River Report - April 24, 2018
Spring time in northern Michigan. It's been a doozy.
April has been a whirlwood. Some warmer, 'springlike' temperatures, and bare ground... followed by 36 INCHES of white frozen water over the course of 72 hours. April broke records. And not by an inch or two - we're talking some by over a foot. We received more snow in the first half of April than both February & March combined. But I digress.
Northern Michigan is thawing out, and the majority of the snow has melted with the exception of a few places tucked into the deeps of the cedar swamps. The spate, or runoff, event which has resulted from the melt has been interesting. I've heard a lot of folks over the last week showing concern about the rivers being blown out for opener, or too cold for much activity. One one hand, frost laws have been on for nearly 6 weeks in some places, so the melt isn't pooling up or just pouring into the rivers. Nor have we received any rain or extra hot weather. Instead, the melt has been steady, corresponding with the afternoon high sun, and slowing down during the nightly cooldown. Although the larger rivers have shown a steady climb on the gauges, our smaller rivers look like the increasing slope of a craggy mountainside - up 10, down 5, up 10, down 5, etc. The Jordan River, with her reputation of being one of the most consistent outflows in lower Michigan, looks like she doesn't know up from down. During the afternoon and evening she'll climb up 100 cfs, and drop the same overnight. For a river which normally sits around 190cfs, that's a lot of change in 24 hours... times that by the last 4 days. BUT, what it also means is that the slow, steady melt is drawing in steelhead from the lake - long overdue for their spring thing. March had a quick spawn period with the warmer weather, but followed by the cold temps, activity slowed across the tip of the mitt. However, this week I've had reports of nice, fresh, crhome steelhead starting to show back up in the area watersheds - Jordan, Boyne, Bear - and should only increase heading into the beginning of May.
Another concern is water temps. Are we late? Maybe a little. But in the grand scheme of things, this giant spinning globe we sit on is tilting a little closer to the sun each and every day - and even last week when the snow glare off the banks was reminiscent of February - the high sun warms the dark riverbottom a few degrees each day - putting us back to "normal", however that may be described. Blue wing olives are popping, little black stones are still around, and hennies are just around the corner. And if the current weather pattern is any indication, as soon as this snow melts, it'll be game on in northern Michigan for trout up top.
Season is quickly approaching, with Michigan Trout Opener this Saturday. Over the last few months, especially with being snowed in on occassion, I've spent a considerable amount of time gearing up for the coming season. I swapped out a bunch of personal gear - loaded up on a bit more, and organized about a thousand times. Spring orders have come in, and we've loaded the shop better than ever before. The new crew has done a good job getting things ready, and we've got some fun surprises coming later in May. I'm as ready as I can be for season... are you?! If not, we have our annual Spring Fling on Wednesday, April 25th from 2-6p. Ben Hunting with Emergence Angling Services will be here with all the new gear from Sage, Redington, Rio, Fishpond, Loon Outdoors and others. Test it out, and if we don't have it, we can get it headed your way!
Flip flops, cold beer, and trout sippin' dry flies - welcome to Trout Season 2018!