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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

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020
Best Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a “best of fly fishing” collage from 2020 from our Instagram Feed. These are the highest liked images from 2020. If you’re not on Instagram or do not follow us via social media, here is a chance to see some of our best liked images. I thought I would go thru a couple of images and expand upon their meanings to us this year.

  • First Muskie – The top row muskie image was probably one of my best images of the year. Shooting underwater images is by far my favorite way to shoot photography, but the time, equipment prep, and special conditions add difficulty to making it work. While on our Northern Michigan Muskie adventure this past fall, everything fell into place. First and foremost we had a muskie eat our fly, then the water we were fishing was absolutely perfect for getting crisp images, and the sun was at a great angle. With shooting underwater there is a lot of luck involved and this image definitely fell into that category.
  • Sorry Brook Trout – The top row right side. Beautiful brown trout laying peacefully in my hand. This image was captured by Ann Miller as we were fishing together that day. We were fishing during the Sulphur hatch in May. One of the underrated hatches and a great time to be on the Upper Manistee as a dry fly angler. Ann made a great cast into a perfect seam next too an undercut bank. As the dry fly floated you just knew it was going to get eaten. Suddenly a brook trout smashed the dry fly, how did I know it was a brook trout? As we were fighting this little guy you could see it thrashing underneath the water trying to get away. Very classic brook trout behavior. As we brought the fish towards the side of the boat, a huge swirl devoured our brook trout. The 5wt rod suddenly buckled and we were not connected to a brook trout any longer. Mr. Brown trout had eaten our brook trout! Ann did a great job landing this beautiful brown on very light tippet. This is one of those stories I will not soon forget.
  • Middle Row Browns – Each of the brown trout picks in the middle row were caught on dry flies and really do represent some of my favorite hatches. The middle image is a short video we did of Ed McCoy and I getting a chance to fish Hendrickson’s. We had some great activity during high spring water. The far left is a slob of a brown trout that was caught during the day during the Hex Hatch. I love hunting these big fish with dry flies, so exciting watching them come up and slurp a big meal. Last but not least is an image of why you don’t need to always have your dry fly drifting perfect. I really like working with clients and twitching our dry flies in those likely spots. Having a brown trout blow up on your dry fly just like a bass does on a deer hair popper leaves you longing for more!
  • Kean Oh – Kean puts in his time and gets rewarded. The bottom right image is of Kean enjoying a day fishing with Ed McCoy hunting post spawn brown trout in November. Kean scored a great fish that had eluded Ed earlier in the year. One of the coolest things about big browns is how they hunt an area. Ed had a great chance at this fish during May and then did not see this fish again until November. Kean was rewarded with a great brown trout at the end of the year, summing up the best fly fishing of 2020.

Honorable Mention

Above are the best of fly fishing 2020 chosen by our followers on Instagram. Here are a few additional images chosen by the guides at Mangled Fly representing their favorite image of 2020.

Fall Steelhead Double Header
Double Header Fall Steelhead

Steve Pels with a father son double header. Not only to hook two at once but to land two is a true feet. Very special day and great image well done guys.

Best Fly Fishing of 2020
Kids First Steelhead

Jeff Topp with a young man’s first steelhead. Carson with a Birthday gift from his dad, landed his first steelhead. Is there a better gift?

Lake Trout on the Swing
Lake Trout on the Swing

Ed McCoy with a first in his guide career. A Lake trout on the swing, might sum up 2020 as a whole. Not what we were expecting, but roll with the punches and keep casting.

New Fly Release McCoy’s All Day Spinner

McCoy's All Day Spinner
McCoy’s All Day Spinner

McCoy’s All Day Spinner – Isonychia

I am excited to announce a new fly pattern to be released by Montana Fly Company in 2021! The McCoy’s All Day Isonychia Spinner is very durable, has a very realistic profile, can be fished all day, and is a must have pattern for our Northern Michigan streams. This fly will be available in two sizes, #10 and #12, and will complete the Isonychia lineup in a series of foam based dry flies that I released through MFC in 2019.

The All Day Isonychia Spinner is a great searching pattern and is one of my go to favorites to target rising trout during an Isonychia Spinner fall. Make sure to check with your local fly shops for availability and I expect we will have a limited quantity available here online at Mangled Fly. Read more

drier dry flies

Drier Dry Flies

Did a video on the Hawkins YouTube channel about a trick I learned a few years ago from angler Larry Webb.  Had to share this simple trick to keep your dry flies floating longer.  Thank you Larry for the helpful tip, has really saved my spinner patterns from an early grave.  Check out the video if you enjoy throwing around the dry fly this time of year.

May Dry Fly Video

Worked with Chuck Hawkins yesterday and taped a couple video’s that we just posted on our Hawkins Youtube channel.  Did work separating audio from video and inserting photo’s inside the video to display detail.  Working with audio is not an easy as it sounds, but enjoy the video and hope it helps bring to light how good May dry fly fishing can be.