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Motrout has attached these 4 pictures to this report. The message is below.
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A typical run of the Pere Marquette near our camp.
A typical run of the Pere Marquette near our camp.
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Fishing the Pere Marquette's fly only water.
Fishing the Pere Marquette's fly only water.
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Lake Michigan at Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness
Lake Michigan at Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness
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This little river was full of brook trout (and some browns)
This little river was full of brook trout (and some browns)

Report at a Glance

General RegionNorthwest Lower Peninsula
Specific LocationPere Marquette, Hamlin Lake, others I can' really name here
Time of DayAll different times
Fish Caughtwild rainbows (some of them immature steelhead), brook trout, yellow perch, largemouth bass
Conditions & HatchesCool (sometimes bordering on downright cold), wet, rainy. Few hatches due to the conditions, though there were some decent tiny mayfly hatches when the weather did clear up. Nice cold water everywhere we fished, especially on the Pere Marquette.

Details and Discussion

MotroutAugust 4th, 2013, 2:28 pm
Posts: 319
I just returned from (just shy of) a week long vacation to northern lower Michigan. This was the second straight year to the same general area, but we did decide to shake it up a bit and fish some different waters. Mainly, that meant the Pere Marquette. We found a nicely secluded forest service campground just a bit downstream of the fly-fishing only section, and secured permits to float the fly-only water for a couple days. But the first day we got there saw torrential downpours a solid percentage of the time. I didn't know the nature of the Pere Marquette in high water (after seeing the basically non-existent effect of two straight days of hard rain, I'm not sure that it's actually something that exists.) So stupidly, we were worried about flash-flooding and decided to play it safe by just wade-fishing near camp. We took good numbers of little wild rainbows out of the riffles on nymphs, before we were nearing the first stages of hypothermia and had to get out for a break. The temperature was in the low-50s, and the while the water temperature was a bit warmer, it wasn't much. We hadn't brought waders.....when we went up last year, it was quite warm, and our waders had sat in camp the entire time, so we thought them an unnecessary burden. That came back to bite us a little bit. When the weather cleared up briefly we went back out and had little trouble enticing a few more rainbows to bite.

The next day, it was becoming clear to us that the incessant rain really wasn't going to effect the river. It was up, yes, but quite clear enough even for the dry fly. So despite still cold and wet conditions, we floated. We saw plenty of nice trout in the fly only stretch (and one fat, very lost looking king salmon that I didn't even bother to cast to with my 5-weight) but they were not easy to catch, much more difficult than the fish further downstream. Still, it was incredibly beautiful stretch, starting as a relatively small creek but doubling in size when a large tributary came in a couple miles downstream. It's a stretch that basically demands getting out to fish. Trying to cast from a canoe or kayak is awfully frustrating, as we learned.

The next day, we spent several hours wading near camp, enjoying the much, much easier fishing it offered, particularly if you weren't wedded to dry fly fishing. Then we moved camp to a spot right along Lake Michigan, also in Manistee National Forest.

We took a break from trout the next day to fish a large warm-water fishery in Hamlin Lake. Hamlin is a normal north-woods lake in most of its acreage, but we decided to try the swampy upper portions for the sake of some adventure. Dozens of channels cut through the cattails,with some surprisingly deep, though weedy water. Pike ruled the roost, but it was largemouth bass that we caught. They were not overly large, but the White Pines along the edges of the wetland and the sheer solitude that comes with this kind of place made it well worth it.

Then we hit up a little river that even the locals didn't seem to think too much of. I have a soft spot for creeks and rivers that no one else seems to like, the ones that don't usually have special regulations or warrant articles in national magazines. This stream definitely fit the bill. It was of a size that you could float it, but it was better suited to wade-fishing. While the surrounding country was mostly bucolic farm-land, aspen and maple lined the river itself. We found a bridge crossing in the river's designated blue-ribbon stretch. We found warm-water fish in the slower pools, but brookies (and a couple of browns) were rising to a hatch of little mayflies in the riffles. They were surprisingly choosy, but a #20 para Adams yielded it's share of takes. Anything larger was, for the most part, rejected soundly. But I like tough fish, especially wild ones, so I couldn't have asked fore a better time. Finally the hatch stopped just before dark. I tried small nymphs with but to no avail. It was catching them on the rise or nothing here.

I have plenty of pictures to post, and I plan to do that shortly....by the end of today or perhaps tomorrow.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
Jmd123August 4th, 2013, 3:31 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2354
Looking forward to those pictures, MO!!! Glad you had a good time in spite of our rather un-summer-like weather we've been having this year.

BTW I do flyfish out of my kayak all the time (see my photo!) but it's almost always been stillwater situations, and it does take some getting used to if you haven't done it before...however, you can generally kiss the backcast-grabbing trees goodbye once you've mastered the art. I do it all the time on [REDACTED] Pond for brookies, and it's the only way to go there. But trying to fish while drifting and steering, or trying to anchor a little boat like that in swift current, well that takes quite a bit of the fun out of it...

