April 15, 2020:
As a result of being unable to guide or fish out of a motorized boat due to COVID-19 pandemic, I have not been on the Big Manistee River since April 8th when I had my son out for a few hours. The colder weather that we have been having has the river temps in the mid-40s.
I would look for fish to be holding near spawning gravel or up on the gravel spawning. Using 8mm and 10mm beads should be good this time of year. I would try chartruse or brighter orange to start; but if that does not work, then try more of a natural orange. Lemon Roe, Atomic Yellow, Super UV Orange, and Atomic Orange are some of my favorites this time of year.
Stone flies, fry pattern, caddis, and wolleybuggers should all be working right now to if that is how you like to fish.
Hopefully we can get back out on the water before the steelhead are gone; but if not, then there will be some good trout fishing coming up.
March 17, 2020:
Water temperatures are on the rise and water levels are coming back down to normal. This is a fun time to be on the river as there are fishing staging near spawning flats and fish in the holes with new fish moving up. The cold mornings have been a little slow; however, after it warms up, so does the action. I have been float fishing most of the time but mixing in a little chuck and duck side drifting when the spot calls for it. Steph brought his fish to the boat today on 10mm and 12mm beads. The river still has some color to it, so bigger brighter beads were key.
I still have a few March dates left and a couple of April dates became available. Eric & Zach have some dates available as well. Get the kids out of the house and join us for a fun day on the river!
March 1, 2020:
With the warm weather that we have been having, I took a break from ice fishing and spent the day with good friend, Mitch, on the Big Manistee chasing steelhead. Being 50 degrees out and a Sunday, there were a few other boats and shore fishermen out. We fished around a little bit up by the dam and Suicide Bend without any luck, so we decided to go down river a little ways to little less pressured areas. At our first and second stops, I hooked a fish but lost them both. We made another move down and Mitch hooked up and brought one to the boat. After a few more moves, I hooked a few but could not land them. Fishing was steady for us once we went down river and most of our hook ups were in slower, deeper water.
We had a fun few hours on the river! I have one more ice fishing tournament left and then I will be chasing chrome every day. If the spring weather continues, we should have a good mid-March bite this year. Don’t wait to book your trips!
October 17, 2019:
Fishing has been good for both steelhead and salmon, with steelhead on the up-swing and kings on the down-swing but still a lot around. The best steelhead fishing seems to be the middle section of the river (Rainbow to High Bridge) with some fishing moving in behind the spawning salmon.
Bob and Jim fished with me the last two days and we had a lot of wind the first day, making booning a little challenging but we were able to put fish in the boat. On Day 2, the weather and wind were nicer and the fish bit better with Bob and Jim winning a few battles and losing some. It was nice catching up with Bob Esbensen (a former USA Ice Fishing team member and NAIFC opponent) and getting to meet Jim.
October 2, 2019:
King salmon fishing is going well with fish in the holes and runs near their spawning grounds and a lot of fish on redds. If you like sight fishing for kings, the next couple of weeks are going to be good! There is probably about a week’s worth of skein fishing for kings left.
Eric and his dad, Steve, wanted to try for a mixed bag of fish today so we began with boondoggling for steelhead (my favorite time to be on the river). It did not take long until we got a few trout to go and lost a decent steelhead. Before we could land a steelhead, Eric got a play with a lively king salmon that made him work since he was using steelhead tackle. He brought her to the net after a good fight. We had a few on and off before landing our first fall steelhead of the day.
Steve wanted to get a few fish for his smoker so we switched gear and went skein fishing. Eric had our first fish that came off at the boat, but Steve showed him how to land a fish a little later on so we had two for the smoker. Back after steelhead, we went and found a few to play with us and there was a fair amount of dark water kings. We had four passes through a stretch where we hooked a king every time. With our final float of the day, we hit a king and steelhead double. No better way to end a great day on the river!
September 27, 2019:
Fall finally feels as though it has arrived here in northwestern Michigan and the fish are liking the colder weather. Jerry, Robert, and Jake fished with me today and we started the day by making a little boat ride down river to our first spot. Jake got our first bite of the morning but did not hook him. With Jerry’s next cast, the fish dropped the float in the same spot but, after a good fight, we had our first fish in the net.
The skein bite was productive today with double digit hook ups and a lot of fish brought to the boat. I had five boats out and every client each landed at least one fish while losing a lot more. Overall, it was a great day on the water with a good group of guys!
September 17, 2019:
The rain that we got last week gave the river a slight stain which help the fishing out and got the fish moving up towards their spawning grounds. There is a little bit of spawning activity starting but the majority of the fish are still in the deeper holes and runs throughout the entire river system.
Mark and Greg had a good action all day long. Float fishing brought all of our fish to the boat today. While we still had cloud cover, it only took a cast or two to get a hook-up. As the day went on, we had to slow down and fish a little longer in each spot but most spots still produced fish. Our final spot of the day, Greg landed a nice coho.
September 13, 2019:
With all of the rain the Pere Marquette River has had this week, I called Jim, Hunter, and Glen (some of my ice fishing buddies) to head up to the Big Manistee River. After a slow first hour, I was beginning to second guess my decision but then Glen got us started on hooking fish. A few more fish soon followed but they decided that they did not want to play any longer.
We, then, made a long boat ride to fish the middle part of the river. After landing one more fish and losing five to six, we made the move back up to the fish we had found earlier in the day. Those fish had not moved but were now ready to play. Jim hooked three in three drifts, landing two of them along with one more to end the day. In total for the day, Glen got us started with three, Hunter got one that was the biggest, and Jim boated five. We definitely had a good day on the water!