Feels like there really is never enough Michigan Summer it’s blowing by so fast, even this year with the lasting conditions….Fleeting! Our weather, this summer, has been the most beautiful I can ever remember; I mean all of it, and the conditions are still holding on to nothing shy of gorgeous! Water temps allowed to rebound nightly now with the longer, and better dark. Water levels are still holding lower than normal, which is rare over the past few years, and the Terrestrial Audience has been very strong in the daylight with lower flows keeping the fish looking up instead of down for their daytime forage. Not saying this year has been the mouse season of all time by any means, but this has certainly been the lasting summer of engagements without the higher water events shutting us down. Consistent fishing on all fronts, with a few killer nights and days mixed in has been more the normal. Foam is home on all fronts right now, from placement, to pattern selection… Action and accuracy being the corner stones of any good day on the water, which I’m going for as soon as I get this report posted, presentations have been setting the pace in the long summer of clarity and critique. Hairballs & Hoppers are the talk of the town, but there are a few already casting gear for Kings in lower sections and getting a couple to actually bite, but there are even fewer still already snagging them deep in the few pools they would stage in… Fricken Savages. Fishing pressure for trout will slack off as we deepen into the migratory seasons, but that just means fewer people targeting the buttery beauties. With Steelhead Season just a month or so out, we still have a solid month of golden goodness before mixing our fancies day to day. Hopper fishing right now is as good as it gets for this river with the fish needing the bank bugs just to keep pace with the clarity allowing for so little hunt with the lights on, that said, on those darker nights and or corners, there is still plenty of killing going on with the lights out. Fishing pressure all but slipping for the terrestrial scene, I suppose, the final months of summer are always my favorite because of the pause in pressures. Come on up this next month or so folks, you won’t regret any part of the day or night you would choose to engage our wary, but needy, brown trout… Tailings of Summer are the Best of the Whole!
It really has been the summer of surface fishing compared to so many years passed; and yes a drought of sorts, even with water levels dipping slightly off the normal for our watershed. Without higher water, infused with rolling protein by the hour, the fish are forced to look up, but with the clarity comes the need for presentation in the highest order, even when hunting one up with a hopper or ant. Distance being the discipline most needed to seal the deal, the boat’s shadow, or leg wakes and angler adds when engaging any one spot are huge variables when the lights are up and high. Even in a river as large as the PM, fishing upstream on foot in such conditions shows you just how aware the fish are when looking upstream for impending targets, or incoming predators such as ourselves, canoes, or herons; and your ability to fish further away from those stations are key to converting with the lights on. Pink, Brown, Olive, Tan, and even some dirty Yellow, are good considerations in all your foam or furry offerings this late in the summer, but the way you fish it is even more key than the choice of pattern. Movement is key when fishing bank bugs, as they are not a dead drift kind of bug. They cannot swim, yet they are terribly uncomfortable being on the water’s surface, so your actions should convey those ideas of prey to the predator. No such thing as too big or too small, and the range of terrestrial potential variation coming in this time of year is greater than any other time of year as the summer is in it’s full and later cycle. Strongest element of late summer, clear water terrestrial fishing, is the idea of placement relative to fishes window of looking up. With aquatic hatches slipping, save some random stone and mayfly action, with some ignored scattered Millers in the evening, it’s all about the proximity to the bank and what may fall in. Your cast should complement these ideas of fish not expecting grasshoppers to land in the middle of such a large creek, and therefore the closer to the grassy overhangs, undercuts still not exposed, and the deeper rollaway into the jam, become the money shots. Don’t just make another cast… Make a smarter one to get on step with the browns of late summer; you will be pleased with your resolve.
Night fishing right now is my favorite way to play and milk all there is from the failing summer. With nights lengthening, and darkening, the opportunity for night engagements enhances with the same needs that would bring them to the surface as frequently as they do even when the lights are high and penetrating. Frogs, Mice, Snakes, Voles… etc., are all types of terrestrials in the fact that they are a protein that would slip, jump, fall, or commit suicide from the banks edge. Fishing our night patterns we engage, our programs vary little relative to the day scene, and our presentations and gear only vary based on the preys movement, and otherwise the size and quality of a fish that would consider the mammal terrestrial prey! By this stage of the summer, don’t limit yourself to the mouse, or even the larger night time practices, diversify and fall back on more daytime sized morsels they might still consider with such low and clear water; especially if the moon is present in any way. Directional situations will also enhance presentations by throwing a fish a curve ball after being chumming into the idea of protein on the move. All the while, be aware that as summer waters clear and leg wakes are more evident at a distance, that much like the day program, your night programs should continue to evolve with the conditions, so play some distance in those late season hair ball engagements. Your payoff in the late season, though less in quantity, will improve with quality. Trophy Mouse Season isn’t the best mouse fishing of the summer; it just yields the better quality, pre spawn initiative fish, needing to stack it on early. We have entered my favorite month of the year; the very back of summer is the most pleasant and potential filled time of year in my opinion. Grab summer by the tail and get up here folks… There is no better time to be a Terrestrial Angler in this state!
