The end of last week brought some much needed rain and that’s all it took to finish off the snow, melt a lot of the ponds/backwaters, and thaw the swamps. We had a really good push of water on the local rivers – perhaps a little too much, but since we had such a light snow pack, the water has come down significantly leaving us with tolerable spring/thaw levels and a lot of dirt in the water.
The good number of fish throughout the Manistee River this winter has taken this high-water as a cue move up and “crash the dam”. Some fish are starting to stage around gravel as water temps are just into the low 40s and a fish landed last week appeared to be spawned out. Fresh fish are moving throughout the river system, but with its volume and lack of clarity – it’s been tough fishing the last few days as there aren’t too many fish settled in their traditional holes or travelling up their typical runs thanks to the increase of water and dirt. Sometimes after a big rain my expectations get a little lofty and I want to repeat those double-digit days; while it’s not easy right now, there are still fish are being caught and they are being scrappy, pulling hard, thrashing and even jumping a bit – that’s why we fish them, right?
The Betsie River, too, had a push of water and a decent push of fish. Dirty, as always, watch your step and look for the holes and slots to hold some steelhead as they rest on their way as the move up stream. The Platte got a few fish to run through the lower river and its clear water reputation holds true – especially in this high sun we have been getting. The Boardman has some fish throughout the system for those of you who can only get out for a few hours and need to fish close to home. You’ll find them from Sabin Dam to the mouth at the bay.
With the water being off color, the patterns that have been working are some of the tried and true… steelhead buggers, bigger stones, leeches, and yarn – egg patterns in a myriad of colors: Clown, Orange, Pinks and Chart. in Glo Bug, Rag and Krystal Egg styles.
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.