Upper Manistee Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report for the third week of February has us experiencing a very mild winter and mostly lacking snow.  With that being said the Upper Manistee River trout fishing has been good this winter.  The river is currently at or just below average flows and has a slight stain.  The water temperatures have ranged anywhere from the low 30’s to low 40’s. Water temps have been dependent upon ambient temperature and the amount of sunlight we get.  It looks like our area is going to receive another warming trend heading into March and I expect this trend to continue.   

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing

Streamer Fishing

The Winter Streamer bite has been decent on the Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing, especially during the warmer conditions.  With the unusually mild winter we are experiencing the trout have been more active.  Grinding through the slow periods until the next bite window has been the key to success, but the windows have been somewhat unpredictable.  The streamer bite has been primarily on mid sized baitfish and leech patterns.  Black, Tan, and Yellow were the most productive colors recently, but you need to play with color and size as it can change frequently.  

Normally I would shy away from sunny conditions, but this time of year it can warm the water and inspire short feeding windows. Warmer Cloudy days have been the best, but this time of year you just go when you can.  Water temps have dropped into the low 30’s so you need to slow down your retrieve and fish a little deeper.  Weighted flies are typically more productive for us during colder conditions, but some days the swim flies can get the most lethargic fish motivated to come take a look.  

Upcoming Spring Streamer Season

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing

The Spring is typically a peak time to fish Streamers on the Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing. However, spring has become sort of an anomaly over the past 5 years.  Our winters have become progressively milder and our seasons have shifted forward over that timeframe.  With that being said our fishing has been ahead of  what we would consider normal.  Based on the lack of snowpack and warmer weather we are having we are probably a solid two to three weeks ahead of that pace.  The streamer fishing in the spring can be productive at times, but you still have to approach the day with a mindset to grind through the slower times.  

It won’t be long and we will be matching the hatches on the Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing.  Early Winter Stones were rolling all afternoon, we didn’t see a rise, but a few more degrees and that becomes more of a possibility.  Spring fishing can be challenging at times, but it is a great time of year to be a trout angler.  Pursuing larger fish with streamers while waiting for an emergence of BWOs and Hendrickson’s can provide a mixed bag of opportunities.  It won’t be long before the hatches start to produce.  The longer days and sunshine are currently turning our thoughts towards the Upper Manistee River trout fishing prospects.

Didymo

Didymo on the Upper Manistee continues to be a problem with a high level of concern.  I would consider the whole Upper Manistee River System to be contaminated with this Diatom. There was new Didymo growth above CCC bridge and it has been documented as far upstream as Yellow Trees Landing.  The Didymo mats in sections below CCC are still breaking down and to my knowledge there isn’t any blooming like we saw in the 2022 season.  Didymo is considered a very resilient invasive species so you need to educate yourself on safe cleaning techniques.  River Users will need to clean their gear or anything that touches the water.  Didymo can easily be spread between watersheds and can be detrimental to our trout streams.

I would consider the ENTIRE RIVER TO BE CONTAMINATED and treat it as such. Clean, Drain, Dry your gear before entering another Body of Water.  Currently, there are no effective methods to eradicate didymo once it is established in a river.  To prevent spreading Didymo and other aquatic invasive species to new locations, it is critical for users to thoroughly Clean, Drain and Dry waders, equipment, and boats upon leaving a waterway.

  • Clean by removing mud and debris from all surfaces.
  • Use a 10% Solution of Dishwashing Soap with hot water for 10 minutes (Example 1 gallon of water is 12.8 oz of Dawn Soap). Then it must dry for 48 hours (mandatory if your fishing different water systems).

New Shop Items

Have a few new Items in the Shop, besides the Stickers, we have Night Fishing Leaders,  a new Assortment of Night Flies that is perfect for the wade angler, and coming soon the ultimate boat anglers Night Fishing Assortment (coming soon).

 

Trout Guide Trip

If you’re looking to book a Trout Guide Trip you can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email.  We are excited for the upcoming Trout Season.  We have openings for this Spring with limited openings during the prime drake season, so make sure to book your dates now!  Also make sure to follow along on our social pages and our online fishing report page . for more updates. 

 

Tight Lines,

Ed

Hooks for Steelhead

Top Steelhead Hooks

Hooks for Steelhead

Top picks for steelhead hooks, talk about a sticky topic! I’m sure this is going to open a can of worms, but I wanted to address this topic as it gets a lot of attention amongst our guide staff. Every day, no matter what we are fishing, every rig we tie starts with a hook. It doesn’t matter if we are tying up a batch of streamers for steelhead, or if we are twisting up a bead rig for Alaska or Northern Michigan. The hook is usually the first item we start with.

Hook choices have consequences! Personally, I know I will never run a B10S hook again for trout. I’m fine using it for smallmouth bass, but I don’t have a scientific reason for it. Basically it’s the same reasoning I use when putting my right sock on first followed by my left. The same holds true with our favorite hooks for steelhead. It’s not really about scientific findings, but more about having confidence.

