Trout fishing has been improving now that water temps are where they should be for this time of year and the various mayflies, stoneflies and caddis flies seem to be closer to being on schedule after a slow start to the season. The rivers are in good shape – they aren’t too high, or too low. Clarity is beginning to become an issue with the high sun and lots of it.
On the Upper-Manistee a handful of bugs can be found – typically in the last hour or two of light offering some technical but rewarding dry fly fishing: sulphurs, grey drakes, little yellow stones, caddis, great mahoganies, little mahoganies, medium brown stones and a few isonychias. This menagerie of bugs will keep you working through your fly box as each day – and even at times of day – they often have a distinct preference on which one they want to eat. Spinners have been collecting in the evening and falling to the water providing the most consistent flow of bugs – dark brown or rusty spinners in a variety of sizes from 12 – 16 are a must in your box right now and are a good place to start when tying on your first fly.
Pond and lake fishing for bluegill/panfish has been really good now that the fish have moved up into the shallows. Look for water near breaks and cover the structure – that is docks, fallen in trees, weed lines, etc. Some pike and bass will play along too, so either target those bigger fish with larger rods and flies or hold on when they eat the bluegill you are trying to land. Surface flies have been the most fun and productive, but the small streamer and nymph have been most effective on the larger panfish.
Carp and smallmouth bass fishing is still sputtering in Grand Traverse Bay as water temps are much lower than normal for this time of year. One day they are around and eating, the next day not to be found. Weather is crucial as the sun warms the water up and wind direction blows warm or cold water into the shallows – the fish like the warmer water. Some crayfish are moving around and work better on cruising fish as they are easy to see by moving fish, however the smaller: crayfish, swimming hex nymphs, black b.h. buggers do better when the fish are nosing around in the shallows and focused on eating. Smallies are still cruising the flats but have largely remained pretty elusive so far this year for the wading angler.