Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Manistee River Steelhead Report
Steelhead Fishing Report on the Manistee River

Fishing Report

The Manistee River Steelhead Report for the last week of November has the Manistee River fishing as it should for late fall. Water levels and temperatures are about normal for this time of year. North winds are starting to blow and getting weather forecasts with snow in it. Basically meaning this is steelhead weather. Seems each week we get a nice 50 degree day still, but have a feeling those days are numbered.

Water flows are currently at a good level, but a little rain and a few clouds would be great for keeping the fish from staying buried in the wood all day. The Big Manistee is running at 1900 cfs with water temps holding in the low 40’s now. The Manistee River had even flows for most of the week, with a 3 degree drop in temperature. This weeks forecast looks steelheadish for sure with snow and rain in the forecast mid week.

Fall Steelhead

Fall Steelhead continues to be hard work. One day you find them deep and buried in the wood, and then on other days we have been finding them holding or moving in the shallower tail outs, honestly its been hard to find a consistent pattern. New fish again showed up but staying on top of them was hard, they have redistributed themselves throughout the system over the past week. Have been impressed how far fish are moving during the day in this water temp, you can be on fish one day and the next they are two boat launches up stream. But Fall Steelhead will do that, you can pretty much count on them to be migratory in nature. Curious fish that like to know what is around the next bend.

Swinging Flies

Still been throwing heavily weighted swinging flies and 15 feet of T-14 on a Skagit Intermediate Lines, to get the best results. Did have opportunities in the shallow runs, so have the T-12 packed and the light rod setup. Black based patterns made a big impression this past week, with UV Burnt Orange heads, but always like the Purple or Blue this time of year. Especially with more snow in the forecast . Want more ideas for tying swinging flies for steelhead make sure to pick up Kevin Feenstra’s New Book. Once I get my hands on it I’ll go into more depth, but I can promise you without actually seeing it that you will not be disappointed.

Booking a Guide Trip

If your looking to book a guide trip give us a call or shoot an email (231-631-5701) and email . Fall is one of our busiest times, we are booking Late November and Early December currently seeing some good reports about warmer than normal temps. Some of the best fishing of the year can be the next few weeks, as less anglers are around. Make sure to check back to this report and see how we are doing.

Jon Ray

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report
Upper Manistee River streamer fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report for the middle of November has the post spawn streamer bite picking up. The Brown Trout are finishing up their spawning rituals and are beginning to fatten up before the upcoming winter. Streamer fishing for trout was pretty good this week and we had lots of action especially with a much needed weather change as some clouds and rain moved into the area. The fish were active for us throughout most of the day and provided some pretty awesome visuals as the water was still low and clear before the heavy overnight rains. The long range forecast is looking promising for more productive outings moving forward as more seasonable weather is returning to our area.

Water Monitoring Stations

With some unusually hot weather finally moving out and more seasonable weather returning to Northern Michigan, water temps should drop back into the 40’s again rather quickly. The initial temperature drop may impact the Trout’s enthusiasm, but as things begin to stabilize look for the fish start getting active again. With some recent overnight rains water is on the rise and understanding how the river conditions can impact your fishing success and how temperature dictates fish activity are two variable to pay attention to moving forward.

With two water monitoring stations now located on the Upper Manistee River you should add this link here for temp and flow data near the CCC Bridge and you should also book mark the new USGS site at M72 to follow trends in water conditions when planning your next fishing adventure. As guides we use this information daily in aiding our decision making process when planning for our days on the water. Conditions dictate success and understanding what the conditions are before you arrive can help you make smarter choices regarding where and how you fish a certain piece of water.

This new site is going to be a very valuable tool for the longterm. Now that real time data is available at both water monitoring stations, anglers will be able to develop a better understanding of water levels as they relate to depth and how wadable a section of river is to the walk and wade angler for example. When you begin to understand what the actual cfs reading looks like from a conditions standpoint, you will also be able to visualize how high and dirty a piece of water might be. This is an important association to develop when trying to choose the best sections to fish as we move forward from our fall to winter streamer seasons.

