the fall migration. Locals get in a few extra days of camping and backpacking without the summer crowds. The garden kicks the last of its summer bounty. And those coming to enjoy the beautiful sights of foliage change - we call them leaf-peepers in our neck of the woods - keep the lodges and restaurants busy, but don't typically hit the two-tracks.
The air smells fresh; clean. The amount of color - greens, oranges, reds, yellows, blues - that enter your eyes each day is more than you'd see if you were staring into a prism. The rivers and backwoods are quiet. And we have an entire month to enjoy autumn in all its splendor.