Monday, October 12, 2015

Mid October Fly Fishing Report from The Northern Angler Fly Shop

Mid October Fly Fishing Report

Even though we are approaching the mid-point of October, the weather feels far from it and the fish have been acting accordingly; migratory salmon continue to trickle into local rivers like the Manistee and Betsie. Most fish are moving in and hitting the spawning gravel immediately rather than staging in deep holes in the lower river systems so look for fish in the pocket water near gravel for your best salmon fishing right now.  Color change on the trees is just starting in some areas – which is also later than normal, so look for color season to be prolonged also.
The water levels are low and clear and are running warm for this time of year – the Manistee is just below 60 degrees and when things change – that is, we receive some significant rainfall and water temps drop – a good push of fish should move in.  Last week’s rain mostly went into the ground and didn’t increase levels much but the forecast is calling for more rain and favorable North and Northwest winds which should only help get more fish to move upstream. Some steelhead are around but like the salmon, not in the numbers we typically expect this time of year. Those who keep their flies moving and keep at it are typically the ones rewarded with chrome and a lot of fin-attitude. Then again, the steelhead have been hard to land with the temps beings so warm but that’s one of the reasons we like to fish for them so much.
The trout fishing has been a little slower than normal for this time of year – also because of the weather.  The water is low and clear so stealth is paramount. Streamer fishing the bigger sections of rivers with some meaty looking fly patterns are getting some pre-spawn browns to play, but like anytime of the year – keep the flies moving and stay positive – you are only one cast away. Terrestrial fishing continues thanks to the warm weather but mix it up and when there are a lot of leaves and other debris floating down the river, the surface fishing really slows and it’s time to tie on a streamer.
Good luck,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Summer Like Conditions Remain TK's "Fall" Fly Fishing Report

“Fall” Fly Fishing

It’s officially “Fall”, but it sure feels like summer with the past three weeks being unseasonably warm making things feel more like August rather than the end of September. As a result the migratory salmon fishing on Lake Michigan’s rivers is off. The lack of cool weather and north/northwest winds are keeping the water at the river mouths too warm and therefore not concentrating the fish in ideal numbers to encourage a trip upstream. There are some fish in the Betsie and Manistee rivers, but they are scattered and simply not in the density/numbers we are used to for this time of year.  Look for this year’s migration of salmon to be prolonged well into October with steelhead mixed in. Until then, fish the water thoroughly for those few fish around.
With the weather being nicer than normal, water conditions are still ideal for some dry fly fishing on the upper Manistee and Boardman rivers. The terrestrial bite is still going and some mid-sized streamers fishing on floating lines are providing some action. Look for the dries with rubber legs twitched  near and in the wood to get some of those vibrant colored brookies to play as well as the occasional nice brown trout. Keep in mind regular trout season ends Sept. 30th on certain rivers and sections of rivers – consult the MI-DNR regulations to determine what closes and what remains open.
Good luck.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

TK's September 15, 2015 Fly Fishing Report for Traverse City Area

Summer-Like Fishing Conditions and Salmon

It seems that summer’s weather is sticking around with warm days and less than favorable wind directions impacting the salmon and not getting them headed up area rivers like the Betsie, Manistee, and Platte. There are some fish in the Lake Michigan tributaries, but not in the numbers that there should be for this time of year. Look for the fish to be spread out throughout river systems and after some North or North-West winds, things should change and the fish should show up in better numbers. Put some rain in the mix and fishing should be outstanding.
With the warm weather comes an extension of trout season. The terrestrials continue to bring up some fish to the surface as the foam and rubber patterns  twitched seem to be a great place to start. The fish are pretty smart this time of year so when you get refusals (bumps) change up the pattern slightly and possibly go to a lighter leader. Sometimes a little more twitch helps activate these flies eliciting a bite. The brookies are really vibrant right now and prefer  the smaller patterns and attractors since much isn’t emerging this time of year. It can be an ideal time to fish the Boardman for those looking for fishing close to town. If it’s a cloudy day, pull out some mid-sized streamers as the bigger browns have hit the reset button on pattern recognition after a summer of anglers fishing dries.
Good luck.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015 Fly Fishing Report

Still some summer fly fishing to be had

The recent cold front has a lot of anglers thinking about the fall fishing but we still have some summer fishing left – the calendar and forecast confirms this.
Water conditions for local trout rivers are in fine shape with temps around 60 on the upper Manistee and Boardman rivers making wet-wading, well, tricky or uncomfortable when in waist deep water. The recent rains haven’t effected levels too much but rather freshened them up so to speak. With the over-cast conditions fish have been out and on the prowl making for improved streamer fishing conditions when not casting surface flies. Try fishing smaller weighted streamers on floating lines and/or short sink-tips.
Very few bugs have been on the water other than Tricos in mid-mornings when temps are normal which is what we should have later this week and next. On the windy days don’t look for the Tricos to be on the water as the wind keeps them from landing however, these windy conditions make for better terrestrial fishing as hoppers and other land-based insects find themselves on the water. It’s the time of year for “foam and rubber” terrestrial and attractor patterns.  Some days the fish want movement in those flies, other days dead drift with an occasional twitch so mix it up.
Bass and bluegill fishing is still going strong on the local lakes but the bigger bass are getting wise to our program of poppers and diving bugs.  Like the trout fishing, the cloudy days seem to be better and the best fishing has been near structure including weeds, fallen trees and drop-offs.
The winds of the past few days have mixed up the water on Lake Michigan and some salmon have moved closer to shore with just a few making it up the tributaries as we approach September.  Salmon reports on the big lake have been mixed so there aren’t many predictions on what the fall run of fish will be like on local rivers, but we should have a better idea in mid-September.
Good luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Trout, Terrestrials and Tricos- TK's July 21 Fly Fishing Report

