After a long week of really high water and a bunch of cancelled trips the river levels have returned to just “high water” conditions on the Manistee, Betsie and Boardman Rivers. All that rain last week really brought a lot of run-off when combined with the snow that had been lingering around and in some cases, reaching new or close-to new stream-flow records. While the water level has decreased, you will find the water to be highly stained with limited visibility as well as a few collapsed river banks, new trees in the water and a new look to some of your favorite sections of water.
Steelhead – both fresh run and spawning fish are in the Manistee below Tippy dam, but you better know where they are since visibility is so poor. Providing we don’t get more rain, it should continue to improve in the days ahead. In the high water, really big egg patterns and big stones worked, and as clarity improves average sized eggs (6 & 8, Oregon cheese/orange), caddis and fry patterns have been working. We are still fighting the fish as much as we are the high water so try some heavier leader and hold on. I suspect the steelhead will offer us good angling opportunity through the first half of May.
This Saturday marks the beginning of Trout season in Michigan. After a number of average and sub-average winters and good opening days, anglers will find conditions to be behind a few weeks this year thanks to a long brutal Winter and a slow start to Spring. The water is up a bit and cooler than we would like.
Water temperatures are warming up into the upper 40′s on the upper sections of rivers with virtually no bug activity/emergences. Some warmer weather over the next couple of weeks will help get things on track. In the meantime, if headed to your favorite trout river/stream, make sure you have some streamers – always a great bet in the early season to feed unpressured and hungry fish. Pike, Walleye, early Bass and Musky season also opens, but be aware, most of the local lakes are still covered in ice.