It seems that most of this year’s trout fishing has been affected by inconsistent weather. This past week and the days ahead are no different, but rather than negatively affecting the fishing, our water temps are a few key degrees cooler, making for not only good fishing, but good for the fish, too.
The Upper Manistee is running about its normal height right now as it didn’t receive much rain and what did fall went right into the sandy soil. Tricos are a little fickle to find right now in the mornings. Look for warmer, sunnier mornings for the best hatches and fish responding. Afternoons are spent either casting smaller streamers on cloudy days or terrestrial patterns on the surface. Cinnamon/rust colored ants have been fishing very well (Turk’s Power Ant) where as most other terrestrials vary from Chernobyl Ants to Grasshoppers. Rubber legs and foam have been working, but look for the fish to have a daily preference on size and color – mix it up. Other bugs include Isonychias, Lt. Cahills, Small Caddis, Yellow Sallies, BWOs and midges. Try fishing small Griffith’s Gnat or Renegades when you see rising fish, but no real emergence or spinner fall.
The Lower Manistee below Tippy Dam is running cooler than normal and this can be a great destination for those looking to do some trout fishing. Good caddis activity in the afternoons and technical midge dry fly fishing can get you into fish of all sizes. Wet flies and streamers fished both dead drift and/or twitched. Small Clouser Minnows have been working for both trout and smallmouth bass alike. Look for your better smallmouth fishing to happen when water temps increase a bit more.
The Boardman is almost all done with the Gray Drakes, but have a few in your box if you are out there in the evening. Caddis, Yellow Sallies and BWOs can be expected most days. Since this river has a nice mix of grass banks and overhanging trees, it can be a fantastic river for terrestrial fishing. Small hoppers, ants and beetles fished dead drift, twitched or even sunk can really provide some good fishing close to town. Fishing a soft hackle in deep slots and riffles is also a proven technique on this river on a floating line with either a standard leader or a sinking leader.
The area’s lakes are still providing some good fishing especially with the darker, cloudy days. When/if the sun returns, look for mornings and evenings to be best and target structure (weed beds, docks, swim platforms and fallen trees). One can expect large and smallmouth bass and pike to play the game.
Ted Kraimer is a professional guide and fly tier, owner of Current Works Guide Service, and field editor for True|North|Trout. His fishing reports will continue to appear in T|N|T and on his website.