This early heat wave we've been experiencing hasn't been very enjoyable in town but on the rivers it has been great! Typically, anglers can struggle finding rising fish this time of year despite the enthusiastic hendricksons and caddis that dance just above the water. Our fish are so very temperature sensitive in Northern Michigan and these warm nights have bumped lots of fish into action.
Black caddis have been dominating the skies in the afternoon and evening but often they are not on the water long enough for fish to really commit. That being said, it's always worth having some elk hair or opal caddis in your box. I would highly recommend swinging a soft hackle that imitates emerging caddis pupa through riffles if you're not finding fish feeding on the surface. These are so easy to rig on your five-weight! Simply loop on a sinking/poly leader to the end of your fly line, add a foot or two of tippet and tie your fly on. From there, I like casting downstream at a 45 degree angle and allowing my fly to swing out from the bank to the middle. Be sure to let your fly dangle straight downstream for a few seconds before recasting. Often a fish will take your fly on the hang down as it begins to rise in the current.
Hendricksons get lots of attention this time of year because they are the first sizable mayfly hatching on our rivers. Unfortunately, this can often be what I call the "heartbreak hatch" as anglers can be overwhelmed with bugs on the water but underwhelmed with the amount of rising fish. It's all about water temps to get our fish coming up and this heat wave has kicked lots of fish into gear. Look for duns to be hatching any time in the afternoon-evening. Emergences can vary depending on rivers and conditions and these hot days they'll tend to wait until later in the evening. Fish a parachute or cripple pattern dead drifted through likely spots and be ready for some fun!
If you're lucky, you'll have spinners working up stream with their unmistakable yellow egg sacks. This is really the image of spring that I think of during the long winters. Find a slow pool or back eddy to work fish eager for an easy meal and make sure you pack a headlamp to find your way home after a fun evening on the water.
These bright days have made for some difficult conditions for streamer anglers but next week things should really turn on. I've been happy to put up with some early heat to kick things off as long as we can get back to normal spring conditions. Most of our rivers are running clear with average flows so I'll be fishing small-medium flies that have some weight at the head. It's always so tempting to throw light flies that swim and glide but the water temps need to be just right.
We started off with a long and cold spring so things are just now getting going. Anglers are reporting pre-spawn bass and a few pike being caught throughout Northern Michigan. Personally, I'm excited to get on my local lakes to chase smallies and pike this next week. It's a great way to spend the day when I don't feel like staying out to look for spinners on the rivers