Fall Streamer Fishing

The fall streamer fishing was pretty good this week as more seasonable weather has moved back into our region. Some recent rains have the river on the rise, but even in the low clear water before the rains the fish were very receptive to a stripped streamer. Catching a rise in stream flows is always a good bet when looking for good streamer conditions, but even stable flows in low clear water can produce some good fishing opportunities, especially during the late fall and winter times. Post spawn trout are often eager to chase and eat, so if you aren’t moving fish change your fly colors and sizes until you find something they want.

Our best flies have been small to medium sized streamers in the low and clear water. The best fly colors as of late have been the standard black, white, yellow, and even some odd ball brighter colors. Strip tempo and fly depth has been important and dictated by water temp, so if water temps are dropping go deeper and slower. If you can see the fish coming watch how they respond to your fly presentation as this can tell you a lot about the mood the fish are in. Lazy follows are usually due to presentation, vary your fly size and stripping speeds until you can get the winning combination for the day.

Transitioning to Winter Streamer Fishing

The longterm forecast shows a mild cooling trend that is predicted to extend into December. If this continues to hold true then the transition to winter streamer fishing for trout should remain pretty productive until we enter the true deep freeze of winter. This is a great time of year to hunt our larger fish with streamers, fishing pressure is lighter and the fish are typically in a peak feeding window as winter is closing in. Looking for little warmups and overcast conditions can improve your chances, but we have had good fishing during the winter months even on sunny days. The solitude of trout fishing is hard to beat, but if you are looking for something else to do in between deer hunts or steelhead outings it can be a fun alternative to the norm.

We will fish a lot of floating lines and weighted streamers in the late fall and winter while streamer fishing on the Upper Manistee. In the deeper sections we still like to fish heavier sink tips, but for low-clear conditions make sure you check out the New Sonar I/2/3 from SA. It has been fishing well for trout in the low-clear water and it will continue getting a good run later this winter if these same water conditions persist for trout. Check this line out at your local fly shop and put it in your arsenal this fall!

Trout Guide Trips

We continue to spend most our time on the Lower Manistee River for steelhead but with the latest long term forecast. Late November and December chasing trout with streamers should be good. You can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email.

New hats, zip-up sweatshirts, and new beanies (to be added to the site this week), so check out the latest new gear in the shop section of the website. Also if your looking for a holiday gift idea you can purchase your gift certificate for the 2021 season for now as well shoot us an email and we will send you the link.

Tight Lines,

Ed

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Trout Fishing

Pere Marquette Fishing Report
Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Fishing Report

Pere Marquette River Fishing Report for the first week in November as the Pere Marquette river is looking good! I was very surprised to see so many salmon still spawning. I knew that the salmon run was late but didnt think that the salmon would still be spawning this late into the fall. With that said we found that the steelhead and brown trout were no longer keying in on the salmons eggs. We found the majority of our fish in the wood. Slow deeper runs with lumber in them seemed to be the go.

Fall Steelhead

The browns and steelhead both looked very fat and healthy. After the fall egg drop and the dying salmon the entire river felt very happy and healthy. The bead egg bite was tough. Sorted through lots of colors and sizes with very little response. This should change as the water temps drop. At that point we decided to change methods and go lure fishing.

Minnow Bite

The fish wanted a minnow. A big meal. We spent the last half of the day moving and catching some nice fish. What a blast!! With the river conditions low and clear a quiet approach staying well away from the area you are targeting is a must. The river is clean, clear and very wadeable. This weekend’s weather report looks great for spending some time on the river. Take advantage: you never know when winter will decide to show up. Also, We have a few open dates for December fishing. Low angler pressure makes December a perfect time for a float. Be safe out there and good luck!!

Booking Trout Trips

Drop us an email if your thinking about booking a steelhead fishing trip on the Pere Marquette or Lower Manistee River. You can also give us a call at (231-631-5701) and we will get you on the water! We still have a few openings in November and December can be just as good if your looking to get out on the water. Also not too early to think about Gift Certificates for your favorite anglers for holiday gifts.

Jeff Topp

Scott Sector S 8107

Scott Sector S 8107

Scott Sector S 8107
Smallmouth Bass Fly Rod

Scott Sector

The Scott Sector S 8107 is one of the newest fly rods in the Scott Fly rod line up. The Sector series is geared toward the Saltwater market. Needing a new seven weight I decided to pick up the 8 foot 10 inch 7 weight in this new series. While understanding it’s one of the fastest rod actions in their lineup, it would give me diversity in my fly rod selection. If I have to be completely honest, I tend to lean heavy on the Scott Radians.

