Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lake Audubon as the Au Sable

Today's client was gearing up and preparing for a trip to Michigan's Au Sable. We met early at Lake Audubon and set out on the lake to re-create some situations he would encounter on his trip. I hope it is not 80 this early when he is on vacation.


Tim had a 7 piece travel rod that does not get to see a lot of sunlight. I cut off his current leader and removed his hex spinner. I took out a spool of 8lb mono and cut off a 7' section for a new leader. A quick perfection loop on one end allowed a fast connection to the line. The fly of choice to start off the day was a black popper. The fly completely invisible to us so we switched to a size 6 scorpion fly. Tim began his overhand casts toward the shore, docks, and pontoons. He effortlessly picked up his line and with one back cast was able to throw the fly where he wanted. Tim was getting that fly under overhanging trees, between pontoons, under docks, and in all the right fishy looking spots.

Several small sunfish tried to bite the fly but their mouths were too small. A sunfish strike is very distinctive as they make a loud kissing sound as they break the surface. Tim hooked a few and lost them as he got the hang of controlling his line and preventing any slack line. The water was extremely clear and we watched sunfish and bass follow the fly with each strip of the line or stroke of the oar. Tim started landing beautiful and strong sunfish.

The one thing that angers me about this lake is the abuse of boats. The pontoon boats are rotting in the water. The carpet is covered with moss, several appear to have taken on water and the pontoons are sinking, and there are several with trees growing in and on them! I would be more than happy to fix and maintain a pontoon boat if the owner let me fish from the thing. Boat abuse should not be tolerated! On a side note, I miss the pontoon boat that was powered by the bicycle.

I decided to tie on a dropper to not only increase his chance to catch fish, but to practice with a strike indicator. The dropper of choice as always is a marabou damsel nymph. The fly had just enough flash in its tail to help us see it in the water. Tim caught a nice largemouth bass on one of the first casts.

The bass put up a solid fight and worked Tim's rod (4wt?). We spotted a HUGE largemouth in the shallows as he was releasing this fish. We had no luck enticing the fish as it quickly swam out of sight. I tried taking an underwater picture before it got away.
The clear water (except in this photo) allowed us to sight fish for bass and sunfish. The smaller fish chased the damsel through the water column and I was able to say 'set the hook' when they engulfed the damsel. Tim set the hook and his line went tight almost every time. 

Tim cast the fly as I stealthily paralleled the shore. Today was about catching, not fishing.

We easily lost count of the sunfish and largemouth that either attacked the fly or were hooked and lost or hooked and landed. It was great fun. Although Tim was facing away from me I suspect he had a wide grin.
Time was running out and I crossed the lake and began to paddle back to the boat ramp.
We got into some nice shady spots and more pontoons. Tim placed the fly in the right spot and missed this fish. You can see the bubbles in front of the boat.

Here is a parting shot from underwater. I am becoming more and more interested in what the fish see from their world into ours. How much do they see us and what part of the fly do they see? I can't see anything past the surface and bug skins, yet I was able to see down at least seven feet.

Today was about fly fishing in its simplest form. Basic materials of rod, reel, line, simple leader, bright colored fly. It doesn't get better than this, sight fishing, landing fish, and feeling competent that you can do this all on your own. 

I have no doubt Tim will have a great trip to the Au Sable. His casting improved in that he took fewer to zero false casts. The sound of his casts became quite, which is an indication that he is using less of his energy to throw the line and relying more on the fly rod. His accuracy improved and that fly was going exactly where the fish were hiding. We could have stayed out all day but 10:00 approached and we had places to go.


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