Spring Steelhead

Spring Steelhead

Friday, June 10, 2011

High Heat & Low Water

What a tempeture change! Wednesday here in Michigan it was right around 100 degrees, then Thursday only in the 60's. Regardless of the weather, we had plans to chase some trout and that's just what we did. Through out the spring months when many fly anglers are chasing the large browns with streamers the size of kittens, I'm usually chasing steelhead till the end of April. Then I retreat to a camp spot deep in the National Forest near the Manistee River to chase feeder creek trout. As much as I have become absolutely addicted to the sport of fly fishing, since I stumbled upon these cold water tributaries that feed into the Manistee roughly 11 years ago this has become our opening day camp. My father fly fished trout in the 1970's and during the 1980's set the fly rod down and became a Saginaw Bay walleye junky. The first time I took him up to this small trickle of water in the National Forest it re-kindled his love for chasing trout.
On this small feeder creek, it is virtually impossible to cast a fly rod on 99% of the water, which means putting down the fly rod and picking up a spin cast rod. Many die hard fly anglers refuse to do this, but  if it means I'll be heading to waters that have given me plenty of fond memories and I get to spend the day fishing with the most competitive person I know  (my father) then I don't have a problem picking up the old trusty 7' Ugly Stik and putting in some work on the feeder creek fish.
When most anglers think feeder creek spin casting, they think fishing worms. Hey I know they work, I've caught trout on them, but when spin casting they are rarely ever in my arsenal. Grass hoppers, crickets, grubs, June bugs, wax worms, minnows, etc. are some of what you will find in my bag of tricks. I can pull out my map book of rivers and streams, you know the one each of us have that is filled with notes, pages are torn, we always say we are going to replace it but never do, and I can tell you by trial and error over a decade which feeder creeks a black cricket will work on during the dog days of summer and a grass hopper won't. It's all in knowing the area and what types of insects reside near the river. As far as monofilament, a low vis green line works well, don't go much lighter then 6 lb though. You maybe fishing in a few inches of water, but you never know what is lurking under the log submerged in a pool that is a mere 2 foot deep!
I honestly could not tell you how many trout we put in our nets yesterday, it was amazing! Above is a shot of the big boy of the day. These are the types of tributaries you don't dare mention their names. When you find water that you can fish on opening day and not see another angler, you have truly found a treasure! Especially when the water lodges brown, brooks, and rainbows. When I fish trout with a spin cast rod, I present the bait to the fish as natural as possible (casting up stream and letting it drift down to the fish). Though there are those instances where you find a nice run with too much over hang and down lining is the only option.
Here is shot of my father with a beautiful 12 inch feeder creek brown trout!
Notice the neopreme waders? Yeah it was so brisk in those woods you could see your breath, on June 9th! All in all it was a great trip and another memory of fishing what is my fathers favorite trout stream in northwest Michigan. I think this one will be remembered as "the trip that almost didn't happen!" As we were driving up the highway at 4am that morning in my father's new 2011 Chevy Z71, a deer leaped out in front of the truck and the pedal went to the floor. Having hit two deer in my life thus far, I honestly couldn't tell you how we missed this deer, other then then fact the brakes were locked at 70 mph! Certainly did wake Belle up as she came flying off the back seat and on to the floor.
According to river guides, the brown drake hatch is going on strong on the Au Sable River right now!

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