One of the cool things about northern Michigan is that there is just so much to do here. Small streams or big water, brookies or browns, moving or stillwater, tricos or mousing, float trips or backcountry bushwhacks. Wild fish are the norm, not the exception, and our hatches rival or exceed any other region in the United States. And on most trips, my clients will never see another angler.
Northern Michigan is literally a fly angler’s paradise.
There is always some type of season at its peak, and if you play your cards right, you can run and gun from one hatch or season to the next- minimizing exposure to those unproductive transition periods where the fishing is hit or miss, and often more importantly, minimizing exposure to increasing angling pressure.
I guide on the mainstream and south branch of the Au Sable system, as well as on several streams in the northern lower peninsula which have equal (or some would say better) fishing as the Au Sable but aren’t named here to help keep angling pressure to a minimum.
Popular Trips Options Include:
Float Trips– Starting in 2016, I will be guiding out of a Confluence Boatworks 3-person raft. This boat is a true pleasure to fish from. Even on our area’s gnarliest river, this boat practically stands still and easily maneuvers around numerous blow downs and structure common on our streams. Perhaps best of all, it allows me to access water traditional drift and river boats (and other anglers) can’t. Float trips are the ideal way to cover lots of water. They’re also ideal for fishing water that is inaccessible to the wading angler due to depth or distance from public accesses.
Night/Mousing Trips– One of the things we’ve been doing for decades in northern Michigan- and doing it well- is fly fishing for trout at night. Whether that means fishing a blanket spinnerfall of hex or brown drakes, or throwing mouse fly patterns at the bank and stripping them back in pursuit of trophy-sized brown trout, there is nothing more surreal than floating down the river under the milky way.
Small Stream Trips– We are extremely fortunate to have some of the best small stream fly fishing in the country right here in northern Michigan. Some of these gems are inaccessible to commercial watercraft, and thus walk-in/wade only. These streams average 15 to 60 feet in width and hold brookies, browns, and rainbow trout. My personal favorite only holds brookies, and they grow big there. I fish three others that get late summer runs of migratory brown trout, trophy-sized, and eager to break your heart.
While some of these streams have been written about extensively, they cannot handle the level of angling pressure seen on the Au Sable or Manistee rivers. They’re gems, and worth keeping a secret.
Float/Wade Combo Trips– Sometimes its nice to get out of the boat and fish, too.
Multi-Day Backcountry – Fully outfitted camping/fishing trips in the heart of the northern Michigan wilderness. I have camping gear, cooking gear, fishing gear, etc., bring fresh groceries, ice and firewood to your camp daily. These types of trips can be float or walk/wade, call for details.
Stillwater Bass/Bluegill– Specifically, fishing topwater flies for bass and bluegill on remote lakes where the fish rarely, if ever, see artificial flies. Its almost not fair sometimes, and almost not fair means seriously fun fishing!
Stillwater Trout– We have some phenomenal stillwater trout fishing up here that is often overlooked or forgotten. The first month after ice out offers some of the best stillwater trout fishing of the year. Its some of the most fun you can have with a fly rod. Football shaped trout cruise below the surface, sipping midges and mayflies, sometimes launching themselves out of the water, but mostly just denting the surface. You chase rise rings, one cast goes 30-feet out at 3 o’clock, and almost just as soon as it lands, the fish has moved and you need to pick up and cast to 40-feet at 5 o’clock. Don’t relax now, the biggest trout you’re going to cast to all season just rose 60-feet out at 11 o’clock. Did I mention how much fun these fish are?!