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The opening day of trout season has come and gone and with it so has the large crowd of anglers that come North to partake in all the opening day festivities. Thank you to everyone that attended one of the many local events and helped to make the weekend another successful opener.
Fishing remained stodgy over the opening weekend but just like clockwork, when everyone left, the fishing picked up early in the week and has simply continued to improve. We saw the first emergence of the Hendrickson hatch last Monday and though the numbers were sparse, it started and will just get stronger through the coming days. Expect that hatch to be rolling before my next report.
Streamer fishing remains the greatest game to play in northern Michigan and that is especially true on the lower stretches on our rivers. The trophy waters below Mio are flat fishing. The boys from the shop took a rare guide’s day off and wore ‘em out down there. They boated six fish over 20 inches and the best measured over 26 inches and seven and a half pounds. The picture of that brown trout doesn’t even look real . . . long and thick all the way through its inches. It is truly a fish of a lifetime. Congratulations to our friend Josh Nethers.
Fishing in the smaller streams was much the same but the fish were downsized in accordance with the waters. We’re finding really nice trout in the low to mid teens. And we’re even catching a few on dry flies.
Pretty little spring on the North Branch
We’ve caught a few on Hendrickson patterns and a couple on blue winged olives. The Blue winged olive hatch has been lasted from one to three hours in the early afternoon, heat of the day time period. The Manistee has the best rise activity right now.
I fished yesterday and had a 3 ½ hour BWO hatch. The fish didn’t rise well but the trout were active and I was able to find trout willing to swipe at and even take yellow and white streamers.
The recent rains have the water back up so check with the shop for the best stretches to wade. And cross your fingers for no more big rains.
The opening day of trout season also coincides with pike and walleye season and the late ice out on our local lakes has pike moving into the shallows looking to spawn. Pike love the fly. When picking patterns, pick big flies with lots of color and flash. Cast to all of the likely cover but certainly cruise slowly around the shallow water and watch for those long dark torpedos. Often you can sight fish to a caliber of pike that you won’t see for the rest of the year.
Same goes for trout in our many designated trout lakes. Ice out means big rainbows cruising the shallows. Take a canoe and silently slide around the shoreline.
Steelhead are now in all of the Northern Michigan rivers. The Betsie, Jordan, Pigeon, Sturgeon, and Boyne are all good bets. The steelhead just keep moving in and they are big this year.
The best part about this “other” angling is that you don’t have to forfeit your stream trout fishing. Get out on the lakes and steelhead streams early in the morning and late in the evening. This type of fishing will be best in lower light. Some of our most under-utilized resources in Northern Michigan are the trout lakes. Try lakes like Kneff, Bright, Glory, and Hoist Lakes.
The next most under-utilized resources we have are the small, feeder streams. We’re dealing with higher water this spring and the further up you get on a system is usually the best water conditions and quality. These little arms give cold, clean, pure water to their larger sisters. Without them the Au Sable and Manistee could not exist. And they are full of trout. I just can’t list the names. Just can’t bring myself to do it. But get out your map and have an adventure. After all, that’s really what trout fishing is all about.
And keep your eye open for morels . . . had a guy stop by the shop with a handful he picked at a local access site.
There’s lots to do in Northern Michigan right now . . . don’t miss it.
We’ll see you out there,