People are here from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, and surrounding states. Parking lot was full!
Ray Schmidt says "The salmon are peaking'". Check out Ray's website. It is the best for information about the Manistee River.
Ray runs a great Fly Shop in Wellston and has an excellent Guide Service. When ever you are in the area, stop by Ray Schmidt's Fly Shop. He shares information and will tell you what is happening. I was going to buy some T-14 and some braided end loops. Ray said he would sell it by the foot and showed me how to make my own loops. He passed up a $25 sale to get me going for $8! I returned later and bought the whole packet as it worked so well.
Fish on! The drift boats can be positioned perfectly to target the fish.
I was fishing from shore and found it difficult to find an open space. I ended below the Rock Pile hole on the North side. I could barely get in and had to roll cast to get my fly out.
In Alaska, they call this 'combat fishing'.
I was drifting an egg pattern that I tied up this morning.
I tie it with an orange chenille egg body and a pink Glo Yarn casing on a heavy size 4 hook.
These guys were above me in their 'lake fishing' boat. The river has a lot of gravel bar below Tippy Dam so it takes careful motoring to protect the prop.
I was losing a lot of flies as I had snags in the water just below me. I had to lift the fly just before the end of the drift. On my second or third cast, I had one good hit. The salmon actually hit the fly and I had a fight on. That is, a fight until he headed downstream. Ping ....another fly off. Within minutes, after a few more snag break-offs, I was into another fish. Same story. I now had a problem as I only had 6 # tippet on me and it wasn't holding the fish. Don't do this! I started collecting some heavy line from the shore. I know, it could be rotten, but I needed 10 # line. I managed to go through 6-8 more flies and all of my leader. But I was having fun.
I had to be careful. I only had a small space to stand and it dropped off fast. You can see the water is a nice green and moving quickly. Lots of boats.
This is looking downstream towards Sawdust Hole. People lined the banks. Sawdust Hole parking lot was filled and cars were parked on both sides of the road. When the salmon run, people go crazy!
As I was leaving, I walked up to the boat launch area. People were fishing right where the boats have to launch. I don't put my drift boat in during salmon season because of the crowds. It is hard enough to avoid the gravel bars and when the wading fishermen are so packed, I just fish from shore for a few hours at a time.
Today, I fished the Tippy Dam Power Station side. You know, those 200 steps down to the river!
Here was the view this afternoon.
This is Thursday afternoon and it was packed again. Don't these people work? Actually, a lot of these people plan to take off weeks in the Fall, every year just to hit the salmon run.
I walked down the path to get into the water across from the Handicap Pier. It has some nice gravel bars.
Ok, this picture was taken from the opposite side yesterday. Just pretend that that guy across the stream is me! That is where I was fishing, only a little more downstream.
Right in front of me was a drift boat.
I waded out towards the boat and drifted my egg pattern along the gravel bar. Wham! I had a fish on within 5 minutes and a nice fight. Releasing the fish, I continued to drift right up to the boat. Bam! Another fish on, but I could turn this fish. I knew he wasn't a big salmon. I tried to take a photo while fighting the fish.
Do you see him? Ok, here is another shot.
Come on, use your imagination. This was a coho salmon. It had a humped back (first I have seen) and a black mouth. It was only 18-19" and was scarfing up eggs below the salmon. I try to get the fish below the hens, as they are pretty aggressive. I released him and kept fishing. One more salmon that took me into my backing before beaking off.
Ok, I decide to stop. I had had two great days of fishing. I had three fish each day actually hit on flies. It is so nice to live just 1 1/2 miles from Tippy Dam. I can just go down anytime for a couple of hours. Today was 145th day of fishing this year. I keep my journal up to date so I can remember when and where I was successful. It stores happy memories for me.
I started walking the path back up towards the dam.
The other side, above the boat launch towards the dam, was packed with fishermen, also.
As I got up to the dam, I saw that the guys fishing right by the coffer dam had been successful.
I am amazed that people keep these salmon during the spawning run. They are pretty black and the flesh is light pink or even white. I know how they taste. Gary and I cooked one over the fire one year and couldn't eat it. I have a few fresh salmon that I caught off the pier. Those fish had bright orange flesh and were delicious. For me, it is catch and release time now.
After all, would you want to be snagged with a hook when it was your last chance for sex before you die?
As I walked along, I found a trash bag and started picking up trash. Salmon fishermen are not very neat. When they aren't from here, they trash it up. So, I do my job and carry out a few bags every week.
Here is my small effort to keep the mighty Manistee River a place that you will want to fish. When you visit, please bring along an extra trash bag and help me - "Keep it Clean".