Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day Mayflies and More!

Northern Michigan Fly Fishing Report

Memorial Day Mayflies and More to Choose From

As we approach late May the Mayflies are starting to become more prolific and varied on the upper Manistee, Boardman and Au Sauble Rivers. The next month offers our best match-the-hatch dry fly fishing of the year – make sure your boxes are filled and varied and your fly casting accurate – those selective risers only give you so many chances.
Most of the dark Hendricksons have come and gone but you will want some dark spinner patterns for when they hit the water. With the cool evenings, the spinner fall has been more of a tease – look for the next warm evening to provide a good fall of bugs but don’t overlook late mornings. Light Hendricksons are more common and a few Sulphurs are emerging more commonly in the evenings which should continue to be one of the key bugs over the next two weeks. It’s also time to have March Browns and Black Quills in your fly box as this is the time of year they make their annual appearance.  The Medium Brown Stoneflies have been around and when fished blind with a skitter- and-twitch, some nice fish are playing along. Don’t forget that Black Caddis will remain prolific most evenings right at dark for the next couple of weeks.
Streamer fishing has remained inconsistent. As the chestnut lampreys are more active this time of year and as such, brown, slinky streamers can be a great choice. Other good colors lately include: olive/white, brook trout (olive/tan/orange), and yellow/brown.  With the water being low and clear, smaller streamers can be a better choice when fishing smaller water, whereas the bigger, deeper water with its holes are better fished with a big often articulated streamer. Streamer fishing remains a great choice as you fish before dry flies and surface activity.
The local lakes have been fishing very well for both panfish/bluegill and bass. As the darker bottom lakes warm quickest, anglers will find the bigger gills spawning in shallow water. This is a great opportunity to catch fish that are normally too deep for the fly angler. Dry fly activity has been best when it is flat and calm where as smaller nymphs like damsels, brassies and soft-hackled hare’s ears fished with a slow, swimming retrieve has been best sub-surface. The bass have been taking both surface and subsurface flies, but smaller baitfish and sculpin streamers have been real effective.
We are still a week or so away from having carp and smallmouth on the flats of the bays thanks to the cold winter and some recent cold nights. We still have frost advisories so cover up your plants and keep your 8 wt. ready for when we get a few days of bright sun and no wind – that usually heats the water significantly which brings the fish in from the depths  it’s right around the corner.
With Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer begins so be sure to drive safe, share the water with other anglers and enjoy the local fishing.
Good luck.
Trout Season – Streamer & Dry Fly fishing is ideal throughout May on the Upper Manistee & AuSable Rivers.
September Salmon – Dates are limited for fishing the Betsie River in early Sept. and later on the Manistee.

2015 Fishing – It isn’t too early to get your fishing trips planned for the year. Booking all species/seasons

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dry Fly and Streamer Time! TK's May 13 Fly Fishing Report for Traverse City Area Rivers

May Mayfly Emergences – Hendricksons

It’s Mid-May and we are in the middle of Hendricksons which continue to emerge on certain days on local rivers including the Manistee, Boardman and AuSable.
May mayfly emergences continue to baffle us and are occurring at times and in weather counter to what is typical which means the best time to be out is anytime you can because you never know when bugs will be on the surface. Some of the lighter and smaller henies are starting to emerge as the larger, dark ones are starting to taper off but it would be a good idea to have both in your fly box if headed to the trout water. Spinner falls in the evening up until dusk have been common on the warmer evenings. Look for some Black Quills and even Sulphurs to start up soon. With the various mayflies emerging and adult spinner falls this is a great time of year to fish a Borchers Drake and Borchers Emerger. Medium brown stones and black caddis are popping some days, too, as the leaves are really filling out on the trees along the riverbanks.
Water conditions are ideal as far as level, clarity and temperature.  Streamer fishing continues to be a great way to cover the water between hatches to find those bigger fish looking to eat big. No color or combination has worked better than another so mix it up and look for their daily preference.
Bluegill have moved into the shallow water on certain lakes and ponds as some are spawning and others are pre-spawning. This is a great time of year to get access to the big “slabs” that are usually in water too deep for the fly fisher. While surface flies are the most fun to use for panfish, often it’s the small streamer or nymph fished subsurface that gets the bigger fish to play along.
Good Luck,
Trout Season – Streamer & Dry Fly fishing is ideal throughout May on the Upper Manistee & AuSable Rivers.
September Salmon – Dates are limited for fishing the Betsie River in early Sept. and later on the Manistee.
2015 Fishing – It isn’t too early to get your fishing trips planned for the year. Booking all species/seasons.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Trout Fishing and Spring Just Starting