Anyway, glad you had a good time in my beloved home state!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MotroutAugust 4th, 2013, 3:37 pm
Posts: 319
As I've said before, you guys have it ridiculously good up there! The cool weather made things interesting, but honestly I enjoyed the contrast. It has not been even remotely hot in Missouri this year but it's still much nicer up there.

I fly fish all the time out of my kayak on the rivers and lakes around here in the Ozarks with minimal trouble.....but mostly they are a lot more open than the upper Pere Marquette. I made a healthy donation of flies to that river!
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
Jmd123August 4th, 2013, 6:11 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2354
Sometimes you just have to make some sacrifices to the fish gods...;oD

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
AdirmanAugust 5th, 2013, 6:58 am
Monticello, NY

Posts: 482
Ive thought of that too. Id like to get a kayak for fishing the Delaware for smallies for example and figured that Id wear my waders also. Idea would be to cast some while drifting and find hot spots then pull over and fish for awhile. In other words, the kayak would be mostly a transport vehicle to get to spots you cant get to from shore.
OldredbarnAugust 21st, 2013, 11:50 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
Motrout...Nice pics...If you haven't read it already, read Ernie Schwiebert's, "Portrait of the Pere Marquette"...Wonderful short story and one of my all time favorites.

I'm touching base here tonight from Gardiner Montana...I've been on the road since July 29th and am getting just a tad road weary. Did a half day float today on the Yellowstone.

Anyway...The PM is one of Michigans more famous streams and it has endured most of Michigans history...good and bad. It is one of our longest rivers that are dam free and the fish can run upstream of Baldwins all the way from Lake Michigan.

I have watched King Salmon (import) running all the way up in to feeder streams of the PM the are north of 30". A creek basically that you could jump across and still they are moving upstream.

The resident Browns are well fed from Salmon and Steelhead spawn, though pressured from the anadromous competition of the other imports.

The loveliness of the PM is offset by our unfortunate history with snagging and there are still a great many poachers plying that tactic since the state is basically broke and there is less than zero enforcement.

One of my most remembered nights of angling took place on the PM near the famed Green Cottage near Baldwin. It was Memorial Day weekend of 1991...Forgive me the over romanticized Ernie moments, but I sat with a friend on the banks as evening fell, munching on some leftover GORP I had found in my vest that had fomented there the whole week of fishing.

We started to see, what turned out to be, one of the heaviest Sulpher spinner falls I've ever seen...My friend turned to me with a smile on his face and asked me, "What would Ernie do?" Behind me the last of the late afternoon sunlight cut through the forest and the ferns were just popping out...An elven scene beyond belief and somewhere out there a buck stamping and snoring at us...Lovely.

Sidenote: Generally...Michigan anglers don't give a shit about the weather, as long as the fish are cooperating. ;) A nice trout on the line will make you forget you are freezing your ass off pretty quick.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
MotroutAugust 22nd, 2013, 8:15 pm
Posts: 319

Sidenote: Generally...Michigan anglers don't give a shit about the weather, as long as the fish are cooperating. ;) A nice trout on the line will make you forget you are freezing your ass off pretty quick.
Spence

Well said. If I thought I could catch fish I'd be out there if it was 20 below. But I do plan to bring waders next time:)

Honestly, based on what you described with the way some people fish for the salmon, I'm pretty glad we were there before anything really started to run. I love that river when it's just a quiet little trout stream. But I wouldn't want to see it when its shoulder to shoulder with fisherman like it probably is when the kings are running. The Pere Marquette is one of the more beautiful rivers I've ever had the pleasure to fish, a real jewel. It's a shame that apparently some don't treat it right.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
Jmd123August 22nd, 2013, 8:47 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2354
MO, that's why I keep places like [REDACTED] Pond secret...but if you find yourself in my neck of the woods, I'll not only take you there but set you up with a kayak as well - my neighbor and I have the friendly "neighborhood kayak exchange" going (he's borrowed mine, I've borrowed his...).

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MotroutAugust 23rd, 2013, 11:00 am
Posts: 319
I really appreciate that offer. One of these days I'll make my way over to the eastern part of the state.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
OldredbarnAugust 23rd, 2013, 11:20 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
Motrout...Don't listen too closely to this old grumpy angler...I can be a pain sometimes. :)

The river is beautiful and a patient angler can catch fish in between the thundering herd. You need to head upstream to the no-kill section up closer to Baldwin.

During the Kings hoopla there are seeming miles of trailers parked down the road near the Green Cottage access. A couple years back we walked the boat upstream and around a bend and had a nice run to ourselves. I have told the story here before how the guide was checking out my casting skill with a "chuck-and-duck" rig, and after showing me what to do, I cast to some fish just down from the access and caught a 19" Brown on my first cast. :) The Salmon saw it coming and swam around it and the Brown was below them eating eggs and hit the egg fly on the end of my line...Nice start to the day, no?!

Actually...The Au Sable near Grayling would be a nice place to fish...Not to one up Jonathon's invite, but I'm just saying...

Spence

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
TNEALAugust 23rd, 2013, 7:54 pm
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 275
The AuSable near Grayling was a nice place to fish today... quite a few 8-11" brookies and one very hefty 18" brown all caught on hoppers...


