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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

TK's Traverse City Area Fly Fishing Report-Manistee, Boardman and Grand Traverse Bay

Early June Fly Fishing Report

With June here, anglers will find that the rivers are running full after some much needed rain throughout the week. The weather has been up and down, but the forecast is calling for stable and, well, fish like stable.
On the upper Manistee there has been a smattering of bugs coming off – light Hendricksons, Sulphurs, Mahogany Drakes, March Browns and Medium Brown /Golden Stoneflies.  With the increase in water flow the trout are focusing more on what’s below the surface eating worms, lamprey and their own making streamer fishing more effective than surface fishing right now. As the bugs build, the water level drops and clears, look for some of the year’s best dry fishing in the evenings.  And don’t forget about the big bugs just around the corner – Isonychias and Brown Drakes – you should have some in your box just in case they show up while you are on the water. Learn more about early June Hatches here. The other bug that has emerged recently is the mosquito – make sure you have some repellent with you.
The bluegill fishing remains popular and a lot of fun for those looking to fish closer to home. With fish in shallow water on local lakes and ponds, the surface activity can be close to non-stop. It’s not always a slam-dunk so cover water and switch flies until you find fish that want to eat what you are presenting. With a lot of pollen and seeds on the surface when the wind isn’t blowing your best bet is going sub-surface so your fly isn’t gummed-up and the fish can actually see it. Have some mid-sized poppers with you if the small fish are beating the larger ones to the fly.
Carp fishing is just on the edge of kicking in. Some fish have slipped into the shallow water flats of Grand Traverse Bay but the consistent fishing is just around the corner. The carp are probably the best example of fish that like stable – not only the weather but water temps, so wind direction is imperative when deciding when and where to fish. A few smallmouth bass are cruising the flats too while in the pre-spawn stage so keep an eye and fly out for them when fishing.
Good luck.

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,