August has arrived. We have yet to endure hot 90+ degree weather that would make one miss the devastating snows and -34 below zero temperatures of last winter. Highs of mid 70's F and night time lows of around 50 F have been perfect for fly fishing. The weather forecast is for some 80's F days but nights will remain cool.
River temperatures this week held at 62 F, very cool for this time of the year. Water levels are below the banks of the river but still high enough to afford good cover for the trout. Some hatches are beginning to slow down and terrestrials are starting to work well. This years river advantage goes to the trout and getting strikes takes work. Facts are high and cool water has kept the pressure off the trout and on the fly fishing angler.
Good fly selection, 5X leader and perfect delivery is needed to bring the trout to the surface. There are a lot of big trout in the small streams but the challenge of a good presentation is your nemesis. Get that cast and float right. Keep your bow wake down, stealth is important. Be patient there are trout in those streams; find them.
With summer half gone I like to evaluate this years trout behavior on my favorite inland rivers. High water, cooler temperatures more bugs...bigger trout. The fact is some of those bigger trout are Browns in my favorite Brook Trout waters. Areas that I would be surprised if I caught one Brown trout a summer or twp ago. This year try 3 or 4 Browns a week?
How does this affect the Brookies? Brown Trout are very piscivorous, that is they eat smaller fish. Brown Trout reach 12 inches in just 2 years while Brook Trout take 4 years to reach that size. Do the math, 2 year old Brown Trout eat 2 year old Brook Trout. In the past, late July and early August, I would catch very small first year Brook Trout 3 to 5 inches in size. This year none?
Nature is a giant bell curve of ups and downs between bugs, fish, plants and mammals. This year is the year of the larger trout. Many of my fly fishing companions are landing trout of phenomenal size for small streams. The Black River in the Pigeon River Forest is not experiencing this Brown Trout phenomenon. The Maple River however is seeing the large Brown Trout in traditional Broook Trout water. The large cement obstruction known as the old power dam holds large Burt Lake species from entering those upper reaches of the Maple River, and holds back the Browns preying on the indigenous Brook Trout (Michigan's only native trout). For some reason the Brown Trout are inundating these upper areas.
The Black River and the Maple River are some of the last exclusive holds of the natural Brook Trout in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Tough decision, but some times planted species (Brown trout) in Brook Trout waters can be a problem. You can't expect research by the MiDNR to have all the answers...so you make the call. Eat a Brown Trout today!
Richard and Jim
Letting you know current conditions and best approaches.