Tight lines....
Jmd123August 24th, 2013, 4:08 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2354
Kinda late to be posting I suppose, but hey, I'm still up from seeing my friends' band at the bar...

Tim, that sounds like a great time! Hopper season is most certainly upon us, though we could use some more rain around here to bring up the depth a little, fish are pretty skittish during daylight hours right now. The Pine fishes hoppers very well, but dang it, right now it's very low and clear. Been hoppering (is that a verb?) my local secret brookie pond with more success...

MO, Spence and I offer something different. He will most certainly put you on larger fish than I can in my favorite waters - but you don't have to "get in line" around here or deal with "the thundering herd." Just be sure to bring a 7 or 7.5 foot 3 weight, and I'll show you some might pretty fish in some mighty pretty surroundings with little or no competition, and therefore, DUMB FISH. And you know what? There's bigger ones out there waiting to be caught, I've only been here for 2 1/2 years so I'm still learning the local surroundings...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TNEALAugust 24th, 2013, 8:06 am
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 275
Rain would be good. generally, big fish are holding very tight in the day time.I tend to fish a place where I've only seen two other fisherman in the past 30 years. There are less fish, but some very large browns, lots of brookies, and no competition.
Jmd123August 24th, 2013, 10:49 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2354
Why that sounds lovely, Tim. I hit my brookie pond tonight and had plenty of action, mostly on hoppers (#10 modified Joe's Hopper) but I couldn't break the 8" limit tonight. It's been a small fish year for me, I could use one of those big browns. Guess I gotta stay out later, and perhaps on the Rifle where there are more browns and less ways of face-planting yourself into the stream in the darkness - the Pine gets a little tight and has lots of obstacles so I don't tend to stay out late there.

Jonathon

P.S. What flies are working for you right now, Tim? All hoppers, or any hatches or other terrestrials? Saw lots of midges on the pond tonight, little brookies jumping after them left and right.
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnAugust 25th, 2013, 10:58 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
Size 10 Madsen Skunk! :)
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
TNEALAugust 25th, 2013, 5:23 pm
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 275
Jonathon...

Spence is in the ballpark. Anything fairly large with rubber legs attached works well right now. Cool nights and warm afternoons make for good terrestrial fishing. Grayling area has had four nights in August below 40 degrees. Keeps the water cool enough and by late morning warm weather activates the hoppers, etc. For my money, I'll take the little brookies over the big browns all day long.


Tim
OldredbarnAugust 25th, 2013, 9:50 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
Tim that was meant for you anyway sir...You would of gotten a kick out of some of the things I tossed this trip out...They like to throw two fly set ups...Sometimes a Spruce Moth, with a small size 16/18 tan caddis off the end of it. Sometime a foam hopper/dropper get up. I even tried a nocturnal stone and we laughed how we were catching fish with it in the daytime.

I even tied up some larger Trudes and T Tarantulas...:)

Anyway...I'm burnt out tonight. Still in Cody. Spent the last two days in the Buffalo Bill Museum here...It is worth the trip to visit that place alone. We did the rodeo last night and in the middle of it had one of those high mountains on the eastern side of Yellowstone let loose with a 20 minute screaming wind and downpour, only to move on after like nothing ever happened.

Trying to figure out if I can find my way back home.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jmd123August 25th, 2013, 11:21 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2354
Sounds like Spence is having WAAAAY too much fun out there...next thing you know he'll be hailing from Billings or something. Expecting mucho reports replete with photos when you get your ass back to Michigan, Sir.

Hit the Pine again tonight boys, the banks were unbelievable with pink-purple Joe-Pye-weed, white boneset, and glowing yellow goldenrod. And the pretty little rainbows (and one brookie) were hitting the hoppers too, biggest again only 9" but such gemstone-like wild fish, fighting way too hard for their size (what, you're only SEVEN INCHES???). Guess that light little 3-weight helps, but you wouldn't want anything larger on this water, lest you wish to feed the trees on your backcast...

Guess I'm with Tim on this one. I'll take the secluded waters and the wildflower-lined banks, and the 23-minute drive, and the gorgeous little wild fish all day (or evening) long. Oh, there are bigger fish in these waters, just gotta stay out later one night, but right now I'm torn between the hoppers and the dusk hatches, hopper fishing is just too much fun.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnAugust 29th, 2013, 12:51 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2587
Visited the Medicine Wheel yesterday in the Bighorns. Lisa and I hiked up the mile and a half to the site and then back...Not a fishing report, but a wonderful, absolutely beautiful place.

Took the back roads through the Wyoming Black Hills today and visited the Crazy Horse mountain carving site and Mt Rushmore.

Still missing a Golden Eagle and grouse from the additional bird list and haven't spotted any rams or mountain goats.

Will drive through the Badlands and point the front of the truck towards Detroit.

What a month...

One regret...Not stopping to fish the North Fork of the Tongue river as it worked its way through the Bighorns...There were anglers everywhere and it looked inviting. Next time. :)
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood

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