In order to shed some light on choosing the best hooks for steelhead, I have included a list of hooks preferred by Mangle Fly Guides below. This list of hooks has been proven over time and is Guide approved. For the purpose of this discussion, we chose hooks you can use for both swing and egg fly presentations. My hope is this list will help you decide which hooks to use this winter to prep your spring steelhead box.

Streamer Hooks

Streamer fishing for steelhead is not easy and you typically must capitalize upon fewer opportunities. You need a hook that is strong enough to land the Big Boyz, but light enough for your fly to move properly. The following is a Guide recommended list of streamer hooks for steelhead.

  • Owner Mosquito – is our number one choice for steelhead swing flies. This hook is a top choice personally and for Ed McCoy and Steve Pels as well. Most importantly, this hook has proven to be strong enough to handle the biggest Manistee River steelhead. Another advantage with this hook is the light wire, allowing me to pull a high percentage of my flies back from the log jams on 16# fluorocarbon. I like this hook in size 1 for most of my steelhead streamer patterns.
  • Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap – this is another one of Ed McCoy’s go to hooks. Ed runs this hook in size 1/0 and 1. He likes the big gap and very positive hook up ratio on fish that eat the fly from behind. This is a great hook later in the season to capture those fish that are nipping at the tail.
  • Daiichi 2557 – This hook has a super sticky point and will not bend out on hot fish. It has an oversized eye and makes passing trailer wire through the hook eye very easy. As is the case with most of our swing flies, we use wire or braid to attach the hook to our shanks. Steve likes this hook from size 1 to 4.
hooks for steelhead
Streamers for Steelhead

Bonus Streamer Hook

The bonus streamer hook is a “baby treble” and I was scared of what might happen upon hooking up. Baby trebles in size 10 or 8 work really well and more or less pin the steelhead upon contact. This is one of my late season hooks that might ruffle a few feathers. I only run this particular hook when temps are dropping from 40 degrees into the 30’s. I prefer this hook for days when one bite is likely all we will see on the swing. When you’re searching for one bite and only getting lethargic tugs or pulls, this hook can save the day. Try this treble hook on your next cold front fishing trip.

  • VMC 9650 – I use this hook in size 10 and size 8. It’s super sharp and strong enough to land most steelhead. An added advantage to these light wire hooks is you will get all of your flies back from the many log jams along the Manistee River. Another bonus with this hook is the oversized eye makes passing wire or braid through them a breeze. One point of caution regarding this hook. I would not recommend using these treble hooks in October or during heavy spring run off, it will not hold. If the steelhead is super charged up it will bend them right out. Please understand, when you hook up with this hook you have to take your foot off the gas. You can’t pull as hard as you normally do with the bigger heavy wire swing hooks.

Egg Hooks

The meat and potatoes fishing in the Great Lakes area is with egg patterns. It’s not uncommon for me to fill the tackle box with 1000’s of egg hooks in my preseason orders. Having tried a slew of egg hooks over the years, here is where we stand currently on the best of the best.

  • Blood Run Tail Out Ed McCoy favorite hook for pegging beads. The Blood Run Tail Out works great in size 1 to 4. It has a straight eye, so snelling your knot is a top selling point here. These hooks are super sharp and they will not bend out! This is not as ideal when fishing around all the wood, but there is never a question in confidence when fighting big steelhead on our float rigs.
  • Raven Specialist – is Jon Ray’s go to hook when fishing beads.  Especially the size 6 option for size 10mm or 8mm sized beads.  The benefits of this hook are the smaller diameter gauge metal, along with the micro barb make for better penetration and great hook up ratio. This is the perfect all-purpose hook. It is considered the most dependable Steelhead hook on the market with its great hooking and holding power.
  • Owner SSW – when it comes to fishing beads and egg patterns, no one on our staff has more experience than Jeff Topp. Having guided in Alaska for over 22 years, when Jeff recommends a hook I listen. For bead fishing he likes the size 4 hook with 10mm beads and the size 6 hook with 6mm to 8mm beads. The number one reason he likes this hook is the wire. This hook has a very strong thin wire making hook penetration better for Alaskan Rainbow Trout and Manistee River Steelhead. This razor sharp hook serves him well from size 6 to size 1 depending upon the bead size he is fishing.

Closing Thoughts

With so many hook options available at your local shops to choose from it can get confusing. I know this is just a sampling of choices, but the idea here is to help you make educated hook selections. Over the last few years we have been tying fewer yarn eggs, but the same hooks we use for fishing beads also work really well when tying big rag style yarn flies. For instance, the red Owner SSW listed above is one of my favorites to tie oversized egg patterns on for Spring Steelhead.

Treble hooks in the fly fishing world are nothing new, but I personally had no experience with them back in the day. Ten plus years ago, when I first ran treble hooks, I was very nervous and pessimistic to be honest. What would happen to the steelhead? How torn up would the mouth of my prized fish become? Would my fly just get tangled up in all the treble hook points? Experience has played a big part in answering some of these concerns. For example, the bigger hooks listed above actually do more damage than the VMC treble hooks.

This current list of hook choices is what we prefer for most of our fishing situations. I’m sure over time I will edit this list as new hooks are forged and some of the old standby’s are no longer available. Please feel free to add your favorite hooks in the comment section below and thanks again for checking out the blog.

Jon Ray