The forecast shines from tomorrow until the first days of May like a lighthouse on the shore of trout season.  The first mayflies of the year are now hatching on the Holy Waters and Manistee.  The rivers are their spring-red color.  The remaining snow is piled on the shaded edges of parking lots.  A few trout have begun rising in the stretches that the early season trout always rise.  This winter (may just be) out like a lamb.

A sunny spring river

Yep, it’s a great forecast.  But we’ve had some rain tonight and the rivers will be higher tomorrow…not sure by how much.  I don’t think we’ve received nearly the rain the weather computers predicted, but in the spring water levels are at their least predictable.  Feel free to call the shop for up to the minute water levels.

Currently there is a mix of river conditions common to April.  The Holy Waters and Manistee have had a few trout rising but both have been fishing well with streamers and nymphs.   The South Branch is very high but fishing okay for experienced anglers fishing from experienced boats that know what boat fishing a high spring South Branch is all about.   There is no wade fishing to be had on the South Branch.  The lower river, as well as below Mio, is still flowing quite high but, again, is streamer fishing fairly well.   The big water will not deliver numbers of trout, but it can deliver a few trout with a lot numbers.  As Bill used to say at his little North Branch shop: Try somethin’ yella.  

BWOs on the last of the snow

Last weekend was not an easy weekend of fishing.  There was some slushy snow on Thursday, a bright warm Friday with some decent nymph fishing, a cold and crappy Saturday with mostly bad conditions, six more inches of snow on Sunday, another heat wave, now a thunderstorm, and so on.

Rob, Erich and I made it out on Sunday for some streamer fishing.  It started out sunny and ended very snowy.  We fished the high water pretty hard and caught a few fish before the wind and snow came.  Once the wind and snow came, they landed four trout in about thirty minutes despite breaking a rod (not on a trout), while I kept my hands warm in the rowing gloves.  Everything was on yellow.  The trout this spring are plump.

Sunday: Erich with a snowy beauty

The snow melted in a day.  More olives hatched, a few trout rose, and some of those few were caught on a dry fly.

Today Matt and I made it out for a short afternoon float.  The wind was from the east and the sunny afternoon made for some tough conditions.  A few fish chased the streamer but really wouldn’t commit.  Finally we stuck a few on nymphs just as the olives began hatching.  They were nice fish, and the last, a great male rainbow, was a real treasure of a trout.  It was sitting on the backside of a mid-river sand hump in a little dark water spot above a narrow deep pool.  It ate a pheasant tail we have in the shop with a red butt that has worked all week.  We released it gently but it still trailed a small tendril of milt.

Stay hooked, stay hooked, stay hooked…

Soon enough, the hendricksons will start emerging and will quickly overshadow the underrated spring BWOs.  I’m not going to bother predicting, other than to say the chance of the first good dry fly day increases rapidly now.  This season will quickly catch up to last.   Despite the rain falling now, the rivers are recovering more quickly than any of us would have imagined after the big snows of this past winter.  One good spring torrent could ruin that – the swamps are still full – but what the trout want they’re going to get: steady conditions, warmer water, and an increasing amount of hatches.   Spring is always a bit of a faker.  But 2019 is nothing like 2018 and I think the next seven days will not only usher in the spring mayflies but will also offer some excellent fishing.  We’re ready…

This weekend: bright streamers fished aggressively on sinking tips, tightline or indicator nymph techniques, a box of BWOs, a few black stones, maybe a dry and dropper, and longer days: fish the morning, fish the afternoon, fish the evening.   If wading, concentrate on the Main and the North Branch and the upper Manistee and be sure to stop into the shop for up-to-the minute water level reports.  If floating, the launches are open and accessible throughout the river system.  We’re serving breakfast, lunch and dinner beginning this Saturday, April 20, and ending sometime around the first of November.  We still have open rooms and a few available guides over the next ten days.  Get out and enjoy spring…


Volunteer Opportunity: 

TU Property management is planning on planting the oak seedlings at the Knight Tract on Monday, April 22 and (if trees remain to be planted) on Tuesday, April 23. We will plant from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM.  We’ll meet at the blocked entrance to the selective harvest area on Wakely Bridge Road near the powerline in the NW corner of the property. You will want to bring a couple pairs of work gloves and a hammer?.

Please advise if you will be able to join us in this planting.  Email Dave Cozad at: [email protected]