The dog days of summer are upon us and the heat has mostly been keeping our fishing to the low light hours of morning and evening.
Trout fishing has been decent for brook and brown trout on the upper Manistee and Boardman Rivers. The Trico mayfly hatch has been very reliable for about a month now but it appears they are winding down – look for these size 18 and 20 flies to be around in the morning anywhere from 8 until 10:30.
Despite the warm days the water temperatures have remained in the mid-60s. Even though we have experienced a significant lack of rain, the river levels surprisingly are in good shape.
One advantage of our dry conditions has been the presence of terrestrials on the water – that is ants, beetles, grasshoppers and even cicadas. Attractor patterns that suggest large terrestrials – foam and rubber-legged patterns – have been bringing some nice fish to the surface and very small streamers fished on floating lines around submerged wood has produced too. August isn’t necessarily a time to catch the big trophy trout, however it’s a great time to lighten your rod up and have some fun with the fish that do want to play. And those big fish will surprise you from time to time and show themselves – even on your line testing your 3 and 4 weight rod’s ability.
Bass fishing has been good on the lakes but the better times are before noon and after 5. Focus on weed beds/lily pads and play with some poppers – it’s fun when the largemouth sip a popper only to have the next one crush it. The bluegill fishing that had been really good has is now good but like the bass, fish the gills/panfish when the sun isn’t the highest.
Bass fishing on the lower Manistee has been a little tougher than it should be. Not sure if it is the heat or clear water, but they haven’t been playing nice. With a full-moon around the corner look for crayfish to become an important part of their diet so focusing on rocks piles and edges with a crayfish pattern as a place to target.
As July comes to an end, the Trico and Terrestrial fishing for trout is going strong on the Manistee and Boardman rivers. The small Tricos have been keeping the trout active in most mid-mornings as both duns and spinners are on the water’s surface. While most of the fish taking notice are small brookies and browns, some bigger fish have surprised us. Consider fishing a smaller terrestrial fly pattern as an indicator with some 6x tied to the bend and a small trico pattern on the other end. This is a great time to use that 3 or 4 weight rod sitting in your rod closet.
Terrestrial fishing has been improving with the better fishing on cloudy or overcast days. Twitch, pop and skitter “foam and rubber” patterns to elicit somebody to come up to the surface. Mix up the pattern, size and color to see if there is a daily preference. This is also a good time of the year to fish small 2-3″ streamers on floating lines.
Bass fishing on lakes and ponds remains good for those who can cast a big popper or slider. The lily pads located near drops offer a great place for your flies as you wait for their ambush. Too often anglers rush the retrieve – try waiting at least 15 seconds after the cast before putting any action in the fly.
Bluegill fishing has been fishing better than usual for this time of year. Some bigger gills have been playing along with the smaller gills which are perfect for anglers looking to learn how to fish. Sometimes the bass eat the bluegill on your line, too, so hold on to that rod
Smallmouth bass fishing in the lower Manistee River is decent for those looking to cast streamers on both sink-tips and floating lines. Crayfish patterns around rocky edges/drops are always a safe bet as are baitfish patterns. In slack water, try fishing a popper lightly twitched. While not for a beginner, this fishing is a fun way to spend a summer day and work on skills while catching fish.
The dog-days of summer are upon us with warm weather and the Cherry Festival behind us.
The trout fishing has been up and down. Tricos are becoming more reliable on the Manistee and Boardman Rivers and will build over the month offering dry fly fishing for those looking to hit the water in the a.m. These small bugs are ideal for those 3 and 4 wt. rods you don’t use too often. The various terrestrials and attractors are becoming more effective each day and also will build – these windy days have blown ants, beetles and other insects onto the water and the brook trout and brown trout have noticed.
Those fishing in the evening and up until dark has been witnessing sporadic hatches of Isonychias, Great BWO, Light Cahills, a few caddis and little yellow sally stone flies. Now that we are on the other side of the Hex Hatch, it’s time to adjust our fishing after two months of evening fishing – you can learn more by reading “Trout Fishing After the Hex Hatch.”
Bass fishing on the lakes has been a lot of fun now that the weed growth is making it easy to find where the fish are laid up. Diving frogs, poppers and some baitfish streamers fished on a floating line can help you find a largemouth bass. Like always, target the structure of weeds, docks and drop offs. Try fishing deer hair sliders on a clear sink-tip line for a great presentation along drop-offs – most often they can’t help but eat those flies.
