Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Manistee River Steelhead Report
Manistee River Steelhead Fishing

Fishing Report

The Manistee River Steelhead Report for late January has the Manistee River running really clear. River levels are about average to a little low for this time of year, water temperatures hovering around 35 degrees. Water flows are currently at a good to low level, and running at 1740 cfs. So the game has gotten stealthy. Downsizing presentation, and changing up presentations.

Typical fishing report for this time of year, with cold water and surprising clear water it has fish in the deepest darkest parts of river. Go deep and fish where the wood is. Might cause you to tie a few more knots but that is where they have been hiding. Just as what Jeff Topp is seeing on the Pere Marquette, you need to invest in the lumber runs. Also softening up the presentation. Rag style eggs and bugs are making a difference.

Winter Steelhead

Egg Flies for Steelhead
Egg Flies for Steelhead

Steelhead on the Manistee River have entered the stage where mixing up the program pays dividends. One of the tactics that we like to work into the program is movement. To do this best you need to add weight to your flies. The bug bite has started, so doing what you do to imitate the wax worm & jigs is paying off. We like to use feathers and plastics to get the movement.

When fishing this way you will also find that you need to usually change out your float as well. I find I get the better movement on my jig or euro patterns with a slim float design. I personally like the loafer.

Something else we saw this week, is that beads are always effective but could talk steelhead into a bigger meal, so rag style egg flies bounced into the timber runs did the trick. Coaxing out a steelhead with a single large egg fly is a great way to fish the dirty runs. As the bead rig gets hung up with how the hook dangles in the rigging.

Add slight purples or blues to your egg patterns is a good idea when water is clear, really not sure why other than it works. I think the lavender tones dull out the hotter oranges and yellows. Creating a different mix of colors and pulling on the curiosity factors of steelhead.

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 . Spring steelhead is just around the corner, phone has been ringing, so if you’re looking for dates give us a call. Make sure to check back to this report and see how we are doing. We have been playing on the Upper Manistee River trout fishing as well. Make sure to follow us socially as Ed McCoy will be tying some his patterns in the next few weeks online. Both the Northern Angler and Shultz Outfitters have him on the docket.

Jon Ray

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report
Winter Steelhead fishing on the Pere Marquette

What a blessing to have this mild of a January. The Pere Marquette looks great, water levels are low but has found some stain to help with the fishing. It has been great to float the river and not freeze. Ramps look good as well, with less snow pack than normal.  So you can pretty much get in and out through out the system.

Steelhead and Brown Trout

The Steelhead and brown trout are hunkered down in the wood. Slow runs with lots of lumber seems to be the game at this time. We have had good success with streamers and lures. The bead bite has seemed to go soft. My guess would be that the fish aren’t holding in the runs that you can present an egg pattern to them.  They are loving the lumber runs.

Steelhead and Brown Trout have been liking small Minnow patterns, sculpins and other dull earth tone streamers with little to no flash. I would think that the egg bite will turn on when we get a fresh push of Steelhead. The fish are willing to chase and crush the bait on the right day. Winter fishing can be hit and miss day to day. The fish are there but some days they want to sulk.

What a beautiful time to spend a day watching nature on the Pere Marquette. If you’re out wading be safe the river has some stain to it. This can make the underwater structure hard to see. No need to take a swim in January.

Be safe and enjoy what mother nature has to offer.

Booking Trout Trips

Drop us an email if your thinking about booking a steelhead fishing trip this winter 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! Our calendars have opened up and January and February can be just as good as any month if you’re looking to get out on the water. Also not too early to think about Spring Dates.

Jeff Topp

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report
Streamer Fishing Northern Michigan

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report for the first part of 2021 is off to a pretty good start. With a mild winter so far, seems as if the fish are eager to feed. Water levels currently look good, I will not lie I would take some rain or more snow but beggars can’t be choosers. All in all trout fishing is pretty good.

Streamer Fishing

The go to tactic currently is streamer fishing, not really fishing big patterns. Normally 3-4″ in length mostly with cone heads to lead the fly deeper into the runs. Fishing both with sinking lines and floating lines with cone head type patterns has been the most productive. Does seem if you can slow the fly down you will have better success. Slowing your retrieve gets your fly deeper and leads to more opportunity and interest with the chilly water temps as well.

4 Wheel drive is a must in most areas of the river so please be careful if your brining your own boat, but with 4-6″ of snow you can get into most launches if you know the area. But with the warm up today mid 40’s snow is melting and snow that was once packed pretty good by track could lead to some interesting turn arounds with a trailer.

Water Monitoring Stations

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 with winter.

Trout Guide Trips

We continue to spend most our time on the Lower Manistee River for steelhead , and the Pere Marquette but with access to trout we are all happy to simply get out and fish. We are booking spring trips currently, you can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email.

Tight Lines,

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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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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Michigan Fall Steelhead

Fall Steelhead on the Big Manistee River

Back on the Big Manistee for the Fall Steelhead season, wanted to share some quick pics of the first few days back. First impressions are we have some big fish again this year. They are strong and hard to hold onto. Without a doubt these are my favorite fish to chase during the season, the speed and power of these Great Lakes strain of steelhead is truly impressive.

Check back through out the week as I will continue to post additional images and links. Also make sure to follow Mangled Fly on Instagram as we post additional pictures and videos on our Feed and Stories.

Still have a few open dates at the end of November as well and plenty of availability in December too. Open Nov dates are 26,27,29. Contact me if your interested. As reports from my charter lake captains is this run of 2019 Fall Steelhead should be special. Have a great fall!

Great Blue Heron

Two Great Blue Herons eating Pike

Had the opportunity to shoot two different Great Blue Herons enjoying a shore side lunch this week.  I have never seen this before a Heron eating a Pike, but in less that one week it happened on two separate occasions.

Great Blue Herons now have my attention to say the least with how they hunt and how effective they are.  They can really do a number on a fishery.  I thought they really only targeted smaller fish and smaller amphibians.  But that is not the case.

Great Blue Heron

Down the hatch it goes, another Pike meets his maker.

Great Blue Heron

Blue Heron trying to figure out how to slurp down a pike.

sculpins kevin Feenstra

Gobies–Everything Eats ‘Em

Over a decade ago, zebra mussels invaded our rivers, and left a trail of destruction in our Great Lakes and their tributaries, altering the resource.    In their wake, something that preys on these mussels also arrived, the round goby.    Round gobies are an invasive species, and as such they squeeze out native fish.   However, they have become a food source in any river attached to the Great Lakes.   In some of the bigger rivers, such as the Muskegon and Manistee, they have become a primary food source.

Fly anglers should take advantage of the presence of this bait fish!    They are most commonly a sandy tan, and can be found just about anywhere.  They are most commonly found in areas with high concentrations of the mussels (especially in proximity to dams).    You can fish them with a sink tip or with an indicator, they work well either way.

I most commonly use them for smallmouth bass and for steelhead in a sandy tan.

Don’t hesitate to try them in an inky black, as the males will carry this color through the late winter and through the summer as they breed.    They can naturally be quite large, and can grow up to 10 inches in length.   Check out how big this one is; it is being consumed by a merganser:

Like so many invasive species, gobies have worked their way into our food chain, and will probably be here indefinitely.    Even the snakes eat them!

As far as invasives go, these are useful ones.  Add some gobies to your fly box; big things love to eat them!

Thanks for looking!

Kevin Feenstra

 

 

 

 

muskegon river brown trout

Pic of the Day – Underwater Mouse Eater

Photo by Ed McCoy of a Michigan Brown Trout snacking on one of his new mouse patterns.  Thanks for sharing the pic Ed.  Nice work.