We are locking down Arkansas this next month so I don’t have to deal with it this fall, this because I’m working everyday when the steelhead start to push. We are still looking for three people, for the last part of February, and the first week of March, as we have already filled the 3rdand final session. Streamers during the day if they are running water, and Nighttime practices if they are not; all based on conditions instead of politics and opinions. We are potentially switching to a better rental home, right on the water, upstream of the Cotter drama, and closer to nighttime engagements post day trips, or even with the guides pending Bull Shoals ever changing flows. Five guys for 3 different sessions, with 3 local guides down there who are into the fishing as much as we are, and looking to jump on whatever grenade we get day to day. $1,300 per person, per session, with a couple of guys now doing more than the 4 days of fishing, and we can adjust your rates according to how many days you want. That said, we still need 1, maybe two spots filled in first session, and 2 spots need filling in second session. Pending the need for more days of fishing, we may extend the sessions to maximize more time for any of you, but the baseline price is for 4 days or nights of guided fishing, with 5 nights lodging. All post day guide trips, we all have the option of walking around and doing some night fishing as our lodging is right up top with the better walk and wade waters when the flows are shut off. Outside of that, we will be strip and rip fishing whenever the flows are over 8K, which is when fishing starts improving on the day scene with the bigger flies we run on sink-tips. This is a loose fun group all about the fish that would offer up in such a great fishery. We are NOT streamer purists, so if you are interested in this run, you should be ready for some nighttime engagements as our timing is just following the bum rush of superstars that like to show up as soon as they open the upper sections of the river. If you need some updates in your big fly game with the sink tips, do give a ring anytime this fall or winter and we can get you up to speed; as well as the night practices needed which we can still get you warmed up with for the next couple months here in MI. Spey fishermen are beyond welcome on this trip as we found the absolute best way to tango with the in the dark is with the two handed practices helping ease the cast, save some flies, and land the larger fish that are often about there when the traffic is light and the night is right. If you think you have the skills, and are looking for a trophy trip, with a group of guys to bring your game up to a better speed… This is just a good time with a great group of guys all down with the Big Fly for the Brown Trout. This isn’t the best arena in which to learn how to throw streamers as the wind and size of the watershed beg for some game, so if your new to the big streamers, book a couple/few trips here in MI if you want to get downloaded correctly for The Show. Give us a shout if you think you might be one or two of the last few spots… Arkansas always gives up the dandies, especially when you meet the brown trout on his terms!
So fall is booking nicely, and November seems to take care of itself these days… But December fishes as good or better with less fishing pressure and more sections open to the migrating fish in transit. If you want to see a steelhead, be all he can be, don’t wait till November to fight them in water temps that dowse their fire, shoot for middle to late October when the 7lb fish will show you your backing knot a few times!!! Leaping is something they all do, but they way they do it in October is an absolute spazz attack and the battles are ruthless and lasting. Later you come all the way into Christmas, the more fish there are in the system, but a couple Octobers ago was incredible with the rains in September and November ended up being a little slower with less water flow. Brown trout on streamers & eggs will last till Halloween or just beyond, and the streamer potential all winter long for the post spawn browns is always there, but I often see so many targetable steelhead in October, and all my chrome clients wait till November. If you want to get your knuckles busted, try October some years. Swing fishing gets hot around the early/middle part of November, but the stripping for steelhead blends with the trout game, so we will get several on the strip before the first two handed swing. Eggin with switch rods in the middle and the lower river is something I haven’t done as much of in recent years, but it the most productive way to produce steelhead on a fly. Any of you looking for numbers should favor the caviar, but the crowd favorite in recent years has been the strip. Plenty of die hard swing guys still frequent my Hyde, and after as much back rowing as I do these days, it’s nice to fish on anchor from time to time…hhahahha. If you are coming in October and November, get it booked soon as those dates are slipping… December should hold openings for another month, and they come highly recommended, especially for those of you that like to strip as the populations build up in the upper sections later, and those bodies are perfect for streamer intrusion. For the egging behind the kings for the early steelhead, and better still, the larger browns, think middle next month through middle October. There are already Kings in the system, and they will be spawning in a couple weeks time. Once the moss is off the rocks with the fading light, the egging will go boom, and the early end of the caviar roll catches them when they aren’t savvy yet. Get it booked as we have been mastering the caviar game over the last decade with great success. Those of you that want some more summer, like myself, the Terrestrial Daytimes are a gem of a window to learn good casting etiquette; and surface takes in the gin water are burnt into your memory more so than most takes. The best mouse fishing of the year for the bigger fish we reside here in the PM and the Manistee, (where last week we had a couple great nights with the dark moon), is between now and middle October! If you don’t mind rolling fewer fish, with better commitment and quality, this is the time of year to throw the surface stuff in the dark. Call me soon for the next dark moon, because I’m going to be fishing any day I’m not working, as this really is my favorite month of the year!
Folks, enjoy the last of the summer, and as always we look forward to seeing most all of you this fall for some great brown trout and steelhead fishing. This summer though, as hot as it was back in early parts of July and even a few days in June this year, I had to cancel allot of trips due to water temps being too high, and potentially killing any trout we would have caught. After sending several of you home, or simply canceling trips due to the heat in the stream, I lost a good nugget of summer funds, and could use some business in the near future to rebound a bit. Many outfitters and lodges were running trips that were death sentences to the trout that were caught, and though many call themselves stewards of the fishery, allot of true colors were shown. Sticking to my guns, I decided to give the fish a break to respect the fishery instead of rape it, but again, we lost thousands in trips to the heat this year. Any late summer trips taken will be very well received by me and the family as we had ourselves a great summer with Andrea not having to be in school, but we missed out on allot of trips due to the conditions, which are beautiful now, but back in July was redlining our trout. We really hope to see you soon, but if not, we will see you this fall. Thanks again for all the support folks, this is the first time the bank account has been low in many years thanks to your continued fishing and casting improvements.
Again… Thank You! Drive Safe Coming Up…