So that may have been one of the best spring streamer seasons I’ve ever guided as far as consistency across the board. Pere Marquette, Manistee, and Ausable Rivers all fished well for me. Haven’t been down to the MO in awhile now, but really soon I’ll head down for a little streamer/dry mix up action. You guys should check out Matt Supinkski’s book… Salmo Trout Nexus… Dude knows his shit when it comes to the science of butter! Gray’s should be great down there with the extra water this year. The Hendrickson hatch on the PM existed amongst the fry hatch this year, which too has been running a little later than normal, and still leaves the salmon as the highest level of protein for the river here at home. Hatches are the mainstay for the next month or so here on Upper/Westside of Michigan… Grey Drakes are terribly overlooked by comparison to the Hex Hatch and often yield more consistent action over a longer period of time. Mouse fishing is a go as of whenever you decide to flip from here on out with the water levels, temps, and even the bugs now bringing the surface takes too a head. Mayflies will run the show the next month or so, but the variety of others things in play is daunting; this keeps the angler in a conditional happening and then needing to change based on his awareness of those windows. As a trout fisherman, this time of year is a plethora of technique and timing, all suiting for a fish that is happy in the bounty allowed, this following the stale of winter that kept the feed at bay, but then enhances the foraging of spring/early summer. Go get you some folks… It really is a great time to be a trout angler in this great state of Michigan!
With all the dry fly, nymphing, and even nighttime approaches all open and allowing… This year, unlike most by this time of May… The water still runs high and cool, and this has kept the BIG FLY BITE, strong these last couple weeks where normally we are on the fade of the strip & rip games of late winter and spring. Lately, with the rains of April, more landing in May; the rivers are allowing for a great late season streamer game, which as you know… I’m All About! Watching a fly, and fishing in with the trout mindset in check, then the surprise of the campaign of pain the browns offer to the spun chicken and deer representations of fish or leeches is consuming and for some reason, never gets old. Unlike nymphing where you need to verify the blind takes with smaller flies near the bottom, or the half opened birthday present of dry fly fishing where the fish is known and gorging, and the technique needed to convert is limited… Streamers, and namely those that swim instead of jigged variations, is something that brings all your game to the table. Fishing a varied cast each and every, to the mild depth, structure, and even water speed adjustments to the casts delivered in a timely and very deliberate manner… This all while the boat is moving to the fishes whereabouts which can only be forecasted, but never known. Verifying a streamer bite needs little clarification, and is brown trout eye candy at it’s best. Being vicious over reserved in their sacking, or considering of you presentations is more in play with a streamer than any other… It’s not the dead drift, or the feeding of a fish, so much as it’s the offensive tones you may or may not deliver to tip that fish into a state of predation and anger. Streamers, and the anticipation of the hit always possible, and somewhat expected, falls second only to mouse fishing where the trout is the same kind of evil, but more in his element of the dark side as he is a nocturnal by natural trout. If you haven’t dove into the deep end of the pool with streamers yet, let me tell you that after fishing as long with all the techs… Streamers, much like mousing… WILL CONSUME YOU IN THE FINEST WAYS!
Streamer season will be lasting into June this year with all the extra water and lower water temps for the season at hand, and is a great way to mix up the day while setting up for the dry fly options towards the evening. Salmon fry hatch was later this year too, (with the water warming later), and will be a great way to engage the trout on foot as we clear up and drop. If fishing from the boats, The Drunk & Disorderly still runs the show in my boat, but the presentations that I’m teaching are waaaaaaay ahead of the normal guide curve, and it shows in the productivity of my trips, (even with newer folks), versus the local taxi services, where shining a client on is more their baseline for a good tip potential. In my boat, I can make you better than you already are, no matter what your skill level, as many of my clients angle better than 90% of the guide community around here. If you just want a nice boat ride with some bird watching, mild casting efforts, and conversation we can do that too… But many who frequent my boat are doing so to improve their game so they can have a better awareness of the sport and allow themselves to become more creative with it. You will never have fun with fly fishing until there is some understanding of it, since not grasping at least some of it leaves you fighting your cast and technique to a point of low pay off. Fly fishing allows for an angler to see the dividends of his efforts by the audience of fish he is afforded no matter what bite condition or situation is thrown at him. There are some really second rate guides up here that are decent fisherman, but there are few great guides up here that know how to instruct better or more efficiently… You need only ask around! Still have some solid openings for this late season, which I will post below, and the dry fly mix up is a great way to get that variation on a guide trip… Maybe a bit of a finale too!
