Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report below Tippy Dam

Spring Steelhead are here

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Steelhead fishing Below Tippy Dam

The Manistee River fishing report below Tippy Dam for the middle part of February, gave us our typical roller coaster spring weather.  One day bright blue bird sunshine and pleasant.  Next day some heavy snow and blowing like crazy.  But what are you going to do.  Fishing this week was up and down as well.  One day they were smacking at everything I threw the next was grind it out and only find one.

Looks like the next 15 days will be more normal air temps, with 30’s and maybe a touch of 40.  But with the Big Manistee River already running 37 degrees the spring thing has started. Give us a call 231-631-5701 leave a voicemail or drop us a text message and we will get right back with you.

Manistee River

Currently the Manistee Water Water Levels  dropped slightly this week , we are currently at 1570 CFS.  Manistee River looks good, for spring I would call it clear for the most part with a little green.  Lower end has slight more stain to her,  coming in from a few of thee tributaries. Manistee River continues to run in the mid to upper 30’s, and with a good forecast for fishing coming up, fishing should stabilize .

This week more adults, than the week before when I couldn’t get out of the skipper train.  My wild to hatchery ratio is now 83 / 17 .  Had mostly wild fish this week, with plenty of females to be had. 

Egg Flies no Bug

No bug bite this week for where I went, did not see any wiggling early black stones this week, so egg bite was my best.  Playing the color game each day had to dial in what they wanted.  Color was more key this week than size.  Compared to the week before when size played a bigger role.  This week if I found the color we could generate a bite.  Fun how that game is played each day out.

As we approach March the no bug bite thing will fade.  River will continue to warm up and more and more bugs will start to hatch.  Been getting the Alevin’s ready.  As the amount of salmon that spawned last fall, we should have a banner crop of salmon parr to play with.

Manistee River Steelhead Report

 

Booking a Trip

Manistee River below Tippy Dam is one of the best west side steelhead rivers in the state of Michigan.  Mangled Fly guides are starting to book Spring Dates so please give us a call at (231-631-5701) or shoot us an email Guides are open to a full or 1/2 day trips in February .  

We have a new sticker too check out in the shop , this sticker is pretty cool so make sure to get yours today.  Also have new this year hand tied Night Leaders for those of you that like the mousing for brown trout.  We also put together a Night Fishing Assortment that saves you a few $$’s and comes with a easy box to store them in.

Jon Ray 

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Hello fishing friends! Here is the latest Pere Marquette Fishing Report. 

​ The Pere Marquette river is crazy low and clear. Floating it yesterday showed everything. We could see to the bottom of the deepest holes. Great for education but hard to get a bite. With the low clear conditions stealth mode is a must. We had to lengthen our leaders to double the normal length. Also going lighter on tippet seemed to help. The quiet approach to say the least.

Steelhead Fishing

The steelhead fishing was tough. Finding the fish in the darkest water we could find. Concentrating on the runs with the most lumber in them seemed to be key. Beads under floats with long leaders produced some nice opportunities. Also lures and streamers had some looks. The lures and streamers allowed us to get into the logs further and trick a couple of low water fish.

Brown Trout

The brown trout bite was good in the am. We moved some very nice trout on lures and streamers. The browns are wanting to be in the sticks. Every trout we moved came out of the deepest log jams. Minnow patterns in olive, yellow and pearl worked. All dull baits with little to no flash. The weather for sure had an impact on the bite. With the water being low and clear pray for clouds! The new weather pattern bringing some good rains should change the river conditions for the better. Some new sweet water should shuffle the fish and bring some fresh steelhead into the river. Now is a great time to get outside and enjoy some time on the water.

 

Take advantage of the mild start to the winter.

Tight lines Capt. Jeff

Summer Smallmouth Fishing

Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

As we get into the dog days of the summer in Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass on the big water of Grand Traverse bay I have to be honest got tough.  I knew that my first year on the bay I would have periods of “learning”.  I don’t mind these periods of learning as lessons will come about, and patterns of understanding these fishes behavior are processed.

