April is always a swing month. It can go both ways, warm or cold. This year it is going the winter way; so far. Cold, rain, sleet and snow are still in the forecast. The northern jet stream will be moving out later this week. Warmer weather is coming, but it appears spring, with daily temperatures above 32 F, is still a few weeks off. A lingering winter is good for the rivers and trout. Water tables stay high insuring a healthy river through the droughts of mid July.
Northern Michigan rivers for me have generally began their dry fly season around mid May. That is the time the grasses, bushes and trees become green. It is a phenomenon affected by a nice warm rain, in that time period. The foliage checks run off and the rivers begin to drop inside their banks.
I have always flocked to bigger rivers like the Pigeon and Sturgeon rivers early in the season that can handle high water levels in wet springs. These rivers are wide and deeply cut keeping the water from silting up.
Steelhead / Cromies / Rainbow Trout rule the rivers until the beginning of May. These Steelhead are a great opportunity for you to test your ability. Fast, deep water makes it the ultimate challenge for using all your experience in managing your leader with a 10-20 pound trout on. You better be good! The rig is different with spawn, nymphs and weighted line. The trout stay low on the gravel bottom of the river. You must get your line down to them. Remember the first 10 minutes the Steelhead has you on the line. They dictate the terms of the fight until you steal their strength. The reward is that picture of you and a massive trout you always wanted for your room.
So keep the faith. April is doing what it always has...keep us guessing!
Richard and Jim
Letting you know current conditions and best approaches.