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dry fly

Fly Patterns for Michigan Hatches

Fly Patterns for Michigan Hatches

I remember way back (45 years ago) when I was learning to fly fish out west, the most intimidating facet of the sport was bugs. Pale Morning Duns, Blue Wing Olive, Green Drakes, I had no idea what these were or how to proceed in learning more.

Fast forward 35 years. One night during Hex and Brown Drake (the big bugs) season my son, Zach, was wade fishing while I was on the water, working. When all the guides and customers gathered in a friend’s garage Zach was showing a picture of a nice brown that he landed that night. A customer of one of the other guides asked Zach “how did you know what fly to use”? Watching from across the room I wanted to make sure that Zach was polite and respectful. He said to the angler “ just a moment sir, I’ll be right back”. Minutes later he returned with his fly box, opened it and told the angler “I catch the bug that the fish are eating, set it in my fly box and pick the bug that looks like the natural”! At 10 years old he had that figured out. Read more

Pine River

Pine River

The Pine River

Pine River

Pine River, the Lower Peninsula’s most unique river

 

 

The Pine River

The Pine River, near Cadillac, Michigan is a tributary of the Manisttee River. It joins the Manistee in Tippy Pond above Tippy dam. The rive is 53.5 miles long. Dominated by groundwater inflows, it is the coldest, fastest river in Lower Michigan. This groundwater keeps the Pine River temperatures always 69 degrees or colder.

The Pine River, like most northern Michigan Rivers, has been abused and neglected. The Pine River was dammed by an earthen dam in 1918. The dam was quickly rendered useless by the large sand load that built up behind it. Prior to the dam the river was used, to it’s great detriment, to move saw logs down stream.  It’s banks were torn up creating huge erosion problems.6px;”>

The dam remained until 1997 when it was slowly removed as part of a negotiation for the relicensing of Tippy Dam by The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Dam removal was completed in 2003. Since removal of the dam the stream channel is forming again, gravel substrate is increasing in quantity and size, and fish populations are spreading in the river. Fish populations, especially brown and rainbow trout have increased by more than 250%. Read more

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

CCC Bridge

I’m happy to announce after nearly super human efforts from Jim Anderson and Dave Boberg of UMRA and the very generous contributions from many of our clients the new boat launch near CCC Bridge on the Upper Manistee is nearly done. Way back in August I let you all know it was in the works. Predictably Jim and Dave ran into a bureaucratic nightmare getting 4-6 agencies to sign off and to then pull permits. Without going into which agency was the logjam I’d like to congratulate these gentlemen and all of our donors on a job well done. Thank you.

The new launch is just downstream of CCC Bridge on river left (as if you are looking downstream) just below the large dock. Notice the bridge in the photos. The construction includes an increase in parking along with the standard slide that has proven so bullet proof in the past.

The Upper Manistee River Association jumped into this project the minute it was realized that we had a problem with the loss of a private launch just downstream. I encourage all of you that use the river with boats, kayaks, canoes, even tubes to join and support UMRA. You can join here. I encourage all those guides to commit and send a few bucks too!

Thanks to all involved!

Hawk

CCC Boat Ramp Construction

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan

In Northern Michigan, the larger hatches are done around July fourth. That begins one of our favorite pastimes, Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan. Many anglers put away their rods when the Hex hatch is over thinking that the best fly fishing of the year is behind us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michigan can produce many surprises!

Summer fly fishing in Michigan can be broken down into our categories, terrestrials, mousing, warm water species and summer run steelhead. These four pursuits are all very different consequently they attract anglers with different desires and skill levels.

Terrestrials

 

First of all, let’s talk terrestrial fishing, hoppers, beetles and ants! Because we fish primarily foam imitations of these insects it is some of the most aggressive dry fly fishing we do. Forget the classic dead drift! We animate these flies, make them move. We twitch, bump, pop and strip these critters to attract Summer Fly Fishing in Northern Michiganattention to their presence. Due to the proximity to Traverse City we fish the Upper Manistee River mostly in and around the flies only water. In addition, we will fish the Pine River, the Lower Manistee and the Boardman Rivers with terrestrials also.

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Gray Drake

Gray Drake

Gray Drake

photo by Ann Miller

Gray Drake

Gray drakes are a very important hatch in some area rivers. Most notably the Pere Marquette and Muskegon Rivers though they occur in most of our trout streams.

Starting as early as mid May these size 10 or 12 mayflies are the first really big bug to show up. Gray Drakes spin at dusk generally in large numbers over riffles.

Gray Drakes are very easy to identify, the have a thin body and a very visable white stripe around the head.

Life Cycles

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Isonychia

Isonychia bicolor Dun – Slate Drake

Isonychias, are the best mayfly for anglers in Michigan! In Michigan, and elsewhere, the Isonychia mayfly provides the best dry fly opportunities of the year. That’s heresy to many in fly anglers in Michigan, who would argue vehemently that the mighty Hex beats Isonychias hands down. Isonychias are the best mayfly in Michigan for many […]

Steelhead

Hawkins Outfitters Best Fishing Memories of 2016

Do you have Fishing Memories of 2016? We do! Hawkins Outfitters is fortunate to have a very large repeat angler business. Most of these repeat anglers are friends, we’ve spent many days together in the boat. I often get asked “why did you and the guys on your team choose such a difficult job”? There are […]

Double Fly Rig

Learn how to tie up double dry fly rigs

Double Fly Rig

There are times when trout are rising that you are unable to determine what fly they are eating. There are also times that trout aren’t rising much or at all that you would still like to catch fish. There is a tactic that we use to combat both of these situations. It’s the double fly rig.

Many or most of you have used or heard of the “hopper-dropper rig”. That is attaching a bead head nymph to a hopper pattern and using the hopper as your strike indicator. It can be very effective at times. It works because you are presenting two different food sources at the same time.

Two Dry Flies

We use the same method with two dry flies. This can be the same fly with two different life stages, two completely different flies or the same fly times two! It is deadly effective during a hatch, especially a light one. By presenting an emerger and a dun you are covering both bases. The emerger attracts lots of attention because mayflies are vulnerable at that stage.

Complex Hatches

This method is also valuable during complex hatches. That’s when there are several different bugs on the water at the same time and trout are eating but you are unable to determine which bug they are eating. This can be common in June when there are several different mayflies possible during the evening. Sulphurs spinning along with bat flies doing the same, Isonychias hatching and/or spinning and maybe Brown Drakes. All of this occurring at dark. It can be tough to figure out which morsel the fish are eating!

To present two dry flies at once tie a piece of tippet to the bend of the hook using an improved clinch knot. Make sure you moisten the monofilament prior to cinching it down to maintain maximum strength. See the video that explains how to tie this below.

Tippet

The size of the tippet should be either be the same size as the tippet being used on the first fly or one size smaller. I make the decision on size based on two things. If I’m worried about losing two flies I use the smaller monofilament so if I hook the bottom fly on something and need to break it off I have a chance of saving the top fly. If I’m casting to or searching for big fish I will put both flies at risk so that I have stronger tippet.

Try this method, you’ll find it works!

Captain Chuck