The opening of all rivers to trout fishing. It is a symbolic day that pulls on ones heart. The fishing is a challenge with cold rivers, tannin colored water and filled with food from river run off. However an experienced fly fisherman with a fly box filled with wet flies and streamers will beat the odds. Plus if your starving...you can keep them.
The weather has returned to a more April like pattern of 50 F and lows in the high 30 F range. Last weeks unseasonable warm rain lifted the streams in depth and temperature. Plenty of food and water will bring the Steelhead Trout into the smaller streams. The yard-work can wait, the lawn mower oiled and ready. Bare (no snow) ground has been with us for weeks. Hopefully no surprise snow storm in the next 3 weeks. Fly fishing is looking almost too good.
With fingers crossed we are on the cusp of an early spring. If memory serves me correct the last two winters snow took us into May.
Fly fishing equipment has not made any major break throughs like in the past. Graphite rods, large arbor reels or high tech slick floating lines. All of last years products are still current, however maintence of vests and wadders should be done to ward off a last minute crisis of some alien such as a mouse or squirrel hasn't taken up residence in your Stuff. Last minute tweaks are best done now. I've been cleaning lines, lubricating reels for a month. In a moments notice I can be river bound...the opening of all Michigan streams!
No matter how short or mild the winter is, they are all brutal this far north. I'm sure there is more snow to come, but our spirits are high as warmer temperatures prevail.
The rivers are high but none are flooded out. River water temperatures are 48 F, the tannin is slight. The new season is looking good. The next question is trout numbers? A question that only can be answered by an excursion to one's favorite holds. I have yet to make that first cast in the Black River. The Sturgeon below Wolverine is giving up some early Steelhead Trout, however the warm days with hatches have begun and soon all trout species will be looking up.
The call of the wild has started. The steelhead fishermen are fishing to the south on the Manistee River and success with those giant rainbows is moving up north to our Lake Michigan tributaries. No mater how small that Lake Michigan stream, the big trout will use them to spawn.
Every year humans make changes to our environment. Not all are good. The Maple River bridges on Ely, Brutus, Robertson, and Maple River Road are complete. These changes help the free flow of the river silt and sand that has settled in front of old said bridges. As the massive amounts of sand travels towards Burt Lake bug larva can be destroyed changing trout numbers in those areas. My concern is the old power dam off Woodlawn Road by Dam Site Inn. It's removal may be a big game changer for the Brook Trout upstream on the Maple River. Steelhead Trout moving upstream will have the opportunity to feed on the 5-6 inch two year old Brook Trout and their numbers could drop. No one is sure of what the change to that part of the river. I do now this...there will be change.
The Michigan Department Of Natural Resources is doing massive amounts of research on the subject. I only hope the Brook Trout are given consideration as they are the last of our native stream trout. The Grayling are gone. Without starting a debate, many warm afternoons on the upper reaches of the Black River in Cheboygan County and the Maple River in Emmet County have given me 40-60 Brook Trout caught in one afternoon. A warning is how many Tiger Trout I have landed in the last dozen years. Many things happen with climate change, not just trout but many other species as well. The tick problem is one of them.
Starting this 2017 season Reel Waters will try to keep you abreast of all the challenges we will face on that secluded stream this new season.
Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout. Are you ready?
We are on the cusp of change.
Although the northern Michigan drought has ended, river temperatures remain warm at 64 degrees Farenhiet . Experts insist that the position of the sun drives natures behavior, but I believe temperature does play a role.
The trout are still on a warm summer schedule. Brook and Brown Trout are still feeding at dawn (7AM) and evening (8PM), with a lot of refusals in between. I believe that until water temperatures drop to the 50's F, all day feeding will be slow or nonexistent. The sun is dropping lower in the southern sky, so bright sun is not a factor. However, cooler river temperatures will begin to activate the spawning Brown and Brook Trout.
All our blue ribbon streams, Pigeon, Black, Sturgeon, Jordan and Maple Rivers, are in great condition with water levels conducive to said spawning.
Fall fishing is a favorite of most die hard fly fishing experts. Spawning trout break there normal behaviors and cover. Trout begin to move recklessly to feed and onto spawning areas. It is a great opportunity to catch those larger trout. Look for the Brook Trout to turn to their darker orange color, with the males developing a lower hook jaw.
Soon the tourist will be heading south and the kids will be returning to school. Time has almost come for my fly fishing favorite; fall. The rivers are quiet and ready.
Fly selection is terrestrials, humpys, grass hoppers, Hornbergs and white caddis this time of the year.
Brutus Road bridge is closed, but hopefully it will reopen by the time Maple River is closed for the end of the season.
The summer resort season is winding down, while fly fishing is picking up. The north has been oh so busy this year. Hopefully we can eek out a peaceful September on a northern Michigan stream.
