Temperatures in the 70’s isn’t typically considered cool for this time of year, but after what we have experienced the past two weeks, it feels cool and good. This is good – water temperatures in the rivers were getting way too high stressing out fish and making hatches somewhat difficult to time, however, on the right evenings, fishing has been good.
The Upper Manistee and Boardman rivers have been experiencing good hatches of a lot of different bugs making it tricky to figure out what the fish are keyed in on. Sometimes one fish is eating one bug and the next fish downstream is looking for something else – prepare to mix up your patterns. Here is what you can expect to find: Sulphurs, Mahoganies, Bat Flies, Isonychias, Brown Drakes, Gray Drakes, Medium Brown Stones, Little Yellow Sallies and some Large Stones – golden and black/orange, olives and caddis. Yes, a lot of bugs, but this is a great time to be on the water if you like dry fly fishing.
The Lower Manistee is still fishing well for those looking to fish a variety of ways: swinging wet flies, nymphing, streamers and dry flies. Most of the dry flies have been tiny midges and caddis; however a big stonefly pattern has been bringing up some good fish too. The carp and suckers that were spawning in the hundreds are getting thinner each day and all of the trout chomping on their eggs below them are starting to go back to their usual places in the river. When it’s bright, look for shade, no matter what river you are fishing right now!
The Carp and Smallmouth Bass on the bay have been really good lately thanks to the warm weather. Some fish are spawning while others are still in pre-spawn mode. Look for big groups of carp in shallows where the water is warmest – with the cooler evenings, the fishing in the afternoon should be better than in the mornings for carp. Smallies aren’t quite as sensitive. The typical patterns are working: crayfish, clousers and hex nymphs – all in variations that should get the job done.
The bluegill/panfish and bass in area lakes and ponds are on their beds with lots of fish around them looking to eat. Fishing dries in shallow will not only provide some fun surface action, but leave the spawners to do what they need to do. With some gills finishing, look for the fish to be closer to slight drop-offs where a bead head nymph or small streamer should get you some action.
The forecast is calling for some much needed rain and cooler temps which, I hope will bring the water levels up, but more importantly, the temperatures down. All fish – whether in rivers or lakes do not like significant change in temperatures – especially dropping mercury. This can be key when deciding when to go out or even where. Overnight temps, daily sunshine, wind direction and rainfall all have an affect so pay attention and adjust your plans if needed.