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.

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Manistee River Steelhead Report
Spring Steelhead Fishing

Coronavirus Pandemic and Guide Trips

With the global outbreak of the coronavirus now hitting close to home for every American, Michigan and several other states have issued a “shelter in place” order to try and ease the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order in Michigan has mandated that all “non-essential Businesses” must cease all operations from March 24th to April 13th. This is subject to change based on how things proceed from this point moving forward. We at Mangled FLY hope everyone continues to do their part to prevent the transmission of this disease and we hope everyone continues to remain safe and healthy thru these trying times. We will resume our guiding services when the order is lifted by the state. We will try and update the fishing conditions as best as we can, so please be patient on awaiting new reports during these trying times.

DNR

The State of Michigan has been encouraging people to continue to recreate outdoors using CDC approved social distancing practices. The Michigan DNR has been promoting the use of its outdoor resources and has encouraged people to engage in fishing, hunting, and general outdoor activities across the state. Yesterday Tippy Dam area was closed as you can see by the post above my Jay Wesley with the DNR.

Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead bookings have been put on hold at this moment due to the recent Governors executive order. Feel free to contact us regarding any future bookings and if you have a special someone who you know is itching to hit the water we are seeing a request for Gift Certificates towards future trips, (231-631-5701) and email requests are welcomed!

The next 3-4 weeks will be trying times as we navigate through the great unknowns, but we will get through this and we will be looking forward to fishing with everyone in the near future. Take care, stay healthy, and get outside and enjoy nature. This is a perfect time to disconnect from the the TV and Social Media and enjoy some self reflection, family time, and fly tying. We look forward to more positive times and getting back on the water shortly.

Tight Lines,

Ed McCoy

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Steelhead Fishing

Pere Marquette Fishing Report
Pere Marquette Spring Steelhead

The Pere Marquette fishing report for the week of March 22nd, has us into Spring officially. As the season is moving along, so is our view of the world. Some interesting times, to say the least. At Mangled Fly we are going to try to update the reports on a more frequent bases than our once a week norm, to give anglers staying at home something to take their minds off of “the world” for a few minutes and think about the rivers and fish we enjoy to fish and chase. First and foremost be safe out there! Second, as we have some extra time on our hands, if you want to see anything different (videos, articles, blogs) drop us a line. Over the next few weeks, with cancellations happening we hope to get some new media and content published. We are looking for ideas.

Fishing Report

The fishing report for the Pere Marquette river is first of all its in great shape! The water level is slightly up and the color is perfect! This week it was on the drop, but after rain and more snow melting the Pere Marquette jumped back up. Online water data for depth and temp that we use can be found in the link.

Steelhead have really hit the gravel areas hard, as spawning is occurring in all the known sections. Not many new chrome fish, but plenty of holdover winter fish. Did hit a bright chrome fish yesterday (Saturday) in a mid river moving slot that lite us up pretty good. Early morning before the sun gets to high been hitting moving spots with really bright egg patterns, on the first cast this bright hen hit like a fall run chrome torpedo. We didn’t land that one.

With plenty of spawning going on already, we did hit our first drop back as well this week, in a classic drop back spot. Always fun to fish for drop backs, as these fish love a variety of tactics and especially minnow patterns. Dead drifting fry patterns (bigger than normal as dropbacks are not picky) can lead to success. This fly was more tied euro jig or jig style. On the new Firehole 523 size #6  that I picked up. Using a 7/32 5.5 Tungsten Bead (white) and tying up a simple fry pattern with grizzly marabou and an ice dub hot spot. One of the flies that I hope to get filmed, as more jig style hooks are coming out. The Firehole has been really nice, barbless but nice and strong. The 5.5 bead is heavy, really heavy so fishes well in fast deep water. Perfect for under a float in spring water types.

Coronavirus Pandemic

With the global outbreak of the coronavirus everyone has concerns and no one wants to be deliberately exposed to this virus. With that being said we are continuing to run our business based on a daily assessment of the outbreak. If things begin to get out of hand and you have dates booked with us we will be in touch with you personally on how to proceed. If you have travelled to or from any hot spots and are waiting on a test result, please let us know ahead of time and please refrain from traveling here until you get your test results confirmed. If you are feeling sick or “off” and/or have some genuine concerns regarding your upcoming trips please feel free to reach out to us and we can discuss other options. Now with that being said we want everyone to be safe, be healthy, and to make smart decisions based on your own health and for the greater community. Please continue to stay safe out there.

Booking Spring Steelhead & Trout Trips

Drop us an email if your thinking about fishing this Spring or early Summer post virus season, or use the Contact Page to request a day. Also feel free to text us at 231-631-5701 for open availability. Spring Steelhead should peak here soon, but still have openings and with streamer success on Upper Manistee already we will be breaking out the streamer rods on the PM too.