Those same lakes and ponds where you find bass will provide lots of opportunity for panfish and bluegill. While the big gills are off deep and pretty much out of reach for the fly angler, the smaller fish are offering plenty of opportunity to bend the rod. These fish are perfect for new and developing anglers as they offer endless opportunities to set the hook and bring them in while on a beautiful northern Michigan lake.
Smallmouth bass fishing on the Lower Manistee is increasing with the warm water and temperatures. These fish love a streamer fished on both floating line and sink-tips. While not for beginners, they offer a fun target for those looking to spend a day on the water.
There are a few Carp in Grand Traverse Bay but they have been highly difficult to pin down and predict – especially with all the wind we have been dealing with lately. The higher water of the bay has made fishing more difficult than years past but those shallow spots should have the occasional fish move through them. Consider fishing further north where the water is cooler. The majority of the season is behind us still leaving us realizing that we know less about these mysterious fish than we think.
With July upon us we are catching our breath from catching fish, lots of late nights and looking forward to what’s ahead.
On the Trout Rivers and streams, the Hex hatch has been one of the better ones of recent years due to a long period of stable weather that concentrated the hatch. On the Manistee we are on the other side of the peak with more bugs to emerge and spin, however they will be thinner in density due to cooler nights and simply because we have already had two-weeks of good emergence.
Other bugs on the water include Isonychias, Light Cahills, Bat Flies, Big Stones, Gray Drakes, Little Yellow Sally Stones and Olives. Evenings and mornings are the better times to be on the water with the water being low and clear. If its a cloudy day it should be even better. As we approach the other side of the Hex – the crescendo of mayfly fishing -there are other bugs and approaches to consider when hitting the water. Click here to read “Fishing after the Hex Hatch“.
The smallmouth bass and carp fishing on the bay are winding down. While there are still fish around, the bass are finishing up and moving deep again while the Carp are becoming even more unpredictable as we near the end of their typical migration to shallow water to feed and spawn. Consider traveling outside of the bay to find fish moving into shallow water. Don’t give up yet, but alter expectations a little.
The lake fishing for largemouth bass and bluegill on inland lakes is still good. With the weed growth bass are more predictable to target with top water flies and divers. While the big bluegill are pretty much in deep water now, the smaller gills continue to play along with the dry flies and provide a great way to introduce and teach someone to fly fish.
The smallmouth bass in the lower Manistee is getting better as the water is warming up. While these fish aren’t as large as those found in Grand Traverse Bay, they offer anglers the chance to cast streamers on sink-tips and diving flies on floating lines. Not ideal for beginners, but for those looking to improve their skills and catch some fish along the way.
The Hex bugs have taken the main stage for fly anglers right now as consistent and warm weather has made for good emergences and spinner falls on all the local rivers including the Au Sable, Manistee and Boardman Rivers. These nocturnal bugs get the attention of fish in that last half-hour of light and into the night, but they also have the attention of a lot of anglers – be prepared for a few more people fishing your favorite section of water.
Other bugs on the water have been sparse except when skies are cloudy or overcast. Have some isonychias, brown drakes, gray drakes, bat flies, little yellow sally stones, medium brown/yellow stones, light cahills, along with yourhex fly patterns. Terrestrial/attractor fishing has been bringing some fish up to the surface while small streamers fished on a floating line working sub-surface for when fishing with a little more sunlight out. Check the batteries in your headlamp, make sure you have some bug spray and take a nap throughout the day – it’s time to fish a second-shift schedule.
Not in to night fishing or looking for something to do in the day? Carp and smallmouth bass fishing on the bay has been good. Some carp are starting to spawn but majority of them are in a pre-spawn mode and tend to eat better. This sight fishing pushes angler’s abilities and mettle but when the line comes tight after a good cast and presentation, it’s worth it. Hex nymphs, crayfish, leeches have been ideal for carp while the same and small baitfishand goby patterns have been working for the smallmouth bass.
Lakes are still fishing well for bluegill and bass. These affable fish are still a great way to spend some time on the water and/or teach and introduce someone to the sport of fly fishing. With more weed growth (think lily pads) target drop offs and other structure/transitions. Bigger bass are eating the bigger flies like divers and swimming frogs. Gills/sunnies/panfish continue to eat the surface flies – predominately smaller terrestrial patterns – they have a weak spot for rubber legs.