It’s really feeling like spring around northwest Michigan – warm temps, blue skies and green showing up fast on both the ground and on trees.  The transition from steelhead fishing to trout fishing has been kind of stuck with neither fishing extremely well right now but one gets the sense that it’s going to change in the blink of an eye.
With the lack of rain, no fresh steelhead have moved into the river. Anglers fishing the Betsie and Manistee will find a few spawning fish but they are well aware of angler’s intent and disperse with some fishing pressure. The dark water (holes and slots) around the gravel are offering better angling for both steelhead and trout right now and most drop-back fish have done just that – made it back to the lake after spawning. The long-term forecast is calling for rain over the weekend and into next week which should bring up any remaining fish, but expect them to come and go as water temps are warm and is running clear.
The warm rain would be a good thing for the trout rivers as well. Most of the trout water – the Boardman, Upper Manistee, AuSable are also running clear – especially for this time of year. With water temps in the mid to upper 50s look for Hendricksons to be emerging in better numbers rather than the trickle of bugs which has been more common. “Henies” love warm overcast days so if you can pick your day accordingly, do so. A few black stoneflies and even a black caddis or two have been around so have some of those patterns with you as well.
Until the dry fly fishing gets going, cover some water with streamers – this is the ideal time to cover lots of water for that really big brown trout. With what seems like everyone fishing the biggest, double and triple articulated and over-accessorized streamer patterns right now, consider down-sizing things a bit and fish something a little more natural. Like usual, though, mix it up to see what might be working better that day.
The coldwater found in local lakes has kept the bluegill/panfish in the depths but this too should change overnight as fish move into fly-friendly shallow water and provide some great fishing for big gills over the next month.
Good luck,
Trout Season – Streamer & Dry Fly fishing is ideal throughout May on the Upper Manistee & AuSable Rivers.
September Salmon – Dates are limited for fishing the Betsie River in early Sept. and later on the Manistee.
2015 Fishing – It isn’t too early to get your fishing trips planned for the year. Booking all species/seasons.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Transition from Steelhead to Trout TK's April 28, 2015 Fishing Report

Transition from Steelhead to Trout

Trout opener has come and gone and apparently most of the steelhead run has too.
Without any rain the past week or two, the water levels have really come down on the Manistee and Betsie Rivers as the water temps are around 50 degrees and have cleared up – not what you think of when you think Spring Steelhead. I would imagine any significant amount of rain we get over the next week or so would bring in the last of the fish from Lake Michigan, but until then look for fishing to be tough with more stale fish around rather than fresh ones. Green Caddis, Steelhead Buggers and small, natural egg patterns (sockeye, gold nugget, steelhead orange/O.C) have been the more productive patterns lately.
With the nice weather in the forecast the trout waters are warming up and dry fly/emergences are increasing, although they have been pretty light due to temperatures. Black stones and blue wing olives (BWOs) have been the most common flies but if you are headed to rivers like the Boardman, Upper Manistee, or AuSable – be sure to have some Hendricksons in your box as they could begin any day. Streamer fishing has been the go-to method for covering water but with the temps still a bit cool, look for slower retrieves to work better than the fast ones and often the fish are going to be in the bigger, deeper holes. Mix it up and see what works for you that day.
Good luck,