Hot weather in the 90sF has come to the inland areas of Northern Michigan, ten degrees cooler near the Lake Michigan shore line of Petoskey to Cross Village. Heavy thunder storms have been dropping huge amounts of rain in the mid state areas, but not as severe near the coast of Emmet county.
The Sturgeon, Black and Pigeon Rivers are high and silted up. The Maple is very fishable, but with water temperatures hitting 70 F plus range, please leave the fish alone. Check with guides or DNR on water temps and if near 70 F in the streams, try fishing in one of the inland lakes or the big lakes.
This is our hottest time of the year. The weather can remain hot until late August and requires water monitoring until cooler temperature arrive. Many large hatches such as the Hexagenia Lambata slow down or are over, requiring you to go to those terrestrial flies like Dave's Hoppers, Hornbergs, Humpys and Ants. This time of year an imaginary line of demarcation in trout behavior is in the equation as hot weather affects fly fishing. We humans refer to it as the Dog Days of summer. Early morning fishing at 6:00 AM or late nights at 10 PM works during these hot spells, but it is a challenge. Fishing in the dark takes the best fly fishing angler, however big trout are the result. Mousing large quiet holes in the middle of the night can get you to question your sanity. The change to small lake fly fishing with an Ausable No Skunk or popper fly for Bass and Blue Gill is a great alternative until the North returns to cooler weather in the upcoming week.
Summer is in full swing as you can tell by the traffic or the wait in most restaurants, but our trout rivers still remain quiet and serene.
The heat is on. One afternoon this week a favorite fly fishing stream produced just one landed trout. The number of refusals were in the 30s. I tried many flies, but nothing worked. In my desperation, I tried my river thermometer; 71 degrees Fahrenheit...too hot. I was surprised. Generally water temperatures don't get this high until the end of July. That creates the move to faster flowing, cooler, deeper parts of the rivers for fly fishing success.
This last thunderstorm brought a deluge of rain that has silted up some of the rivers; Black, Sturgeon and Pigeon. The rivers will take a few days to clear up and drop in depth over the weekend, just in time for the hot spell forecast for next week.
Although lower Michigan has been hit with very hot weather in the low 90s F and little precipitation, northern Michigan is about to get it's first dose of 90sF with lows around 70F. This will create tough fishing conditions until next weekend. Late evening fly fishing, about 9:30 pm, or early morning, 6:30 am, might produce more active trout and some strikes. Trout are not active in water at or over 70F.
Sound confusing ? It is for me. Hot weather and lot's of rain is a double whammy...you will have to be that is why they call it fishing!
The weather has been in an up and down scenario most of this spring and summer. From upper 80s F to 60s F for highs to 40s F to 60s F for lows. This fluctuation has not affected the water temperatures much. The river water seems to stay in the 60 F to 64 F range regardless of air temperatures. The concern now is the lack of rain. We got some but need more.
This week the river levels began to drop as winter run off and shallow ground water are depleted. Usually we see river levels drop in the third week of July. Friday nights rain was needed. More to come this Thursday and / or Friday. Northern Michigan has missed the prior two rain storms. Starting this 4th of July week with a healthy rain was truly a respite.
The fly fishing has remained good due to clear and cool rivers. Reel Waters clients are landing 10-15 inch Brook Trout every evening in good weather patterns. The Hexagenia Lambata is in full swing bringing large trout out in the evening, and late into the night, to feed on the Hex in mid-river. That reckless behavior by the trout gives you the chance at very large trout with a less complicated cast. Large calm holes find the trout feeding midstream from about 8-9 PM on into the early hours of the next day. This year has already produced bigger trout than we have seen in the last few years.
Warmer temperatures are in the forecast in the upcoming weeks and should warm the river water temperatures pushing successful fly fishing times into evenings or early mornings, as the Hex hatch comes to an end.
July 4th brings an influx of people to the North, so in the upcoming days the biggest challenge will be finding secluded places on the river far from the pandering crowds.
Barbecues, fire works, parades and a house full of family makes ones holiday itinerary full...however the river is always there for a quiet retreat.
Summer is here and the living is easy. Trout are active. The Hexagenia Lambata is starting to hatch in our area. The trout are taking the drys. The rivers are in good fishing shape, high and clear. The water temps are in that great 58-62 degree temperature range. Northern Michigan is green and healthy.
Fly fishing success is very good. The short periods of warmer temperatures in the 80s F and lows in the 50sF are not affecting the fishing. Bottom line; perfect conditions are here.This week saw 12 inch Brown Trout rising mid-day. Brook & Rainbows were active all day as well.
The resort season is beginning but the rivers are still quiet, people wise. I have enjoyed the mixture of sunshine and sporadic thunder storms. The Adams para size 12 is still the fly of choice. I have yet to use personal designed flies that often times will work when no hatch is present. Caddis, Stoneflies are low in numbers...the Adams is religiously working.