It’s mid-June – rods are rigged, anticipation brewing and bugs are popping. As we enter the “holy days” of trout dry fly fishing with big bugs make sure your box is full of a number of patterns if headed to the Manistee, AuSable or Boardman rivers. Grey Drakes, Brown Drakes, Mahoganies, Bat Flies, pseudocloeon (big BWOs), Little Yellow Sally Stones, Medium brown/yellow Stones (“mattress thrashers”), Isonychias and maybe more make up a well-stocked fly box for this time of year. Having a few hex in your box wouldn’t be a bad idea as the forecast weather and heat should get those nocturnal bugs to pop on a river near you. Sections of the Au Sable already have seen some hex bugs.
Water levels are still low and clear so stealth and good first presentations are necessary to get those fish – even in low light. If it’s been a while since you fished – for some this is the only time of the year you get out on the water – consider practicing a little before heading out – it will pay off.
It’s time for some insect repellent, fresh batteries in your head lamp, perhaps a cigar and some patience – it is that time of year. And be sure to check for ticks when you get home; there is a noticeable increase in these little guys hiding in the vegetation on the bank as you wait for a hatch.
Carp fishing on the Grand Traverse Bay is going pretty good. Fish have entered the flats/shallow water, but as carp are – sometimes they are simply moving and not feeding. Cover water, cast to all fish within a reasonable distance and have fun. Wind direction and overnight temperatures are important to consider when looking for ideal water for these peculiar fish. Swimming Hex, Crayfish and simple bead headed black wooly buggers (leeches) are always a good bet this time of year. Keep your eyes out for smallmouth – both cruisers and spawning fish – Minnow andGoby imitations are hated by Smallies, so they eat them.
Lakes are still fishing good for the bluegill and bass. As the gills go into a second spawn on some lakes the shallow water is still the place to be. The bigger fish not spawning are moving into the shallows in the low light hours and around vegetation offering both surface and sub-surface action.
Other than a change in the weather, not a whole lot has changed on the local waters since last week’s report.
After 10 days of warm days and nights, some cooler weather moved in the past week leaving the nights cooler than ideal for hatches and spinner falls on the Trout Rivers. Surface activity and hatches has been off a little on the Manistee, Au Sable and Boardman rivers, however covering water has found some isolated “hatch zones”. You can expect a smorgasbord of bugs right now: Sulphurs, March Browns, Mahoganies, Brown Drakes, Isonychias, Blue Winged Olives, Caddis, Little Yellow Sally Stones, Medium Brown/Yellow Stones, and more have been seen on the water and in the air.
Water levels are still o.k. but clarity is an issue – it is too clear. Stealth and long presentations are required for the larger, selective fish but a good drift with the right fly can make it all worthwhile. On the bright days, seek shade and structure where fish are still approachable rather than tucked deep in log jams or undercut banks. Streamer fishing has been challenging in the clear water however smaller streamers have taken some nice fish lately.
Grand Traverse Bay is still running cool and as such the carp and smallmouth bass have been slow to get going. Often when you do find the carp they are moving and not feeding. As the water warms up on the flats, look for the pre-spawn feed to take place with some of the better fishing of the year. The smallmouth bass, too, are plagued by the cooler water. As the Smallies are in pre-spawn mode also and nomadically cruising , they will eat a fly – baitfish imitations and Gobies area great patterns to start with
The smaller lakes and ponds are fishing better for bass than the big water of the bay. Small streamers and even some smaller poppers and larger dry flies are working. Bluegill fishing has been mixed – some lakes are better than others and require some time to find those larger fish looking to bend your 3 wt. rod. Look in any weeds/bulrush in a foot of water for spawning fish. They can be hard to get when they are hidden and tucked away, but it’s also a time to get some nice hand-sized panfish/gills/sunnies before they head deep again.
Carp and Bass – Look for these guys on the flats of Grand Traverse Bay through the month of June. Big Bugs – The month of June is the month of Big Bugs – Isonychias, Brown Drakes and Hex – dates available. Salmon – Late August and September is when the King Salmon start to migrate upstream – get ’em while you can. 2016 Dates – Now booking for the entire fishing season: trout, carp, bass, salmon and fall Steelhead.