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Upper Manistee Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Manistee River Trout Report

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing report has us entering the second week of August and we are well into our late trout season. The hopper fishing has been mostly good, some streamer opportunities around rain events, and the night fishing has been sputtering at best. There are a few hatches happening, but the bugs have been inconsistent for the most part. Water temps continue to experience big swings of 8-12 degrees on the Hot days and show more stability on cloudy days. Water levels are currently at their highest point since May and are starting to drop.

We could use some more rain as we have been in low flow stage since the peak of the dry fly season. At this point I would take a blowout event, that should hit the reset button and give the river a little longer lasting bump in flow. The sun is still heating the increasing number of wide open shallow, sandy areas of the river. As responsible anglers we all need to make good habits and check the water temps before each outing. We have experienced 70 degree water temps even on days where the Air Temps only reached 74 degrees! Mornings will have the safest water temps for a while, but if you are planning on fishing later in the day understand that the Water Temps have been peaking around 7pm or around Sunset.

Didymo

If you have not heard the news regarding Didymo on the Upper Manistee, please educate yourself on this very resilient invasive species. It can be spread between watersheds very easily and can be detrimental to our trout streams. The amount of Didymo that we are seeing on our floats on the Upper Manistee below CCC Bridge is truly alarming. So far I have found it in every section below the CCC Bridge, but not yet above CCC Bridge. I would consider the River upstream of CCC Bridge NOT TO BE contaminated and treat it as another water body. Clean, Drain, Dry your gear before entering any waters above the Bridge.

Currently, there are no effective methods to eradicate didymo once it is established in a river. To prevent spreading didymo and other aquatic invasive species to new locations, it is critical for users to thoroughly clean, drain and dry waders, equipment and boats upon leaving a waterway.

  • Clean by removing mud and debris from all surfaces.
  • Use a 10% Solution of Dishwashing Soap with hot water for 10 minutes (Example 1 gallon of water is 12.8 oz of Dawn Soap). Then it must dry for 48 hours (mandatory if your fishing different water systems).

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing

Upper Manistee Trout Fishing
Day Time Hopper Bite

Late Season Fishing

So far the hopper fishing has been decent on most days. With the warmer weather trips have been primarily going out first thing in the morning. Smaller hoppers in Tan, Black, Olive, and Yellow have been finding some fish. If you are not getting action try twitching and dragging the fly to elicit more strikes. With the low clear water you need to get your flies way out front and fish tighter to the structure. The Trico’s are in full swing and have been spinning on most mornings just before the heat of the day sets in. Evenings have been pretty light on the bug front, usually we will see a pretty solid Cahill event, but so far it’s been light and variable.

With some recent rains the streamer fishing has been giving anglers a few shots at some nicer fish. Smaller streamers in white/olive, black, yellow, and wet skunks have all had fish give chase. Keeping your bait moving but allowing the fish to have a kill shot, pause in your retrieve, has been key. Focus on the deeper water and structure right now for your best chances at larger fish. Streamer fishing will get better with more rains and cooler water temps, as we enter fall the streamer game should pick up some pace.

The night fishing has been less productive than I have seen in a very long time. There are a lot of reasons I can factor into that equation, but my biggest concern is the lack of willing participants. We had some good nights, but overall the fishing lacked consistency and opportunity. Hopefully it was just a function of the last New Moon phase, but we will get one more sampling period during round two here in a short while.

Change The Conversation

This has been arguably one of the toughest trout seasons I have ever experienced. The amount of change I have observed in the past 5-6 years is very alarming and there are some serious issues and neglected circumstances that need to be addressed on the Upper Manistee. Habitat loss, water quality issues, invasive species concerns, all have reached their tipping point. It’s time to change the conversation and make some major changes in our management approach of our most popular trout streams. Many of the issues are fixable, but it is going to take some time, $$, and hard work to make lasting change and to build resilient systems that will be far more productive and protected for the future.

Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing has been up and down throughout the entire season. Hatches this year were lighter and far more inconsistent than what we should normally see. Large water temperature swings are all too common now after long low flow periods that have increased sedimentation issues and increased the stream width. This trend was very noticeable with our Hex hatch. We had hatching Hex in significant numbers as late as mid July this year. What would normally be a two week long hatch was stretched to almost an entire month. This is the first year I have experienced so much inconsistency throughout our entire hatch season.

Unforeseeable Changes

Unstable weather patterns have had some negative affects, but that isn’t the only noticeable change. The big swings in Water Temperature over a 24 hour period have been the only consistent variable throughout the water shed. Habitat loss is at a critical threshold and the rivers ability to buffer against change is losing ground. The Upper Manistee River has become dominated by wide, shallow, sandy areas that are exposed to more sunshine and lacking in structure. As a consequence we are now seeing huge losses in deep water habitat and decreasing Abundances of larger trout throughout those sections.

Didymo has had an immediate impact this season, especially in the sections below the CCC Bridge. Insect activity was greatly reduced and the consistency of our insect hatches was impacted as well. Didymo has definitely impacted trout abundance in all of these sections. Every section I have fished this year has suffered from diminishing returns, in other words you can’t catch what is not there! In the impacted zones we saw our catch rates fall 60-85% from what we would normally experience. We witnessed a big fish movement in the lower river last year during the heat wave that occurred in early June. Hindsight is 20/20, but reflecting back upon that timeframe now, the trout knew what was coming. I believe Didymo was already impacting fish movement early on in 2021 and maybe even as early as 2020.

Solutions?

So what does all of this mean and what will happen to the river? We are not sure, Didymo is a new threat and the river has gone through a considerable amount of change during the past decade. Time will tell, but Didymo isn’t going to just disappear and I am convinced Didymo is an indicator of overall poor stream health. Like a Cancer or Diabetes, you need to fix the root causes of the symptoms to become a healthy system again. TU is going to be adding Large Woody Debris to the river corridors, especially in greatly diminished habitats. There is also talk of establishing long term monitoring programs for nutrient loads and looking at mitigation strategies for future Didymo Blooms. As we find out more we will let you know how you can help to restore this river back to its recognizable form.

Monitoring Station

The 4 Mile Water Monitoring Station is back up and working! Make sure to click the link. 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.

Trout Guide Trip

If your looking to book a 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 Late Summer or Fall trout trip we still have a dates open. Have you seen the new Brown Trout T-shirt yet? Still have a few sizes remaining.

Ed

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

Ice Dub Minnow

Ice Dub Minnow

Tying Ice Dub Minnow

Our latest upload to our YouTube Channel is a super simple baitfish pattern that we call the Ice Dub Minnow. A favorite pattern to fish below Tippy Dam, but also works great below Hodenpyle Dam and in the backwaters for smallmouth bass on Tippy Pond. Of course these are only a few of our favorite spots, as it has worked really well for bluegills in the spring when they are shallow and pre-spawn.

If you honestly haven’t tried hunting big pre-spawn bluegills, and you want to test your skills this is a great activity during quarantine. No motor needed for this type of fishing. Get ready to be humbled by the big gills. Great casting practice before the big bugs start hatching on our trout rivers.

Kids Fishing

What also makes the Ice Dub Minnow so great is that you can easily teach it to kids and get them started in fly tying, but also it’s a great pattern to fish with kids, to get them a taste of fly fishing. As I mention in the video this minnow pattern really does fish well by itself, with a tiny split shot. I tend to like Sure Shot, but black bird shot will just work as well. Size No 4 or No 6, are both really small and easy to cast.

Let this fry pattern swing in the current with small twitches of the rod, and it will fish itself. Small minnows can’t swim very fast for very long, so they become easy meals for hungry trout. Fish this pattern in the shallows where small baitfish tend to hide. Good luck and Stay Safe.

Jon Ray

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!