As soon as I picked up the Scott Sector S 8107 the first words out of my mouth were “man this is light”. Being a guy that is known to break pretty much anything, having the lightest usually isn’t what I’m most thrilled about. But after taking the Sector through a Hex season on the Upper Manistee and giving it a good test during the first part of my Smallmouth Season, this rod gave me a good first impression.

Positive Feedback

Scott’s all new Carbon Web technolody improves torsional stability and rod durability by encasing the unidirectional fibers in a web of ultra-light multi-directional carbon fiber.

As I mentioned the rod is super light, and the above quote from Scott Fly Rods gives some of the techie stuff that I don’t really understand, but makes it sound super fancy. What I know is that you can cast this rod all day, especially if you balance it with a light reel. I have a Ross Revolution LTX on the Sector I am running and it seems to balance well on this rod at 4.65 oz.

The next thing I noticed with the Scott Sector S 8107 is the stripping guides. I love a big stripping guide and these are some of the largest diameter guides I can remember seeing on a 7 weight rod. The Sector features all new CeRecoil stripping guides with nickel titanium frames and super slick Zirconia inserts, along with Recoil nickel titanium snake guides for low friction and corrosion free performance. The guide sets are PVD coated in a low reflective coating for even greater durability and stealth. Large guides allow greater line speed when you cast, thus a farther cast.

The S 8107 seems to team up well with the short quick line tapers that are now common from most fly line companies. I’ve been running the SA Glow Line during my Hex Hatch season, which is on the Frequency Magnum taper, and the SA Bass Bug Taper for my smallmouth fishing trips. These rods have very little swing weight and are great with short head lines.

8 Foot 10

I decided to go with the S 8107 because smallmouth bass was the main target for this rod, having a quick responding easy casting rod that can quickly fire into small pockets is what I was looking for with the Scott Sector S 8107. This is exactly the situation in which the Sector excels. This rod is fast, much faster than the Scott Radians, which I have to note here again is my personal favorite trout rod!

When I’m fishing topwater flies for Smallmouth Bass I like to make longer casts, chugging or popping the popper a few feet off the bank, and then quickly picking up the line and firing it back towards the shore. No complaints when it comes to picking up longer amounts of line with the Sector. This rod has handled every range of casts I have thrown at it.

Cons

Really the only cons of the Scott Sector S 8107 are some minor points, but really they are little facts about the rod that it actually wasn’t designed to do anyway. The rod seems too fast for dry flies and casting at slow rising trout isn’t really in its wheel house. While as a mousing stick I think it will do just fine, but jet setting on a trout with this quick stick seems to be a common occurrence. Also I wouldn’t buy this length if I planned on roll casting, the Sector is designed to be fast, so roll casting isn’t really what it’s known for. Also because the rod fishes so well with the short head fly lines we already mentioned, those lines to are not going to help you in the roll cast department either.

Overall Review

While the new Scott Sector S 8107 isn’t going to take the place of my Scott Radians during the Hex Hatch or even on my next trout streamer trip, it defiantly has a place in my arsenal. Especially when I know it’s going to be a long day of casting, the rod is so light and so far very durable. It casts tight loops, throws poppers and frogs into heavy cover, and has plenty of power to pull smallmouth bass away from logs and stumps. It’s going to be a great rod next time I get to travel again to the salt. If your looking for a fast rod the Sector should be first on your list of new fly rods to cast, so please go check one out at your Local Fly Shop.

Fly Fishing Insider Guided Podcast

Fly Fishing Insider Guided Podcast

Scientific Anglers

I am honored to be selected to be part of the Fly Fishing Insiders Guided Podcast series, this series features the Scientific Anglers Ambassador’s and Advisors . This being episode 15 in the series, the host of the show Greg Keenan and I decided to discuss Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass.

