The spring weather has hit us early this year. Cold temps at night with warm temps during some of the days kicked off trout fishing and dry fly hatches a bit early this year. The local rivers are all low and clear and we are really in need of some precipitation to get things going on the migratory fish side of things.
Manistee River Below Tippy
Spring steelhead are slowly trickling in with a mixture of fresh fish and spawned out drop-back winter fish being located most days, but it has not been easy by any means. Persistence pays off and covering water. Egg patterns, black stonefly nymphs, caddis larva and fry patterns have been working the best. Steelhead numbers seem to be lower than normal and there is much discussion about dropping the limit to one per person. Please feel free to contact the DNR and voice your opinion on reducing limits. There is rain in the forecast and we are hoping a bump in water levels will give us a bump in fish numbers.
Trout fishing on the upper Manistee has been producing some nice browns on streamers. Fishing smaller, more natural colors seems to be the ticket with the low, clear water. There are early black stoneflies garnering the occasional rise from the trout and some BWO action and I have also heard that some Hendricksons are starting on sections of the AuSable, so that could be any day on the upper Manistee. Nymph fishing has been productive as well on the upper Manistee with simple patterns- pheasant tails, stonefly nymphs, prince nymphs fooling the trout as they wake up from their winter slumber.
Bestie River, Boardman River and Platte Rivers
The smaller tributaries have still seen a trickle of spring steelhead coming in and moving directly to spawning areas. Reports are really mixed on these tributaries with most anglers commenting on lower than normal numbers of steelhead. Low clear water has made for very spooky fish so focus on dark water seams below gravel runs and please do not wade on the redds. Nuke eggs, salmon fry and little black stonefly nymphs are working the best on the smaller streams. Keep moving and cover as much water as you can for the best results.