River Report - October 3, 2018
And just like that fall is here.
Gone are the days of backpacking into your favorite brook trout spot with a few trusty dry flies, as most of our systems have been shut down until spring of 2019. This can be troubling as the last few weeks in September started to remind me of the beginning of hatch season. A few good rains and moderate temperatures brought life back to pools and runs that seemed vacant throughout most of a late summer drought. The last few weeks in September gave hope to a four-weight aficionado. Consistent mid afternoon and evening hatches of fall iso's, olives, and caddis made for great action on the surface. After spending most of the summer trying to focus on fly selection and matching the hatch to the best of my ability... I was humbled by having solid production on Adams.
But this late season spurt of activity was halted when I had to reach for an extra layer for my morning drive into the fly shop. Quickly reminded that the seasons are in full swing in Northern Michigan, and with new a season comes new opportunity.
Cool temperatures, overcast days, rain and rising waters.... STREAMERS! For those of you that have been drooling over the opportunity to break out the big guns and strip some meat, well, your time is here. Fall is a favorite of many anglers here in Michigan, and for good reason. There is an abundance of food for big trout to move out of their hiding places and feed throughout the day.
Fall fishing is much different then fishing with dry flies - it takes a lot more determination and focus. For starters you don't see the trout feed on the surface; that alone can discourage most anglers. When it comes to streamer fishing persistence is the key to success. The famous old saying is "hunt" the fly. This is in reference to the tactics required to aggressively streamer fish and illicit a reaction from a trout. Approach a target area of a river with a game plan. Cast, strip, step-step; don't spend a lot of time in the same spot. If there is a trout in your target area odds are he will strike within six casts, so cast thirty six is most likely just spooking the spot even more. Covering a lot of water only increases your opportunity when streamer fishing. When it comes to fly selection this time of year pay attention to water conditions. If the river is running low and clear, smaller baitfish or buggers usually are a good choice. When water levels rise then it is time to break out those big three to six inch streamers. Everybody has their own preference when it comes to color and patterns, most importantly I would chime in to say have confidence in your fly. Fish a pattern hard and then move onto the next one. If one color or size is moving fish, well stick to that fly. I prefer 7 and 8 wts with a sinking tip line either 250 or 300 grains to get the fly down and in the fishes' sight. When it comes to leaders for streamers I go with about three feet of heavy fluorocarbon. This is so my fly doesn't suspend in a target area as I strip it in, I want it down and in the zone.
If streamers are not your thing, nymph fishing has and will continue to produce through the season. Eggs and stoneflies are always a good bet from now until, well, next summer really. Most of our rivers are heavily wooded so a bobber rig with split shot can lead to a lot of hang ups and lost flies. So be precise with your presentation and don't be afraid to substitute a split shot with a bead head nymph.
This in an exciting time of year to get out and enjoy what the change of season has to bring us in Northern Michigan. Whether you upland bird hunt, archery hunt, or hit the river to hunt for trout... enjoy it while you can. Soon we will be struggling to thaw guides in search of that swung lake run fish that will get us through the winter. Until then be safe out there and respect one another and the places that we venture out to.