It’s December, but the rivers are acting like it’s still November thanks to a mild fall. After some significant rainfall last week (it would have been a lot of snow!) and a bit more since, the rivers came up but have since dropped to just above normal for this time of year.
With the rain came a “shuffling of the deck” – that is, the steelhead moved around throughout the river systems. Steelhead are scattered throughout the Manistee system and can be found in a mix of water types as they begin to transition into a late fall/early winter pattern. Fresh fish that are migrating up with the water will remain in the bubble lines and cross-overs where fish that have been in the system are starting to make the deeper water of holes their preferred residence. Look for fish to move towards structure as they get into a winter pattern as water temps drop. Thankfully the majority of the rain that fell last Thursday was warm leaving the water in the low 40s.
This is a good time of year to target the steelhead with a number of different techniques including floats/indicators, bottom bouncing/Duck-and-Chuck, and swung flies as you can target a variety of water. Eggs still are working but a nymph bite has become stronger. As for swung flies: brown with copper and Olive with gold have been working.
Trout fishing remains an option for those looking to extend their season especially with the mild temperatures. Conditions below Tippy Dam remain good for those looking to fish streamers for some chunky browns and the occasional steelhead. White baitfish patterns like Dirty Hippies – Rainbow, CF Minnows – Rainbow, and Half and Halfs in gray/white/grizzly have been producing.