Category Archives: River

Trout Opener 2015

The Michigan Trout Opener is almost as sacred as the opening day of deer season. Guides are booked, lodges are filled, fly lines are checked and cleaned, early season flies are tied and boxes are stocked, waders are patched, license is purchased, and weather is checked.

This is the first Michigan Trout Opener I have been able to fish in several years. Our church has a Men’s retreat on this weekend, and it has not been close enough to a river to fish for trout. This year we were in Lake City, so close to the Manistee River. With a couple other friends from the church, we planned our free time on the river.

Jeff Nymphing
Jeff Nymphing

We were over by the Sharon Bridges area, and decided to try the North Manistee Tributary just around the corner. We headed up stream and met the owner of that area rather quickly. This is where respect comes in handy.

There were no signs on the land around the bridge, so we were hiking up stream. JP came by and informed us we were on his land. I quickly apologized and said that we would stay in the river, though he said he owned both sides. As we talked, we found out why he was so anxious.

When we came out that morning, somebody had left a string of eight nice sized brookies on the bridge right there. Additionally, he and his neighbors have seen two deer carcasses in the past week hanging, stripped of meat. As he realized we were fly fishing, we struck up a good conversation, and by the end, we had permission to fish upstream from him as long as we respected the fish and his land.  He even gave us a few tips for that area. Will moved one fish in that stretch.

We also fished the main river downstream of Sharon Bridge. Great scenery, but no fish. We talked with the fishermen in a couple drift boats which confirmed that it had been a tough day fishing, but all were happy that trout season was here.

We saw some caddis and a few hendricksons. Jeff is a new fly fisherman, and we had him nymphing and understanding his bugs.

Lessons learned:

  • Teaching a friend to fish on a beautiful spring Michigan day makes a fishless day
  • Seeing hendricksons still is exciting
  • Check out who owns the land around where you will fish
  • Be respectful of anyone you meet
  • A day on the water is always beautiful

Trout season is here! Plan some time to get on the water. If you want somebody to fish with or want to learn more, let me know! You can find me on the Paint Creek in southeastern Michigan or somewhere on the Au Sable in northern Michigan.

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2015 Resolution #2: Fish New Water

Aaron Rubel and I discussed the need for constantly looking for new water to fish last year. It challenges you to see how good of a fisherman you really are, exploring new water, trying new techniques, and often meeting new people. I didn’t make it an official resolution for 2014, though I did fish several new areas.
First bluegill caught on Sage Lake
First bluegill caught on Sage Lake

Sage Lake – this is about 8 miles east of Lewiston off 612. It is a remote lake with a boat launch, but you won’t be launching much bigger than a jon boat or rowboat with a trolling motor. My son discovered this in May with some friends, and I took my kayaks out several times between Memorial Day and the end of September. The first fish I took was a bluegill that slammed harder than most bass. Throughout the summer I caught lots of panfish and several bass. There is a lot of fallen timber, shallow weed beds teeming with bass, and a large dropoff area. It extends quite a ways in both directions, and I have more exploring to do here.

Josh's Brookie
Josh’s Brookie

South Branch of the Au Sable – this is new water in the sense that Josh and I took our kayaks from Chase Bridge to Smith Bridge on an all day float in September. This is the famous Mason Tract area that is very primitive. I have only ever waded this stretch before, and only select parts. While wadeable in summer, there are stretches that are really only safe by boat. Josh I both took nice brook trout. While not a fast river, especially later in the season, this river is not for a beginner kayaker, mostly because of the narrow stretches and numerous log jams. Beautiful water that is a trout fisherman’s dream.

Lake Huron – I don’t think I chose a great point to go in, and it was a windy day. Kayaking was tough, and it is amazing how motor boat drivers can be inconsiderate, even when they see you. I threw a variety of clouser minnows at various depths, while Josh had his spin rod with spoons and other jigs. It was also July 4th weekend, so we did not see any fish activity.
This year I have McCormick Lake on my to-fish list (this is north of Lewiston and where the neighbor caught rainbow trout while ice fishing) and am looking to branch out to a few other rivers with the kayak. Likely the Huron in southeast Michigan for smallmouth. I am also looking at going to the UP to fish musky on the fly with Jon Ray of Hawkins Outfitters in September.
Any other recommendations? Where do you want to fish this year?