River Temperature and Trout, They Can Be In Danger
Hopefully most anglers realize that when water temperatures get too warm in our trout streams it is best to leave the fish alone. The reason is that warmer water holds less oxygen and therefore stresses trout. When you add in being hooked and fought by an angler even after a proper release the trout maybe so stressed that it won’t survive. There is not a consensus at what temperature should anglers leave the trout alone but this article from Hatch does the best job that I’ve read laying out the facts about warm water and trout. It seems to draw the line at 68-70 degrees as being the time we leave the fish alone.
How to respond to higher temperatures
When warm temperatures are near these critical heights there are things we can do to protect our trout. First if you are fishing, fight a hooked fish very aggressively. Bring them to the net quickly and do not lift them out of the water for photo. When releasing hold them in the current to help revive them. Do not release them until they swim away from you under their own power. Better yet, quit fishing in the streams and rivers that are warm and switch to colder locations. Colder rivers like the Boardman and Pine Rivers stay cooler than the Manistee and Ausable. Therefore they are great warm weather hopper fisheries. Also be aware that some sections of the same rivers stay stay cooler than others. It’s a good idea to carry a thermometer, that will help you learn where you can and where you shouldn’t fish.
The Upper Manistee in some recent years has been warm enough that I quit fishing there, usually preferring to switch to smallmouth. They become even more plentiful as water gets warmer.
In conclusion, if you wish to have more and larger trout in our rivers we need to protect them when they are vulnerable. That way they can live to fight another day.
River Data on the Web
The following resources help you to learn river temperatures on the web
*USGS Current Conditions StreamFlow – Manistee River at Sherma
*App for your Phone – River Data
*Hawkins Outfitters is working on a temperature monitoring station at CCC Bridge that will be available on our website. Thanks to the EDTU Chapter from downtown Chicago for funding this!
Capt. Chuck Hawkins
The Hex Hatch The most highly anticipated may fly hatch in Michigan is the hex hatch. These big mayflies bring the largest fish in the river up to the surface to feed. Hexagenia Limbata is a floating filet mignon to a trout. Therefore the Hex Hatch, whether duns or spinners probably produces more large trout […]
Update to the story
The US Forest Service has decided to not implement the ban in 2019 but instead has agreed to let local authorities address the problem in 2019. They have reserved the right to implement it in 2020. It seems obvious that they have bowed to pressure from the merchants.
Alcohol is no longer permitted on parts of three of our favorite rivers in Northern Michigan. All are within the Huron-Manistee Forest. This new policy affects the National Wild and Scenic River sections of the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine rivers.
The Huron-Manistee National Forests announced the decision recently.
“This closure order is intended to address persistent public safety issues and protect natural resources on rivers of outstanding recreational value,” said Huron-Manistee National Forests Supervisor Leslie Auriemmo.
“Our goal is to create a safer, more sustainable, and more enjoyable experience for the thousands of visitors who recreate on our National Wild and Scenic Rivers each year.”
In Norther Michigan the AuSable National Wild and Scenic River begins below Mio Pond and extends to the upper end of Alcona Pond. It makes up 23 miles of the 138-mile waterway that runs through Northern Michigan and enters Lake Huron.
The Manistee and Pine National Wild and Scenic Rivers are each 26 miles with the Manistee section running from Tippy Dam to the M-55 Bridge.
This order will remain in effect throughout the summer recreation season, which runs from May 24 to September 2.
Specifically, it will apply on and within 200 feet of the:
· AuSable River between Mio Dam Pond and 4001 Canoe Landing
· Manistee River between Tippy Dam and the Huron-Manistee National Forests’ administrative boundary (map)
· Pine River between Elm Flats and Low Bridge.
Private lands, developed campgrounds, and designated campsites within those river corridors will not be affected. Violation of the order is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.
This will not effect the fishing, should only make the weekend experience even greater with some of the silliness now being eliminated. While we all enjoy a few cold ones from time to time, please keep this in mind this summer and save yourself a hefty fine.
Transition to Fall Fishing
August is the time that we transition to fall fishing. Towards the end of August, we start to wean ourselves off terrestrials, mousing and smallmouth and begin to think migratory fish, salmon, steelhead, and muskie. Between now and then our focus remains on resident trout and smallmouth bass.
