Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing
Trout Fishing on the Upper Manistee River

Manistee River Trout Report

This post will be our dedicated report page for the Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing. While this being our first entry and it’s middle of December it will probably be a few months until we can update this post again. But I would suggest adding it to your favorites because during the 2020 trout season and beyond this will be getting updated frequently . Also make sure to check out out Steelhead Report page for the Manistee River.

Winter Trout Fishing

Trout fishing on the Upper Manistee this past week, Dec 9th, 2019 we had water temperatures just around 37 degrees. We found streamers with a small amount of weight in them fished better than push flies or deer hair patterns. You need to get down and stay down with your presentation during the winter trout season. As is normally the case the Russ Maddin Circus Peanut was a first choice out of the box once we saw that fish were not going to climb in the water column. Even though the water had a perfect color to it and was slightly above average flow, fish were not in the kill spots. Structure was key, broken timber in 3-5 foot of water. We never had a fish come out of the DEEP stuff during the day. The half dozen brown trout that came to the fly all in the 15-18″ range, all came towards the fly with the intent to kill and pack on some calories before winter really sets in.

Guide Trips

If your looking to book a guide trip for the upcoming 2020 trout season make sure to get ahold of us soon. As prime trout dates fill up fast. If your also thinking about giving your loved one a guide trip for Christmas, we set up a online E Gift Card site, these are printable and show up in your loved ones email account. Any questions don’t hesitate to give us a call. Make sure to check back next week as new Mangled Fly merchandise will be coming out.

Happy Holidays

Jon Ray

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Latest update for the 2019 Fall Steelhead run on the Manistee River below Tippy Dam for early December . Water levels on the Manistee River jumped this week to 2700CFS and currently this morning are running at 2610 CFS. After last nights couple inches of snow, we are back into a winter steelhead program again. Fishing the last week wasn’t easy as water reshuffled the deck. But we did find a few new steelhead pushing into the system and trout fishing was pretty consistent near Tippy Dam as well.

Winter Steelhead Fishing

It’s winter time. Winter steelhead fishing has it’s pro’s and con’s. But the fact remains it’s one of my favorite times of year. Boat ramps are almost empty and their are plenty of steelhead in the river. It’s all about reading water speed and finding those easy current seams. No different if you fish high or low in the system is all about speed, not as much depth. Especially with rising water. Then I really like to hunt shallow runs. As steelhead that are sitting shallow are usually really aggressive.

Winter Steelhead Fishing should remain strong this year, with a good population around. Small streamers and Indicator fishing will be the main focus through out the next few weeks and later into December. Water has a good stain to it currently so bright patterns have been best. With Chartreuse leading the charge. This week the streamer bite was slow, but with cold high water that can be the case. Hope to get out a few days this week personally and see if I can dial it in a little better.

Steelhead Guide Trips

Steelhead Guide Trips are available all winter and it’s really not to early to start thinking about booking for next year. December, January, and February we will be offering 1/2 day trips for $325. Feel free to send me an email using the contact page , Call 231-631-5701 or get ahold of me via DM at Instagram or Facebook as well. Thanks for checking out the site few items remain on the Sales page if your looking for some Mangled Fly Swag added the Muskie T to the Sale items this week. Been trying to add a few images social as well, so follow along. Short clip and videos are in our Stories section of the day’s events as well.

Jon Ray

Northern Michigan Guide Service

Big Announcment

I have some very exciting news to share with you all! After 17 plus years of guiding for Chuck and Cherie Hawkins and Hawkins Outfitters, the time has come for me to venture out on my own. Mangled Fly will now be more than just a photo and video blog; it will be home to my full time fly fishing guide services as well.

Everything on the fly fishing side of my business will stay the same. I will continue to guide primarily on the Manistee River and have secured Federal and State access to all launches as well as using my Coast Guard license when needed. My SmithFly Raft, Huron Drift boat, and ‘Tiny Dancer’ Jet Sled will float the big water you all know and love as well as some of the smaller and less well known streams that Northern Michigan has to offer.

Over the next few weeks Mangled Fly will be getting a major facelift with a fresh logo and updated design and you are the first to get a peek at the new look. I will be updating the Mangled Fly website as well as all social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube (all searchable under ‘Mangled Fly’). I have loads of content in the works for these platforms including fresh imagery, fly tying tutorials, up to date river reports and seasonal fishing tips.

I could not be living this dream without the continued and loyal support of all of you. I am forever grateful for the hours spent in the boat together rowing, casting, storytelling, catching (and losing) fish, capturing great moments on film and video and enjoying the beauty that I am lucky to call ‘my office.’ I am so looking forward to this next leg of my journey and am happy to have you all along for this ride.

My new email is jray@mangledfly.com. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns regarding this transition.

