September 8, 2023 Northern Angler Fishing Report
It has been a crazy week with temperatures ranging from 98 degrees to 68 degrees as we start off September here in Northern Michigan. We received some much needed rain and there is more in the forecast for next week. So much rain in fact, that I can’t recall ever seeing the Boardman River gauge go up that high! The Upper Manistee came up 8” and we can still use more water in the system. I was out last Saturday on the lower Manistee fishing for early kings and I cannot recall ever seeing the water so low. We have been busy at the shop with Labor Day sales and a mixture of anglers coming in to get stocked up for the fall trout fishing and salmon season. It is always entertaining to hear the stories of the mad salmon anglers fighting over “their spot” and so far there have been no reported stabbings this year on the Betsie. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about salmon season, but it certainly brings out the worst in people. Maybe it is something primal, the hunter/gatherer gene that surfaces when the “big fish” show up. The weir has been placed in the Boardman River, and they have already passed a nice batch of coho on the Platte weir, so things are on track for what looks like a good fall run.
The Boardman has been very consistent all summer with fishing better on overcast days, but I would give it a few days to shape up for dry fly action to pick back up. Streamer fishing should be good as the water comes down! Smaller, weighted streamers should get the fish out chasing and nymphing will also be productive. Keep in mind that the Boardman closes above Beitner Road on September 30 so the fish can spawn successfully. The Brookies are definitely putting on their fall “makeup” and the colors will be as vibrant as the fall leaves. The lower Boardman below Union Street Dam has a decent mix of kings and cohos below the weir and some fish in between the weir and post office.
Upper Manistee River
With the rains this week the Upper should fish well with streamers. I am hoping to carve out some time and get on the river to do some fun fishing. The pre-spawn bite can be good and there are still so many flying ants around that the fish will be looking up for the hoppers, beetles and ants for the next few weeks. Even though the river shot up, it will be back in shape in no time due to it being so dry and the river so low for the past several weeks. We would still love to see more rain. Be prepared with streamers, but don’t hesitate to bust out some dry flies as well. It is nice to see the dydimo has receded this summer but it really feels like the trout are few and far between in the flies only section, but other sections where the DNR has stocked some fish are fishing better, but with limited wading opportunities. Last few times I have been over there I was catching a good mix of brookies, browns and rainbows on dries and small streamers.
Lower Manistee River
There are fishable numbers of salmon from Tippy Dam down to the lake with the colder weather giving them a greater chance of survival. The extremely warm weather last week was tough on the fish and the bite was slow for this time of year, even though there are a good number of fish in the river. I was amazed at the amount of anglers on the river, even though it was Memorial Day weekend. Again, in the Lower Manistee, we really need more rain and water levels to come up.
The Betsie River has fishable numbers throughout the entire system with more shooting up with the rains and wind from this week. This is a great river to wade in and if you do your homework and are willing to hike a bit, you can find a place to fish away from the masses. It is worth picking up a beer and a sandwich and watching the circus of fishing below the dam, but bring a trash bag, because it appears that no one there seems to respect mother nature, or know what it means to clean up after yourself. It’s really too bad, because this is one of the best wild runs of migratory fish we have in the state. I truly feel sorry for the conservation officers and law enforcement officials that are in charge of enforcing rules and regulations on this river. What an incredible resource that just gets so much abuse.
Have a great weekend and thanks for taking the time to read our fishing report. I will be heading down to Lansing next week to speak on behalf of the Michigan River Guide Association on steelhead limits. We are working hard to protect our wild steelhead populations and trying to get the state to help us preserve this world class fishery. We are proposing to have a one steelhead limit on all Michigan rivers, all year and have the DNR keep with the marking program of the hatchery fish with the adipose fin clip. The clients that fish with us know how we record the catch, size, sex, and wild vs. hatchery with the Great Lakes Anglers Diary App and this has been very beneficial with providing data to the state on steelhead catch rates, and populations in the rivers. If you care to comment on steelhead limits I would encourage you to email the Natural Resource Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your concerns and support a one steelhead limit on all Michigan rivers and continue with the fish marking program for all hatchery fish.