Next to my front door are pack-boots and sandals. While it’s been a few weeks since boots were needed, last week’s sandal wearing weather made the latest cool down feel like pack boots might be a good call in the mornings. Confused on the weather? So seem the steelhead.
What started off as a great steelhead season a few weeks ago with a good run-off of snow, the Spring run has become stagnate the past week with few fish entering the Manistee and Betsie Rivers. Yes, some fresh fish have moved through but with water temperatures being in the high 40′s and even low 50′s, they seem to come and go quickly. The increased water flows/levels have mostly tapered off and clarity has left us with a nice, sun-shielding stain.
I think we need a good rain to increase flows and bring in the next wave of fish – then again, this Spring’s weather has been unprecedented so no one really knows what is going to happen. I do know that few walleye and suckers have come into the Manistee and since they typically share the water with a large percentage of the Spring steelhead, there should be more chrome to enter the river in the weeks ahead. Last year’s run that extended strong in to mid-May provides hope and proof that a run can pause before starting up strong again.
Most of the fish are in the “Occupy Gravel” movement doing their spawning with some fish in the dark water nearby. Low light is best, but is nothing new. Flies have varied – fry patterns, caddis, black stones, and hare’s ears below egg patterns that are smaller and more realistic looking shades like nuke eggs in Oregon Cheese/Steelhead Orange are good bets. With decent water temps, the drop-back fish are moving to Lake Michigan swiftly – target these fish with buggers, leeches, small baitfish patterns and even some bigger eggs in tail-outs and runs. It should be a decent spring for those dedicated to swinging flies on the two-hander/spey rods with the high water temps.
Don’t forget that new fishing licenses are required 4/1/2012