Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report for the third week in June has some relief from the heat wave coming our way. We apologize for the long lapse in reports, but it was a strange week last week as I can’t say I have ever taken a week off from trout fishing in early June!! Things are changing and the water temps are recovering after some light rains and much cooler nights. Hopefully we can get through the rest of our hatch season without another repeat “heat wave”. Conditions were not ideal last week for what should be prime time fishing for trout in Michigan. Water temperatures were at dangerous levels this past week for catch and release trout fishing so we took a break from the trout stream. Moving forward everyone should continue to use caution and check the water temps at these gauge stations before heading out. Please use the USGS site at 72, USGS at Sherman, and the Monitoring Station at 4 Mile Access to give you the best up to date water temperature information.

Guide Trips

We have been getting back to guiding for trout the past few days, but we are still running later on the warmer days. The last few nights have given the water temps a much needed cooling, but we could still use “inches” of rain for longterm stability. We thank our guests for being flexible and ask anyone fishing with us the next few weeks to understand that we will probably continue to have to make last minute adjustments moving forward if water temps get back into lethal ranges.

Jon and I live for this time of year, but the resources is too precious to not be vigilant and smart about our choices. We are asking our guests to continue to understand the limited photo’s or no photo policy. The trout were severely stressed over the past week so we will continue with the no grip and grins and in the water only shots for a trophy. We are using the heaviest tippets we can push thru the dry flies, no downsizing tippet, and no babying while fighting hooked fish. We are pushing the 6wts to the max and sacrificing flies if need be.

Big Bugs

Now, back to more positive outcomes. With the intense heat over the past week we have been starting to see Hex in most sections of the Upper Manistee. With that being said, there hasn’t been any “super events” yet, but the fish have taken notice. We are also seeing some big overlap in hatches right now. There are still a lot of Brown Drake Spinners in the trees and the Iso has been showing up again in the cooler weather. Both hatching and Spinning Isonychia have been taking some good fish as of late along with the Brown Drake and Hex spinner falls at dusk. Light Cahill’s have also been present in the evenings along with some bigger stones. Both Golden Stones and Giant Stones have been active in the evening and after dark providing fish with a very large meal!!

Spinner flights were pretty intense a few nights ago, but the last couple of days have been a little lighter with the cooler temps. Brown Drake spinners in 12 and 14 have been producing when Brown Drakes are on the water. The All Day Dun and Boondoggle versions have also been fishing well while searching water. The All Day Iyso size 10 (gray) has been good the past two days as the water has cooled and some Iso have been hatching before dark again. We will be deploying the All Day Cherry (new for 2021) this coming week as the Isonychia spinner falls should take over in the cooler weather. This fly has been a go to fly in my program for years and this year it’s finely available to the public. The red version is imitating the Isonychia in its final stages of life, known as a spinner. This fly is a great searching pattern.

It’s finally starting to feel a little more normal for this time of year and hopefully that trend will continue for a while. The hatches are definitely early and highly compressed so hopefully this cooler weather stretches things out a bit moving forward.

Trout Guide Trips

We are currently in prime time for trout on the Upper Manistee River. We are booked for June but are currently booking for hopper trips this summer and smallmouth trips on the lower Manistee. Last I heard from Ed he has 1 day open this mousing season. You can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email if your looking to book a trout guide trip.

Tight Lines,

Ed

Smallmouth Bass fishing on the Manistee River below Tippy Dam

Manistee River Fishing Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Fishing Report

The Manistee River Fishing Report for early June like most of Northern Michigan is low and clear. But unlike our trout fishing on the Upper Manistee low, clear, and warm is perfect for summer time smallmouth bass fishing. River clarity isn’t gin, but clear with a little Manistee River green. Water temps are in the high 60’s and with the bubbler keeping water temps in that range for most of the summer it keeps it from reaching un-fishable reaches. We recommend leaving the trout alone just below Tippy Dam, so they can survive this heat wave. But smallmouth bass, largemouth, bass, and pike fishing in the lower section is good now until the end of August.

Smallmouth Bass

Under normal circumstances we are not fishing the Manistee River below Tippy Dam at this time of year, normally its prime time Drake / Hex fishing on the Upper Manistee, but with water temps too hot somedays to fish for trout. This option is great for anglers willing to do something different. Smallmouth Bass are post spawn, and will eagerly take streamers and top water patterns.

This week with plenty of baitfish in the system Smallmouth Bass would chase small to medium size minnow patterns. Also did really well on frog patterns and yellow poppers. The Titan Long on a 6wt rod is perfect to throw these topwater patterns into the weeds and watch smallmouth and largemouth bass destroy them.

Mangled Fly Clothing

Check out the latest in Mangled Fly Clothing, as we have added some new hats and Sun-shirts over the last few weeks.

Booking a Trip

If you’re looking to book a fishing trip give us a call (231-631-5701) or shoot us an email . Not too early to start thinking about Fall Dates for Steelhead. Steelhead fishing on the Manistee River below Tippy Dam is some of the best in the state. Dates will fill up quick. In the mean time this summer we will Smallmouth bass fishing and still pursuing trout with Hopper Patterns and Ed has a night or two open for his Mousing Trips.

Tight Lines,

Jon Ray

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

This will be my last report for a few months. I will be leaving for Alaska in early June. Looking forward to seeing the boys at Anglers Alibi. I have been lucky enough to see a few lodges over the past 20+ years. Anglers Alibi is the most fisherman friendly and well run lodge I have been involved with. Its a small 12 guest lodge on the banks of the Alagnak river in south west Alaska.

Dry Fly

Its dry fly time!!! After doing a evening trip with flies and also a morning trip with lures I can tell you that it is for sure time to put the lures away and switch to night mode. We had good night fishing a couple days ago and turned around the next morning never moved a trout. This tends to happen every year around this time. The trout will wait until the bugs hatch. Sleeping in the log jams all day and moving into their feeding lanes for the evening hatch. A variety of bugs hatching and a buffet of insects for the trout to fill up on. We have had Sulphurs, Brown Drakes and some Caddis on the water. The trout seem to be liking them all. The caddis have been popping from mid afternoon on. Look for your mayfly hatch to start around dinner time. The best of it just before dark. Check out Ed McCoys all day boondoggle. It has been a goto for me as the weather and river temps start to warm.

Lures

If you are planning to fish lures start early. Very early. I would plan on getting out there a bit before the sunrise. I would bet the lure bite will be done by mid to late morning. The river has a fair amount of small minnows in the eddies. 2-3 inches in length. also some small stocker browns. The key to catching some nice trout on lures will be to get as close to the size of the food source. AKA match the hatch but with baits. Try to get a close as you can to the size of the minnows in the river.  Learn more about how I crank-bait fish, check out the YouTube video we did.

Future AK Trip


Mangled Fly is putting a AK Trip together for September 2022!! We are reserving the lodge for a week. This is going to be EPIC. The majority of the fishing that week will be hunting for monster rainbows. This is the time of the year when the trout are the fattest and fastest. Beads, Flesh and Mice will be the flies of choice. Mousing during the day! We are also planning on spending a day or two chasing Silver Salmon. Cohos if you are from the midwest. Silvers love the fly. And sometimes the silvers will eat topwater skating bugs. We also have spin rods ready to go for those windy days or after a few fish have worked your arms over. I am super excited to show our mangled fly friends the neighborhood I have spent my summers in for the past 25 years. Check out link to our future AK Trip

If your looking to book trips with this fall, contact Jon Ray via our contact page or give him a call.  I will be difficult to reach most days, Jon has my schedule.

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.