We hope you have all had the opportunity to be on the water this fall! Northern Michigan has some amazing fall fishing and the weather has been fantastic.
Possibly our favorite time of year, the fall steelhead run is in full swing throughout Northern Michigan. These fish are large, powerful and put on an amazing show when you hook into one. You can find them in nearly every river section open to Lake Michigan.
At this point in the fall, just about every technique can produce fish. There are still plenty of salmon eggs left in the system so running a yarn egg or bead on your line is a great bet whether you're indicator nymphing or bottom bouncing. The swing bite has also gotten underway as these fall fish are still quite aggressive and willing to chase streamers before the water temps start to drop.
The Big Manistee below Tippy Dam has been fantastic this fall. Our guides have been busy netting fish for customers on a daily basis. It should be no surprise that egg patterns have been the most consistent producers but it's time to start mixing nymphs into your rigs as well. Caddis, Stoneflies, and Hex nymphs can be the way to go when these fish get tired of seeing egg imitations day after day. Run one of each in a two-fly rig and see what the fish are keyed on as it can change day-to-day and hour-to-hour.
If you have the itch to swing flies, this is the time of year to do it. We prefer spey rods in the 12-13ft range rigged with skagit heads and t-14. Flies can be wonderfully simple as an oversized egg sucking leech has been the standard fare. Fish are also happy to chomp on other classics such as the Hoh Bo Spey or Intruder if you are itching to tie up something more extravagant.
Our other local rivers are still coming back into shape after the heavy overnight rain we received Wednesday night. On Thursday, the Betsie below Homestead was running high & dirty with about two feet of visibility. I expect it will be in good shape for weekend anglers and warm fall days in the forecast next week. The rain and wind should have pushed a fresh batch of fish into the river for everyone to enjoy.
The Platte and Boardman are fishing decent if you are looking for an easy to access fishery. Downtown Traverse City is about as easy as it gets for accessing fishing spots. The weir was removed some time ago so the fish have been able to move freely between the mouth and Union street dam.
If you'd like to get away from the crowds this time of year, go trout fishing. Many of our favorite fisheries offer extended season regulations so you can fit some fishing in before winter arrives. This can be a fantastic time of year to target aggressive and colorful pre-spawn fish. They'll chase down streamers stripped and jigged in front of them and eat nymphs dead drifted into their lane.
The big thing we have to ask you is to try your best to avoid fish on gravel. Our wild fish population here in Northern Michigan relies on these fish being able to reproduce without the stress of being hooked by anglers. Gravel beds are usually quite easy to spot as fish dig reds and polish the gravel. Look for light colored areas where the rest of the bottom is much darker.
Whatever you're chasing this fall, let us know how we can help you get on the water!
In case you missed it, our podcast is back for season two. It might just be the perfect sound track for your drive to and from the river. It's not a bad option when you can't get out either.