Smallmouth Bass

Greg mentioned he had not had the opportunity to interview anyone yet as it relates to smallmouth bass. I did my best to cover the different ways that I like to target smallmouth bass in Northern Michigan. Going over a few different lines and setups. A key tip I disclose is how I use smallmouth bass to help me later in the year show me those off the radar steelhead spots. Make sure to give the podcast a listen and let me know what you think.

Podcast

Jon Ray

Hendrickson Hatch

Prepping for Trout Opener

Trout Opener

With the Michigan Trout Opener quickly approaching, are you ready and prepped for Trout Opener? It seems like a simple question, but there is a series of steps you can follow to make sure you have covered most of your basic needs for success. My hope here is to outline some routine things I try to do while prepping for Trout Opener and the upcoming season. Spending a few short hours inspecting my gear aids in its performance and ultimately contributes to my overall success, especially on the Upper Manistee. The goal here is to eliminate the obvious shortfalls that will hinder our outcomes.

Fly Box Organization

Most of us spend our winter tying flies and trying to bulk up our fly inventories so we don’t have to spend as much time tying during our fishing seasons. This is a great way to pass the idle winter months and it gives us something constructive to do. One important step you can take prepping for Trout Opener and the upcoming season is to organize your fly boxes on a per “hatch” basis.

I will typically organize my fly boxes around a single “hatch”. For example, I will have one box that is completely focused on the Hendrickson hatch and another box for Sulphurs, and so on and so forth. In each of these “hatch” boxes I will have a sample of nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners in all the appropriate sizes and colors to match all the stages of each hatch. Having all of your fly choices laid out in front of you is a good way to determine if your fly selection has any shortfalls.

Another recommendation would be to carry a second box filled with basic “attractor” patterns. This box should contain an assortment of your favourite old stand-byes such as the Adams, Robert’s Yellow Drakes, Borcher’s Drakes, Stimulators, and Elk Hair Caddis. Organizing my fly boxes in this manner allows me to carry less as the season progresses from one hatch to the next. When we begin to transition from one hatch to another, just replace the previous “hatch” box from your vest or boat bag with the next series.

Prepping for Trout Opener
Organizing your fly box
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Ice Dub Minnow

Ice Dub Minnow

Tying Ice Dub Minnow

Our latest upload to our YouTube Channel is a super simple baitfish pattern that we call the Ice Dub Minnow. A favorite pattern to fish below Tippy Dam, but also works great below Hodenpyle Dam and in the backwaters for smallmouth bass on Tippy Pond. Of course these are only a few of our favorite spots, as it has worked really well for bluegills in the spring when they are shallow and pre-spawn.

If you honestly haven’t tried hunting big pre-spawn bluegills, and you want to test your skills this is a great activity during quarantine. No motor needed for this type of fishing. Get ready to be humbled by the big gills. Great casting practice before the big bugs start hatching on our trout rivers.

Kids Fishing

What also makes the Ice Dub Minnow so great is that you can easily teach it to kids and get them started in fly tying, but also it’s a great pattern to fish with kids, to get them a taste of fly fishing. As I mention in the video this minnow pattern really does fish well by itself, with a tiny split shot. I tend to like Sure Shot, but black bird shot will just work as well. Size No 4 or No 6, are both really small and easy to cast.

Let this fry pattern swing in the current with small twitches of the rod, and it will fish itself. Small minnows can’t swim very fast for very long, so they become easy meals for hungry trout. Fish this pattern in the shallows where small baitfish tend to hide. Good luck and Stay Safe.

Jon Ray

Tying Brown Drakes

Tying Brown Drakes

Brown Drake Video Series

Excited to announce a new video series to our YouTube Channel, this past week we focused on tying Brown Drakes. The video series is a 4 part series walking you through the step by step process of tying Ed McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner Pattern and McCoy’s All Day Dun . To make it easy we created a Playlist so you can watch all 4 videos in succession, make sure to smash that like button and subscribe to our channel as well. During this quarantine of 2020, have goals of uploading some additional content while also abiding to the social distance requirements.

Cutting Foam

The video series starts off with the simple process of cutting the foam, we filmed this video series back in February 2018 for the sole purpose of brining Montana Fly Company up to speed on how Ed McCoy was tying brown drakes. So not all the details were layout within the videos so please if you have questions about something please leave a comment and we will do our best to get back with you ASAP. Already one question that has been asked is what size foam are you using. The Answer is 2mm foam, so before you start tying Brown Drakes make sure you have the right size foam on hand.