Dry fly fishing so far has been good, but not great. Sulfurs are strong right now, and we have already cycled the early black stones, Hendricksons, and even most of the black caddis, which showed with a decent force this year. Calendar says drakes should be flying, and we’ve seen them as early as the end of April, but this year it was snowing then! With the slower start to the Mayflies, there will be a back up in the numbers popping as they try and catch up. Expect some great dry fly fishing starting up here next week as we really warm the water for the first time. Both the Manistee and PM are still fighting their way out of the 40’s on water temps, but again, this is a good thing for the late streamer game, and may concentrate the hatches for a couple stronger weeks instead of spreading the same count of mayflies over a three week period. Hex Hatch will be later this year, and I’ve got a bunch of good openings for the hatch but they are slipping quickly as June & November are my more peak months these days since I don’t snag steelhead and salmon like most outfitters up here. Hex Hatch, though a bit of a Gong Show these days with the amount of people doing it versus yesteryear… It is still possibly the most likely way to size up and square a large brown trout on this river, and even break that two-foot mark. Basic dry fly skills in check, it’s not tough to convert on the binging trout during this giant, lasting hatch. That all said, June always books later for the Hex, and most overlook the Grey Drake Hatch, just before the Hex, and it occurs, (unlike the Hex), river wide and is generally far more predictable with the spinner flies and windows. Fewer people and plenty of very large fish to be had away from the carnival of the Hex… Or Michigan Caddis, depending on the age of the angler discussing! Really pushing for the Drake trips this year as they are more client friendly and for that matter more visual as the hatch occurs before dark instead after dark and lets the client see where to cast. For all you trophy hunters that don’t mind the carnival, book your Hex Dates and fill that calendar, because as soon as I get 21 dates for it, I’m going to just take the rest off and try and avoid the weekends. DRAKES ARE GOOD TO GO FROM NOW TILL MIDDLE JUNE and come highly recommended.
Bigger Golden Stones will be in the mix here this week as well, or maybe next… And usually the higher the water, the better that hatch. Fishing them all day blind feels much like hopper fishing, without needing the bank disciplines as much. Larger Olive Stones have been coming off for a week now and I suspect they will slow into next before the golden show, which really is a good time to fish the midday games up here this time of year. Nymphing will play a role whenever you need it to, and though you may be sorting through allot of smaller fish while you fish the smaller nymphs, the likely hood that sooner or later one of those fish turns into a dandy or a donkey is very much there, especially if you’re picking the right spots to coerce one into the lighter tippet/subsurface game! Again, don’t forget those Salmon fry patterns as they are hot to trot right now, and you can see why each time you look into ANY eddy on this watershed, as they are all littered with the tiny minnow hors d’oeuvres them browns are fattening on; and lets face it, as good as the hatches are, it’s tough to trump the fry bite when those minnows outnumber the bugs about a thousand to one!
As we dip into June you will notice some larger midday, sporadic hatches of ISO and other assorted mayflies, stones and even smaller tan and micro caddis. Black caddis are still around, but finishing, and I’m just excited to have the bigger stones in play from now till the end of summer as they are a favorite to fish in my boat. Hex Hatch is something that has to be noticed, but it’s not the same trip I was offering years back where solitude came with the nights hatch. With as many rookie guides just jumping on the backs of those who showed/taught them, or even the heroes that just know how to read a car spot sheet… It’s become tougher to feel like I’m offering that quality experience, but again, with the productiveness of the hatch; it’s still worth showing up for. Just giving everyone a heads up on the happening, as it has become crowded in these areas in recent years with all the sheep that never found their own programs and the happening that is so very localized. Can’t pitch too much of a bitch though… I still get to fish for a living, and they will never know the fishing that was going on before all the pressures that came over the fish the last decade… This makes me feel very lucky that I was able to corner a place for as long as I did and never wonder if I was going to see another boat. All that aside, and timing this year very much considered, there really is no better time to call out an absolute PM Donkey then when those big flies drop to the water. If you have been trying to get that bigger fish of a lifetime, whether here on the PM, or even going up to the Manistee… Get your dates in the book and ting that bell with some forecast of the happening this hatch allows.
