Well the first week of spring here in Northern Michigan has absolutely defined the phrase much used to describe Michigan weather, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours.” From some much needed precipitation early last week, 50’s and sunny to a pretty massive spring snow storm that dumped about 8-10 of snow yesterday. It has been a fun week with getting back on the Manistee for guide trips on a more regular basis, catching chrome steelhead mixed with the colorful winter fish to the most AMAZING display of Northern Lights we have seen in many years. It is a very fitting start to spring!
The Manistee River has been low and clear for this time of year. There was a nice spike with the snowstorm on Saturday, which should help entice the spring fish to run from the lake. We have been catching a mix of winter fish, fresh fish and some early spawning dropbacks out of Bear Creek and Pine Creek. The temps are steady for this time of year, but I would still like to see some more spring rains. The fish seem like they are trickling in, which makes for a nice, long season, but also makes it tough to find fish consistently. The next few weeks should really be great and a perfect time to get out on the water.
In Benzie County, the Betsie River has been steady the past week and fresh fish are showing up. The fish are scattered throughout the system and the water is low and clear, making for spooky fish. The upper Platte River Opens April 1, 2023 from Veterans Memorial Park downstream for steelhead season-keep in mind the hook size and gear restrictions on the Platte. These are both fantastic rivers for the wading angler.
Bear Creek has been going really well for the past few weeks. Another great spot for the wading angler, just be sure to not walk on redds, as this is a major watershed when it comes to wild steelhead production. The water warms sooner here and as the swamps thaw, it can get some color and get fish moving toward the many creeks and tributaries to spawn successfully.
The Boardman River has been seeing fish move in and out daily and the creek mouths in GT bay have been producing some spring steelhead. Look for a slow presentation under a float, or swing an intermediate tip for the “big grab.”
The Upper Manistee has been productive with streamers and nymphs. Much of the major didymo bloom areas that were most affected last year appear to be showing signs of receding and clearing up. Time will tell what that will do to the hatches, but it appears that some trout are moving back into areas that they avoided most of last spring and summer with the didymo blooms. We are encouraged by this, but we still must be vigilant about stopping the spread of didymo and NZ mud snails to other waterways. Fingers crossed that last year’s bloom conditions will not reappear this spring and the Upper Manistee will return to a more normal hatch level and trout carrying capacity.
Don’t forget to get tickets to the Adams Chapter TU Banquet coming up on Saturday April, 15, 2023 at Gilbert Lodge in Traverse City. The Adams Chapter Trout Unlimited has been very active in the past year and now is a great time to get involved in local conservation efforts.