About a month ago in Pennsylvania, a groundhog poked his head out of a hole and the experts proclaimed another six weeks of the same weather. While that has been mostly true, we have been experiencing a welcomed increase in sunshine and it feels good. In keeping with the prediction, the fishing, too, has remained pretty consistent with some days being a better than others regarding the fish activity.
Steelhead remain the primary target and the slight increases in water temp at mid-day can be the difference between fishing and catching. Sun helps with that and it hasn’t been getting awfully frigid-cold at night, stabilizing water temps rather than dropping more. Actually, we have been seeing a slight increase on the week long average which might mean that March really is only a few days away.
Still, water levels on the Manistee and Betsie are low and it’s clear. As it’s been true all winter, fish with stealth, lighter tippets and make numerous presentations to find those fish to play along with. Then again, this advice holds true almost the entire year, but it’s more imperative now with the winter like conditions.
Flies: pale egg combos, small black stones, Alevins, hex nymphs and the bigger stones are good places to begin with fly selection.
A few trout below Tippy dam are eating the same flies suggested above for steelhead, but the trout angler would be better served tying on the midge pupa patterns like zebra midges and WD-40s for a nymph bite. Streamer fishing should be more of a traditional down and across with slight strips and bumps since we still have some cold water.
It won’t be long now before the steelhead fishing kicks-in with trout to overlap in April. The lack of snowfall might have an affect, but we can still get hit with some big snow so don’t put that shovel away just yet.
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.
NOTE: Ted is offering a great winter fishing special of five hours of guided fly fishing and lunch for only $250 — available through March 15th. Check it out.