Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

Grand Traverse Bay Fishing

Smallmouth bass fishing on the Bay this spring was not easy, with so many different variables to still learn.  I total understand that taking my lumps along the way is part of the journey.  Saying that we still have a few great months ahead of us to make up for a slow start.  This week had a chance to get out and explore.  Water temps in the area I was playing at were barely in the 60’s, and most of the smallmouth that we played with were still pre-spawn.

Owen of Clear Water Anglers found this really impressive rainbow trout in less than 4 foot of water.  As we netted the rainbow it threw up a goby, so even rainbows like this invasive food source.

With still a few weeks of spawning activity on the bay, you can count on finding post and pre-spawn behavior.  This is not the case on the Inland Lakes near the Traverse City area.  We are for sure post spawn on the Inland lakes.

Inland Lake Fishing

Northern Michigan smallmouth bass are eager on all inland lakes to play with top water.  Especially early and late in the day, big dragonflies and small baitfish imitations are a great place to start.

Also be aware hex are still a major factor on inland lakes.  This food source is a great recovery food after the spawn.  Lots of them and an easier meal than chasing baitfish or crayfish.  Look for bass near muck flats and tall grasses.  .

Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

 

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 if your want to fish for Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass.

Jon Ray

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

 

Hello Fishing Friends! It is the time of the year to get the dry fly box out. In the evenings we have seen some ok hatch fishing. This style of fishing should improve as the weather warms up. Look for Gray drakes, Sulfurs and stone flys to begin any evening now. It is the time to chase monsters at night on top.

Streamer Fishing

The streamer fishing has been good on cloudy days. We have moved a good number of trout on minnow patterns, olive and white streamers and yellow based streamers. Start early and fish the timber. Brown trout love to chase their prey and ambush them from the logs. The lure fishing is slowing downa bit. We had a good spring on lures. Historically as the bugs start to hatch the lure bite gets slow. If the lure game is your favorite way to fish you should plan to start as early as possible. The trout will chase early before the sun breaks the trees.

Headed to Alaska

As the insect life gains power the lure bit usually suffers. This will be my last report before I leave for Alaska. This will be 28 years of guiding up there. My second home is at Anglers Alibi on the Alagnak River. Thank you to everyone that fished with us this spring! i’m looking forward to spending the day with you guys this fall. Be safe and tight lines

Capt. Jeff Topp

 

 

 

 

Manistee River Steelhead

Manistee River Steelhead Report below Tippy Dam

Manistee River

smallmouth bass below tippy dam

Trout/Bass fishing Below Tippy Dam

The Manistee River fishing report below Tippy Dam for the early part of May has us switching gears and targeting Trout and Smallmouth Bass. The trout have been actively pursuing small streamers and Black Caddis. The Smallmouth Bass pre-spawn run continues to offer anglers a fly/lure friendly day on the water.  May is always a fun and exciting month of fishing in Northern Michigan.  With the Michigan Trout Opener on the Upper Manistee and the Grand Traverse Bay Smallmouth fishing firing up, we find ourselves with a new focus and some warmer weather. 

Trout

Currently the Manistee River below Tippy Dam  Water Levels  are up a bit as some recent rains have blessed us with another water bump.  Flows on the Manistee River are currently 2050 cfs with water temps hovering around 57.  Trout are beginning to chase small streamers and take advantage of the abundant Black Caddis hatches that have started to pick up this week.  Swinging soft hackles this time of year and fishing small salmon parr imitations can be a fun way to spend the day.  The “Big Man” can offer an enjoyable experience for anglers of all skill levels, but its broad expanse offers a great setting for both beginning and intermediate anglers alike to dial in their casting and angling skills. 

Smallmouth Bass and Pike

 

Jon and I have both noted how we have switched programs to the Smallmouth Bass earlier this year than during previous seasons.  Jon has been busy exploring the river and many  Inland Lakes for a couple weeks now and I have joined in on the fun when I could.  The conditions the last few weeks have been perfect for Smallmouth Bass entering their pre-spawn phase.  The pre-spawn Bass are pretty receptive to throwing some of the largest swim flies of the season and can offer some epic visual eats.  So far the overall size of the fish and numbers in general have been very good.  

Northern Pike have been showing up more in our catch this week as well with the warming water temps.  Typically this time of year we like to run fine wire on our Swimbaits so we can fish any water type without prejudice.  The tax man is always lurking and if you don’t want to lose your favorite fly or lure wire up and fish without fear.  This time of year Smallmouth Bass are a great option for catching fish when we are facing tougher conditions on the trout streams impacting the bite.  Of course this can work both ways, so I went into more detail on how we adjust in this latest blog post.

