May 13, 2023 Northern Angler Fishing Report
What can I say about May? Two weeks ago, it was “It May snow, it May be 70, it May rain…” Well, the extended forecast looks simply perfect for great fishing. Steady temperatures, mix of some overcast skies, a perfect recipe for good fishing weather. The best part about the second half of May, is that we know that summer is nearly here, there are very few mosquitoes and black flies, and we are just weeks away from the crowds of summer, so it is a magnificent time to get out and fish. I have been guiding all week and in most cases, never saw another boat, and that is so refreshing after spring steelhead season. The potential for this summer is really looking great from a fishing perspective. Much different than the same time last year. Our staff has been out fishing quite a bit and we have been busy guiding and by all accounts, the fishing has been pretty darned good for the time of year. Get out and fish!
Water temps are in the range where fish are looking up when bugs are present. The water is in great condition and we have still been seeing hendricksons, black caddis, bwo’s every day at some point in the late afternoons. Look for sulfurs to start this week and early stones, so be sure to have them in your boxes. Streamer fishing the little pockets with smaller streamers has been good when the bugs are not around. Swinging soft hackles or emergers seems to always be a great technique to produce a trout. Looking forward to seeing what the new woody debris will produce below CCC bridge. Nice to have some great habitat work being done on the Upper Manistee. June should be great if May is any indication of what is to come.
The lower Mansitee has had some productive trout fishing below Tippy Dam and pre-spawn smallies down lower. Spring steelhead crowds are gone and it can be waded for trout below the dam. Hodenpyle section has been producing trout with mostly streamers and nymphs. Fishing the deeper holes and runs will produce good trout action, plus it is a beautiful place to wade and explore.
My clients and I had a real treat when we interacted with the “Sturgeon Crew” gathering eggs for the hatchery program in some of the spawning sites along the river. It is a very interesting process. The biologists place an anchored piece of concrete covered with a carpet-like surface that traps the fertilized eggs washing downstream from the spawning sight. They gather the eggs and then use the facility at Rainbow Bend (further down the Manistee) to rear them over the summer and then typically release 200-300 baby sturgeon every fall. Some of the sturgeon are radio tagged so they can keep tabs on spawning returns and migration. The overall success of this 20 year old program is quite remarkable. Here is more information on that Manistee Sturgeon Program.
The Boardman river has been fishing well all week. Yesterday afternoon Matt and I fished and saw bwo’s, caddis and hendricksons. Fish were rising in the late afternoon and small streamers, nymphing and swinging soft hackles were all working well. So nice to see the didymo mats clear up in some of the sections that were covered up last year. The brookies are so beautiful on this river. Something magical about a wild brook trout and the incredible colors and beauty wrapped up in a sporty little fish.
Smaller watersheds are seeing bass looking to stage up in spawning areas. Temps have ranged from 52-63 on the waters we fished. Streamers and topwater have both been productive, but be ready to cover some water. Bluegill are starting to show up in the shallows and it will only get better in the next few weeks. Catching bass and bluegill on a fly rod is one of my favorite things to do and I plan on going tonight for a bit. Feels so nice to practice casting and bomb some long casts without the worry of my backcast catching a tree. The lakes are not busy this time of year and it is so relaxing to get on the water and fish before sunset. Steal away with a canoe and hit one of the smaller area lakes, it will be worth it!