Sorry for the long delay in posting folks!
I had a very busy guiding summer and traveling back-and-forth from trips. Often if I don’t post a report it is because I am on the river so much, recording a podcast or writing , and nothing has really changed since my last post. But I swear I will post weekly for the rest of the year and give you a realistic report and not a marketing report for my guiding.
We didn’t need the last heat wave of last week that saw air temperatures hit 92 F. It jacked the water temperatures in the reservoirs up that stayed fairly cool all summer. But the good news is cool weather is on tap for the next two weeks and water temperatures are already going down with several 48F cool nights.
The good news is we survived hot water temperatures through the summer despite that early September heat wave that just expired this afternoon after the thunderstorms. Thanks to Consumers Energy at Croton Hydro for the first time in my 30 years of guiding did an incredible attempt to keep river temperatures in the summertime heat period down in the 60 F range. This has never happened in the past years ! Thank You Michael from “Joe Lunch Box” and Patrick from Michigan DNR for working with me to put pressure on Consumers Energy to keep the cold water bubbler working and their use of the turbine/spill gate mixture.
Muskegon Tailwater: As a result we have had tremendous growth and holdover in the trophy brown trout regulation fish and rainbow trout, that are now pushing very good sizes and have become very hatch specific selective as the fall season kicks in. They are now not easy to fool and your hatch matching must be spot-on to fool them. But all bravado aside I have had some of the finest dry fly action I have ever experienced in 30 years of summertime’s on this river as a result of the water temperatures and clarity of the water that makes the fish very selective . Long leaders (16-18 footers) and very fine tippets (6x) along with knowing the exact phase of the hatches, coupled with presentation, is critical to fooling these surface oriented beauties.
River levels have been very, very low, thus the fish have been holding in shallow waters where the nymphs’ and larvae hatch from, along with the crayfish and chubs. The coldest river temperatures are in the morning, after they run the bubbler and nighttime cooling. But temperatures will continue to drop as fall approaches.
Spring Creeks: The little spring creeks in the National Forest and surrounding area that have wild ground-zero browns and native brookies that I guide on all summer when water temperatures are too hot on the mainstem river, have had a great summer ! There are 4 of them that are small and secluded ice cold 49-55F spring fed creeks that hardly anyone fishes. The wilds there are stunning and must be approached carefully and are very spooky! But on 2 and 3 weights they are tremendous sport fishing bwo’s and terrestrials – fish fight incredibly hard in these ice cold waters, with the occasional 16-19 inch wild a bonus!
Here is why I am in love with these little spring creeks!- especially from a trophy brown trout hunting perspective on sculpin style streamers. One tiny creek you could jump across in locations was electro- shock surveyed a few weeks ago by the DNR ( August 14) A massive amount (for the size of this creek0 of 20 inch wild browns ( 20 plus browns over 20 inches- some as big as 25) in a short distance of this tiny ice cold creek were surveyed ( see DNR and USFWS staff images below)
Hatches: Fall caddis season is in full swing. Some of the finest dry fly fishing and wet fly swinging of the year occurs in September and October. The Hydropsyche ( cinnamon caddis) and little green caddis ( Cheumetopsyche )are the predominant fall caddis until the Giant October sedges or pumpkin caddis makes their appearance. Be very aware that the fish will concentrate on either the emerging pupae or egg layers that also dive under water and release the air bubbles that LaFontaine discusses in his caddis book. Both egg laying and hatching pupae occur simultaneously from noon until dusk.
Flying ants season has begun and they are on the water in a big way!!!- they are very plentiful on the water in sizes #16-22’s .Tricos are still in the air on hot humid days. The Pseudocleon bwo’s and Baetis ( #22-24) have begun and will be on the water in tiny rusty spinner stages all the way into November . Stenonema White Cahill’s and some Isonychias are in the air at dusk along with White Ephoron on the spring creeks.
Migratory Salmon and Steelhead
Wild Chinook and Coho have already entered into the rivers. But water temperatures have slowed their progress-all has changed now with cooler weather and ;lots of rain today. Summer steelhead are still in the river . I still have one date here and there open for fall steelhead on the swing-booking for 2024 though- I have a few December dates still open when we have had excellent steelhead numbers in the system.
We are anticipating based on big lake numbers an excellent fall run of Atlantic salmon and lake-run browns- I have one date here an there still available-booking for 2024-25.
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Cheers!-See you on the water!