Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Manistee River below Tippy Dam
Manistee River below Tippy Brown Trout

Fishing Report

The Manistee River Steelhead Report heading into the middle part of April has the Manistee River running a little above average and still pretty clear for what is typical this time of year. Water flows are currently at an above avg level, and running at 1800 cfs. Water temps are at 50 degrees already and the steelhead process feels its about done. Not saying you can’t find a fish or two, but with numbers dropping off we are past peak and we as guides have started to look for other areas to fish and different species to focus on.

Spring Steelhead

Fish numbers have been remaining on the low side for most of the spring, and now really the only fish we have been finding is dropback fish on the sand. With only a few new fish per week been hooked (chrome) it feels like the run has come to an end. Again some fish are still spawning near Tippy, but any new fish are few and far between. Dropbacks have been aggressive to bright colored egg patterns, and small streamers.

Smallmouth Bass

When I talk about changing fish species smallmouth bass early catch and release season, has been pretty good. Both in the river and local lakes, smallmouth bass are on pre-spawn mode and super aggressive. They are currently grouped up so once you find one, you can usually find more. But this also means you can have some dead spots. Baitfish patterns have been working best, with a hard strip and a long pause. Smallmouth have been eating on the pause.

Booking a Trip

If you’re looking to book a fishing trip give us a call (231-631-5701) or shoot us an email . We will really be focusing on the Upper Manistee River trout fishing in the coming weeks. Make sure to check out the new sun shirts that just came in, inventory is going fast. Three new styles for 2021. Have additional hats coming in soon, as we replenish some back orders.

Tight Lines,

Ed

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

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 early April has us what feels ahead of schedule. With a mild winter , and record setting lack of snow. Water levels currently are lower than we are used to. Be ready to down size your streamer patterns.

Streamer Fishing

With less water in the Upper Manistee right now than in previous spring seasons, downsizing your fly choice has lead to the most success in our limited streamer trips so far. With most of our focus still on steelhead the past few weeks, we have only been out a few times. But now as the main focus turns to trout fishing with opening day only a few weeks away.

Streamer patterns that have been working the best are 3-4″ baitfish patterns, colors are more neutral or dull. With clear water the tans, olives, and gingers are working the best. With water temps hitting 50 degrees yesterday, you can worry less about slow twitching and speed up the retrieve. Wood is out fishing rock as is the case most of the time but especially early season, as browns are still pretty close to the winter holding lies.

Dry Fly Options

It would be a mistake not to pack the dry fly rod from now on, with water temps hitting the magic 50 yesterday and with a big warm up this week, I would not be shocked to see surface feeding increasing. Only busted a few fish so far but again limited opportunity to hunt for them, but that will be changing. Had great BWO’s yesterday with plenty of little black stones. Found one fish that fed once on a black stone, but as temps increase so will the metabolism meaning more surface feeding.

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.

New Sun Shirts

Check out the latest sun shirts for this trout season

Manistee River Brown Trout Sun Shirt
green sun shirt

Trout Guide Trips

We will be changing our focus from the Lower Manistee River for steelhead , and now fishing the Upper Manistee and the Pere Marquette. We are booking trout, pike, and early season smallmouth trips currently, you can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email.

Tight Lines,

Jon Ray

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report
Pere Marquette Spring Steelhead

 

It feels like spring is just around the corner. Turkeys are gobbling. Grouse are drumming. Mother nature is waking up. What a great time to be in northern Michigan. The Pere Marquette is in great shape. Slightly stained but the water level is perfect.

Steelhead


The steelhead have moved from the slower winter water to the faster riffle water. They seem to like the dark pockets and slower seems around the gravel areas. The bead bite has worked best BUT the last few trips we have has some action on stonefly nymphs. It has been nice to see the spring steelhead migrating up river to make more. With steelhead migrating up river and a few heading back out to the lake now is a great time to catch a mixed bag. Some fresh chrome and some beautiful fall run fish.

Brown Trout


The brown trout are loving two things right now. Eggs and stoneflies! The trout fishing has been very good the past couple outings. The browns are so fat and healthy. We had a brown yesterday that was so full on eggs that he was throwing them up. Crazy! Alaska Style!
Only in the past few days have I noticed the stonefly hatching. Later in the day as the temp warms up look for trout rising to stones. The trout that have been rising have been in the slack water and foam lines. The dry fly fishing should improve as the water warms.

Booking Spring Trips

Drop us an email if your thinking about booking a trip 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! Streamers, crank-bait fishing, and dry fly fishing are all the menu in the coming weeks. We will have prime trout dates open give us a call.

Jeff Topp

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.