Warmer weather and some significant rainfalls the past few days have combined with record winter snowfalls created very high water conditions for the region’s rivers. They are pretty much unsafe to wade right now and boating requires prudent measures – use your best judgment if heading out.
While the water came up and has pretty much no visibility, fresh fish have moved upstream. The Manistee below Tippy Dam is running over 6,000 CFS (it’s typically about 2,300 CFS this time of year) and is in the low 40′s as the fish start to hit the gravel for their spawning ritual. A positive aspect of the high water is a greater rate of natural reproduction due to less angling harassment providing more future steelhead for us all. Please practice catch and release if you make it out and the fish to the net.
The flies that had been working last week (caddis, stones, and BTS/fry) are lost in the stained water conditions found today. Now is time for big and bright egg patterns, leeches with some bright flashabou, and some of the classic steelhead fly fishing patterns from yesterday tied with estaz, pearl chenille, krystal flash and the like. Having knowledge of where the fish like to be this time of year is going to be the key to success when combined with a little luck. We have been getting away with heavy leaders and heavy rods as both are necessary since we are fighting both the fish and high water.