Hello fishing friends! It feels like spring is around the corner. Birds are waking up, Ducks are starting there northern migration. And the spring run of steelhead is on its way. The river is in great shape.Good flows for both floating and wading. The flow rate has been steady for the past few days. This means to me that the fish are going to be happy and snappy. As the river starts to warm the brown trout bite should start to pick up as well.
Early Spring Steelhead
The spring steelhead fishing is starting to get good. With the winter fish still in the system and the spring run fish starting to show up the river is about to light up. Float fishing has been the game. Float fishing is an important method for this time of year. The steelhead are starting to move from the slow deep winter water into the faster straighter runs. Soon they will be concentrating on the gravel runs to spawn and make more steelheads. Because the fish are living in so many different types of water makes the float fishing a great way to cover many types of water without re-rigging at every stop.
That being said, this is a time of year that you have to fish every type of holding water. Runs from 3 feet to 10 feet and from slow to fast flow rates. You never know where you might find them this time of year. This time of year it’s best to fish it slow and fish it all. Beads, yarn and stonefly nymphs have been producing strong results.
Brown Trout Fishing
The brown trout are finally starting to wake from the winter slumber. The brown trout have been on the egg bite. With the steelhead starting to migrate to the spawning gravel the browns will be following them to the gravy train. Also with the salmon fry exiting the river keep an eye on the slack water and back eddies for some nice trout eating salmon fry. The insect thing is still to come. With the spring coming the water warming it shouldn’t be long before we get some top water action. It is a great time to be out on the river. The PM is starting to come alive. We still have a few open spring dates. Let us know if you want to get out!
Booking a Trip
One of my favorite times of year is just around the corner, learn more about how I like to fish Crank-baits for troutand steelhead. As water temps start to rise, no better bite on the river. Contact me for open dates.
Now is the time to get out and enjoy the this Early Spring Fishing. We have seen a big change the last few years in when Spring Steelhead starts. Read the blog post about we are seeing regardingSpring Steelhead on the Big Manistee and Pere Marquette River.
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
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
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!
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/twenty-pound-steelhead.jpg?fit=640%2C480&ssl=1480640Jon Rayhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgJon Ray2021-12-31 08:21:002021-12-31 19:38:19Best Fishing Images of 2021
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!
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpg?fit=340%2C194&ssl=1194340Jon Rayhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgJon Ray2020-01-08 10:17:232020-01-08 10:18:40Mangled Fly Guide Service is growing