Autumn like weather has made for some comfortable steelhead fishing the past month. But while the lack of rain made it comfortable, we sure could use some to bring in more fish as the steelhead in the Manistee system are acting coy. Smaller rivers like the Betsie and others in northwest Michigan are in dire need of some precipitation to bring in some fish – it’s been slim-pickings this fall on the smaller tributaries for steelhead.
Water temps on the Manistee are still in the mid to upper 40’s which is warmer than normal for this time of year. With the lack of rain the water clarity almost too clear but the snow and rain should help change that. Lighter line is making the difference between hooking up and not and with the steelhead a bit larger than average this fall there’s a smaller margin for error; lighter line can be a curse as they are feisty this fall and at times, they just don’t play nice at all.
Late fall with warmer water temps are ideal for the steelhead angler looking to swing a fly on a two-handed rod and remains good for those bouncing the bottom with nymph and egg combos. As fish start to move towards wood, it can be a good time to seek the bubble lines around wood and other structure. The bite has transitioned from a total egg bite with more interest in nymphs – specifically hex nymphs and steelhead/ice buggers.
Trout anglers are finding the browns below Tippy Dam looking to fill the void of eggs now that the salmon are gone. Streamer fishing can be good covering mixed water with mid-sized streamers including natural Clouser Minnows, natural sculpin and goby patterns and olive and copper streamers – as always, mix it up. This can be a good time of the year to pursue both trout and steelhead in the same day.
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.