It isn’t news that the weather has been cool and water temps reflect that. Local rivers are in better shape than I can remember for this time of year so get out and take advantage of it.
The Upper Manistee continues to offer a sampling of bugs each day: BWOs, Light Cahills, Isonycias and Tricos. The heaviest hatch is the Trico spinner fall in the mornings and with the cool nights – one doesn’t have to be on the water at first light to find fish eating them. Have a difficult time seeing these tiny bugs? Tie the trico to a dropper off of a larger dry and use it as an indicator. Look for the other bugs in the late afternoon and evening. The cooler weather has stymied the growth of the grasshoppers on the water’s edge; typically this time of year larger hoppers work, but the smaller patterns have been more productive lately. Still, the big patterns with rubber legs and foam have been bringing up fish and some good ones, but more as an attractor rather than a match to the natural hoppers. Play around with patterns and presentation until you get some positive feedback from the fish.
The Boardman terrestrial fishing is decent right now with bookies and browns playing the game. Small grasshoppers, beetles and ants of various sizes are go-to patterns along with the Tricos and #16 and #18 tan caddis. Trico hatches in the mid-morning can be found in the many riffle sections of the river – look for sippers in the calmer, smoother water just downstream of where they are falling to the water.
The Lower Manistee continues to run cool for this time of year, stretching our trout fishing season on that section. Those with a nymph, either under an indicator or dropped below larger dry flies with rubber legs – twitched are finding fish in the seams and holes. Caddis are still coming off in the evening as well as BWOs and other midges throughout the day. Streamer fishing can produce a bend in the rod from not only trout, but smallmouth bass too.
The smallmouth continue to be the minority in the river this year due to water temperatures – if it warms up, the fish numbers will build until the salmon start to enter in big numbers. If water temps continue to be cool, look for a decent number of salmon to enter a little earlier than normal. According to the charter boats, the fish are running significantly larger this year so get ready to battle these Chinook salmon.
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.