Jon Ray

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report
Early season streamer fishing trips

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing report for late March has us busting through some snow and ice to get into the ramps. But with some 4×4 and a little elbow grease we got the drift boat into the Manistee River once again. Have reports that most of the launches are open, except maybe Tree Farms still, but with the rain yesterday that snow bank blocking the access could be manageable now.

Spring Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

One of the keys to Spring Trout fishing is water temperatures as you can see by the graph this past week we had our best success when temperature was on the rise. This week we hit 41 degrees on my temperature gun and that was the best day of activity we had.

River data for the Upper Manistee can also be looked at online at this link. They are still working on getting a good signal for all the data to load consistently but hoping by summer to fix all the problems. The probe is located downstream of the CCC Bridge a few bends. Giving you an idea for water temperature and level.

Streamer Fishing

With warm weather next week it will be a good week to get out again and chase trout, with streamer fishing being the main tactic. Early season patterns you can never go wrong with sculpin / goby imitations, take your favorite pattern and try a black head on it. As male sculpins and gobies when they spawn in the spring have very black / dark heads.

We noticed this week that we had to have lead on our patterns to get the most attention. With cool temps and dropping water most of our trout were located in deeper darker slots. Most of them would not come up for the flies, you had to get the fly deep to get them to chase.

Trout Guide Trips

With Steelhead hitting their prime on the Lower Manistee and Pere Marquette , we always welcome a change of pace and venturing to the trout water is a welcome adventure. If your looking to book a trout trip give us a call, 231-631-5701 or shoot us an email.

Stay Safe

Jon Ray

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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Dry Flies for Trout

Dry Flies for Trout

Dry Flies

As many of you already know, in 2019 I entered a new partnership with Montana Fly Company to produce and sell some of my favorite patterns. Last season I released several new Dry Flies for Trout. These new releases are patterns from my personal arsenal that I rely upon heavily for catching fish within our region. I am excited to have Montana Fly Company producing and selling my signature fly patterns as we move forward, the quality and attention to detail is second to none! Their is a limited quantity available for sale on our site, but please shop local at your nearest Fly Shop.

The flies that I currently have in production are available in two series. All of the flies are foam based Mayfly patterns that are designed to be fished all day with a touch of realism and an impressionistic silhouette that fish can’t resist. They are all mainstays in my arsenal and have been tied in multiple forms to imitate the Isonychia, Brown Drake, and Hex hatches that are found in Northern Michigan.

Here is a breakdown of all the flies that are currently available through MFC to complete your arsenal of Northern Michigan dry flies for trout . Ask your local fly shop about these patterns and pick some up today!

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McCoys Boondoggle Spinner

McCoys Boondoggle Spinner

New Fly Release

McCoys Boondoggle Spinner
McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner – Burgundy Isonychia

Montana Fly Company New Fly Release for 2020 – McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner – Burgundy Isonychia

I am very excited to announce a new fly pattern that will be released by Montana Fly Company in 2020! This fly will be available in two sizes and will help to fill the Isonychia spinner gap in a series of foam based dry flies that I released through MFC in 2019. The McCoys Boondoggle Spinner is very durable, has an irresistible profile, and is generally a must have pattern for the streams in Northern Michigan. Check with your local fly shops for availability, a limited quantity is available here online at Mangled Fly.

Shop Local

As with anything new it can sometimes be hard to predict demand so make sure to stock up before the supply becomes limited. If you are having difficulty finding the McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner pattern or any of my other fly patterns locally, please drop us a line and we will do our best to help you get these dry flies in your fly box for the upcoming season.

More Flies

Look for several more fly releases with MFC in the near future as I have been expanding upon some old favorites and tinkering with some new stuff for release. Good luck with all of your angling pursuits throughout the upcoming 2020 fishing season!!

Ed McCoy

Mangled Fly Guide Service is growing

Jeff Topp and Ed McCoy

First let me start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year from Mangled Fly! Secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to make an exciting new announcement. Mangled Fly would like to welcome two new members to the team! Allow me to introduce fellow guides and new team members; Capt. Ed McCoy and Capt. Jeff Topp. With the addition of Ed and Jeff, Mangled Fly will be expanding its guide services to include an expanded diversity of angling experiences, more capacity to facilitate multiple boat trips, and more importantly two additional guides with a wealth of experience and knowledge of our local waters.

These are exciting times for us with the New Year and a new outlook heading into 2020! We encourage everyone to continually check out the Mangled Fly website and especially the updated guide pages to familiarize yourselves with Ed and Jeff. We are very excited about the new additions to the team and we are looking forward to the upcoming fishing season. Follow the Mangled Fly fishing reports and our fellow team members on their social media platforms to stay up to date with all of the local fishing conditions in our area. Mangled Fly wishes everyone a Fishy 2020 and Tight Lines as we continue to pursue our passion for teaching the art of angling!

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,

JR

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)