Tying Brown Drakes, Cutting Foam

YouTube

As I mentioned before make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as more content is on the way. Also drop us a line and let us know what you might be interested in seeing. In the mean time stay safe, and we will see you on the water here soon. Thanks for following MangledFly.

Jon Ray

Chestnut Lamprey

Chestnut Lamprey

Chestnut Lamprey
Chestnut Lamprey attached to a Brown Trout

Chestnut Lamprey

The Chestnut Lamprey, Ichthyomyzon castaneus, is a Native Species commonly found in Lakes and Rivers throughout the Great Lakes region. They are considered to be an indicator species and their presence in a body of water has been closely associated with healthy clean water. There is, however, one negative component to their presence in a watershed and that is the negative impact they can have on fish populations during their parasitic phase.

The chestnut Lamprey has two primary life stages to complete its life cycle. The first life stage is the larval phase, commonly referred to as ammocoetes, in which the larval form is primarily a filter feeding organism. The larva will live in the fine and silty bottom sediments in slower backwater pools for an average of 5-7 years. When the larva reach 4-6 years of age they go through a metamorphosis and develop teeth and a sucking mouth disk characterized by the adult parasitic phase of their life cycle.

The metamorphic phase appears to take place from October through the end of January as the ammocoetes enter the second life stage as parasitic adults. As the water begins to warm up in April the larva exit their burrows and enter the parasitic feeding phase of their life cycle. The Chestnut Lamprey tends to be more active at night and during low light periods. Peak feeding periods for the adults range from May through July with some adults holding over until the following spring to spawn. The adult chestnut lamprey will continue to feed until the peak spawning season occurs from June to July. After spawning the adults will die and the cycle is repeated. (Hall, 1963)

Manistee River

In Michigan, most of our trout streams have an established population of Chestnut Lamprey, but, the Manistee River has been mentioned as having a highly abundant population in the upper portions of the watershed, especially from County Road 612 to Sharon Road. As the water temperature reaches 50 F degrees the adults begin to feed. (Hall, 1963) This temperature change coincides nicely with the obvious annual appearance of Chestnut Lamprey on the trout we catch throughout the first half of our trout season. Most of the trout in our streams will react to streamer patterns tied with a long and “leechy” appearance and lots of undulating movement in the materials.

Matching the Hatch

Chestnut Lamprey will range in size from 4-5” early in their adult development and will attain lengths of +7” at maturity. It’s not a coincidence that as the lamprey continue to become more active that the streamer fishing becomes more consistent for us, especially on the Manistee River. The trout are not only actively feeding at this time, but they are also combating the presence of an “alien intruder” that will parasitize them if they let their guard down! It is not uncommon to see some pretty exciting visuals while fishing “leechy” patterns at this time of year. Some fish will recklessly chase them out of their territory and oftentimes will strike with violent takes.

Take this information for what it is worth, but having an understanding of the natural phenomenon that occurs during this time of the year can only help you. Fly selection, fly movement, and presentation are all critical components to angling success and having one more arrow in the quiver can only be a positive. The Chestnut Lamprey life cycle is really just an example of one more hatch that you should pay close attention to as we move closer to the opening day of trout season here in Michigan.

Hall, J. 1963. An ecological study of the chestnut lamprey, Ichthyomyzon castaneus, in the Manistee River, Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Changing Floats based on Water Type

Changing Floats based on Water Type

I can still remember the day when the light bulb turned on and I finally understood the need to change my float to match the water type I was fishing. Changing floats based on water type isn’t something you hear much about. Actually it’s a simple change that can make a big difference, especially in the spring, when steelhead themselves are changing the water types they utilize.

Fishing Story

Let’s start with a real world scenario, or as I like to commonly refer to it, my lightbulb moment. It was December and I just spent the past 60 days fishing for steelhead on the lower Manistee River, the section closest to Lake Michigan. Most of those days were spent primarily fishing floats in the lower end of the river. I had my confidence rig all setup and ready to go and for whatever reason I decided to change it up and shift the guide trip towards Tippy Dam.

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