The rain we needed finally came along with a little snow too. The grass has turned from brown to green and the rivers have a little more chrome/silver in them.
Steelhead anglers will find the Manistee and Betsie rivers to have some fresh fish coming through since they have been waiting out in the big lake for a push of water. Decent numbers of fish have been in the rivers doing the gravel dance and a lot of the females that have trickled in the past two weeks have come and gone with many of the darker males sticking around. So, right now it’s a mixed bag – some fresh, some not, but look for this rain to be just what we needed as far as fresh fish. To boot, the “by-catch” has been varied with suckers, carp, lake-run browns, smallmouth bass and buffalo eating our “steelhead” flies – I think the unusual warm water of 50 degrees for this time of year has a lot to do with this.
Look for fish in all types of water, with each day being different. On and around gravel will be best for spawning fish with runs and holes for fresh and drop-back fish coming and going. Flies have been a mixed bag – mostly smaller eggs (Oregon cheese being a favorite) and medium sized nymphs, but look for all that to change with the water having color to it…. It will be time for bigger yarn/eggs and some nymphs with a little sparkle. Just as you change the type of water you are targeting, don’t hesitate to change your flies up too.
Trout fishing continues to be good on the upper Manistee for those looking to cast streamers all day along with a dry-fly rod rigged near by. The warmer weather and subsequent water temps has made it a good spring for some nice fish. The warmer water temps have provided some early dry fly fishing at times; look for little black stones, small BWO/Baetis and, yes, a few Hendricksons on the surface. With the cold snow and rain, look for the hatching to be tempered a bit until the warm weather forecast for next week continues to influence our early season. Successful streamers have been mixed, but with the rain, I would look to go with dark patterns and some with some flash – obviously, mix it up as yesterday’s hot fly was yesterday’s hot fly – not necessarily today’s.
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.