Trout, Terrestrials, and Tricos

Trout fishing has been decent lately with more fish looking up in the daytime hours now that hatches aren’t prolific and fish need to keep their eyes open for their food.
Fishing on the Manistee and Boardman has been seeing some terrestrials on and in the water – this is a good time to fish beetles, ants, small grass hoppers and other attractor flies – especially those with rubber legs forming an “X”.  Look for the smaller patterns to be a little more effective right now as the natural insects are mostly small. <More on fishing terrestrials>
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some Light Cahills, BWOs and Isonychias in your fly box as these tend to trickle-hatch for a few more weeks. If headed out in the a.m. – you will want Tricos as they have been around once the air warms up but they are more effective fished before sun is heavy on the water – these should continue through much of August. For those unwilling to separate from their headlamps and fishing in the dark, mouse and other surface patterns have had mixed success. < More on fishing after the Hex Hatch >
Water clarity is a little too clear and water temps have been climbing, but they have been falling too, with the cool nights which can have an effect on how the river is fishing. Cloudy and overcast days have been best, but we just haven’t had too many of those lately. This is a great time of year to get out early and fish until noon.
Bass and bluegill fishing on lakes has slowed a little and are best fished in the mornings or evenings as a lot of the fish are in deeper water during the day which is difficult to fish effectively with fly fishing equipment. In the low-light hours, they move into the shallows to feed. Diving frogs and mid-size poppers have been best for the bass with small spiders, terrestrials and nymphs working on the bluegill.
Good luck
Summer Trout Fishing – Terrestrial and Trico fishing in July and August on the Manistee.
Smallmouth Bass – Streamer fishing on the lower Manistee is a great way to spend a summer day.
Fall Steelhead – Late September through November is the time for sassy steelhead on the Lower Manistee.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fly Hatches and Trout Fishing Improving

A week with little rain fall has left the local rivers in good shape. Clarity is ideal with a little stain, while temps are in the mid-60s and water levels are not too high and not too low.  Hatch activity has been varied and inconsistent but has improved since my last report with more fish looking up. Look for Isonychias to be your best bet for the big bugs in the evening and up to dark. You will want some brown drakes and hex patterns also because you never know when the bigger bugs will be out in numbers right at dark. Some sections of most rivers – Au Sable, Manistee, Boardman has had limited hex activity but we are on the early side of things. Other flies you can expect to find on the water include Bat Flies, the last of the Sulphurs, Gray Drakes, Little Yellow Sally Stones, Lt. Cahills and Mahoganies.  To read more about hatches preceding the Hex Hatch, click here.
Carp fishing on the bay has been inconsistent as well with all of the weather changes. Like the hex emergence for trout, good carp fishing really relies on a few days of warm sunshine to warm up the water up. The cold water of the bay moving in and out with varying wind directions has made it challenging for those targeting both carp and smallmouth bass. Smaller crayfish patterns are working for both species as are minnow patterns for those specifically fishing for bass.
Fishing on the lakes and ponds for bass remains solid as the fish are in post-spawn mode and have the feed bag on. Streamers fished on intermediate lines have been most productive for the larger bass when the top water and divers aren’t working. It also might find you a pike along the way which tend to bite the fly off but leave you with a good story.  Bluegill continue to bend the rod but mostly the smaller ones which still make for a great learning experience for beginners or someone looking to spend a few hours on the water with a fly rod in their hand.
Good luck.

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 15, 2015 Northern Michigan Fly Fishing Report for Northern Michigan

Tough Trout Fishing

Lots of rain has fallen over the past 10 days and the rivers look like it.
The Upper Manistee river continues to be challenging with high water, sporadic bug emergences and fish that are mostly uncooperative.  Finding times when both the bugs and fish are active has been rare with the occasional good day to keep us coming back. Even the streamer fishing – under ideal conditions – has been off. Give the river 4 or 5 days to drop to normal levels and clear up and by then Isonychias should be emerging more steadily – typically in the evening and up to dark if temps stay warm.  In the meantime if you are headed there  you will want the following flies: mahoganies, sulphurs, little yellow stones, epeorus, brown drakes, isonychias, big golden stones, BWO’s, small black caddis and a lucky rabbit’s foot.  I’ve often been accused of telling it like it is.
The Boardman has been tough to fish the past couple of weeks with the higher water, but Brown Drakes and Gray Drakes have been around with a few sulphurs and caddis in the evening. The AuSable, too, hasn’t been fishing up to its reputation with bugs and fish being off.  Lots of water in that system also has had its impact on the river as the fish are able to eat well sub-surface with the higher water.
Carp fishing on the bay has improved as fish are starting to show up a little more in the shallow water as they near their spawn cycle. The water in the bay is still pretty cold so wind direction, intensity of sun light and overnight temps have a significant impact on the fishing the shallow flats.  A few smallmouth bass have moved into the shallows but look for the smallmouth bass season to be spread-out  and focus on cruisers and darker water for your best biting fish.
Bluegill fishing on the lakes has slowed down some for the large gills as they have abandoned their beds and moved back deep. Some lakes and ponds tend to run behind while others spawn over a protracted period  and with some searching  you should find those fish. By now the fish that spawn tend to really protect themselves in the structure with bigger predatory fish looking to eat them.  On the up-side, the largemouth bass fishing has improved with more fish eating sliders/diving frogs and poppers. Same routine – look for fish in and around the lilly pads and drop offs for your best action.
Good luck.