Tight lines,


Manistee River Steelhead Report

Pic of the Day – New Steelhead Swing Colors

New Swing Colors

Hard to believe after this many years that it took me this long to find love with the color purple on the swing fly program. But 2019 I finally did it. Have to thank Brett Howard for pushing me over the edge. This color combination has been in the Great Lakes Steelhead swing game for many years, but I just didn’t seem to ever gravitate to it. Well now that I have had success I find my self tying it more often. If your looking to expand you color scheme in your fly box here is a quick fly recipe.

Once the season slows down have goals of expanding this section of the Mangled Fly Blog, more details more videos and better fly patterns that need to be shared. Good luck this fall and hope this color can make it into your box.

  • I use cotter pins with medium weight dumbbell eyes
  • Hook is a size 1 Mosquito by Owner, this year using braid 50# to attach
  • Barred Rabbit or Marabou in Purple
  • Also experimenting with a sparkle brush as an underbody currently (purple)
  • Flash is Grape , as much as you like. I don’t count strands
  • Ice dub head ( defiantly chartreuse as the finishing color, but pink and orange have both worked as the core color)

Mangled Fly Sale

Not everything but most everything is on Sale right now. We are clearing out the inventory to make room for new stuff coming soon. Fingers crossed before Christmas for some new items so make sure to come back and check out the new swag. But in the mean time get some great deals on the older models. Any questions let us know via the contact page or reach out to us on Messenger via Facebook or drop us a DM in Instagram.

Thanks again for checking out the site.

Pics and Videos of the Day – Jumping Steelhead

Jumping Manistee River Steelhead

Todays post is a few hightlights from the past few days on Mangled Fly’s social media accounts if you haven’t followed us go check out the feed we have been updating a couple times a week on Instagram and our Facebook page. Video above was shot this week on my iPhone as we got an up close look at a steelhead from the Big Manistee River. These fish this year have been strong and full of power and giving us plenty of acrobatic displays. Enjoy the video

Big Colored Bucks

Jeff Topp again with an impressive colored up buck. We refer to male steelhead as bucks for those that don’t know. Males will color up the most and display some really intense red coloration the longer they are in the river. This male has been around since the beginning of the run we would guess. Awesome looking fish, and great work Jeff Topp.

Michigan Fall Steelhead

Pic of the Day – Jeff Topp Steelhead

Check out this great fish from Guide Jeff Topp’s boat. Client is Steve B. with a Big Manistee River steelhead

Fall Steelhead

Fall Steelhead 2019 Update

Fall steelhead 2019 update. The Manistee River continues to fish pretty well for fall steelhead. The last few days fish numbers have slowed down as we haven’t received a push of fish in a few days, but with a good number of steelhead in the upper sections opportunity still prevails. While pressure remains high with other boats and anglers you have to have a good presentation to get the job done.

The egg bite has been the main tactic but the streamer rods have started to make it into the rotation as well. Craig had a exciting morning yesterday that I want to expand upon in the next blog. Working with a new single hand set up that I want to go into more details about. Craig as seen above in the picture gallery landed a nice Coho on a ESL (egg sucking leech) and wait to you hear about our other encounter. For those interested in the streamer / Swing bite, Steelhead have set up in the runs where we like them. At least I’ve been finding them in that type of water with the egg presentation. So I believe that the time is right to start hunting the fall steelhead run with both eggs and streamers.

Wish everyone the best of luck this fall, more updates coming. Hope to get to the single hand line combo blog this week as well

Jon Ray

Pic of the Day – Big Steelhead

Manistee River Steelhead

Well so far the Steelhead run of 2019 is very similar to 2018, they are big again. If you remember one of my posts from last year I have the same feeling for this year. The elusive 20 pound steelhead is going to make it’s entrance at some point. Yesterday we had a 15-16 pound steelhead give us everything we could handle with an extremely long run, where the backing knot sure was tested for a longer period in time than I’m comfortable with as a guide. That amount of line out of the rod on the Manistee River with all it’s log jams is never a good thing.

Jim my client did everything he could to just hold onto this beauty. After landing the steelhead everyone was in awe and a simple picture in the net is all Jim wanted. We revived this beauty and off she swam to continue on her journey.

As your headed out this fall be ready for some big battles. Good luck and continue to check back as we share a few pics and stories from the fall steelhead run.

Michigan Fall Steelhead

Fall Steelhead on the Big Manistee River

Back on the Big Manistee for the Fall Steelhead season, wanted to share some quick pics of the first few days back. First impressions are we have some big fish again this year. They are strong and hard to hold onto. Without a doubt these are my favorite fish to chase during the season, the speed and power of these Great Lakes strain of steelhead is truly impressive.

Check back through out the week as I will continue to post additional images and links. Also make sure to follow Mangled Fly on Instagram as we post additional pictures and videos on our Feed and Stories.

Still have a few open dates at the end of November as well and plenty of availability in December too. Open Nov dates are 26,27,29. Contact me if your interested. As reports from my charter lake captains is this run of 2019 Fall Steelhead should be special. Have a great fall!