PERE MARQUETTE RIVER REPORT
MAY 1ST, 2017
The days of April steelhead, chilly mornings and high water has given way to the slowed pace of May trout fishing. Hopefully everyone had a great Trout Opener and got a chance to fish some newly opened water that hasn’t seen another angler since last September. We’ve been receiving some rain that will hopefully restore some color to the river and add a little volume, especially for all you streamer junkies. Trout are being caught in a wide variety of methods from a variety of different rivers. May is a great month to be a trout fisherman in northern Michigan, especially a fly angler. Our hatches are just getting going and some of the more notable hatches the PM receives (sulphurs and gray drakes) are on our doorstep. Olive stoneflies, hendricksons and caddis on other area streams will also bring some noses up when those bugs are popping. It’s the proverbial kid in a candy store experience one finds himself in during the weeks of May not knowing what fly to tie on because of all the choices happening now and in the coming weeks.
Indicator nymphing has kept the rods bent throughout the day and is a great technique for those who are new to the sport, like my buddy Noah pictured above who graduated from our Trout School this weekend, and even for those who are well seasoned fly anglers. Small Thingamabobber’s and Thill style floats work well with just a small amount of split shot and a tiny egg or nymph pattern. Any dark pocket adjacent to any active or recently abandoned steelhead spawning gravel should hold a trout or two. Make sure you’re mending those floats enough to maintain a drag-free drift, even in those weird counter-current seams and eddies. Steelhead orange, tangerine and oregon cheese colored micro glo-bugs in sizes 12-16 have been doing a dynamite job fooling those bigger browns as well as hare’s ear nymphs and soft-hackles in similar sizes.
Streamer fishing has been good lately and really good on those cloudy/rainy days when the water is up with a stain. But even in less desirable conditions, trout can be caught on streamers all day long when using the right fly with the right presentation in the right kind of water. Top color schemes have been black/red, white/chartreuse, olive/tan, yellow, and copper. Cotton candy on the right day, especially in bigger water where stocked trout are a targeted food source for the larger predatory browns. I’ve been really impressed with the Orvis Hydros Depth Charge 300 grain, especially here on the narrow confines of the Pere Marquette where roll casting is a way of life at times. It rolls small to medium sized streamers to the bank with such ease even clients who are new to throwing streamers have commented how easily they cast. 7 and 8 weight medium to fast action rods will work those flies and throw those sink tips and have enough back bone to unglue that big brown from the bottom of the river.
Salmon fry patterns have still been fun to fish on a mini tip in some of those eddies that congregate fry along the banks that browns just can’t help but act like sharks on seals when chasing those tiny morsels. Landing a little white rabbit strip streamer with a little green flashabou back and small glue-on eyes in the 2-3″ range, giving it a couple twitches then rolling back to the grass for another shot is a productive way to put some trout in the net especially when the river is more low and clear. Going with a lighter sink tip or mini tip line is the optimal choice when setting up a fry rig. I like the 6 weight when throwing fry and giving the shoulder a rest after chucking bigger streamers on heavier lines.
We’re just starting the drop of the roller coaster ride that is fly fishing for trout in northern Michigan in the months of May and June. Bringing an arsenal of rods to cover all the bases: one for dries, one for fry, one for nymphing, and one for full sinks and big streamers. Having a rain jacket and a winter jacket with fleece and sun screen in the boat. Using stripping guards and floatant in the same day. It’s almost sensory overload to trout bums here this time of year trying to figure out which method of pursuit to choose. It’s fun and sometimes frustrating renewing our dry fly casting for the first time every year, the casts and mends so rudimentary even the trout think a caveman is throwing a fly at them. But after the cobwebs have been dusted off, we can enjoy the art of the dry fly.
The river and it’s surrounding banks look incredible right now. The grass is vibrant green from all the rain and sun we’ve been receiving. The morel hunters are harvesting some impressive hauls in the right spots. I’ve seen more turkeys in the past 2 weeks than I can count. The frogs have been consistent in their evening chorus. The trout are all fat and healthy from the mild winter and high water this spring. It just feels right to be on the river when things are like this.
Kyle Hartman -Guide
Pere Marquette River Lodge
231 745 3972