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JEFF KENNEDY - Gates Lodge "Artist in Residence" Journal #3

Posted on September 18 2019

The "Artist in Residence" journals continue (circle back and read Journal #1 and Journal #2 if you haven't already) with artist Jeff Kennedy from Gates Au Sable Lodge.  If you haven't gathered it already, this isn't a bad way to spend a few days in northern Michigan.

I'm up at 5:00 a.m. to the sounds of rain, wind, and thunder.  It looks like one of those days that I will be in the board room.  I grabbed some coffee when Kim opened the fly shop at 7:00 a.m. and decided to continue on the fruit theme.  This time it was an apple-bo.  

One of my favorite methods of fishing up here is to mouse in the evening hours and continue into the wee hours of the morning. They had a new mouse pattern in the shop, Mister Mouse Face, So I decided to use that as some inspiration for some sketches.  I have a Thursday evening mousing trip set up with Denny, which I am looking forward to. 

The rain let up and I decided to venture out to shoot some reference photos around the lodge.  After snapping a few reference shots, I decided to head out to the Thendara access to fish upstream.  It is small bug time of year on the Au Sable River, which means size 22-24 tricos and 8x tippet.  That size is a real test of my eyesight and steady hands.  The windy conditions made this combination a bit of a challenge.  I did manage to hook one small brookie and moved two more.  The wind took the fun out of it so I decided to head back to the lodge.

I wandered into the fly shop to see what was going on and find out how the fishing had been for others.  Denny and Jordan, another shop guide, were discussing their upcoming musky trip.  They have a really bad case of musky fever!  

Jordan and I wandered out back by the bench to see if there were any rising fish.  Jordan broke out his euro nymphing rig and began casting.  I was fascinated at the setup as I have never tried this style of fishing.  My understanding is that it can be very effective.  If anyone has attempted to fish the water behind the lodge, you know that the fish there have seen everything and are very reluctant to take anything remotely artificial.  Jordan handed me the rod so I could give it a try.  It took a bit to get the hang of casting, since it is not your traditional style of casting.  It's more like a modified roll cast with a flip.  You let it drift and watch for the line or the indicator markings on the leader to stop or change direction.  Neither of us were successful but I enjoyed the opportunity to learn something new. 

The fish started rising, so Jordan pulled out his three weight trico rig.  Again, they were a tough sell, but Jordan did finally fool one.  I ended the day having dinner with Courtney Martin [who came up from Kalamazoo to check out the river] and John, who is the morning chef at the lodge.  I look forward to his killer breakfasts every morning.  More on that later.  We decided to grab a burger at Spikes, which is a Grayling classic.  I headed back after dinner and turned in early.  I contemplated mousing but decided to get some sleep.  Mousing will have to wait until tomorrow.

Jeff Kennedy unplugged his website but the Drawing Flies 365 blog is a great trip down memory lane.  You can follow along with his latest fishing exploits and studio news on Facebook and Instagram.

Gates Au Sable Lodge is on the banks of the Au Sable River outside of Grayling, Michigan and has a longstanding history as a mecca within fly fishing.  If you haven't been, plan to go, fish, eat and stay.  Following along on Facebook and Instagram is a good idea too.

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