Read more
McCoys Boondoggle Spinner

McCoys Boondoggle Spinner

New Fly Release

McCoys Boondoggle Spinner
McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner – Burgundy Isonychia

Montana Fly Company New Fly Release for 2020 – McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner – Burgundy Isonychia

I am very excited to announce a new fly pattern that will be released by Montana Fly Company in 2020! This fly will be available in two sizes and will help to fill the Isonychia spinner gap in a series of foam based dry flies that I released through MFC in 2019. The McCoys Boondoggle Spinner is very durable, has an irresistible profile, and is generally a must have pattern for the streams in Northern Michigan. Check with your local fly shops for availability, a limited quantity is available here online at Mangled Fly.

Shop Local

As with anything new it can sometimes be hard to predict demand so make sure to stock up before the supply becomes limited. If you are having difficulty finding the McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner pattern or any of my other fly patterns locally, please drop us a line and we will do our best to help you get these dry flies in your fly box for the upcoming season.

More Flies

Look for several more fly releases with MFC in the near future as I have been expanding upon some old favorites and tinkering with some new stuff for release. Good luck with all of your angling pursuits throughout the upcoming 2020 fishing season!!

Ed McCoy

Brown Trout below Tippy

Brown Trout Eating Something

Brown Trout Eating Minnows

Been a fun fall of shooting Mother Nature dining out.  Started with the Heron and Pike images.  Now here is another image of the cycle of life.  Had the opportunity to fish below Tippy Dam for Brown Trout.  While working on a few patterns that that we will be adding to the Hawkins YouTube channel here this winter. I shot some video of the flies in action and then extracted this still image of the brown trout showing off his main meal, with my small dinner mint sized fly in his mouth.

Brown Trout below Tippy

What minnow did this Brown Trout eat?

SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity

SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity

SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity

brown trout picture

Day Time Hex Eater

A new line was introduced in the past month the SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity  and have had the pleasure to test it out over the last month.  Line showed up during Hex Season, even though my go to line for Hex is the Glow Line , but I have a few days each year that allow daytime fishing of the Hex Hatch.  Turning over big dry flies into tight quarters is a must and the New Smooth Infinity was up to the task.

Location, Location, Location

During the last thee weeks the line continues to bring it’s A game to Northern Michigan. With the foam bite (hoppers, ants, and beetles) mixed in with twitching (small streamers on a floating line) these two methods are a huge part of my summer program for trout.  Having a line that can deliver dry flies to within inches of a log, but still has the energy to turn over a small weighted streamer with a tungsten cone head into a deep pool.  Is a must for me, nice to have confidence that the SA Smooth Infinity can do both without missing a beat.

Local Fly Shop

If you have ever spent much time with me in the boat, and we talk equipment you know how I feel about fly lines, it is the most important part of your equipment!  Make sure to stay on top of the latest technology and check them out at your local fly shop.  Also if you see me on the water and want to take a test cast just ask.

Amplitude Smooth Infinity from Scientific Anglers on Vimeo.

There’s a reason we call this line the Infinity: there is no end to what you’ll be able to do with it. The Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Infinity taper is a half-size heavy freshwater line built for everything from panfish to pike. With a long rear taper and extended front taper, it’s delicate for dry flies, has enough power for streamers, and can mend line for nymph rigs with equal ability. Built with the AST Plus slickness additive, Infinity lines are 50% slicker than any other SA line, and will last, on average, eight times longer than any line from the competition.

Remember: REAL NERDS GET ALL THE FISH.

Hatch Guide

Big Eyes Means they are close

Recently learned that as mayfly nymphs grow, especially March Browns, Cahill’s, and Hex the eyes really get big right before the hatch.  A macro shot of a Hex nymph we found in the mud looking for what else is hatching.  Based on his eyes, we are not too far away.  Want to learn more about bugs in the Mid West make sure to pick up Ann Millers Book.

 

muskegon river brown trout

Tying Streamers Continues – Pic of the Day