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 21, 2015 Fishing Report

Steelhead Season Continues as Trout Season Begins

Fishing pretty much has remained the same – it’s been inconsistent. One day we find a bunch of fish, the next –  a few, then fewer and back to a bunch again – you just don’t know. On both the Manistee and Betsie the steelhead have been coming and going pretty quickly. A few drop backs have been caught as the females head back to the lake after their deed is complete and those same, big, deep holes that have been holding them have also been holding some fresh fish waiting to hit the gravel. Fish are spawning on both river systems but not in the numbers we are used to.
Because of the lack or run-off this winter and little rain, look for more fish to show up through mid-May – especially after ideal conditions in which rain fall is key. I guess you could say the “run” has been spread out over a long period of time. Good flies recently have been clown rag eggs, mottled orange variation eggs, green caddis, steelhead buggers, and small black stones.
It’s finally here! This Saturday marks the annual Trout (Pike, Muskie, pre-Season Bass, too) season on rivers. Much of the water that we guide on is open all year round, but this date is significant to the small stream angler or those that follow tradition. The Upper Manistee and Boardman river levels are higher from summer levels but is lower than normal for this time of year. Some black stones have been on the water but good dry fly fishing is looking to begin closer and into May with sustained warmer temps – I saw snow today and more is in the forecast tomorrow – this tends to fluctuate water temperatures, bug emergences and the trout’s demeanor.Streamer fishing is a great approach right now with medium speed retrieves and flies with lots of action.
Good luck!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year Fly Fishing Report

New Years Fly Fishing Report

The last couple of weeks has provided some opportunity to get on the water with some warmer than normal days for the season. It is now winter and while it isn’t white outside, the thermometer isn’t showing a lot of red, either.  The long term forecast calls for below freezing temps which pretty much puts us into winter fishing mode.
With both air and water temps as low as they are, look for window of opportunity to get out when the conditions are right – no or low winds, slighter warmer air temps and maybe a little sunshine (do you remember what that is?).
Steelhead are scattered throughout the rivers (Manistee, Betsie, Boardman) – there are fishable numbers but you will want to cover water and look for those fish that want to eat. It’s a good time to fish indicators and look for fish to be in the slower, deeper water often just inside the seam or bubble line. With the rivers full thanks to recent rain, you can get away with a larger egg pattern fished in tandem with a natural looking nymph; this time of year patterns with a lot of movement to them like hex nymphs are a good place to start.
Trout fishing has slowed but still remains an option for those looking to fish streamers and nymphs. If fishing streamers, go with a shorter sink tip or even a floating line with a weighted pattern and really slow the presentation down while implementing a lot of action into the fly as you cover the slower water – both holes and slots.
This time of year it’s just good to get outside and on the water since we haven’t traded the fishing poles for ski poles just yet. Keep in mind that some sections of some rivers close at the end of the year. Not into winter fishing? Here are some ideas to stay busy this winter.
Good luck and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mid December Fishing Report-Take Advantage of the Mild Temps

Mid-December Fly Fishing Report

It’s mid-December and it feels kind of like mid-November should have. Air temps have increased a little and are forecast to remain that way until early next week.  Anglers looking to fish for steelhead are finding fish in the local rivers including the Betsie and Manistee. It sounds as if all rivers have some fish in them as they begin to winter over. Water levels are in good shape for this time of year after rain, snowmelt and a water table that is filled. This is a good time of year to fish with an eye on the forecast.
With the water temperatures in the mid-30s choosing a day with a little sunshine and/or mild overnight temps can have a difference – steelhead and trout do not like significant drops in water temperatures (2-4 degrees). As the fish pretty much get into their lethargic mode look for them in the deeper holes and just off the side into the slower current. Fishing a float/indicator with an egg and nymph combo is one of the best ways to get a drag-free drift to fish residing in that water. Those looking to swing flies are finding that some fish will still play the game – especially when fishing above wooden structure where some fish have taken up residence. As the water continues to drop, look for the window of successful opportunity to get even smaller.
Trout fishing remains strong on the Manistee as fish are eating the streamer knowing that winter is a head of them. Rather than fish the big, heavy sink-tip lines, use some shorter sink-tips to allow you to fish the streamer a little slower in the cold water. When you see a fish come behind the fly be sure to activate it with some shorter strips giving life to the pattern but keeping it an easy target for the brown and rainbow trout.
Good luck.