August and September is prime time for the Pine River, Lower Michigan’s most unique river. Cold, fast and the lower peninsula’s most prolific rainbow trout fishery, the Pine River is a blast to fish. In summer the Pine fishes very well with foam hopper creations. As the water begins to cool in early fall the streamer bite can explode. Fishing smaller offerings that are heavily weighted in natural colors. If you streamer junkies are looking for one more streamer excursion before switching to migratory fish, the Pine River should be in your sights. We don’t have a lot of days available in August and September but check with Cherie to see what’s available.
Streamers for Kings
By the end of August King Salmon are in our rivers in good numbers. This is streamer time for these fresh brutes. While rarely a numbers game, the pull from a fresh king slamming your tight line offering is something you’ll never forget. Throwing streamers in low light then switching to smallmouth is a fun day on the water. If you want to give this a try make sure to have plenty of Flash Monkey’s tied up.
As we move into September Kings and Muskie take center stage. Steve and Tim generally have available days for king salmon fishing below Tippy Dam. This is a great venue for beginning anglers and kids. Lots of action sight fishing for big fish.
Garden River Salmon
If it’s salmon you are looking for the Garden River in Sault St Marie, Canada, is a special place. This is private water owned by the Garden River First Nation. I’m there usually there from around September 10th to the end of
the month. The earlier dates are perfect for children and beginners as most of the fish will be pink salmon. There will 100’s of them and they are fun to catch. We offer a two-day special, one adult and one child for $1000. The later dates are when in addition to kings, we start to hunt cohos and steelhead. These trips are three days and run $995
If muskie fishing intrigues you Jon Ray and Ed McCoy have a September venue that they fish every year. The area is in Michigan but shall remain unnamed unless you have a serious interest in capturing one of these elusive, apex predators! Contact us about open dates and more information.
Manistee River Fall Steelhead
Finally, a quick reminder, fall steelhead is the highest demand time of year at Hawkins Outfitters. Jon, Ed, Jeff and I might have a few days available, but not many. Our newest team members, Steve and Tim have days available. If interested give us a call to check availability and then get some days in the calendar.
Years ago, Kirk Deeter stated in Field and Stream Magazine that Michigan is the best state in the union to fly fish mainly due to the great fly fishing for a huge diversity of species. The transition to fall fishing is the epitome of that. Trout, smallmouth, muskie, salmon, and steelhead. So many fish, so little time!
Give Cherie a call to book any of this at 231-228-7135
Fishing Foam Patterns Fishing Foam Patterns during the middle of the summer is pretty standard because there are less natural aquatic insects hatching. Trout are keying in on terrestrials, like grasshoppers, ants, and beetles. While simply throwing out a foam pattern into the river will work, there are a few techniques and tips that we […]
SA Frequency Magnum Glow Line
The SA Frequency Magnum Glow Line is a specialty line for those that enjoy the pursuit of big brown trout in the dark. I have been fortunate to use this fly line guiding since it’s release. Scientific Anglers is based in Midland, Mi. This glow line was tested by the pros on the AuSable and Manistee Rivers. This is home of some of the best night time fisherman in the country. Michigan has had a long history of night fishing because of some of our mayfly hatches. Some believe mousing was actually created by anglers in Michigan.
Better Dead Drifts
The SA Frequency Magnum Glow Line main goal is to help anglers achieve a better dead drift. One of the secrets to hooking big brown trout is having a perfect drift. Big browns are big for one reason, they are wary. One of the most difficult things about fishing in the dark, is knowing what your fly is doing. The SA Frequency Magnum Glow Line is charged with a headlamp or small UV light. You actually see what your line is doing. This works even in some of the darkest corners where the big trout live. Read more
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
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
The Hendrickson Hatch is the first major mayfly hatch of significance. It usually arrives around opening day in Northern Michigan. Being a size 12 or 14 it is a big bug that hatches at the beginning of the season. Many times on the Ausable below Mio dam, or the Upper to Lower Manisttee I’ve encountered good hatches and spinner falls during the same float. Getting two bites at the dry fly apple with big fish rising is a great day.This larger morsel brings good fish to the surface! Hendricksons are the first and one of the best.
Like all of our mayflies Hendricksons hatch and spin during the best time of day. In the case of hendricksons most hatches occur mid afternoon (the warmest time of day) however on some rivers there can be a pre-emergence around 11:00 in the morning. This is why Hendricksons have the nickname of the gentlemen’s hatch. You can stay up late playing cards and drinking and still be on the water when the action starts! The spinner fall is usually in the early evening before temps fall to low. The Hendrickson mayfly is one hardy little guy. I’ve seen hatches where I had duns landing in my boat on three inches of snow. Read more