Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report heading into the second week of September has the river on a steady drop and the temperature is starting to stabilize. We received another series of storms this past week and some seasonable weather has settled in. Fall is in the air and water temps are the coolest they have been since May. The hopper fishing is still producing some good action on the warmer days and now with some cooler temps the fall streamer program is taking off. Banging attractors and small streamers on the structure and close to the banks is producing some good fishing opportunities.

Water temperatures are pretty much in check at this point. I encourage folks to continue to monitor the stations just to form good habits and a lot can be said by watching flows and gauge heights to help in the decision making process on where to fish. Please continue to 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 and flow information. The last few storms have disrupted the live feed at the 4 mile access station so continue to check back and pay attention to the date and time stamp below the graph for up to date conditions.

Fall Dry Fly Fishing

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing
Night Fishing for Brown Trout

The terrestrial fishing in September can still be a fun and productive way to fish at times, but there are other options available again. The fall Isonychia has been showing up with the latest temp drop and soon the fall olives will join the mix. Currently the eveings have been filled with White Miller’s and a random Ant hatch here and there. Timing the Ant hatch is always a welcomed encounter and fish will get very selective at times so pay attention to the size and color you see on the water.

Best attractor patterns have been crickets, stonefly, and hopper patterns in Olive, Tan, Pink, and Black. The best sizes have been anywhere from size 10 hoppers to size 14 Ants. Moving and twitching the fly when the fish were moody also helped to garner more strikes. If you aren’t getting bit you need to switch up the color and fly size until you find what they want.

This can be a fun time of the year to fish. There aren’t really any rules and the flies are very user friendly. I love the medium to larger flies right now as they can elicit some violent strikes, but also understand that as the day wanes on you will need to downsize and play with color. Fishing tight to structure has been key to finding some of the larger fish in the Upper Manistee River this year. How close? If it’s not rubbing it’s not close enough! The daytime visuals this time of year in the clear soft flows make it exciting for both the angler and the guide. Some fish will just lose their mind and crush it while others will do the slow approach and just suck it down like a Mayfly.

Fall Streamer Fishing

Fishing small streamers and twitch bugs have been a good way to tackle the high water times so far this season. Fishing the shallow mid river structure in heavy flows can produce some solid fish. Changing up your presentation, fly color, and size until you find the winning combination is the name of the game. If 2021 has one common theme so far, it is a lack of consistency. If it’s not working change! Fly selection has been all over the board, but small streamers in Black, olive and white, white, and yellow are finding a few. Don’t be afraid to throw some very simple patterns in the clear fall waters. Classic wet skunks, and feather winged streamers can produce fish at times when nothing else seems to be working.

The recent bump in flows had the fish fired up for the streamer again. As we continue through September and into October the cloudy and low light periods should give anglers some better shots at some quality fish. The fall isn’t typically a large streamer phenomenon unless the water gets really dirty, but stick to that 3″-5″ size range for the best results. The river finally looks good and is well primed heading into the fall as all the recent rains have maintained some higher sustained flows than we saw in the early summer months. It should be a fun fall of fishing heading our way.

Night Fishing

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing
Trout fishing on the Upper Manistee River

The Night Fishing was pretty solid during the last moon phase. Despite the colder nights and higher water the fish were pretty active. Fishing was good overall and waking flies are always a hoot to fish as the trout tend to wake you up when they violently strike out at your fly. It was a pretty solid run with lots of great fish caught and some pretty cool nights with Coyote’s and Barred Owls entertaining us with their late night serenades. It’s always a bitter sweet end to another mousing season, but the river gave us some really nice fish and some lasting memories.

It’s been a great season so far with lots of great trips and great stories shared. This past season has been a lot of fun trying new flies, some working like anticipated, and some were just a great idea. So far 2021 has been presenting lots of “learning moments” as the weather has been anything but consistent and it seems to be having a bigger impact on the overall fishing. With that being said I’m looking forward to closing out another great trout season as we enter the fall season. Looking ahead there is still a lot of great trout fishing left. I am looking forward to the opportunities ahead, terrestrials, fall Isonychia, fall streamers, etc. One last hoorah before we close the books on yet another productive trout season.

Trout Guide Trip

You can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email if your looking to book a fall trout trip we still have a few dates open. Fall is coming quick so its time to get your fishing trips booked and get out and enjoy Northern Michigan in all of its fall beauty. The fall is a busy time and availability is always hard to find. We have some openings available, but they will go fast so don’t miss out. Make sure to check out our new Fall Sweatshirt to keep you warm as well.

Tight Lines,

Ed

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Fishing Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Fishing Report

The Manistee River Fishing Report for early August has us still focused on smallmouth. River clarity isn’t gin, but clear with a little Manistee River green. Water temps are in the high 60’s and touching 70’s. We highly recommend leaving the trout alone just below Tippy Dam, so they can survive this summer heat wave. But smallmouth bass, largemouth, bass, and pike fishing in the lower section is good now until the end of August. We find until the Salmon show up the warm water fish remain fairly aggressive.

Smallmouth Bass

Manistee River Fishing Report
Smallmouth Bass fishing on the Manistee River

Smallmouth Bass have remained in good numbers this season, with a high population of smaller bass with a few larger ones roaming around. As is the case in most years later in the season, these bass have seen almost every streamer, crankbait, and spinnerbait imaginable by now. I find topwater to give us the best chance at a good bass now. One of the new favorite pattern now available at most fly shops is Ol’ Mr Wiggley , fishing this pattern more like we do trout than the typical bass popper. Has brought some nice fish to the surface.

Early Salmon

I have seen a few Chinook but by no means fishable numbers yet, did you hear about the 47 pound King caught outside of Lugington? Hope this is good news for the steelhead as well, as the Big Lake seems to have plenty of food. Phone and emails have been coming in for open fall dates. Our open dates are going fast, so if your thinking of getting out this fall let us know as soon as you can.

Booking a Trip

If you’re looking to book a fishing trip give us a call (231-631-5701) or shoot us an email . The remaining of the summer we will Smallmouth bass fishing and still pursuing trout with Hopper Patterns on the Upper Manistee and Ed is continuing 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.