With the passing of Labor Day, summer is unofficially over and so is the hot weather – at least that’s the way it is supposed to be. We have experienced a week of high-pressure, bright sun and virtually no clouds – just what you would expect in July and August – perhaps it’s just a little late. Most of the recent angler’s attention has been focused towards rivers with salmon runs and this year got an early start thanks to the cooler summer temps and rain. The recent weather (and lack of rain) has put things on hold, but look for things to really change big-time after we get some rain.
The Betsie with its cold water has had a good number of fish in it for a while and there is still a decent number of fish in the system. Time and place on the water is making the difference between hooking up and wondering where the fish are. The past weekend’s angling pressure took a toll on the fish that were patiently waiting, and now we are looking for fish inventories to build up again. Look for fish in holes, runs and around gravel – some fish are doing their shaking and wiggling. Flies that have been working well include large black stones, hare’s ears, muddler minnows, sparrows and tied in tandem with an egg fly.
The Lower Manistee also had a good number of fish in it early this year, but the heat wave has “The Run” on hold. There are still fish to be caught, but they have experienced lots of pressure and are a little stale. Look for fish near and in wood as well as those slow, deep sandy holes. As soon as the cool evenings return and an increase in water flow occurs look for things to get even better. This nice weather has got the smallmouth bass fishing ratcheted up a bit, but most anglers are looking for something a little heavier, stronger and longer this time of year.
The Boardman here in Traverse City has the weir down and fish are starting to collect below it. Pressure can be heavy at times, but if you are looking to get a fix and have a limited amount of time to do it – this might be the right place to bend the rod.
I haven’t spent as much time on the trout water lately, focusing instead on the salmon waters. This warm weather has increased the terrestrial activity – most notably with the grass hoppers and flying ants. On both the Upper Manistee and Boardman the flying ants have been hitting the water and the fish are looking to get a mouthful – they simply love the formic acid within – it’s like crack cocaine to a trout. Other bugs on the water include some caddis, white millers and the remaining Tricos.
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.