The last few with smallmouth moving to some of the deepest water has made it hard to get them to play.  Finding fish hasn’t been the problem.  But getting them to interact with my presentation has been the challenge.  While I’ll keep testing my skills over the next 6 weeks until Steelhead Season starts on the Lower Manistee, I did jump back into the river action the last few weeks.  With really low water this summer, smallmouth are definitely grouped up.  Lessons learned last year with low water prepared us for what to have ready in the fly box this year.

Grand Traverse Bay Smallmouth

Grand Traverse Bay Smallmouth Fishing

Northern Michigan smallmouth bass the last few weeks on the bay has been a challenge.  As learning the deep tactics has been a process.  But knew this process was going to take years to learn.  With a high percentage of the fish in deeper water than we have fished the majority of the season, getting them to interact with our presentation has been a struggle.  With water temps at their warmest of the year, learning how to find colder water has been the challenge.

Like I said I have about 6 weeks until the river calls with steelhead trips, so still have some limited time to learn how to catch the late summer smallmouth.  Do have a couple tricks I want to try here in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for updates.

River Smallmouth

River fishing for smallmouth bass

River fishing for smallmouth bass

With the bay given me a few speed bumps we transitioned to some of my old beats, I guess you would say comfort zone.  Bouncing around a few different river systems we found some good smallmouth bass fishing even with the low water.  Food sources that have been working the best pre and post full moon were on two different spectrums.  Pre full moon you couldn’t touch a fish on a baitfish pattern, it was all about the spicy crabs or crayfish patterns.  But since the full moon, mega amounts of baitfish have bloomed and smallmouth are hunting these bait balls.

Continue to play with the Donkey Rig I talk about in this Northern Angler Fly Tying session , I need to get this tutorial done on our YouTube page.  One of my favorite rigs to run late summer.  Have another rig that is in it’s infancy phase, that I truly believe can work on the bay as well.  Just need to dial the flies and leader setups.  But fall baitfish is a key trigger on most of our lakes and rivers.

Booking a Smallmouth Trip

Interested in booking a Smallmouth Bass Trip or going for Lake Trout on light tackle, drop us a message via email, or text/call us directly 231-631-5701. We have open boats available this Summer and Early Fall for targeting Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass.

Jon Ray

20 pound steelhead

Best Fishing Images of 2021

best fishing of 2021
Best Fishing of 2021

Best Fishing Images of 2021

I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a “best of our fishing images” collage from 2021 from our Instagram Feed. These are the highest liked images from 2021. If you’re not on Instagram or do not follow us via social media, here is a chance to see some of our best liked images. I thought I would go thru a couple of images and expand upon their meanings to us this year.

Also make sure to read until the end, as Ed McCoy goes into detail about a sea monster he has captured two years in a row on the Upper Manistee while mousing the last two years.

  • 20 Pound Steelhead – top left image and I believe the most liked image from the whole year. First these don’t come along very often, actually for me personally I have never seen a 20 pounder in the boat. With 20+ years of guiding, and too many personal casts to count I’m still on the hunt. Read more about this awesome guide trip below as Steve Pels goes into more depth about this once in a lifetime fish.
  • Big Muskie – Always a great adventure is our month of Muskie fishing, this year was no different as Brian Pitser of The Northern Angler landed the biggest fish on the season, middle image on the top row. This fish was pretty cool, because it was a blind figure 8. Brian did an amazing job of making the big circles required to get this fish to eat his fly. Not only do these fish make great images, but the flies we throw are fun to photograph as well. As you can see on the middle bottom row. Chicken’ sized offerings are sometimes required, bring your big boy rods to this party.
  • Underwater Image – every year I always wish I shot more of these, well this year I made a small purchase of new equipment and so far so good. Top right was my first day using the Axis Go and even though a few of my other shots didn’t make the top 2021 images they are my personal favorites.
  • Middle Row – is all about the steelhead and for Best Fishing Images steelhead are some of the best images I can get for the likes on the Instagram. Middle row shows of a big spring buck, a true awesome winter specimen , and a big late fall buck that we recently just landed. We are lucky to have these fish in Michigan, and thank you to all that helped us with the new regs and let the DNR and NRC that these fish mean so much to us.

