Season change is upon us. Summer sunshine has given way to Fall rains and cooler weather. September is a fine month in Northern Michigan. It is marked by mild, seventy-degree temperatures and quiet waters. The school buses are running and high school sports as well college and professional football have started. That means busy schedules for lots of folks and it means lonely access points on rivers and lakes.
I don’t know about you, but I love being the only angler in the parking spot and I love the wild, feeling just that much more wild. It’s nice to know that no one is around the river’s bend and the only other thing floating on the lake is a raft of geese.
The extra flow and the cooler water will get brook trout on a pre-spawn feeding pattern. Those speckled, little beauties should be extra aggressive in the coming weeks as they try to put on enough body mass to endure the rigors of re-population. They’ll also start moving around the river systems on their way to mating grounds. Think of their migration as a miniature salmon run and if you run into a group of them, stop and fish the area thoroughly with nymphs and small streamers.
It’ll be a similar story for the brown trout. Browns don’t spawn until late October and won’t start moving to gravel just yet, but once Summer turns to Fall, they get active. Pick out the wet, cloudy days and pitch streamers to the log tangled hide-outs. Match the lure to the water conditions. Generally speaking, that means dark flies on dark days and bright flies on bright days, but I certainly wouldn’t go to the river without something olive in my arsenal. And pair the fly to the size of the water—not only the river’s width and depth but also its clarity and flow. Dirty water makes rivers bigger.
This push of rain has our coastal rivers pumping cold water into the Great Lakes and that means salmon are beginning their run. The best of the salmon runs will be on the Lake Michigan tributaries. Fish are already moving into the Betsie, Pere Marquette, and Manistee Rivers just to name a few. You won’t find solitude in those streams but you may just find a fight on your hands that you might not win.
Thanks a bunch and I’ll see you on the River.