Moving into summer this year, and following the buzz of the bigger hatches, the river quiets and begs for attention. Terrestrial persuasions trump the aquatics, and the night game comes on step in full force. Hopper fishing fills in very nicely for all the business hour attempts, or for those more lit moon cycles when the light dowses the night bite a bit. This August I’m planning on taking the boys and babe down to Arkansas for some fun, and to fish Hoppers & Night Fish with John Holsten and crew. Looking to put together a smaller group of guys looking to take a BIG swing, and fish the darkness down there in very nice conditions. Will be taking the boys to Dry Run Creek to get them a fix on a fly they may never forget, and likely hit a few water parks on the way. Looking for 5 more guys out of 8, for a 4-day fishing, two sessions, 5 nights lodged… $1,500 per head. Spey talents come highly recommended for this, as does a good line carry for 5/6wt rods and larger hoppers. Distance is big on the White when the water is low and clear, which is when that is a killer technique. While down there I’ll be doing a couple seminars with a couple local shops, and even a brewery… Covering allot of Big Fish Approaches that can be implemented on any trout stream, and give you a primer on how to vary you rigs, tech, and presentations to each and every. Fly Line Discussions, and uses… And the where of it all! If you think this fits for you, give me a shout, and we can get you on step. We are more or less all set on bookings for Arkansas 2020, and on that note our outlook is much clearer this year. There will be weekend dates included this year so to better the potential of the night game, which last year proved as good as any year we’ve ever been down there, save maybe the flood year where everything worked during the day. Really was my favorite year to date this past with John Holsten and his hungry crew, and refreshing for that matter. We learned from each other, and I expect this next run in February of 2020 is going to set a new precedent on that river’s potential in any condition. Again, we always strive for the better streamer conditions so to better our chances with a nocturnal trout during the day… But my crew no longer needs that incentive to fish The White… There are better options! Again, right now, I believe we are booked with all that came returning, and another group that is on step for the 4thsession now up for 2020. If openings occur, do get yourself on the short list of people to call if there is a cancelation. This is not a beginner trip… This is for advanced streamer anglers looking to gain some real knowledge within a group of SERIOUS brown trout anglers that have been going down there each winter for almost a decade now. We have the MI program down to a rough science, which really is a recent download down there. Exciting doesn’t cover the incoming year with last year offering neither good streamers, nor good night options, but we capitalized on both very well. Thanks to John Holsten and crew for getting the ducks in a row the 2019 Unicorn Hunt. Again, if you think you can make it work… We have some spots for the August run down there this year… So get with us on that availability and I’m beyond siked!
Thanks for a great spring folks… It was really cool spending as much time as I did on the Manistee this spring. It was also nice fishing more of my two person trips in the middle section of the PM this year as there was much more casting opportunity for the backseat angler with the room allowed down there. Fish committed better than the fly water fish that are becoming savvy with as much pressure, and unless you have an A Game, the Flies Only has become tougher by comparison to the middle river, which might I add gets some additional planting unlike the upper waters. Three fish over 23” below Mac this spring, with allot of respectable, too smaller fish to hand was great. 4 fish of the two foot class also came from the Manistee, with allot of action overall. Again, this passing spring has been the best strip season, (even when the water was colder), than I can remember in awhile, though size wise picture worthy fish have been lighter. Hatches so far could have been bigger and better, but the streamers have kept us plenty occupied. Right now the fishing pressure is limited, but will spike for the Hex Hatch, yet not as much for the Drakes, which I’m going to recommend with the forecasted concentrations of them. If you’re looking to gain some great casting skills without the weight of those bigger sink-tips and bigger streamers, fishing larger stone fly patterns on dry lines is a great way to learn the disciplines without throwing allot of excess rod or line weights. For the little ones… I really like the nymphing early on as it’s forgiving and visual as what kid doesn’t like watching a bobber. At about 11, the dry fly will be their favorite, but till then, the little float dropping, keeps them puckering… And that’s what’s important! Wondering what dates to consider for your mouse trips this year… DARKER MOONS ARE THE BEST FISHING!!! If you are a beginner, or novice and looking to improve your dark side skills, then allow for a little moon so to see a bit what your doing. My darker moon phases book up first, but the brighter moon phases last… They are still very productive by daytime standards, and allow you to learn your presentation speeds and get some sense of your surroundings. Early on the fishing is best for the mousing as far as action and numbers of fish in play, but the trophy fish typically come later in the summer from late July till early October… Book accordingly! If your already down with down the dark of it all, doing the darker nights is far less visual, but very productive, and I’ve got the river memorized so you don’t need to see a thing… Like hunting with Ray Charles! No matter your flavor of fly fishing, right now is such a great time to be up here fishing. Early trips will be fading away unless you want to throw some daytime meat, outside of that, the bugs get more active as the water warms midday and beyond. Call a couple days out for your start times, plan of attack, and lunch requests; we got you covered here at The Fish Whisperer Guide Servise… Thanks Much Folks!