Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June Fly Rod Time on the Manistee

It was hot, the weather had been rainy and I was stuck inside for several days.  A break in the weather came and down to the Manistee River I went.  I decided to drive my new run-around car down to the parking lot.

The Chevy Aveo is a stick shift car that got 36 MPG the first time I checked it.  I want to take the miles off the Ford Explorer.  Anyway, down to the parking lot at Tippy Dam.  I walked down Cardiac Hill and had the water to myself.

No one was around and I decided to start at the dam and work my way downstream.  The water was dark from the spring runoff.  I started with my fly rod and yellow streamer.  I waded out a few steps and then tossed the stream out into the deeper water.  I let the fly sink down a little.  It has a bead head so it should be in the mid-depths.  I start stripping in.  Cast out, pause while it sinks, and strip in.  After three or four casts, I move downstream a few steps and start again.

I am on the south side of Tippy Dam and you can see that nobody is fishing.  The water is warming up and the water is low.  The fish are going to be closer to the dam (aerated water), in the seams and deeper water.  I will just move along and swing my streamer.

The first fish is a medium sized Brownie.  They usually hit in the middle of the swing, when I am stripping in the fly and it is coming across the stream in their visual path.  I am using my 4 weight fly rod so even these fish fight hard and bend my fishing rod.  I don't expect any steelhead or large browns during the morning.  People talk about fishing at night when the bigger fish prowl the water and it sounds fun.  I just don't think about it until it is late and I am tired.  I will have to try it at night soon.

I continue on and get a few more fish.  Some are like small torpedos.  They are steelhead smolts that haven't headed out to the big lake yet.  They are hungry and hit the fly hard. 

This is one of the streamers I have been tying.  I first started with cream and tan colors but have been making variations of darker colors recently.  I first slip on a bead on the size 6 or 8 streamer hook.  Then I wrap my tying thread down to the bend and add a bunch of dark brown maribou feathers for a tail.  Then, on this fly, I used some dark green chinelle for the body.  After I tye off the chinelle at the bead, I add a couple of rubber legs on some of the flies.  These darker flies are imitating crawfish or other aquatic insects.  I also like using the cream or tan maribou on some flies.  Many times I wrap the body with the rest of the maribou in place of the chinelle.  A simple but effective fly.

Back to more casting.  It is a rhythm that fly fisherman get into.  Cast out, retrieve, cast out, retrieve.  Your mind is thinking about fishing and watching the line for any subtle changes.  Every little stop or nick of the fly might be a fish.  Many times the hit is hard and the fish is hooked before the angler can set the hook.  Sometimes the fly pops out because you didn't set the hook.  I usually pinch down the hook barbs.  It makes it easier to release the fish and also it makes it easier to remove from your clothing or skin.

This brown hit the black streamer tied on above the brown streamer.  I guess they take it for a leech.

Speaking of leeches, I look down in the water and see two large, fat snake-like creatures at my feet.  More like short, fat snakes with a sucking style mouth with teeth. Lamprey are mating as I watch.  The report on lamprey ells are that each one can consume 40 # of fish a year.  They can attach on the sides of trout and suck out the life or severely reduce the weight of the host fish.  This week the DNR is putting in poison to kill the lamprey.  So far 2-3 days, most people halt their fishing.

I continue on casting and even catching a few as I proceed down river.

Here is a hungry brown that attacked my yellow and brown chinelle bodied streamer.  Chinelle comes in many different colors so I like to experiment.  I found a dark green chinelle style roll at a yard sale for fifty cents that I'll try next.  I always look in the sewing area for possible fly tying material.

The catching slows up as I go downstream.  A few here and there but I have to look for deeper water and edges to fish.  I find I can wade almost 3/4s of the way across the river in some spots.

Ok, it was a nice morning.  I only got one fish in the 14-15" range but I had a lot of fish that were fun to play with.  I released every fish back into the water.  You can only keep fish 15"+ in the Manistee and I just enjoy catching and releasing these smaller fish. 

OK, another pleasant morning on the river.  Next I am going to go kayak fishing down the river from Hodenplye to Red Bridge.  We will probably just stop on the bends and cast from shallow water.  We will be having our shorts and water shoes on so some kayaking and some fishing and some floating.  Stay tuned!

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