The Mosquitos are not as bad as the last few years but they are out, so bug spray is a must. The Pigeon River Forest is still under tick attack, so when fishing that area avoid walking along the bank. Stay in the river and check yourself upon returning to your car. Shower and throw those clothes in the hot drier (dry) for about 15 minutes when you arrive at home.
This next week the temperatures will bounce around between 75 F and 85F but should not over heat the streams due to nightly lows in the 55F to 65 F range. With the tourist season, the 4th of July not far off, a trip to your favorite river might be a wise choice before the summer crowds arrive.
The rivers here in the north reached a high of 71 Fahrenheit this past Memorial Day weekend. That is very warm for this time year. The rains and cooler temperatures should drop the water temperatures to a much more comfortable 66-68 degrees for the upcoming week. Lows at night of 40-50 F and warming afternoons in the 70sF will give us that late afternoon success expected this time of year. Cold fronts colliding with southern warm temperatures bring us those hard to predict thunder storms we have been experiencing. It's nature in motion and all is green here in Northern Michigan.
The season is off to a great start as the trout are larger and taking dry flies. I am still experiencing many refusals but persistence does pay off. I knew a large Brook Trout was in a deep hold and after 30 casts with a Adams Para # 12, I landed him. The Browns however are still feeding on streamers, but the Hex hatch should bring them up in the next few weeks.
The Pigeon River in the Vanderbilt area is still getting muddied up by the dam removal. It's a process in motion with the MiDNR and their schedule is unpredictable. The Maple, Sturgeon and Black Rivers are in perfect shape.
The scheduled new bridge for Brutus Road is in the works and it will cause some difficult detours for northern Burt Lake residence. The effect on the Maple River trout will be minimal. The power dam on Woodland Road and the draining of Lake Kathleen is in the planning stage. This needs to be researched closely as it will open the upper reaches of the Maple that has been traditionally Brook Trout water. Browns and Steelhead trout, King Salmon and even Walleye and Pike will have access to land locked parts of the Maple River. I don't know if it will be good or bad, but there will be change to the water shed. I just hope our indigenous Brook Trout don't pay the price.
I've fished our small streams for over sixty years and the last 3 years, coupled with river projects for the next three years, will bring the most change to these beautiful trout streams in a half of century. Dams like the Song Of the Morning (Pigeon) and at the Dam Site Inn (Maple) are the challenge.
It is a great time of the year for a peaceful day on a river before the onslaught of visitors we have by the "Fourth of July". So if thoughts of serene, peaceful days, are a part of your personal itinerary, time has come today.
Warm temperatures coupled with warm rain via thunderstorms have set the many Michigan bug hatches in motion. Trout are looking up. The Sturgeon, Pigeon, Black and Maple are in great shape. Clear and high with a moderate level of tannin present. I've had great success landing those big early season trout. Ducking the many surprise thunder storms is a challenge, but good weather exists between storms.
I am still getting some refusals but the trout are getting more aggressive in their takes. Hot weather is slowly pushing good fishing time tables into the early evening. Temperatures in the upper 80s are unusual this time of year but the extended forecast is more seasonal temps in the low 70s And high 60s After the Memorial day holiday.
Lack of bugs is not a problem. The Mosquitos and Black flies are, and ticks in the mid state area are very active this year. Ticks are a different type of problem and if you Google information on them you can protect yourself from a bite.
The Trout season is basically in full swing with the Hexagenia Limbata not far off. Tourists and Resorters are going to start filling the north and those secret spots of yours need to be just that "secret"... flies working for me are Adams Para 12 & 14, Royals and Hornberg or stone fly patterns. Other may fly patterns are good as the hatches dictate.
Don't let this summer slip away...the time is now.
Thank you Veterans for your service and in remembrance of those who gave the most, our deepest gratitude!
May 18 was a good day on the Black River, one of northern Michigan's prime Brook Trout streams. Sunny and calm. Air temperatures 60 degrees, water clear and 58 degrees, time 2:30 PM.
Four different massive hatches at the same time. Caddis being the majority. I must have seen hundreds of surfacing trout. I had a 100 refusals but did land more then ten. Three were foul hooked.
Those Brookies made a fool out of me. Nymphs, mergers, dunns you name it, I used ever pattern known to man since the last Ice Age. Nothing was dependable.
I finished the day with a Adams Para that gave me one catch out of ten hits success rate. I wasn't beaten, but I was humbled. It is just one of those days in the early fly fishing season that the trout are on the edge of looking up for bugs. Similar to warm water refusals when water temperatures reach above 70 F.
The cool jet stream is hanging over northern Michigan, but the sun was ever so warm. The temperatures and trout are rising this week and many hatches have begun. Streamers still get the big Browns but dry flies are my favorite. Everything is coming to life and all those techniques, tried and tested in those secret river holds, seem to put last weekends snow flurries in the distant past.
From mushrooms to wild asparagus to trout, what's not to like about spring in northern Michigan!
Richard and Jim
Letting you know current conditions and best approaches.