Casting for Steelies, Copyright 2009 by Robert Couse-Baker

Casting for Steelies, Copyright 2009 by Robert Couse-Baker

The recent weather has made for some great conditions, although we need things to get a little uglier – i.e. rain and clouds to bring in more steelhead and get fish out from the shade that the logs are providing. Looking at the forecast we can expect more seasonal conditions which should increase fish numbers, improve conditions, and have us reaching for our fleece.

The Big Manistee is still a great bet for those looking to cash in on some silver. There are steelhead throughout the river system from the dam to the lake but not too many fresh pushes have reloaded the current inventory. As such, look for fish to be closer to wood than they have been or in the runs and holes that are a little deeper and slower. Water temperatures remain in the mid-40’s, which is a bonus for this time of year, so feel confident that a fish will move a bit to eat a fly – just make sure your presentations are good since water is a bit clearer than we would like. Eggs in all shapes and sizes have been working with no one color or pattern being more effective than another. This is a good time to transition from the double egg rigs to one egg and one nymph presentations: Black stones, hexes, shrimp and steelhead buggers are all good bets right now.

Trout anglers are finding the fishing on the Big Manistee below Tippy Dam to be some of our best trout fishing of the year. Holdover fish from this year’s cooler summer are not only giving anglers some great fishing, but proving that water tempertures from the dams are critical to fish survival. Fishing with mid-sized streamers and a slower strip/retrieve is a fun way to cover the water looking for nice trout and a chance at something bigger – a 20-plus inch fish or an aggressive steelhead. Other methods producing right now include nymphing with eggs and small nymphs (pheasant tails and BWO imitations) under an indicator.

The Betsie is still giving up some fish but with the lower water, cover lots of it and try to find the players. There are so many slots and seams on this river. Most people wade past spots that often hold fish. If you are willing to loose a fly or two, fish these slots and you should be pleasantly rewarded.

The lower weir on the Platte River is gone and fish are free to move about the system. Well at least up to the hatchery weir. With conditions looking favorable mid-week, look for the lower water to be the place to be. Until then, probe along on the upper-water probing the deeper holes.
The Boardman has a few steelhead in it too, but like the rest of the local rivers, a little rain and some clouds can really make the difference. Fish it from Sabin to the mouth in West Bay. It’s a nice way to spend part of the day if you are in town for the holiday weekend with family and can only make it out for a few hours.

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving.

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.