Upper Manistee Trout Fishing Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report for the first week of July has us transitioning our fishing to focus more on the early morning and late night programs. With another warmup and some much needed rain the past couple of days, the water conditions, have rebounded nicely after a hot Fourth of July weekend. It looks like we have a couple more days of rain this week, but the overnight temps look good for keeping water temps in check. The Hex hatch is winding down and we are looking forward to chasing trout with foam attractor patterns in the early mornings. Evenings will still provide anglers with decent spinner falls of Cahill’s, Isonychia, and the occasional Hex, but it’s time to switch gears and the morning fishing has been heating up.

Water temperatures were at dangerous levels in early June this year for catch and release trout fishing. Water temps once again were pretty warm for the Fourth of July holiday on the Upper Manistee River. We have since received some rain and water temps have recovered, but anglers will need to continue to be vigilant over the next 3 weeks 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.

Big Bugs

The Hex hatch is continuing to thin out and on most sections of the Upper Manistee River it is pretty much done. We had a great season overall, but the bugs were very inconsistent and we had about a week with very limited bug activity due to a cold front. Things fired back up heading into the first part of July, but the feeding windows were getting short and the fish were growing long in the tooth. The very upper sections of the Upper Manistee River will probably still give anglers a chance at a couple more Hex spinner falls, but we are moving on to the next phase of our summer program. We are beginning our transition towards other times of the day to target fishing now and the morning foam attractor sessions are beginning to heat up.

Foam Attractor Season

The early morning trips are starting to gain traction and the fish are beginning to hunt throughout the day instead of just the last couple of hours before dark. This can be a fun time of the year to fish, especially for beginners as there aren’t really any rules and the flies are user friendly. I love the medium to larger flies right now as they can elicit some violent strikes, but also understanding that as the day wanes on you may need to downsize and play with color. Fishing tight to structure this week has been key to finding some of the larger fish in the Upper Manistee River. How close? If it’s not rubbing it’s not close enough! I have had a couple reports of flying Ants in people’s yards including mine, so better have a good selection of Ants on hand as well.

The Trico hatch is probably not that far off and I would expect to see them show up this week if they haven’t already. The summer olives started about 3 weeks early this year and the fish have been on them when they are present. Smaller hoppers and Stonefly patterns are also going to be key on some of those cooler mornings. If the water gets a good shot of rain fishing a small streamer or twitching a wet skunk on a floating line can produce some exciting fishing as well. Basically we have entered the part of the season when you can try just about anything and you will find some success.


We are still seeing a few Isonychia hatching throughout day and we should continue to see some Iso activity heading into mid-July. This bug will typically hang around for quite some time post Hex so I would still have a few of the All Day Iyso size 10 and 12 stashed in a box somewhere. We have also had a few Iso spinner falls this past week and the new All Day Cherry (new for 2021) is still producing some great fish for our customers. The Iso spinner falls aren’t always long in duration, but the quality of the fish rising to this bug can be as good as any other hatch so make sure you aren’t caught unprepared.

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 were definitely early and highly compressed, but the fishing has been good on our most recent outings. July should be a productive month as the fish are getting more active throughout the day now that we are post Hex. We should continue to see some pretty good fishing right thru the end of July if the current weather patterns continue with some scattered showers and cool night time low’s.

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 trout guide trip. We are also fishing Smallmouth Bass currently on our local rivers and reservoirs. To keep updates on the smallmouth bass report check out the Lower Manistee River page. Summer time fishing trips are more relaxed and the rivers quiet down from other anglers. From now until mid September is a great time to get out and enjoy Northern Michigan.

Tight Lines,


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.