Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Steelhead Report

Manistee River Below Tippy Dam

Manistee River Steelhead Report
Manistee River Steelhead Report

Fishing Report

The Manistee River Steelhead Report for the final week of October, has us on the full throttle of Fall Steelhead. Water is at a good level even with all the rain from late last week. The Big Manistee is running at 2770 cfs with water temps in the high 40’s. We continue down a temp slide not making the fishing easy, but with fresh fish entering the river system one can’t complain.

Fall Steelhead

The Fall Steelhead of 2020 has gotten off to a good start, with some really big fish around that have been testing our anglers skill sets. With water temps on the slide the past 10 days if you look at the graph, you will see these are now the temps where fish really stop moving and start hunkering down for the season. Allowing the streamer bite to pick up. With less focus on the egg bite, now you can pick up fish with other tactics.

We have had some good swing trips too start off the streamer bite season, with Ed McCoy guiding Terry to an impressive Lake Trout (picture on the Instagram stories this week). Early morning very flashy patterns with copper tones have been best, but later in the day more natural sculpin patterns are working better. Look for fish to be resting outside the main current, so work those soft seams.

Water levels jumped up the last few days, so besides eggs make sure to pack your big stones, caddis, and mop patterns. With this water volume you can get away with some bigger items to get steelhead attention. Chartreuse caddis or mop patterns can be a perfect way to get into a few extra fish that have seen all the egg patterns already this year.

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 . Fall is one of our busiest times, we are booked until the middle part of November currently. November is a great time of year for swinging a fly on the Manistee River, or running a float in the deep holes. We will offer full and half day winter trips starting in December, just let us know what works best for you.

New Hats & Sweatshirt

Jon Ray

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Trout Fishing

Pere Marquette Fishing Report
Pere Marquette Fall Brown Trout Fishing

Fishing Report

Pere Marquette River Fishing Report for the first week in October is the river is in great shape for salmon, trout, and the first arrivals of steelhead fishing. The Salmon migration is in full swing. We spent the better part of the day watching kings swim up river to their spawning grounds. Pods of 2 to 10 fish at a time passing us bye. Although we had brown trout on our mind it was a very pretty sight. Also the salmon are a great food source  for everything that swims in the river. Not to mention the birds and critters on the banks. With the trees in full bloom it is a great time to be floating the river.

Trout Fishing


Trout fishing was pretty good. We moved trout in the log jams and deeper runs on lures for the better part of the day but our best trout bite was around the spawning kings. It seemed to me that the browns are starting to put the fall feed bags on and are lining up behind the spawning kings. The best luck we had around the gravel was to use beads and yarn flys under indicators. A solid dead drift made a big difference in the number of bites we had. As the salmon continue to spawn the trout fishing in and around those areas should get better. We also had a couple of good butt whoopin steelhead on our lines and they did just that. Whooped use big time. The steelhead fishing should ramp up as the fall moves on.

Fall Steelhead

Steelhead are egg junkies. This time of the year we usually find them in the dark water around the kings spawning gravel. The bead game is strong right now. Salmon eggs are the best food source available in the fall and they are like crack to steelhead. As the fall progresses and the King Salmon spawn slows the steelhead will move back into the deeper runs. This is my favorite time to be on the Pere Marquette from mid November and December for me is the time to be fishing for fall steelhead.

With very low angling pressure that time of the year in my opinion its the best! This time of the year fish are there and the river gives you the feeling that you are the only one out there. Floating the river in the later fall can bring great reward. We have a few openings for the later fall season. My favorite season. If you would like to float the Pere Marquette this fall please let us know. It is a very special time to be on the river.

Booking Trout Trips

Drop us an email if your thinking about booking a steelhead fishing 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! We still have a few openings in November and December can be just as good if your looking to get out on the water. Make sure to check back as our fall hats should be arriving soon. Also not too early to think about Gift Certificates for your favorite anglers for holiday gifts.

Jeff Topp

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report
Upper Manistee Trout Fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing report for the middle of September has the late summer fishing transitioning hard into fall. Fishing has been pretty good overall, hoppers are still producing but small streamers have been getting some attention as the fall air is triggering movement. We had a water event at the beginning of the week and fish moved into ideal hunting spots. Currently water has dropped and clearing.

Fall Fishing

With some more seasonable weather in Northern Michigan, the water temps have been dropping into the upper 50s at night as we begin to transition into Fall fishing on the Upper Manistee River. Please use this link here for temp and flow data this fall to help you remotely monitor water levels before you even head out to the river. Understanding the water levels and being able to relate the Depth reading at the gauge to how wadable a section is, or understanding how high and dirty the water might be, is still a valuable tool that can be used when choosing the best section to fish as we move towards our fall streamer season.

Transitioning to Fall Hatches

The fall Isonychia hatch was in full effect this week. With the recent drop in water temps this bug has been hatching more consistently throughout the day and the fish were taking notice. This hatch isn’t as prolific on the Upper Manistee River as the earlier June hatches, but it can provide some good quality fishing at a time of the year where the hatches are very limited. Also had good Cahill’s this week in size 14. Look for best bugs from 12 to 5 pm, with flying ants in the evening hours.

Good cinnamon colored ants have been flying around from size 16 to micro. Not sure how small they were, but I mean small. Smaller than I want to fish and tie, fish didn’t seem to mind and we caught plenty on size 16 and 18 ants as well on those warmer less windy evenings.

Fall Streamer Fishing

This week the streamer bite was solid in the beginning of the week as fish liked that water event we had, Kean had us booked for a couple days and mangled to find a beautiful Manistee River rainbow trout, one of those fish we don’t see very often. Fish were on the hunt on insides and shallow kill spots. Or hunting spots, with water dropping focus on the deep pools.

We have been fishing a lot of floating lines and weighted streamers as of late on the Upper Manistee, but check out the New Sonar I/2/3 from SA. It has been fishing so well for smallmouth bass in the low-clear water that it will be getting a good run later this fall if low-clear water conditions persist into the late fall for trout. Check this line out at your local fly shop and put it in your arsenal this fall!

Trout Guide Trips

Looking to book a Northern Michigan Fishing trip? Please continue to check out this page as we update it, but we will be starting to spend a lot of time over the next 3-4 weeks persuing other fish species as we transition into October and our Fall Steelhead fishing on the Lower Manistee River for steelhead. You can reach us at 231-631-5701 (leave a message) or shoot us an email. We are booking well into October & November now, with streamer trips for trout and then Fall Steelhead starting in as well.

We have a few sweatshirts back in stock , this is a great weight for the fall season and is one of the coziest sweatshirts I own. New in the Mangled Fly Swag hamper we are working on a wax canvas fall steelhead head, a new beanie, and one last trucker hat for the 2020 season, so check back to see when they are added or follow Mangled Fly socially.

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.