20 Pound Steelhead Highlights

20 pound steelhead
20 pounder on the swing

One of the more memorable days in my boat occurred in mid November 2021. My clients were new to me and from our correspondence they have always wanted to try spey fishing but were unsure about it on this trip, thinking indicator fishing could be a good alternative. The night before our trip I double checked about spey fishing and told them that the conditions had been tough, with very low and clear water, not a huge amount of new fish coming in from the lake and a major temperature drop over night. After a short conversation about the challenges we were facing, they responded, ‘let’s go for it.”

On the run upriver in the morning my motor was acting up so I decided to stop sooner than I would have liked at a new run that I had not fished very much. I knew from conversations with my peers that the spot had major swing potential. After arriving to our first spot, we rigged up the spey rods and I began going through the basic mechanics of the cast, how we rig our rods and I jokingly explained rules numbers one, two and three if your fly gets grabbed. Rule 1: “Don’t do anything.” Rule number 2: “Don’t do anything.” Rule number 3: “Only do something when Steve tells you to.” We were getting into a good rhythm of cast, swing and step. My clients caught on quick and were getting their casts and swings dialed in. On our 8th anchor drop, the morning silence was broken by the most gratifying sound of short reel bursts, “ZZZzztt, ZZZzzt, ZZZzzt.” My first response is always, “leave it, leave it, leave it” but at this point, the fish was most likely already hooked. After a few more solid pulls and one sustained scream of the reel, I said, “go ahead and give me a light lift, it’s on!” The fish was clearly not pleased with its situation and proceeded to take multiple runs, jump 7 times and once we thought we had it beat, gator rolled and threw the hook.

Again silence filled the boat. We remained positive throughout the remainder of the day and had a lot of fun telling jokes and getting to know each other. Runs number two through four produced no action and I knew we were losing time. Run number five was a confidence spot and on our 3rd anchor drop my client fishing from the bow gets a promising rip. Then nothing. We worked that spot thoroughly, while thinking that was our last chance. Our time was up for the day but on the way out I thought, we have to hit one more, another confidence spot. We fished another hour after quitting time and I announced “two more casts guys.” On the last casts we were letting the flies hang down a little longer than normal and we admitted that it turned out to be a good swing day – they were pleased they learned how to cast and both got to feel the raw power of a swung fly take. Out of nowhere, the client fishing from the stern froze, his reel was screaming, I said nothing and he confidently lifted the rod, knowing that fish was on.

Its first run took us nearly to backing and each time it neared the boat, ran downriver like it was headed back to the big lake. The fish was tiring, never jumped, but as we were winning the battle, it would make large boils on the surface with its attempt to flee. Finally, the fish neared the boat and I saw a massive silver flash of its flank, I said “big lift!” and with a swift scoop of the net, we had it. This was not an average steelhead, I thought to myself, easy 16-18 pounds. But after lifting it out of the water for a quick photo and measurements, it turned out to be a 36.25” by 20 pound gorgeous wild female. A personal guide/client best in my boat and one that my client and I will never forget.


Two Years in a Row, same trout

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report
Robert P. From 2021
Night Fishing
Tim O. From 2020

2021 posed a lot of “interesting” scenarios on our local Trout water.  Low water, big cold fronts in May, intense heat in early June, then followed by a wet and warm late season.  Robert P. Joined me for a couple of nights mousing in August and he landed a personal best and the season’s best Brown Trout on our second night.  This fish was truly a treasure, but after further inspection and a gut instinct, it occurred to me that Tim O. landed this same fish in 2020!  So what’s the big deal? You knew the exact location where this fish lived, right?  The cool part of the story is this fish was caught about 13 miles upstream from her 2020 location!  

Kind of a cool story and it makes you think, why the big move?  There are lots of factors that play into fish movement, but my best guess is this fish is just nomadic by nature. It also illustrates the importance of catch and release angling allowing future anglers to enjoy the opportunity at a fish of a lifetime!

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!