Salmon Fry

The river is currently loaded with Salmon Fry.  We are seeing small bait balls just about everywhere in the slower edges of the river.  This is a great way to introduce someone to streamer fishing for trout or bass.  Fishing small streamer patterns on light sink tips is a fun way to dial in some critical angling skills.  Brown trout, Smallmouth Bass, Pike, and drop-back Steelhead are all utilizing this food resource.  Now is a great time of the year to get out learn, practice, and enjoy the water as the warmer weather adds a green landscape over the next week or so.

Booking a Trip

Manistee River below Tippy Dam is one of the best west side rivers in the state of Michigan.  Mangled Fly guides are starting to fill up their Summer Opening’s so give us a call soon to join in the fun at (231-631-5701) you can also shoot us an email.  Also it’s not too early to get your Fall Steelhead trips on the books.

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

Ed 

Best Time to fish Grand Traverse Bay for Smallmouth Bass

Grand Traverse Bay Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Grand Traverse Bay

"Fishing

Throughout the year, the changing seasons play a significant role in smallmouth bass fishing.  Seasonal change affects both the behavior of the fish and the strategies employed by anglers. In particular, the optimal month for Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass fishing can vary depending on the season. Spring often boasts a period of heightened activity as smallmouth bass feed aggressively coming out of winter. As the waters warm up in late spring to early summer, smallmouth bass move shallower for the spawn. Therefore, anglers may find the months of May and June to be particularly ideal for targeting smallmouth bass.

Summer

During the summer fishing for Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass can be an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the warming temps Smallmouth in Grand Traverse Bay will tend to go deeper than they do in the Spring.  However, this doesn’t mean they are too deep for topwater offerings, especially if you’re willing to get up early.  Fishing smallmouth bass on topwater is truely an exciting approach to fishing the Grand Traverse Bay.

When targeting Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass in the summer it is important to focus on areas with structure.  Rock structures such as rocky points, ledges, and rock piles, are all areas where these fish like to feed.  Goby and Crayfish patterns are a key food source for smallmouth bass.  The key to success here is to find the preferred bait which usually means you will find the smallmouth bass.  One thing about smallmouth bass that translates well universally is no food = no smallmouth bass.  These guys love to eat and will be found very close to their food source.

Goby

Invasive Gobies provide plenty of food for Smallmouth Bass

Fall Fishing

Fall is a prime season for smallmouth bass fishing in Northern Michigan. The Fall is particularly renowned for its abundance of trophy-sized smallmouth bass. As the temperatures begin to cool, these elusive and aggressive fish become more active.  They can often be found moving into shallow waters in search of food to prepare for the upcoming winter. The crisp autumn air and vibrant colors of the changing leaves provide a picturesque backdrop for anglers seeking the thrill of battling these hard-fighting Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass.

Whether casting along rocky shorelines with Umbrella rigs, targeting submerged structure with swimbaits, or working shallow flats with the fly rod, the opportunities for landing a trophy smallmouth are plentiful during the Fall in Northern Michigan. With the combination of ideal weather conditions and the smallmouth’s voracious feeding habits before Winter, Fall smallmouth bass fishing offers anglers an unparalleled experience on the water.

With more anglers focused on King Salmon and Steelhead fishing many of the best inland lakes and Grand Traverse Bay can be barren of other anglers.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing methods for smallmouth bass can range from using gurgle bugs on a fly rod to drop-shotting deep rock piles off a point. While we primarily enjoy using a fly rod with various patterns such as Goby, Crayfish, and Topwater flies, we also recognize the importance of having a spinning rod as a backup.  Windy conditions and the need to approach larger fish in clear water from a distance are conditions that at times are better managed with spin tackle.

In the clear waters of Grand Traverse Bay, smallmouth bass may not always be approachable with a fly rod thus prompting the need for spinning gear. Grand Traverse Bay is known for regularly yielding smallmouth bass weighing in excess of six pounds. These larger bass are old and wise and often require long casts to catch.  Additionally, many anglers appreciate the exhilarating challenge of catching and fighting a smallmouth bass on light spinning gear.

Conclusion

Want to experience the thrill of smallmouth fishing in the pristine waters of Grand Traverse Bay where the breathtaking natural beauty meets unparalleled angling opportunities. Northern Michigan is home to some of the finest smallmouth bass fishing in the country.  This picturesque bay offers the perfect setting for both seasoned anglers and beginners looking to hone their angling skills. Grand Traverse Bay promises a fishing experience like no other!  So come and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Grand Traverse Bay, feel the excitement of each bite, and savor the joy of reeling in a prized smallmouth bass.

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!