With December here, it’s time to think of transitional fishing as water temps cool and the days get shorter.
Our extended Fall Season was enjoyed by most being able to hit the water without the typical number of insulating layers that’s common for this time of year. The lack of cold has kept water temps on the local Steelhead Rivers in the mid to lower 40s which is still an ideal window for good steelhead fishing. But as we approach cooler water temps with colder nights, look for the fish to transition from the seams to the inside edges of runs, in structure and the deeper holes. You will still want to target the proven fall water, but don’t hesitate to fish “off to the side” a little should you not find the fish. In other words, the fish should be scattered and a mix of fresh fish and some that have been in for a few weeks.
After a pretty dry fall, we finally received some rain fall and the water levels bumped up a little. While levels aren’t high, the rains were needed to increase and inspire more fish to move in from the lake as well as redistribute some of the fish already in the systems. Smaller rivers like the Betsie, Boardman and PM should get their first significant push of fish into the systems. The Manistee with its volume off flow has had fish in it all fall, but now the gin-clear water has finally picked up a little stain which is more than welcome.
This time of year fly choice and technique can include just about any with considerable expectations on their effectiveness. Drift/Duck and Chuck, Indicator/Floats, and Swung Streamers are all worthy of exploration for good steelhead fishing. Big egg patterns fished with a nymph (hex or bugger) is great on fresh migratory fish but more realistic egg color and size and smaller nymphs are a good choice for those fish that have already settled into a river environment. Swung flies include black with chartreuse, Olive with Copper and natural sculpin schemes/colors have all been good choices.
Trout fishing on the upper Manistee and below Tippy Dam has been decent as they begin to transition a bit, too. Smaller sink-tips and mid-sized streamers fished slower than normal and with lots of twitches is a good approach. Colors, shape, size and retrieve is often different each day so mix it up until you find success.
Fall Steelhead – Warmer than normal water and air temps will keep us chasing chrome fish for a while yet.
Late Fall Trout – After gorging on salmon eggs, streamer fishing below Tippy Dam can be outstanding.
Gift Certificates – With the holidays upon us, ask for or give the gift of a guided fishing trip – Half or Full-Days.